Sturdy enough to hit the trails or the odd 'cross race and cool enough to rock up to the pub on, the Genesis Day One Cross is a real all-rounder. As supplied it's a fun and capable road/path iron, and with a few tweaks it'll easily handle the rougher stuff. At £499 it's not going to break the bank either - if you're looking for an entry-level racer for the off season or just a winter hack it's a good buy.
The Day One is available as you see it here or in a flat bar configuration in less garish gun metal, but both bikes are built around the same heart, a Reynolds 520 frameset mated with a double butted cromoly fork. The frame is nicely finished – the dayglo orange paint is tough and the welds neat – and the 71/74 head tube/seat tube angles mated with a medium length cockpit make the bike nice and chuckable without it being too nervous off road.
At 1.89m my ideal frame is generally a 59cm and I'm usually faced with the choice of a 58cm or a 60cm. If I was going to ride the Day One predominantly on the road I would have gone for the larger frame but on the trails the tighter 58cm is more or less a perfect fit.
Genesis have hedged their bets somewhat with the spec on the bike. They're obviously expecting most of them to stay on (or near) a road and to that end the the Day One comes fitted with a 42/18 gear, effective 63 inches, which is a decent compromise between speed and climbing ability on tarmac. It's much too hot off road though: I geared down to 39/18 which just about got me round the Ashton Court Scramble but for proper off road excursions you need to go lower – my next step would be to swap out the chainset for a 32T and run two freewheels on either side of the rear hub, an 18T for off roading and a 14T for the tarmac. If you're running the bike as an on/off road winter fitness machine then that would give you two usable gears at the turn of a wheel (and a quick tweak of the rear brake).
Other compromises include the Conti Speed King tyres. They're a great fit if you want to ride roads and towpaths, but it's like wearing slippers to the ice rink if you're faced with leaves, rocks and roots. I swapped them out for Panaracer Cinder Cross 700x35s, which are a super all round trail tyre. The Mini Vs I'm torn about - on the one hand they do offer significantly better stopping than cantis in most situations, on the other you can't adjust them on the fly and the mud clearance isn't anywhere near as good as cantis. On balance I'd keep them, but add an inline barrel adjuster and maybe run them with linear pull ratio levers so I could have more pad clearance.
So what's the Day One like to ride? Well, it's fun to ride. On the road the 'cross geometry makes for a stable and comfortable steed. It's no coincidence that lots of folk use 'cross bikes (or 'cross inspired bikes) as their daily mount, as a do-it-all machine it's pretty hard to beat in terms of handling and position. The fairly upright riding position and relaxed head tube make the Day One very stable at speed but it's still agile enough in traffic.
Once you leave the tarmac the bike goes where you put it with a minimum of fuss. In a race situation it was easily as fast as the geared bikes through the technical sections, in fact that was where I made up the most time. On technical stuff you have to pick your line but there's not many places I'd take my hardtail that I wouldn't be comfortable riding the Genesis; It could do with a quick release seat clamp though. On the climbs you just have to push the gear you have. I found that harder effort had the rear rim rubbing on the brakes – not a big surprise as you have to set the Mini Vs pretty close – which was a bit annoying, a bit of tweaking with the spoke tension has helped but not eradicated the problem completely.
Overall I've had a lot of fun on the Day One. If you want to keep riding on the tarmac through the off season then it's great to have a bike you can abuse, and the Genesis fits that particular bill perfectly. When the off-road going gets really grimy the narrow profile of a 'cross tyre is preferable to wider rubber, so through the depths of winter the Genesis would most likely be my choice over a geared mountain bike – you need to be a bit more careful but you're more likely to finish the ride still in the saddle with the bike in one piece. There's no spec that perfectly suits both those uses and the kit on the Genesis reflects that fact: it's a compromise, but a fairly sensible one, and there's nothing you'll need to change that's going to add huge expense to what is a good value package. You can race on it too if you like!
If you're looking for a winter all-rounder, look no further: the Day One can turn its hand to boosting your winter fitness on or off road, and at £499 it's a bit of a bargain.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Genesis Day One Cross
Size tested: 58cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Reynolds 520 double-butted Cr-Mo
Fork Double butted Cr-Mo
Headset FSA Aheadset
Colour Fruit Juice
Chainset Genesis 42 T
Bottom Bracket Square Taper 116 mm
Chain Goldie Lookin’
Freewheel Shimano 18T
Hubs Genesis Flip-flop
Rims Alex Ace-19 32 hole
Spokes Stainless, black finish
Tyres Continental Speed King 35c
Brakes Tektro RX-5 mini-V
Brake Levers Shimano BR-R400
Handlebar Genesis 6061 shallow drop
Stem Genesis 6061 , 31.8mm
Grips Vinyl Hi-Grip Tape
Saddle Genesis Road, Cr-Mo rail
Seat Post Genesis 6061 27.2mm
Pedals Metal cage / clips and straps
Sizes 52 cm, 54 cm, 56 cm, 58 cm, 60 cm
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Genesis say, "The geometry suits spinning along miles of towpath, tarmac and trail in comfort as well as lighting up on the singletrack, wet or dry. Mini v-brakes give total control from the short reach, shallow drop bars. Single-speed gearing sets the pace for long rides or short-haul city use. Maintenance goes to the back of your mind and opportunities come to the fore."
certainly it's set up for more general riding but a few tweaks set it up fine for racing
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely put together Reynolds 520 frame and Cromoly fork - finish has proved to be tough too
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
71.5° head tube, 74° seat tube, 565mm effective top tube (58cm)
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
My perfect fit would be right between the 58cm and 60cm, but the 58cm is great for offroad, it's easy to control and very chuckable
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike is very comfy on tarmac and towpaths. you'll need to hit the drops for the more technical stuff for better control but the Day One copes well with some pretty difficult domain
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Generally good, though there was noticeable brake rub from the rear wheel under heavy load
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, although the brake rub got a bit annoying
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Day One is very stable at speed, but copes well with quick input off road too. A good balance
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle wasn't my favourite but it's easiy swapped
especially now it's a lower ratio
not really a sprinter's tool
goes exactly where you point it, stable even with no hands at 30mph+
Knuckle down and get on with it!
super efficient and smooth
should last pretty much for ever
Wheels and tyres
Good, with the exception of the QR bolts and the Speed Kings in the mud
You don't want superlight hoops, they're about right
Good all rounders. You'll need proper tyres for racing
There's only the brake levers, and they're fine. no adjustment though
not as comfy as an STI lever
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, a good all-rounder
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I\'m testing... My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with Ultegra 6700
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.