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Genesis Croix de Fer 30 review

22 Mar 2020
Verdict:

Tanks along and feels like it could go on forever – once it gets moving

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,500

The ever-popular Genesis Croix de Fer is an enduring fixture within Genesis's range of steel bikes. A gravel bike before gravel was a ‘thing’, it’s long been pitched somewhere between a fast tourer and mud-plugging cyclocross rig.

At the same time, its mudguard clearance, unswerving manners and durable frame have made it a hit with commuters too. 

Ultra-adaptable, in using plain 9mm dropouts, all-treaded everything, plus multiple bottle and rack mounts, its Reynolds steel chassis goes light on jazzy gubbins and big on practicality.

Designed in the UK, it’s a machine that’s nevertheless been tweaked and polished over the years to keep it up to date with the prevailing trends. But has it improved with age?

Frame

Good quality Reynolds 725 steel tubing with traditional round profiles lend the Croix de Fer a clean and unfussy appearance.

However, the low slung chassis, featuring a stubby seat tube and longish top tube are modern, providing plenty of space to move about and make handling when loaded down with luggage an unharassed affair.

As you’d expect from a dedicated touring rig there are mounts for pinning on just about any extras you might imagine.

The available clearance means mudguards fit easily and while it’s not quite as generous as on some models it’s still possible to boost the volume of the tyres up to around 40c for serious off-road missions.

Both the frame and its matching steel fork do a stellar job of creating a sense of stability.

Groupset

Complete 105 hydraulic 11-speed with no deviations, except for the KMC brand chain, scores nearly full marks.

We’re taking one off because of the slightly more basic rotors and brake pads compared to what’s bolted to the rival Specialized Sequoia Elite and Fairlight Faran.

A standard road-going compact 50/34t chainset paired to a wide 11-32 cassette provides the ratios.

The result is a range of gears that are near-perfect on-road but with an easier enough low gear as to allow you to stay onboard for all but the most brutal off-road climbs.

Our one grumble is that – as with all the Shimano-equipped bikes on test – the mechanically excellent levers aren’t the prettiest additions to the bike. 

Finishing kit

Genesis takes care of the entire finishing kit. We’re particularly taken with the neutrally shaped and densely, but not overly, padded saddle.

It sits atop a twin-bolt seatpost for enhanced security and easy adjustment.

The flared bars feature easily reachable and generously proportioned drops. These help the rider achieve a wide stance for muscling the bike around and make covering the brakes for long periods comfortable, managing enough flex to stop your hands getting too numb.

Wheels

Clement’s X’Plor USH 35c tyres are both trendy and functional – great for everything from commuting to adventure touring.

They’re not much cop in the mud though, so you’ll want to swap them if you fancy having a go at cyclocross-style riding. The rims are decent quality and while no one buys a bike on the strength of the quick-releases, Shimano’s are among the best. 

The ride

It’s evident that the Genesis isn’t the lightest of bikes, but neither is it grossly overweight.

From prior experience we know the complete 105 groupset isn’t likely to throw up any surprises and its presence helps us instantly feel at home.

In fact, all the parts on the Genesis suggest a workmanlike nature, and it’s always pleasing to see a Reynolds sticker on a steel bike, especially when it denotes their 725 tubeset.

The Genesis is the epitome of practicality, but also a little boring. Its handling is slow but reassuring, while its sizeable wheelbase keeps it planted even when laden.

The front end isn’t particularly high, as on some touring bikes, meaning the rider will find themselves in an efficient position to put down some power if they see fit, although simultaneously it won’t punish users with middling flexibility.

The frame is neither too spry nor unforgivingly harsh. Ride it unloaded and it rolls along in an unhurried manner, while the quality of the components suggest it’ll do so almost indefinitely. It’s an easy bike to forget about.

The gearing will be familiar to anyone used to riding a modern road bike; the presence of a 32t sprocket provides a get-out clause for really brutal climbs but still leaves the range a bit tall for hauling your touring gear over real mountains. 

Not particularly light but not outrageously heavy, the Genesis’ weight is evenly distributed between frame and fork, wheels and tyres.

Consequently, it takes a little while to wind up to speed. Thankfully, a lack of movement across the frame means thrashing the pedals provides a direct response although there’s still a fair amount of bike to get moving.

Once there, though, it fairly tanks along, thanks in part to the large but slick-centered 35c Clement X’plor tyres. With a bit of pressure let out they team up well with the natural give in the steel frame to give an unruffled ride.

Having ridden the bike with narrower tyres, we can attest that swapping them in will help improve speed on-road, although obviously at the expense of capability on the trails you might be inclined to explore on this bike.

Ratings

Frame: Unfussy steel frame with space for you to move - 8/10 
Components: Quality 11-speeder, great for both on- and off-road - 9/10 
Wheels: Really versatile except for riding in the mud - 7/10 
The ride: Rolls along unhurriedly but can get up some steam - 8/10 

Verdict: Once the Croix de Fer gets moving, it tanks along and feels like it could go on forever

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 561mm 557mm
Seat Tube (ST) 530mm 536mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A N/A
Fork Length (FL) N/A N/A
Head Tube (HT) 155mm 155mm
Head Angle (HA) 71.5 degrees 71.5 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 degrees 71.5 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 1035mm 1030mm
BB drop (BB) 73mm 75mm

Spec

Genesis Croix de Fer 30
Frame Reynolds 725 Heat-Treated Chromoly
Groupset Shimano 105 hydraulic, 11-speed
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic
Chainset Shimano 105 50/34t
Cassette Shimano 105 11-32t
Bars Genesis X-Race Pro 16deg Flare
Stem Genesis AS-007 7-degree rise
Seatpost Genesis Alloy 27.2mm
Wheels Jalco/Shimano 32h
Saddle Genesis Road Comfort
Weight 11.44kg (M)
Contact genesisbikes.co.uk