Reid City 3 review

Tue Nov 26, 2019

I got a new bike! It’s a nice upgrade from my extremely old and now-broken Norco mountain bike. This time around, I looked for a decent hybrid bike and my local bike shop recommended the Reid City 3.

I didn’t want a cheap Canadian Tire or Sportchek bike with a short life and flimsy no-name components, nor did I want to pay a premium for a well-known brand such as Trek or Giant. And although you can definitely save money going for a well-serviced used bike, I opted for new because I tend to keep my stuff for a long time. So, I decided to go with Reid - a promising newcomer.

Reid is an Australian company and they’ve only recently introduced their bikes to Canada. They’re decently priced ($570 CAD retail, but it’s the end of the season, so I got 20 percent off that). But the most important thing is that they have a lifetime warranty on the frame, so they’re not messing around. The City 3 comes with decent Shimano, Suntour, and Tektro components as well as Kenda tires. And if I wanted to, upgrading the components wouldn’t be a problem with the hydroformed aluminum frame serving as a solid base to work with.

The City 3 can be classified as a dual-sport hybrid because it has a slightly thicker tire and a suspension fork, which traditional hybrids don’t have. It’s great for constantly switching between gravel trails and paved roads, which is pretty much all we have around here in the Vancouver suburbs.

When compared to other dual-sport hybrids on the market, the City 3 holds up really well on paper. To get a specific idea of what that means, let’s do a spec comparison between the City 3 and the Trek Dual Sport 1, another entry-level hybrid on the market from a more well-known brand.

Trek’s Dual Sport 1 retails for $660, but is it worth almost $100 more than the City 3? The Trek’s smooth welding joints and internal routing do give the frame a sleeker more aerodynamic look. But the bikers I’ve spoken with all agree that internal cable routing is a royal pain if you have to repair the cables. So, pretty, but impractical.

Both bikes use the exact same Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes for that extra bit of stopping power. Another perk of disc brakes is that switching wheels or repairing flats is a lot easier than with V-brakes. Both bikes also sport responsive 700cc wheels for that road-bike feel.

Further comparison, however, puts the City 3 firmly ahead in my mind, especially when looking at the suspension.

Both bikes have a Suntour NEX suspension fork, but you can lock out the suspension on the City 3, whereas you can’t on the Trek. But isn’t the ability to adapt to different riding conditions the very definition of a dual-sport hybrid? Switching between a stable, rigid ride on the road and a softer, cushioned ride on the trails is a really great feature. I’m not entirely sure why Trek excluded suspension lock-out - after all, if you’re adding the extra weight of a suspension fork onto a hybrid, you may as well make it as versatile and useful as possible.

Other component choices also leave me favouring the City 3. For example, both bikes use Shimano Altus components (which I understand to be a step above Shimano Tourney). The Trek, however, uses a Tourney on the front derailleur and an Altus on the rear derailleur. The City 3 uses Altus for everything.

Also, the City 3 is a 27-speed bike opposed to Trek’s 21 speeds. And the City 3 uses a modern Shimano cassette but the Trek uses an inferior SunRace freewheel.

I could go on, but the point isn’t to bash Trek (Editor’s note: it’s too late for that buddy) - the point is that Reid did not make any compromises when putting the City 3 package together. Sure, the City 3 isn’t an expensive enthusiast mountain bike, but for a “starter” bike it more than earns its premium commuter label without a mark-up for brand recognition.

Will the Reid City 3 fall apart in a year or two? Maybe. I haven’t owned mine long enough, so perhaps a follow-up on quality control would be in order. But, I’m not too worried - I’m happy with it so far. The only problems I’m experiencing are typical for a brand new bike - the cables are stretching (totally normal as the cables settle in) and causing chain skips and mushy brakes. But my bike shop is giving me six months of free service, so I’ll definitely get it tuned up once I’ve broken it in more.

Anyway, let’s move on, because - as they say in the tech world - user experience trumps specs. Poring over specifications may be fun for geeks, but doesn’t really answer the essential question - is the City 3 fun to ride?

The answer to that question gets into subjective territory. But the short answer is no. The City 3 is not fun to ride.

But the City 3 isn’t a fun friend that you party with. The City 3 is a serious, dependable friend who won’t let you down.

And to be honest, I like that sort of friend better.

Sure, you might have more fun screaming down hills on a full-suspension mountain bike. And yes, you may have fun gliding along a straight at insane speeds on a road bike. But the City 3 will get you to work on time - and you’ll smile while doing it. Because this bike gives you a smooth, solid ride with no drama.

The City 3 is nimble and rock solid on the road with decent speed on the highest gears. I know this bike is faster than my old bike because I hear louder cries of protest than usual from dog walkers when I forget to ring my bell as passing by. And even though the City 3 doesn’t come close to matching the speeds of a dedicated road bike, it is sprightly and easier to handle.

This bike really shines on hills. With a locked suspension and 27 gears, the City 3 handles killer slopes with aplomb; those uphill slogs just feel easy. In fact, I haven’t yet encountered any steep grades that force me to jump off and push it up the hill. With my previous bike, there were plenty of these slightly humiliating moments.

Gravel trails are bumpier than they would be on a mountain bike, but the suspension does take the edge off - more so when going downhill. I think it’s safe to say that this bike is not designed for technical downhill trails or jumps.

In retrospect, you could probably ditch the suspension, save some weight and be totally fine. But the suspension is a nice perk, especially if you’re not a speed freak.

And that’s the story of the City 3 really - it doesn’t excel at any one thing, but it offers some all-round goodness and a gratifying mix of efficiency and play. It is utilitarian - but not boring.

What you get with this bike is a stylish, dependable ride to work and a thoughtful design. All the hardware mounts are there for putting on a bike rack, lights, fenders, or a water bottle holder and making this the ultimate commuting machine.

And perhaps I was a bit too harsh earlier - after all, you can have a bit of fun with your serious friend on the weekends as long as you don’t party too hard.

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