Not everybody wants to be a racer, this is the bike for the weekend warrior or anybody Plus size curious.
Eight years ago Reid entered the market with a single model - fast forward to the present and you will see a company that has expanded into one of the main companies in the Australian market. With a keen eye on the price tag, Reid established a loyal customer base for those looking to upgrade to their first proper mountain bike.
2018 sees the expansion of the wildly popular 27.5+ (Plus sized) range to include two full suspension models. Still offering the same sharp pricing that Reid has become renowned for, these new models have undergone intensive R&D on home soil to ensure they are up to the task.
The Vice 3.0 FS sits as the top dog in the Reid Plus size range of two full suspension and three hardtail options. Both dual suspension models run the same frame, with the 3.0 being up-specced with RockShox suspension and higher level drivetrain for an extra $500 - which is money well spent in most people’s books.
This top model will set you back $2,399
The Vice 3.0 FS is a simple 4 bar linkage design that has been tweaked and refined on the Australian trails. The burly tubing and turquoise colour come together to present a bike that looks like a fun time. Under the hood the Kinesis made frame is a mix of double and triple butted 6061 aluminium with all mod cons that you would expect from a bike in 2018: Boost spacing (148x12mm) rear end, tapered head tube and all sealed pivot points. There is an adaptor if you want to run a front mech, which is probably not a bad thing on the 1x10 drivetrain. This does add versatility to the bike, and may be essential if you decide to load it with gear and head into the great unknown. Be mindful that a front mech may limit tyre clearance.
The Vice is specced sharply for a bike in this price bracket - the $2,399 price tag is certainly not reflected when looking at the parts sheet. Conscientious specs sees some big brand technologies from RockShox, Shimano and KS components blended with in-house and OEM parts.
The RockShox Reba RL fork sports 120mm travel and uses the Motion control dampener. The entry-level Monarch R rear shock unit has rebound adjustment - but without the threshold and lockout of the higher models. But as a proper RockShox suspension unit, spares are available and they are fully serviceable in Australia. This is a massive positive for this bike over others in a similar price bracket.
The SLX 1x10 drivetrain is a solid performer and coupled with the Sunrace 11-40 cassette gives a wider range than available without reaching the higher price point groupsets. Hydraulic braking courtesy of Deore is another smart addition, although the rear rotor could possibly be beefed up to 180mm to match the front and deal with stopping 15+ kilos of trail bike.
Other notables are the KS Crux cable actuated dropper post and Formula hubs sealed bearings laced into WTB Scraper rims. The WTB Trailblazer tyres in 27.5 x 2.8” are on the narrower end of the plus sized spectrum, but there is plenty of frame/fork clearance to go bigger if your heart desires.
The OEM bits on offer are simple but effective. The aluminium handlebars have a good shape and are a generous 760mm and couple well with the 70mm stem to provide a comfortable cockpit.
It is cool to see that bikes made for fun are gaining traction in the marketplace, with applications that are not race-oriented. Sure, the Vice is no flyweight - tipping the scales at 15.5kg for our test model - but nor was it meant to be. The tyres are UST ready so ditch the tubes and save 600 grams. Drop some rotational mass and gain a couple of emergency tubes, it’s a double win really.
Theory aside though, how does it ride?
On the trail
Rolling into the trails the initial feeling on the Reid Vice is that the bike has quite an upright riding position - not uncomfortably so, just different to what was expected. But ducking in and out through the first few sections singletrack I couldn’t stop the smile from creeping across my face. You can’t help but have fun on a bike like this.
Having spent very little time on Plus sized bikes, it feels like I am in a similar position to those who are looking to try their first (semi) fat ride. Straight up it is a totally crazy experience. You have to “earn your turns”, the extra rotating mass meaning that weight shifting in and out of corners has to be more defined and pronounced. The bike is super stable at speed and gives you the confidence to lean deeper into turns and you realise that the grip on offer goes far beyond where you believe it would end.
The larger volume tyres don’t have a definite edge but more a soft rounding that allows the rider to bring it back from imminent carnage.
The suspension performed well and gave some extra versatility to adjust the ride to suit the conditions. There is a bit of pedal induced bob but this is to be expected. Where it really excelled is in the really rough stuff, where the 120mm of travel was like adding double malt to your favourite milkshake. The Vice just ticks through whatever you see fit. Up rough rutted climbs, sure. Down loose chutes with rocks the size of a baby’s head, why not? It is like engaging tractor mode and plowing into the unknown. Sure you may not be going warp speed but that is not the aim of the game here.
Both novice and experienced riders alike will enjoy the predictability and up-for-anything nature that the Vice FS offers. The KS Crux dropper post worked a treat, even with the trying conditions that may have brought on the demise of other cable actuated posts on the market. The lever is ergonomic and easy to engage. Very minimal stiction did develop over the course of the test period, but was easily rectified with quick lube job.
The drivetrain range copped some pretty terrible abuse thanks to a moist few weeks in the Sunshine State, with lots of mud and grinding on sandy trails creating sounds that make you wince. The good news is that the Shimano 10-speed group handled the conditions better than the test pilot. Shifting was solid, even with all the trail gunk, and after a post-ride clean felt just like new again. The 30T coupled with the 11-40 cassette gave a solid range for what got thrown at us. But if you are thinking of loading it up and heading into the great unknown it might pay to drop a tooth or two up front.
The Deore brakes gave good, consistent performance through the pretty extreme conditions. For general use the stock setup is sweet, but if you are looking to load it up consider upsizing the rotor from 160 to 180mm.
This is a bike that redefines the boundaries of what a mountain bike should be. We have seen plenty of bikes being made purely for fun, but getting one that does it so well for under $2,500 is a bonus. The ride qualities, coupled with the sharp price point, make the Vice 3.0 FS an appealing option for beginners and more experienced riders looking to dip their toes into the plus sized realm.
Reid have hit a nerve on this one, bringing a trail ready Plus sized dually to the table at a really affordable price. Price aside though, the Vice 3.0 FS is simply a hoot to ride and this is the real draw card of this bike.
|MODEL||Vice 3.0 FS|
|WEIGHT||15.5kg (as tested)|
Words: Matt Nauthe Photos: Colin Levitch