Legendary frame builder Mark Reilly passed away in 2021 but Reilly Cycleworks are still clearly very keen to grow the Ti and steel focused brand he created with a contender for best gravel bike honors. That includes adding the latest bottom bracket tech and other tweaks to their titanium Gradient gravel frame and their complete bikes are fully Ti-jazzled too. It's a sharper more precision/power focused ride than you might expect from the ‘magic’ metal but it's big tire friendly and comes with a full set of bike packing mounts. Adjustable fork handling adds versatility too but it's not without detail niggles and the price is very high.
Design and geometry
As the name suggests the centerpiece of the T47 is a T47 oversized ‘universal’ bottom bracket block cold forget from 6AL-4V titanium. This comes complete with a bolted hatch underneath to allow guidance access to the semi internal cable routing. This reappears via two bolted insert segments on top of the downtube – another obvious new introduction on the T47.
If you know your Reillys though you’ll realize this third generation of the Gradient has completely new, more dramatically shaped tubes. These include a boat hull section top tube and a polygonal down tube with sharp side seams and a large diameter 31.6mm bore seat tube. The round rear stays have space for 700 x 55mm tires with a small inset ‘dent’ on the driveside chain stay for crank clearance as well as rack and mudguard mounts.
You get the latest flat mount rear brake standard and the rear brake hose pops out halfway along the inside of the chain stay keeping things neat. The fancy, machined dropouts have rack and mudguard mounts too, but the deep cowled flanges mean you’ll need to use spacers and extra long bolts with some rack leg angles which isn’t ideal.
While you also get bolt mounts for three bottle cages and a ‘gas tank’ top tube bag/accessory mount. I was disappointed to see none of the bolts had been coated with ‘Ti prep’ anti-seize compound. The belly bottle bolts are also too short to secure most cages properly. The T47 bottom bracket block also has an open hole that's ideally placed for front mech cable routing. However it also ideally placed for water and grit coming off the back wheel to go straight down into the bottom bracket.
The seat post clamping slot is facing backwards – which isn't ideal for keeping the frame clean inside and seatpost adjustment smooth. Granted these aren’t difficult things to self-solve with a rubber plug or slice of old inner tube sleeve but they're glitches I wouldn't expect to see on a £2900 frame.
The forks are fully feature loaded with triple-bolt mounts on each leg, internal dynamo routing on the right and internal brake routing on the left. The oversized dropouts also include eccentric clamshell inserts which can be unbolted and rotated to change rake between 47 and 52mm. The shallow bolts holding the two parts of the inserts together need careful handling though and you’ll need to re-space the flat mount front brake with a stack of washers so it doesn’t jam the brake rotor, which means it’s not a quick job. Otherwise geometry is variable depending on size which is good to see and our medium sample had a 71.5-degree head angle and 74-degree seat angle with a 550mm virtual top tube.
Note, if you want a more traditional looking Ti frame, you can get the Gradient frame set with standard BB, less shaped tubes and external cable routing for £400 less.
Components and build
The sample bike Reilly sent me was slightly off-piste as it used a single ring GRX 810 Di2 set up rather than the £5349 dual ring flagship complete bike option. Everything else was standard though including a full Ti-jazzling package including titanium top cap, steerer bolt, headset spacers and even headset (£159.99 separately). The ‘Reilly’ inline carbon seat post gets titanium bolts too, and while the ‘Reilly’ stem uses stainless steel bolts it’s still light. The 100mm on my sample bike was definitely on the long side but you can specify different lengths when you custom order. A 440/525mm flared carbon (slight) riser drop bar completes the front end. Reilly fully capitalise on the T47 frame by fitting a £219 SN=Vitae Module 47 bottom bracket as standard too.
As Reilly Cycleworks supply direct rather than going through shops that means you'll get your bike in a box. Issues with potential tubeless leaks when shipping mean they supply bikes with innertubes. This obviously undermines the puncture sealing, and smoother, lower pressure ride gains of the normally excellent Continental Terra Trail tires. You can request tubeless valves so you can add your own sealant when the bike arrives though. Either way the DT Swiss alloy hoops used on the default hand built Strada wheel specs give a firmer, more nervy ride feel. That means we'd certainly suggest choosing a broader rim if you're going to spend significant time off road.
Ride, handling and performance
While the big tire clearances and bolts all over the place underline the versatile ‘adventure’ potential of the Gradient, its natural vibe is much more road/speed biased. That’s because shaping the tubes as aggressively as Reilly always really sharpens up the ride of titanium tubes. The big, cold forged T47 bottom bracket stiffens up the heart of the bike compared to a conventional slimmer BB tube too. As a result there’s still some of the signature glide and ‘glow’ that titanium fans prize coming from the stays on the road or smoother, lower amplitude buzz off road surfaces. While it’s not light, it surges really pleasingly over the top of climbs and there’s a sense of repaid spring energy as you relax into a gear after an acceleration so it sustains speed easily, efficiently and enjoyably. Bigger root and rock jolts come through harder than expected for Ti though and the Gradient T47 generally feels perched on the trail rather than settled down into it. Part of the precarious feel and ride sharpness certainly comes from the Strada wheels and slightly rim pinched tubed tire. The T47 felt a lot more settled and connected when I switched to broader, better damped Reserve carbon wheels to double check.
The supplied 100mm stem and fork inserts in the forward position also give the Gradient a 'fat tire road bike' rather than 'confident off-roader' handling feel. Shifting the front wheel back gives it a noticeably more relaxed and confidently stable feel in loose gravel or sandy corners though. As a result, I'd definitely recommend going through the faff of juggling brake spacers to make it work (or getting Reilly Cycleworks to make the switch for you) if you'll be riding off-road a lot. If you do go that way, I'd advise a shorter stem to keep it interested in turning into corners or responding to varying grip. I wouldn’t advise going much shorter than 70mm though as it will feel cramped because of the inline post, then again that more forward position helps load up the front tire in turns for more grip. That large diameter inline post is definitely no arse saving suspension friend unfortunately and that definitely contributes to the wallopy rather than willowy feel of the bike over rougher surfaces. Though those stout dimensions should reduce frame strain when running a big seat pack.
On the subject of bikepacking and adventure riding, it’s worth noting that the triangulated top tube which really digs into your shoulder definitely isn’t a ‘hike a bike’ friendly feature.
Reilly Cycleworks have created a really distinctive bike with the T47, both in terms of the more powerful drive from the oversized BB, conversation provoking tube profiles and the semi-internal cable routing. Titanium addicts will probably love the sheer amount of the metal packed into the build – even if it’s a far from cost effective move. The amount of mounts and level of tire clearance are also big pluses for adventure riders – just as long as they never want to put the bike on their shoulder.
The mixed terrain days I spent testing the T47 everywhere from road, to sand traps and big chunky gravel were enjoyable and efficiently rapid. The ability to tweak the steering is potentially useful even the brake adjustment feels like a bit of a bodge. The amount of work done on the frame makes it ride with less of the ‘magic’ flow and flex than simpler, much cheaper titanium bikes I’ve tested though. The wheel choice definitely didn’t do the overall feel any favors either and I'd choose a slightly shorter stem if I was riding off-road regularly. Given the high price I hope Reilly will make sure they prep proper length bottle bolts after reading this review too.
Tech specs: Reilly Cycleworks Gradient T47
- Discipline: Gravel, bikepacking
- Price: £2,499 (frame, forks and headset), complete builds from £4,149
- Head angle: 71.5 degrees
- Frame material: 6061 Titanium alloy
- Fork material: Carbon fiber monocoque
- Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
- Weight: 9.54kg
- Wheel size: 700c
- Gearing: Shimano GRX Di2 11-speed rear mech and shifters
- Drivetrain: Shimano GRX 800 T chainset with SN=Vitae Module 47 bottom bracket. 42T cassette
- Brakes: Shimano GRX 810 hydraulic disc with 160mm front and 140mm rear rotors.
- Tires: 700 x 40mm tires on Strada All Season wheels
- Handlebar: Reilly Cycleworks 440mm flared carbon bar and 100mm stem
- Seatpost: 31.6mm carbon inline
- Saddle: Titanium railed