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Genesis Croix de Fer Ti review

26 Feb 2016
Verdict:

The Genesis Croix de Fer Ti makes a compelling case that titanium is good for every terrain.

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Pumps out the thrills on bridleways and beyond
Against 
A bit of a heavyweight

Genesis has added a titanium version of its ever-popular Croix de Fer steel adventure bike to the range this year, claiming to offer a lighter option, yet still retaining the ‘cross-terrain capacity for which the CdF is famous’. 

It’s only natural that a bike built to take you along backroads and dirt tracks alike should feel robust, but this is for nothing if it doesn’t have the agility to take you where you need to go with a certain aplomb at speed. We’ll see whether titanium works in this package, and if the Croix de Fer Ti is the perfect all-terrain bike.

Frameset

Genesis Croix de Fer Ti headtube

The CdF’s frame is made from the same grade material as used in aircraft hydraulic systems – seamless and heat-treated 3AL, 2.5V titanium. However, subtle differences in tube shaping make this bike stand out. An oval-profile top tube meets the tapered head tube while a 44mm-diameter down tube morphs from boxy to oval as it extends to the bottom bracket. Beefed-up seatstays and chainstays flare toward the rear axle, leaving clearance for its whopping great 35c cross tyres.

There are mounts for racks and mudguards, too. All cabling is externally routed, which might make adjustment and maintenance easier, but the bike’s gear cables featuring brass adjusters (see below) which run from the head tube to bottom bracket without any outers, were already showing signs of frayed coatings. A lengthy wheelbase of 1,032mm means extra stability, while a head angle of 71.8° backs this up. Fancy your own build? There’s a frameset-only option for £1,800.

Groupset

Genesis Croix de Fer Ti crankset

Almost everything is 105 spec apart from the chain, which is a budget-friendly KMC X11. A 50/34 chainset works with an identical ratio cassette to the Enigma and J.Laverack bikes. Like the Enigma, there are RS505 shifters, which offer 10mm of adjustability for reach, and are compatible with all 11-speed Shimano systems.

Finishing kit

There’s unspectacular in-house Genesis alloy kit for the bars, stem and seatpost. We like the RandoX bars, though – shape-wise, they offer swept-back tops and a comfortable reach to flared drops, which is good for control on dirt tracks. They’re wrapped with cork tape so thick that we had to go gloveless. This padding has its benefit off-road, but if you’re riding on tarmac, we found it robs the feel.

Wheels

Genesis Croix de Fer Ti rack mounts

Tubeless-compatible Alex 1.9S wheels have a 19mm diameter, so can accommodate tyres like the Clement’s 35c X’Plor USH and are well-suited to cycling on and off-road. Once in the rough stuff, they work well, but struggle in the wet due to the lack of proper CX tread on their shoulders. Overall, a good on/off-road compromise.

The ride

The rugged Croix de Fer does have some get-up-and-go, and instantly feels comfortable and at ease in any situation, more so on fire roads. However, it’s giving away almost 2.3kg to an equivalent-sized Kinesis Racelight GF_01.

Genesis Croix de Fer Ti review

That said, this new Croix de Fer is almost 1kg lighter than the lightest steel-framed CdF, so we’re not going to give it too much of a working over for being the heavyweight of this bunch. Where this bike’s strength really lies is in its all-day comfort, on most surfaces. A fairly relaxed head angle, low bottom bracket and long wheelbase make it an excellent choice for a lengthy ride. Taking a bridleway excursion halfway round our usual test loop provided a glimpse of the CdF’s all-terrain capability, and allowed the 35c tyres to shine. Once back on the road, those tyres were a little skittish on damp roads. Stopping on looser surfaces is where the hydraulic brakes’ ease of modulation really comes into its own, with one finger all that’s needed to scrub speed off. Give the levers a handful and you have enough control to stop on loose chippings or even gravel tracks. 

The CdF does feel a little ponderous on tarmac when carving a descent, however, but this is likely to be a result of the tread pattern of the tyres and the amount by which they deform – especially the front under braking – more than the bike’s geometry. We don’t get on with the Genesis Road Comfort saddle. Like the deeply wrapped handlebars, its luxurious padding takes a little feel away from the rear end. When the titanium frame and a 27.2mm seatpost is doing a lot of that work anyway, it’s largely superfluous. That said, like the tyres (see below), it would be easy to swap if you’re looking for more feedback.

Let’s make no bones about it, this bike is a real hoot on bridleways. The easy-going riding position, deeply padded bars and wide tyres make this titanium charger something you can truly ride on 80% of surfaces, and in more comfort than the steel version. Once you learn to trust in the side grip of the tyres and loosen up, the frame does its best to eliminate buzz; progress can be rapid, too, especially on level dirt tracks. On the road, you need to be careful with your tyre pressure; we ran 85psi on tarmac. As long as you don’t expect exceptional acceleration from the tyres, you’ll be fine. Plus, you can swap them out for something more road-oriented like a pair of Schwalbe Ones – currently £23.50 each at wiggle.co.uk.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 530mm 530mm
Seat Tube (ST) 480mm 482mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 620mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 372mm
Head Tube (HT) 125mm 125mm
Head Angle (HA) 72 72.3
Seat Angle (SA) 74 73.5
Wheelbase (WB) N/A 972mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 82mm

Spec

Genesis Croix de Fer Ti
Frame

3AL 2.5V double-butted titanium, carbon fork with 1.5- 1.125in tapered steerer

Groupset

Shimano 105

Brakes

Shimano RS785 hydraulic discs 

Chainset

Shimano 105, 50/34

Cassette

Shimano 105, 11-32

Bars

Genesis RandoX Flared, alloy

Stem

Genesis Road, alloy

Seatpost

Genesis, alloy, 27.2mm

Wheels

Alex Rims Draw 1.9S

Saddle

Genesis Road Comfort

Weight 10.28kg
Contact genesisbikes.co.uk
Price: 
£2,999

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