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Genesis Zero Z.1 review

9 Dec 2016
Verdict:

A top end frame at a keen price from the British stalwart

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,699
For 
High-quality frame; racy yet comfortable
Against 
Slightly limited gearing; needs a tyre upgrade; on the heavy side

The Genesis Zero Z.1 differs to many carbon-fibre framed bikes at this particular price point in that it uses premium-grade 30-40-ton carbon in its frame manufacturing process.

Combining this high-quality frameset with the latest generation of Shimano Tiagra groupset, Genesis has created a splendid-looking bike that should – given the company’s proud heritage – deliver a race-ready performance in a package guaranteed to go the distance.

But would it? We jumped on board the Zero and set off to find out!

Frameset

While leading edges might be becoming less popular in frame design, the Zero stands out with its triangular-section down tube.

This oversized tubing is connected at the front to a similarly expansive head tube, and the mutant tubing continues along the top tube, only narrowing along its slightly less triangular shape near the seat tube.

Box-section chainstays project towards the cassette, tapering slightly as they do, further enforcing the frame’s power-hungry nature.

This geometry angles the rider just over the front end. Cable routing is entirely internal, with a barrel adjuster on the rear mech’s cable near where it neatly enters the head tube.

Special mention also goes to the stylish paintjob, with flashes of bright orange on inner sections of the frame/fork contrasting with the bike’s otherwise black and white design.

Groupset

As we have found with other new Shimano Tiagra-equipped bikes recently, the newest incarnation of the Japanese firm’s entry-level groupset is a step up from the previous in terms of aesthetics and performance.

The Zero employs Tiagra for the shifters, brake callipers, plus the front and rear mechs. The bike’s claim of race-readiness is backed up by the combination of a 52/36 Tiagra chainset and 12-28 cassette.

Finishing kit

Genesis uses its own finishing kit across the build. The Road Comfort saddle is decent enough, and tops a 27.2mm alloy seatpost, which dials out vibration.

Also aluminium, the Tranz-X compact-drop handlebars, measuring 420mm in diameter, offer enough flex to keep hands comfortable on the drops while offering an ergonomically pleasing position for attack-mode riding.

Wheels

The Zero’s Alex CX26 rims have a 23mm external and 17mm internal diameter, supporting the 25c Continental Ultra Sport II tyres well, while offering the capability to go up to 28c should extra cushioning and contact patch undercornering be your bag.

Their 28-spoke set-up and Joytech hubs are designed with durability and low maintenance in mind. They’re a good choice at this price, although not the quickest or lightest. Invest in some Mavic Ksyrium Elites and this package is complete.

The ride

The Zero at first appears to be a compromise. A high-end frame equipped with a lower-end groupset, it looks like a bike that might be let down by its moving parts.

But that’s not the case, as Shimano’s latest Tiagra groupset is almost on a par with its superb 105 in its performance. This is immediately obvious as the front mech shifts smoothly, selects the big ring, and we power downhill to start our first test loop.

The Zero is sure-footed on descents and it rewards serious pedalling input generously.

The frame’s reactiveness, meanwhile, makes mincemeat of any kinks in the road. The higher gearing offered by its 52/36 chainset is a halfway house between a 50/34 compact and the once-prevalent 53/39 racer’s set-up, and it suits this bike perfectly, allowing us to make the most of the inherent stiffness of the frame.

Once we’ve got our breath back and settled into a rhythm on rolling roads, the Zero’s comfort levels impress, too.

Although the Conti tyres aren’t the quickest, they deflect a lot of road vibes with 90psi in the tubes. Once we’re faced with a proper short, sharp climb, however, the wheels themselves begin to let the package down with their bulk.

As expected, compromises have to be accepted at this price. This is a race-ready road bike – its frame proves itself taut and responsive – but without race wheels, it’s not fulfilling its potential.

As a bike to crack out a record century ride, however, you’d be advised to take a closer look. Handling The Zero’s steep head angle puts it in the realm of ‘sharp’ steering.

But, at the same time, it pulls off the trick of inspiring confidence to push harder in the corners.

Straight out of the box, it’s soundly appointed, except that the flare to the tips of those compact-drop handlebars forced our arms out wider, and therefore increased tension between the shoulder blades when riding for prolonged periods on the drops.

Their alloy construction transmits some vibration, but the overall smoothness of the frame and wide tyres make up for any harshness felt at the front.

The sharp front-end geometry means changes of direction are a simple case of point-and-shoot, while the rear end is a comfortable arrangement.

What you’ve got here, in other words, is a near-perfect race and sportive frame that you can embellish if your ambitions turn to competition.

RATINGS

Frame: Everything about the frame screams 'stiff!'. 9/10
Components: A mix of Genesis' own and excellent Shimano Tiagra. 7/10 
Wheels: Decent enough but neither the lightest or quickest. 7/10 
The ride: Surprisingly comfortable for a racy machine. 8/10 

Verdict: A top end frame at a keen price from the British stalwart. It pulls off the trick of inspiring confidence to push harder into the corners.  

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 565mm 565mm
Seat Tube (ST) 540mm 540mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 614mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 372mm
Head Tube (HT) 175mm 175mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.5 degrees 73.3 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73 degrees 73 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 990mm 990mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 62mm

Spec

Genesis Zero Z.1
Frame 30/40T Monocoque Carbon Road Race frame
Genesis Carbon SL Road Race fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Shimano Tiagra
Chainset Shimano Tiagra, 52/36
Cassette Shimano HG500, 12-28
Bars Genesis Tranz-X, alloy
Stem Genesis Code, alloy
Seatpost Genesis carbon, 27.2mm
Wheels Alex CX26, Continental UltraSport II 1 25mm tyres
Saddle Genesis Road Comfort
Weight 8.74kg (size M)
Contact genesisbikes.co.uk

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