In the beginning, all mountain bikes were steel. And it was good.
But some people were not satisfied with this. They knew there were other, lighter metals that could be used. Specifically, aluminium.
In the late 80’s though, the process of welding aluminium was in its infancy, so builders looking to utilize its weight savings, resorted to bonding the frames. Raleigh’s Technium bikes are probably the most well known of this style. Their bikes were apparently made by Reflex in Salt Lake City. From about ’88 to ’92, Reflex sold their own bonded bikes.
Reflex – like Scott – started out in the ski industry, making poles. Moving over to mountain bikes was a logical progression, as their core demographic – skiers – was more than happy to get out to the mountains in the summer too.
You wouldn’t be out of line to say that Reflex was just a different name on an Easton mountain bike. Tubes were 6061 aluminium (E9) and carbon fibre (C9) tubes bonded to steel lugs. Cables were internally routed on some models.
I always thought the Reflex was a very impressive looking bike. The tubes were anodized, and the lugs were unfinished, matte grey. We had a dealer here in Edmonton, so there were a couple around. I remember being told they were prone to breaking. Or, maybe it was just one meatball rider that was prone to breaking them? Either way, I got the impression they didn’t last long.
Reflex the company definitely didn’t last long. Once reliable aluminium welding techniques were developed – around ’93 – the bonded aluminium bike didn’t have a chance. Having to make lugs severely limits what you can do with frame geometry because of the time and expense involved. The awesome MOMBAT has a Bicycle Guide test of the TWX model from 1990, which states that there were only three sizes available. All three sizes used the same lugs, and therefore had the same geometry. Most companies would have different geometries between their 16″ and 21″ frames.
Bicycle Guide was also not particularly impressed with the weight, calling it “average for aluminium” at 4 lbs 11 oz. Nor were they impressed with the price, which at $825-$875 with Shimano Deore LX parts, was about $200 more than the average LX equipped bike.
So, you’re different, and you’re high tech. But, you’re expensive, and you don’t really have a major performance edge. Not all that surprising that Reflex only managed a couple years in the market. Once the super light Easton Elite and ProGram tubing became available, the writing was on the wall.
They only lasted about three or four years, and then seemingly sold off the design. There are Look and Peugeot bikes out there that are identical.
Cool, but not that successful.