Just in: Genesis Equilibrium 853

We've finished building our new Genesis frame in time for some Audaxy fun on the weekend...

by Dave Atkinson   March 20, 2013  

Okay, it's not really just in. We nicked it from Icebike a couple of weeks back, and the last time it was seen on these pages it was only half built. But now it's all up and together, and ready to take on the 214km Barry's Bristol Ball Buster Audax on Sunday, which will be its first real test. Here's what we did.

For those of you that have been living under a rock for the last few years, the Equlibrium is a modern steel classic. When we first reviewed it three years ago, our man Stu called it a "Superb handling super-versatile bike built for British conditions". That was the first incarnation, made from humble Reynolds 520 tubing; later versions were upgraded a bit to Reynolds 725 which is heat treated instead of cold worked for a higher tensile strength. There's a Titanium version too. And now this one, made from seamless, air hardened, heat treated Reynolds 853. Unlike the cheaper steels, 853's strength increases in the weld areas during cooling, and the tensile strength of the steel is higher again. This means thinner walls can be used throughout the frame for a lighter structure.

When Genesis first made the Equlibrium, they didn't have the Volare race bike in their range. The bikes aren't the same by any means – the Volare is designed to be a super-stiff race platform while the Equilibrium is more of a comfort distance machine – but there's more crossover between the two than there ever was between the Equilibrium and the Aluminium-framed Volant. That's maybe what's decided Dom at Genesis to spec the 853 frame with a matching, lugged, 853 fork. That makes it a very obviously different beast to the Volare. The frame geometry and profiles are just the same as the others; that means our 58cm frame has an effective top tube of 567mm, a head tube of 160mm, a 72° head angle and a 73.5° seat tube. That head tube doesn't sound very long but bear in mind there's a bit of extra length in the fork to accommodate the mudguards. Even so, it's less upright than some other, puportedly more sporty, bikes we've seen recently.

An Audax, for the uninitiated, is a better sort of sportive with masses of cake that costs a fiver. Look it up. Let's be clear: the Equilibrium has always been a fantastic bike for Audax. It's responsive, comfy and fairly light, with room for full mudguards. But a steel frame with a matching steel fork is proper Audax territory. Anyway, that's how we've built it. The aim is to roll it out for a nice friendly 200k this weekend and build up to a not-quite-so-nice 400k at the start of May. That'll be the longest ride I've ever done ever.

The transmission is dependable old Shimano 105. In the performance-versus-value equation it's the gear that gives the best balance, in my opinion. You get the trickle-down tech from Dura Ace and Ultegra, including the lever profiles and under-tape cabling, and the mechs also borrow heavily from the more expensive units. It's all a bit weightier, but it's a darn sight cheaper, and it lasts really well.

Also it's available as a triple. I've gone for the triple here, with an 11-28 cassette. That's more or less the same as a 50/34 compact with a wider cassette, but the jumps between gears are smaller and that's nice when you're tapping out a steady cadence on a long ride. Also it means you don't have to try as hard, as everyone assumes you'll be a plodder. Suits me.

Wheels are handbuilt, with a Shutter Precision PV-8 dynohub and a Halo Spinmaster rear on Mavic Open Pro rims. They're 32-spoke, so they're strong enough for heavy use without being particularly heavy wheels. The tyres are Panaracer RiBMos in a 28mm width. There's plenty of room for them even with full mudguards.

The mudguards in question are from Portland Design Works, they're called the Full Metal. Can you guess what they're made from? Yup. Aluminium, in fact. They were pretty easy to fit although the rear brake mount loops over the top of the calliper, something we've not seen. There's a single stay front and rear rather than two, but they're pretty beefy and the guard itself is quite stiff too, so they don't rattle about.

A dynamo hub means dynamo lights, and I've got a Supernova E3 Pro 2 system on the Equilibrium. As dynamo lights go, they can't really be bettered. The beam shape is more or less perfect for the road and they bat out enough power to see you right through the night.

The rear light is designed to be fitted to the mounting plate on the back of a rack. Our low-profile Tortec Velocity rack didn't have a full light mounting plate as it's too narrow, so we drilled and tapped some holes in the back and screwed it in directly. I've probably invalidated the warranty but hey, it looks really neat. And I'm not planning on scaling the Karakoram Highway or anything, the most I'm likely to load it up with is a single pannier. I'm only running one of the two top mounts as well but it's plenty sturdy enough for the job even then.

There's just one eyelet at the dropout so rack and 'guards have to share. So long as you fit the rack closest to the dropout it's rarely an issue, especially with light loads. A dab of threadlock helps to stop the whole thing working loose.

The Equlibrium doesn't have seatstay rack mounts. That's sort of fair enough on the more sporty, carbon forked, full bikes but a bit of an oversight on this all-steel beauty, I reckon. No matter: I've swapped out the seat collar for a Salsa one with integral rack mounting points. It works a treat.

The other thing the dynamo is running is a USB port, The Plug from Tout Terrain. It sits on top of the stem and all the electronic gubbins are hidden inside. It comes with a special expander bolt with a gap for the wire but it didn't fit in any of the forks I tried; in the end I just took a Dremel Multi to the star-fangled nut and cut a couple of the star-fangly bits back a bit to give the wire room to weave through.

The bars and stem are Zipp Service Course SL, the higher spec of Zipp's two alloy Service Course ranges. The 44cm bars are short and shallow for a nice easy drop postition. The stem I might have to swap out for a 120mm, at 110mm it feels just a smidge too short. The bar tape is some comfy black synthetic stuff from Pro and I've slung a black saddle on because my Charge Spoon didn't match. I'm busy persuading Charge that they'd like to make me a custom one with a black top and a green and yellow base. Here's hoping.

Before you pick me up on the saddle angle, that's just the way I like it. You're wasting your time and Audaxes aren't UCI-sanctioned. Put your spirit level away.

That's about it, really. I've put two carbon bottle cages on it, not because carbon is necessary there but because they were the only two matching cages in the parts drawer. The full bike with all the trimmings weighs in at 11kg on the nose without pedals, or 24.25lb in old money. The frame and fork will be available very soon and they'll cost you £749.99.

We're all set. Except I'll be rocking a bar bag, natch. Roll on Sunday.

34 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Lovely bike; hope rides go well

New Forester

posted by Forester [97 posts]
20th March 2013 - 15:19

18 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
Iwein Dekoninck wrote:
I've got a Carradice saddle bag you can borrow Dave Wink

i've got a limited edition Barley in harris tweed, dontchaknow Nerd

saddlebag *and* rack though? i'm not sure i can do it

I'm pretty sure I don't remember that as one of the Velominati rules.

Iwein Dekoninck's picture

posted by Iwein Dekoninck [119 posts]
20th March 2013 - 15:36

18 Likes

Nice! Probably a little more realistic than the Ti version for most of us, and a good long-term investment for second-bike duties (where the second bike is the one that actually gets ridden all the time!)

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [288 posts]
20th March 2013 - 16:39

20 Likes

Wow that is just perfect for full on in the middle of nowhere touring!

Really impressed with the USB charger thing - how fast does it charge things vs a computer USB for example?

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ValentinKokorin

London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

I will miss TdF in Yorskhire!!! Please donate! Big Grin

koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [334 posts]
20th March 2013 - 19:51

17 Likes

Iwein Dekoninck wrote:
Dave Atkinson wrote:
Iwein Dekoninck wrote:
I've got a Carradice saddle bag you can borrow Dave Wink

i've got a limited edition Barley in harris tweed, dontchaknow Nerd

saddlebag *and* rack though? i'm not sure i can do it

I'm pretty sure I don't remember that as one of the Velominati rules.

Velominati can go rule#5 itself. Saddlebag and rack is a classy choice, end of.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1102 posts]
20th March 2013 - 20:25

16 Likes

That looks absolutely cracking if you ask me! Just what I'd love to ride JoGLE on this year, sadly budget constraints probably mean it won't happen Sad

posted by samjdalton [13 posts]
20th March 2013 - 21:06

14 Likes

Will they be selling this as a complete bike or just frame?

posted by Chris Deacon [129 posts]
20th March 2013 - 21:15

17 Likes

Ohhh Looks nice Wink

I'l see you on Sunday then for a nice spot of tea and cake Wink

john.berry's picture

posted by john.berry [21 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:07

22 Likes

Chris Deacon wrote:
Will they be selling this as a complete bike or just frame?

frame and fork only, for now

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:24

16 Likes

koko56 wrote:
Wow that is just perfect for full on in the middle of nowhere touring!

Really impressed with the USB charger thing - how fast does it charge things vs a computer USB for example?

it kicks out a standard USB voltage/wattage so should be comparable to any other charger. i haven't actually tried it yet though.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:25

14 Likes

Ghedebrav wrote:

Velominati can go rule#5 itself. Saddlebag and rack is a classy choice, end of.

saddlebag it is then Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:26

14 Likes

Great spec! I now feel woefully under-kitted.

@oddbydefault

oddbydefault's picture

posted by oddbydefault [100 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:36

14 Likes

Can we just stop right there? It's looks like a CTC mag special. Cut the steerer. Buy the right size frame.

I *heart* Genesis - but that looks pish. (I have a 00, an IO & a Core 10)

posted by fennesz [97 posts]
20th March 2013 - 23:07

12 Likes

Personally, I'd love to see genesis release the 853 day one as a frameset.

posted by markscarfe [11 posts]
20th March 2013 - 23:09

14 Likes

Love the look of it. I was interested to see that the comments on Facebook are almost exclusively critical or nit-picking, but much more appreciative here. I'm sure that tells us something, but I can't be arsed thinking what that might be.

Dave, how does that saddle angle work on audaxes, it looks fairly fierce. Does that not pitch you forward and place weight where you don't want it? I've always thought that a slight pitch backwards was a more comfortable position as it put the emphasis on your sit bones. But having thought that was "a fact", I probably haven't experimented enough.

posted by FMOAB [238 posts]
20th March 2013 - 23:55

16 Likes

Looks great, Dave. Well thought out, too.

Good luck with the 400. I'm attempting my first one at the end of May so will be interested to see how you get on.

posted by MCLK [84 posts]
21st March 2013 - 8:29

11 Likes

Looks great! I'm seriously tempted by something like this for my next bike. Really interested to thear how you get on with it. Enjoy the Audax - LVIS put on a great day out!

posted by rockfield [68 posts]
21st March 2013 - 8:54

15 Likes

fennesz wrote:
Can we just stop right there? It's looks like a CTC mag special. Cut the steerer. Buy the right size frame.

you did read the article, right? so you do know that the thing on top of the stem is a USB charger?

the bike fits me just dandy, thanks. i have long legs. deal with it. you gonna tell johann vansummeren to 'buy the right size bike' too?

jvs.jpg
Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st March 2013 - 10:33

15 Likes

FMOAB wrote:
Dave, how does that saddle angle work on audaxes, it looks fairly fierce. Does that not pitch you forward and place weight where you don't want it? I've always thought that a slight pitch backwards was a more comfortable position as it put the emphasis on your sit bones. But having thought that was "a fact", I probably haven't experimented enough.

it's not as fierce as it looks because in the main pic the bike is actually at a slight angle, it you look at the wheels.

it works fine for me, saddle discomfort isn't really something i have trouble with. lower back pain is though, and i find a slight forward pitch helps. it does put a touch more weight on your arms but i can deal with that. longest ride i've done in that position is 356km with no problems. except the problem of being really tired, natch.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st March 2013 - 10:37

12 Likes

FMOAB wrote:
Love the look of it. I was interested to see that the comments on Facebook are almost exclusively critical or nit-picking, but much more appreciative here. I'm sure that tells us something, but I can't be arsed thinking what that might be.

It's just soothing for comments to be thought out for once!
Myself included all nitpicking probably comes from subconsciously trying to match whatever you see to a magazine cover version or "what's said to be right" or the hip thing to have instead of taking things on merit.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ValentinKokorin

London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

I will miss TdF in Yorskhire!!! Please donate! Big Grin

koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [334 posts]
21st March 2013 - 10:47

8 Likes

Looks like a very cool build, that. USB charger indeed! Big Grin

You going to write us a blog of your 400km Dave?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
21st March 2013 - 11:38

10 Likes

Whenever someone gets on your back about seat angle show them this picture (off here). Then tell then to call Mike Hall and call him out on it!

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [288 posts]
21st March 2013 - 13:06

9 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Looks like a very cool build, that. USB charger indeed! Big Grin

You going to write us a blog of your 400km Dave?

yeah, however much of it i manage to complete Plain Face

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st March 2013 - 13:20

12 Likes

alotronic wrote:
Whenever someone gets on your back about seat angle show them this picture (off here). Then tell then to call Mike Hall and call him out on it!

ha! i most assuredly will.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st March 2013 - 13:21

11 Likes

Dave, silly question, but why the asymmetric rack attachment to the Salsa seat collar? As a very happy owner of a 2010 Equilibrium the option of fitting a rack makes it a Fratelli-beater but I'd feel a bit more confident with a four-point fix.

beagleby

posted by varderik [5 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 0:02

9 Likes

Hi Dave, nice bike. I'd like to try one of those Salsa clamps on my Equilibrium 20, but have no idea what size to order. What size did you use?

posted by Paul Hennessey [2 posts]
13th April 2013 - 11:19

8 Likes

you'll want a 30mm one for your equilibrium 20

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
13th April 2013 - 12:59

9 Likes

varderik wrote:
Dave, silly question, but why the asymmetric rack attachment to the Salsa seat collar? As a very happy owner of a 2010 Equilibrium the option of fitting a rack makes it a Fratelli-beater but I'd feel a bit more confident with a four-point fix.

i did have both stays on but one of them was rubbing on the brake calliper. i could have moved everything about a bit but it was easier just to take the offending stay off, and it's plenty sturdy enough without it

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
13th April 2013 - 13:01

11 Likes

Excellent, thanks for the tip.

posted by Paul Hennessey [2 posts]
14th April 2013 - 16:38

8 Likes

It's the end of July and they still aren't in the shops. Is this some kind of record for gestation from press review to Joe Public being allowed to buy them?

Really, though?

posted by workhard [389 posts]
24th July 2013 - 20:19

7 Likes