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Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20 review

11 Mar 2016
Verdict:

The Genesis Equilibrium is a popular and versatile all-rounder, and now it comes with disc brakes.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,550
For 
Comfortable
Against 
Not terribly exciting

British brand Genesis has a reputation for clever, unfussy design and its Equilibrium range has developed a strong following over the years. While the cheaper models still feature rim brakes, the upper end of the range recently switched to discs. This necessitated a redesign, with the whole bike getting beefed up to cope with the additional braking forces. It now also rolls on high-volume tyres, reinforcing the idea that it’s a bike that’s up for anything. All of this has added a fair chunk of weight, so we’re keen to see if new Equilibrium retains the charm of its predecessors. 

Frameset

Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20 headtube

Genesis uses its own brand Mjölnir steel in producing the Equlibrium. It’s cold drawn, 4130 chromoly that’s double butted to save weight. Genesis bills it as a like-for-like replacement of the better-known Reynolds 520 tubing, and with the firm’s long history of working with steel – its pro team raced on steel bikes until recently – it’s no surprise that the Equilibrium crams in plenty of clever technology. The complex cast dropouts that support the brakes are particularly neat. The tubes themselves are much wider than on the other bikes on test, and combined with the tapered head tube it adds up to a frame that would require stronger arms or legs that we

Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20 disc brake

posses to set it twanging. At no point did we find ourselves wishing for the added stiffness afforded by bolt-thru axles and instead were happy to be able to readily whip out the wheels. There’s also plenty of space for mudguards and racks should you wish to fit them.  

Groupset

The 105 groupset puts the Genesis on a level pegging with similar bikes. The compact chainset and 11-28 cassette make sense on a versatile bike like this, giving plenty of scope to winch up even the steepest hills. While the shift levers are mechanical, the brake callipers are TRP’s hybrid cable/hydraulic system. Power is up with the best fully mechanical systems but lags slightly behind purely hydraulic alternatives, and the braking feel is also a little less direct. There’s also the minor issue of servicing and the fact that they’re kind of ugly.  

Finishing kit

The unbranded black finishing kit is workmanlike. We liked the shallow bars, which encourage you to get on the drops regularly, and both bars and stem are plenty stiff enough. The single-bolt seatpost is a bit clunky and we would have appreciated the security of a two-bolt design, especially on a bike that’s designed for riding on rougher surfaces.  

Wheels

Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20 tyres

Fulcrum’s Racing Sport DB wheels are in keeping with the rest of the build. They’re strong and – being designed for the muddy rigours of cyclocross – unlikely to succumb easily to winter conditions. The Challenge Paris-Roubaix tyres are more voluminous than their 27c width would suggest. They’re game for adventure and with the pressure dropped a little, they’ll eat up gravel tracks or even light off-road expeditions. Despite their width, they are still legitimately light, meaning there’s little to be gained by swapping to anything narrower anyway. Doing so would be playing against type.

The ride

A little slow to get underway, it’s instantly obvious that this bike stands slightly apart from more conventional steel road models. However, once reconciled to the fact that it isn’t likely to win any finish-line sprints, we were won over by the Equilibrium’s strengths in other areas, particularly the liberating sensation of being able to steamroller through mixed terrain. 

Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20 review

On smooth tarmac, the Genesis is comfortable and composed. It would make a great fast tourer or commute bike, although it’d be a stretch to call it exciting when applied to traditional road duties. Moderate frame weight, robust wheels and wide tyres even out inconsistencies in the road but make getting up to speed an unhurried affair. Realistically, the extra weight won’t put you at a significant disadvantage on the average club ride, but it does mean climbing and sprinting won’t feel quite as rewarding as on something lighter. Thankfully, once you reach cruising speed, little effort is required to keep the bike there, partly due to the semi-aero wheels. On canal towpaths or unmade roads that extra brawn comes into its own. The oversize tubing, burly tapered head tube and matching fork mean it tracks purposefully, while the steel construction and bulbous tyres stop it chattering over the bumps. 

None of the Equilibrium’s vital numbers are too far removed from regular road geometry. The 73-degree head angle and relatively lengthy chainstays mean handling is predictable, and with a bit of extra weight in the form of panniers, or when rattling along over bumpier surfaces, the added stability is very welcome. It’s also in these situations that the stiffness of the fork and wheels becomes noticeable, making it easy to muscle the bike out of sketchy situations or back into line if it starts sliding. The Equilibrium is a tough creature and more than happy being bunny-hopped over the odd sleeping policeman or pothole.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 559mm 560mm
Seat Tube (ST) 530mm 532mm
Down Tube (DT) 632mm
Fork Length (FL) 385mm
Head Tube (HT) 170mm 170mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.0 73.0
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.8
Wheelbase (WB) 1,003mm 995mm
BB drop (BB) 72mm 69mm

Spec

Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20
Frame Mjolir steel frame, carbon disc fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes TRP HyRd
Chainset Shimano 105, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Genesis Road Compact
Stem Genesis Road
Seatpost Genesis
Wheels Fulcrum Racing Sport DB
Saddle Genesis Road Race
Tyres Challenge Paris-Roubaix, 27c
Contact genesisbikes.co.uk

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