Prototypes of the X-100 tubes were first shown at Interbike in 1999 but the new material has taken until now to perfect. Reynolds expects a number of OEMs will take up with the tubing for 2003 model year. Just as with 753, framebuilders have to be licensed by Reynolds to weld X-100. The only UK framebuilder licensed to date is Pace.

INTERBIKE: Say goodbye to fat tubes, Reynolds launch X-100 aluminium tubing

X-100 is an aluminium/lithium alloy tubing that aims to bridge the gap between the high strength of steel and low density of aluminium, whilst allowing a lively but durable ride. Current alloys based on 6061 and 7005 alloys normally require larger diameters to maintain frame stiffness: with X-100 tubes Cannondale’s could be svelte!

The material debuted at Interbike in Las Vegas in 1999 but it took a further two years of development to bring it to market.

The X-100 ingot is shipped from the US to Tyseley, Birmingham, where it is drawn and made into tubes.

Terry Bill – with Reynolds since 1962 – told that the only other application he knows for the material which is made into X-100 is on NASA’s Space Shuttle.

“We will always be strong in steel but to grow the business we’ve got to produce more exotic materials too. Anybody can buy straight-gauge titanium, we offer butted titanium. We aim to stay in the top niche, producing specialised products,” said Bill.

Reynolds MD Keith Noronha (pictured above) said turnover for Reynolds in the first nine months of 2001 was up by 50 percent over the same period last year.

However, he admits that the market is tough, and getting tougher:

“But you’ve got to get things in perspective,” he said.

“Reynolds has been through two World Wars, numerous recessions and we have suffered many other threats to our existence. But we’re still here.”

To prove Reynolds’ heritage – and longevity – Terry Bill showed a director’s minutes book dating from the company’s foundation in 1897. This was found during a recent clear-out at the Birmingham factory and was rescued from the dustbin.

It starts in long-hand, with the company founders – Alfred Milward Reynolds and JT Hewitt – confirming their patent for producing butted tubing, and setting up the it-does-what-says-on-the-tin Patent Butted Tubing Co. Ltd.

The company name was changed to Reynolds Tube Co. in 1923. 531 tubing was first produced in 1935; 753 in 1976.

During World War II, Reynolds produced 25 000 miles of light alloy and steel tubing for various applications, including for 20 000 Spitfires.

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