Temple Cycles Road 2 Review: The Future Vintage Steel

After an extended hiatus from riding a dedicated road bike, Hailey Moore dips back into the category with a review of UK-based Temple Cycles Road 2. Read on for Hailey’s thoughts on this neo-classic with future vintage ambitions…

Despite the current gravel heyday, I have a confession: I love road riding. On the one hand, a breezy cruise on quiet back roads can have all of the sensory leisure of an afternoon picnic. On the other, there’s nothing quite like going full gas on a paved climb, grimacing on the hoods and feeling the light-footed allure of your own power unimpeded on the pedals. And, as anyone who’s ever done significant touring on dirt may know, hitting a stretch of fast pavement after hours of bumpy gravel grinding feels like you’re getting away with something seductively nefarious.

The irony of road riding is that it’d be true luxury if it weren’t for all of the cars, the primary deterrent of this surface for many cyclists. Stumbling on a chance stretch of tarmac closed to motor vehicles really feels like you’re getting away with something. At the 2023 Rapha Yomp Rally, I experienced one of the best road descents I’ve ridden on one such car-free stretch of Mulholland Drive above Los Angeles and, similarly, on a few improbably-paved ski area access roads while touring in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains last summer. Both have remained personal instances of peak pavement.

Riding the Rapha Yomp Rally 2023; photo: Anton Krupicka

While you can, obviously, pedal pavement on any bike, riding a road bike on the road amplifies the experience. With less chance for mechanicals, faster miles and fewer distractions, riding a road bike feels less encumbered; in a way, it’s a quieter experience—both beneath your wheels and in your head—smooth, silky, elegant even. The simple sophistication of road riding is reflected in the archetypal skinny-tubed steel road bike. For me at least, it’s a pleasing image to conjure; the word timeless comes to mind.

Timeless. That’s a bit of a slippery word. But for Matt Mears, founder of UK-based Temple Cycles, it is also a revered designation.

“Very few things being manufactured right now will become timeless,” said Matt during a recent conversation about how Temple’s latest bike, the Road 2, aims to contribute to the brand’s mission to create enduring designs. As an evolution of Matt’s former project of restoring and reselling vintage frames, Temple has, since 2012, built their name around their production town bikes and off-road focused touring/adventure bikes. Released in late 2023, the Road 2 is the brand’s first dedicated offering in the category.

Quick Hits

  • Reynolds 853 steel frame and fork
  • Flat mount disc brakes
  • Durable powdercoat paint finish
  • Shimano 105 12-speed groupset
  • Rack mounts and full mudguard mounts front and rear
  • Clearance for 700 x 35c or 700 x 30c with mudguards
  • 27.2 mm seat post
  • 12 mm thru-axles, front and rear (included)
  • 142 mm rear dropout spacing
  • BSA threaded 68 mm bottom bracket
  • Reynolds tubeset made in UK; frames manufactured in Vietnam; bikes painted and completed in the UK
  • Price: $3420 complete or $1479 for the frameset

Road 2 Overview

Released in tandem with the Ultegra Di2-upgraded Road 1, the Road 2 promises riders the buttery ride quality and uncompromising durability of Reynolds 853 steel, used for both frame and fork construction. Known for its strong-yet-forgiving characteristics, 853 was released in 1995 as the world’s first commercial air-hardened steel from the company that has—to date—been crafting butted steel tubing for almost 130 years.

Temple sources the frame tubing from the original Reynolds factory, in Birmingham, England, and the frames are welded in Vietnam. The raw frames are then returned to the UK where they are painted and turned into complete builds to await shipping. Temple also has several retail locations in England and Germany that serve as showrooms for their bikes.

At nearly $1,500 less than its electronic-shifting counterpart, the complete Road 2 I reviewed (size medium) came specced with a standard and serviceable mechanical road group: 12-speed Shimano 105 with 50/34t chainrings and an 11-34T cassette. Notably, the bike is built around disc brakes (more on this later) and rolls on Hunt Four Season All Road alloy wheels.

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a road bike regularly, so upon arrival I knew I’d want to max out the Road 2’s tire clearance to create as plush a ride as possible. While swapping out the provided Panaracer Agilest TLR 700 x 30c tires with a pair of extralight Rene Herse 700 x 35c Bon Jon Pass, I also had to remove the fender bolt on the bottom side of the seat-stay bridge for the rear tire to clear. Tire size can vary brand to brand, so let my experience serve as a reminder to leave margin of error for stated tire widths.

How Timeless?

Like all of Temple’s bikes, the Road 2 comes in a few understated finish options, neutrals and earth tones that—as Matt might say—make the bike feel unified with the surrounding landscape. This idea of symbiosis seems to inform Temple’s design approach; when talking to me about his more relaxed approach to riding and touring, Matt also quipped that “there’s just something garrish about seeing someone riding through the countryside on a fluorescent yellow bike.” In this way, taking color palette cues from the natural world is one step that Temple is taking to ensure their bikes have lasting appeal.

As stated on the website, Temple’s ethos for its road category reads, ”the future vintage steel.” There’s inherent contrast—or compromise—in that intentional juxtaposition that becomes apparent once you’ve looked past the Road 2’s clean lines and simple stance. While the frame’s silhouette very nearly strikes the lauded 73°/73° HTA and STA parallel for my 54 cm review bike (73° and 73.5° respectively, though this disparity deviates more across smaller sizes), the only lugged details reminiscent of some other road vintages are at the seat-post insertion and at the fork crown. That fact, and the absence of any rake in the fork blades, do feel a bit like missed aesthetic opportunities given the bike’s classical influence, though, of course, these preferences lie in the eye of the beholder.

What caused Matt some amount of personal anguish though was the choice to design the bike around disc brakes. When the topic came up during our chat, it was clear that if designing the bike solely for himself, Matt would have stayed true to the classic rim-brake course in Temple’s road debut, but conceded based on customer feedback (“people just want disc brakes”). It was this forward-thinking component choice that influenced the fork profile, as the more powerful braking forces of disc brakes make it difficult to engineer curved fork blades that still pass safety standards.

The effect of using disc brakes on the fork design exemplifies the interesting tension in Temple’s catch phrase: future vintage steel. Upon first read, I understood this more as meaning “bikes modeled on the past, made today and built for the future.” But in reality, while I think Temple’s designs do borrow timeless elements from the previous eras, they are grounded in the present by their acknowledgement and use of the technological advancements that have come in the wake of their predecessors. Some elements of classic road bikes aren’t compatible with Temple’s concept of future vintage and, by extension, future serviceability, another one of the brand’s core values. In short, to skirt the hurdles of appearing outdated, the Road 2 adopts contemporary components while employing elements deemed truly timeless.

What is lasting about vintage road bikes is simple silhouettes of durable construction, as compared to the flashier carbon frames common today that, as Temple would say, just result in the upgrade culture surrounding bikes. Matt and Temple at large are having to do their best crystal-ball peering to determine which elements—parts or design standards—will be lasting and which will fade. As Matt told me, his barometer for success will be seeing Temple’s bikes in 20, 30, or 40 years’ time, steeped in stories and beausage, but still rolling just as well as the day they left the shop.

The choice to use Reynolds 853 shows a keen interest on Temple’s part to give this bike good bones from a legacy tubeset provider; it’s common knowledge that steel will far outlast carbon and aluminum and can still be repurposed at the end of its life. Furthermore, the 853 tubeset is already made from recycled steel sources. While eschewing other current vintage standards, like 1” steerer tubes and rim brakes, may make the Road 2 look less like its road forebears, these decisions go a long way in future-proofing the classically-inspired frame.

The Ride

Most of my riding in the winter months is relegated to the road, given the frequent snowfall in Colorado’s Front Range, but it’s been several years since I’ve had an actual road bike for these off-season miles. I have to say, after logging over 500 miles on the Road 2, I’ve felt the itch to expand my bicycle quiver.

Despite what a lot of marketing would tell you, riding a gravel bike with skinny tires is not, in fact, like having a road bike. While I sheepishly cop to putting a wider handlebar on the Road 2 (given my habituation to a bit of flare in the drops from so much time spent on my gravel bikes), this bike feels much more spritely than my fastest gravel frame, Rodeo Adventure Labs’ (carbon) Trail Donkey 3.1 (2020 version). There’s just no getting around the geometric influence of a steeper head tube and a shorter wheelbase.

I felt this most acutely when out just simply making miles; on undulating terrain I found myself riding 1-2 mph faster than I’m used to on my Trail Donkey without even trying. My most memorable rides on the Road 2 included some “extended” commutes where this extra speed was especially noticeable: a 40-mile one-way ride to my Physical Therapist’s office that I added some climbing onto on the return to make it my first century of the year; and a 100-kilometer day-trip to Denver on a gray February day, a common winter-ride excuse my partner and I use to go out to lunch. On both occasions, I appreciated how efficient and focused the Road 2 felt for the rolling routes.

While climbing or descending, the Road 2 felt expectantly agile. It’s not the lightest road frame, nor is it trying to be (because: steel), so while I didn’t necessarily find myself setting any hill climb PRs on my local routes, the Road 2 felt up to any climbing task and rewarded my efforts by being a blast on the descents.

In my experience, the Reynolds 853 tubeset delivered a completely satisfactory ride-feel. It felt smoother than a chattery carbon road frame, but it didn’t defy the laws of physics and (relatively) high-PSI skinny tires when hitting road seams. I am not the smallest or lightest female rider, but I would say that I am a bit lighter than the average medium-size-frame rider and—admittedly—could not feel the bike noticeably flexing beneath me the way that I’ve heard some riders talk about frame flex. There are a couple caveats to my impressions of the ride quality that I should point out: 1) I often ride wide-tire bikes; and 2) these days, I ride exclusively on carbon wheels on my own bikes, though I’ve spent many miles in the past on alloy rims. Taking these confounding factors into consideration, I’d still say that I found the Road 2 to be smoothish but not overly so.

Matt and I are both fans of the Rough Stuff Fellowship Archive and it’s easy to picture the Road 2 (or at least the frame) inserted into one of those old film photos showing the old-school adventurists shouldering their bikes off-road over snowfields and mountain passes. And while I appreciate the ambition of past generations who ventured across the rough stuff on road frames—and even modern-day World Tour riders charging cobbles on sub-30-millimeter tires—after a few dips onto dirt on the Road 2, I came away feeling grateful for the specialization of bike design today. In short, aside from very smooth crushed gravel, I think the Road 2 best serves its rider when on pure pavement.


There’s a sleekness and kind of poetry to riding a pure road bike that I think the Road 2’s classically-inspired design and modern componentry further enhances; like a trusty film camera or well-tailored peacoat, some things truly are timeless and—usually—the things that last are the most simply-appointed. While I found a few aesthetic limitations in the Road 2, I do think that Temple has crafted a well thought-out bike that harkens to the past while also keeping its focus on the future.


  • High-quality and durable Reynolds 853 tubeset made from recycled sources
  • Forward-looking design standards for improved serviceability
  • Lifetime warranty from Temple


  • Frame clearance tight for some 35 mm tires

See more at Temple Cycles.