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Verdict: 
Good value disc brake steel frame with great handling and smooth ride
Weight: 
3,020g
Genesis Croix de Fer frameset
8 10

I've been riding the Genesis Croix de Fer, in a variety of builds, for the past six months and it's been a huge amount of fun. The bike needs little introduction, of course, having cemented its capability when Vin Cox rode one around the world in a Guinness world record breaking time back in 2010.

Genesis Bikes will sell you the Croix de Fer in a number of different builds, or you can buy the frameset and build it up just how you want it. And that's what I did, putting SRAM's new hydraulic disc groupset on it and using it as my daily ride, for everything from commuting to training and social rides.

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Frameset: Steel tubing and carbon fibre fork

I wanted a bike that was comfortable, had all the necessary mounts for the mudguards and racks I wanted to be able to fit for different cycling adventures I planned to use it for, and I wanted a steel frame for the ride quality. And it had to have disc brakes. The Croix de Fer ticked all those boxes. And, at £474.99 for the frame and the new carbon fork, it's not startling expensive, leaving plenty of budget to build it up any way you want.

What you get is a Reynolds 725 tubeset (the same as used on the Croix de Fer 20 and 30 models) which, while admittedly not as posh as Reynolds 853, is still a fine tubeset. The tubes are skinny with slender stays, and it's compatible with Shimano Di2 routing, with old fashioned external guides for a mechanical drivetrain. It's a disc brake-specific frame, with the rear brake mounted on the chainstay. The Burnt Bronze paint job won a lot of fans with my riding group and local club, very appealing.

Also included is the new carbon fibre fork. It uses a straight, non-tapered 1 1/8in steerer tube, and there are mudguard eyelets above the dropouts. The fork is longer (401mm axle-crown) than the previous steel fork, which provides a bit more tyre clearance.

The Croix de Fer has changed quite a bit over the years. It essentially started out based on a cyclo-cross frame, but has moved away from those origins over the years. It's more in line with the latest adventure models that are popular right now. The bottom bracket is a more road-friendly 70mm drop, 5mm lower than previously. The head tube has been stretched a bit too, to raise the height of the front end. You could say the changes have moved it into the burgeoning gravel and adventure road bike market.

The beauty of starting with a frameset like this is that you can build it however you want – just let your imagination, and budget, carry you. I used the frame to test SRAM's latest Red hydraulic disc groupset. I first used a pair of Zipp 404 Firecrest clincher wheels before swapping to Stan's Grail tubeless wheels with Schwalbe One 25mm tubeless tyres.

A Thomson stem and handlebar, 3T seatpost and Fabric saddle completed the build. With the Zipp wheels, the bike came in at 8.65kg (19.07lb), a pretty respectable weight for a steel frame and hydraulic disc build. An expensive build, too, but it does represent one possible direction you could take the frame in.

Ride: Comfortable and smooth

Six months on and I've battered the Genesis through all sorts of weather and riding. I wanted a bike that would be reliable and comfortable, able to look after me on long and lonely wet winter rides but with enough spring in its step to be fun and rewarding on faster paced summer rides.

The Croix de Fer has been all those things to me. With mudguards on it's an admirable daily commuter and grinds out the miles. Strip away the mudguards and slap on some fast wheels and it's exciting and reveals a surprisingly rapid turn of pace, with enough energy to make pacy Sunday club rides exciting.

Check out our buyer's guide to gravel and adventure bikes here

The Croix de Fer has a good reputation and that was impressed on me during the testing period. I can see how it would be a good choice for any long distance challenge, like riding around the world or the Transcontinental Race.

It's comfortable over longer distances, with a delightful springiness to the frame and, of course, the space for bigger volume tyres. The frame cushions you from the harshest road surfaces. With the right tyre choice, it easily tackles off-road sections as well, so you can throw in the odd bridleway or byway to spice up an ordinary road ride.

At times the frame does exhibit a bit of unwanted flexing. It's not a frame for snappy acceleration, it's better if you gradually build up speed. Not a frame for hustling along the road, more for wafting down country lanes at a decent, if not electrifying, cruising speed. There's no lack of speed once you've wound it up, though, and it'll keep up with regular road bikes.

As well as saving a chunk of weight over the previous steel fork, the addition of the carbon fibre fork provides a stiffer and more direct feeling front end, with improvements to the handling at higher speeds. It does, though, further highlight the flexiness of the frame, and a steel fork might be a more suitable balance.

With the market for adventure bikes currently exploding, the Croix de Fer remains a solid choice that is capable of being pressed into service for daily commuting, winter training, Sunday club rides and, with the right tyres, following the path less travelled. Comfortable and decent handling manners and the weight saving carbon fork make the Genesis a compelling choice, and with a price tag that could encourage more cyclists to entertain the notion of building their own bike from scratch.

Verdict

Good value disc brake steel frame with great handling and smooth ride

road.cc test report

Make and model: Genesis Croix de Fer - frameset

Size tested: 56

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Genesis says: "Sharing the same heat-treated Reynolds 725 base as used on the CdF 20/30, for 2015 we've added internal Di2 compatibility (alongside traditional mechanical) for those wanting to go uber posh and swapped out the Cr-Mo fork for a carbon model, helping drop weight further whilst keeping the generous clearances and mudguard eyelets we've all grown to love and expect from the CdF."

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 says: "Classic seamless Chromoly (as above) but heat-treated to boost tensile strength. Think of it as Chromoly on steroids. It's heated to around 1600F whereby a structural change in the steels' crystal lattice occurs (a stronger, more uniform orientation). As it's stronger we can away with using less of it so thinner butts are the order of the day here (varying wall thickness down to 0.7/0.4/0.7mm), helping to achieve a lighter overall frame weight.

"Generous clearances and eyelets for full-length mudguards and a rear rack mean the 'Croix morphs quickly and effortlessly into an all-weather load carrier."

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Really nicely made Reynolds 725 steel frame compatible with electronic and mechanical drivetrains.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Reynolds 725 Seamless Heat-Treated Chromoly. Frame - 2.25kg / Fork - 0.66kg (56cm).

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

More road-friendly than in the past and that provides good handling, but it's still good for mixing it up off-road as well.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Really good, the front end is quite high providing a relaxed position.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The frame cushions you from the harshest road surfaces.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

It does lack stiffness around the bottom bracket, it's not a race bike.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Not as efficiently as a race bike.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No

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?

Very nice handling, the high front end makes it easy to pilot through the lanes and up the hills.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10

Could be better, quite a flexy rear triangle.

Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10

Not a frame for snappy accelleration, but it piles on speed nicely.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10

Sprinting isn't really its forte, but that's not what it has been designed for.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10

Smooth composure on the descents.

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10

Good balance and stability at cruising speeds.

Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10

Easy to handle at lower speeds.

Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The lack of stiffness is noticeable on steeper gradients.

The drivetrain

Wheels and tyres

Controls

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Use this box to explain your score

A really high quality frame at a good price, offering a lot of performance and adaptability. It's not without its minor flaws, but they're easy to overlook when you take into account how much fun it is and how wide a range of riding applications it suits.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

25 comments

Avatar
trepador [12 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

What's the max tire size this frame/fork can take?

Thanks.

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bendertherobot [1477 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It takes at least 35c with guards. You may squeeze a 37c on there.

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Guernsey Donkey [50 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Strangely enough I've built up a frame today. It got a few bits of Tiagra and 105 5700 from another bike and a set of Stans Grail rims on Hope hubs with Conti Cyclo X King 32mm tyres.

I've just been out for its first run and I'm well chuffed.

Here's a pic before it got dirty!

//i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj36/jodel_bucket/AC6E631D-7AA0-453C-8477-32CB1602D27B_zps3mgay9tf.jpg)

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Bez [620 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I've long wanted one of these but their geometry chart's always been missing a size at the top end. Sorry Genesis, I bought a Surly instead.

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rjfrussell [411 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

lovely paint job- be happy just to hang that on the wall

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mikroos [257 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Just a tiny suggestion: the mention of a "road-friendly 70mm bottom bracket" may sound as if it was an Italian-threaded frame to some readers.

Just for the sake of clarity, maybe you could specify that you mean BB drop, not BB shell width?

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hitchings [7 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Can i ask what this build cost? I have been looking at frames to get to build up and decided on this one, and then today this review appears. Your build looks roughly like what I want to have (except with ultegra 6800)

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Dr_Lex [464 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
mikroos wrote:

Just a tiny suggestion: the mention of a "road-friendly 70mm bottom bracket" may sound as if it was an Italian-threaded frame to some readers.

Just for the sake of clarity, maybe you could specify that you mean BB drop, not BB shell width?

Absolutely! I also can't find mention in the review of the BB being a 68mm British threaded. (I'd prefer this over Press-fit, for replacement ease, so it makes the frame more attractive to me.)

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vonhelmet [847 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Genesis website says it's standard British BB.

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David Arthur @d... [825 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
mikroos wrote:

Just a tiny suggestion: the mention of a "road-friendly 70mm bottom bracket" may sound as if it was an Italian-threaded frame to some readers.

Just for the sake of clarity, maybe you could specify that you mean BB drop, not BB shell width?

Very good point, I'll make that clearer

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [825 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
mikroos wrote:

Just a tiny suggestion: the mention of a "road-friendly 70mm bottom bracket" may sound as if it was an Italian-threaded frame to some readers.

Just for the sake of clarity, maybe you could specify that you mean BB drop, not BB shell width?

Very good point, I'll make that clearer

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [825 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
mikroos wrote:

Just a tiny suggestion: the mention of a "road-friendly 70mm bottom bracket" may sound as if it was an Italian-threaded frame to some readers.

Just for the sake of clarity, maybe you could specify that you mean BB drop, not BB shell width?

Very good point, I'll make that clearer

Avatar
Karbon Kev [691 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

At last, a decent colour for this fine frame.

About time, after bringing out drab colour after drab colour ...

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zedthegreat [38 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I really like this and was actually considering a self-build for my n+1.

Is it possible to buy a full disc brake groupset though? From my searches you can buy (for example) a 105 caliper group set then have to buy non-series levers and discs, leaving parts left over. What I ideally want is mix n match component buying...

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rayoung [1 post] 2 years ago
0 likes

Here's mine, just built up a couple of weeks ago and getting off the beaten track.

It's a great bike, really eats up the cobbles and potholes. I had it on a cyclocross race today as well, it's definitely versatile. I'm the same height as the reviewer and also ride a 56cm but can't help thinking that a 54cm might have been a bit nippier.

Zedthegreat, you can build it up using individual components rather than a whole groupset. I used all shimano 105 parts but with TRP disc brakes and it still came in at a good price.

Avatar
vonhelmet [847 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
zedthegreat wrote:

I really like this and was actually considering a self-build for my n+1.

Is it possible to buy a full disc brake groupset though? From my searches you can buy (for example) a 105 caliper group set then have to buy non-series levers and discs, leaving parts left over. What I ideally want is mix n match component buying...

You can buy a SRAM hydraulic groupset in one go... I appreciate that's not much use if you're looking specifically for Shimano.

Avatar
Raven [1 post] 2 years ago
0 likes

Great bike. Superb ride and easily keeps a quick pace. Built mine on hope hubs/ grail rims, and full ultegra. Love the colour of the frame though I'm not sure on the longevity of the satin finish paint.

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joules1975 [484 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Raven wrote:

Great bike. Superb ride and easily keeps a quick pace. Built mine on hope hubs/ grail rims, and full ultegra. Love the colour of the frame though I'm not sure on the longevity of the satin finish paint.

I really like genesis bikes, and have owned a handful (still have hard tail latitude), but in every case the paint has been too thin and/or poorly applied (My current frame is a little better, and they do supply touch up paint with every frame and bike).

I wonder if they have sorted this with the latest frames?

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alotronic [532 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Raven wrote:

In every case the paint has been too thin and/or poorly applied (My current frame is a little better, and they do supply touch up paint with every frame and bike).

I wonder if they have sorted this with the latest frames?

That's why you need Ti versions, saves you money in the end  16

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joules1975 [484 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
alotronic wrote:
Raven wrote:

In every case the paint has been too thin and/or poorly applied (My current frame is a little better, and they do supply touch up paint with every frame and bike).

I wonder if they have sorted this with the latest frames?

That's why you need Ti versions, saves you money in the end  16

That depends, given there have been comments about ti fatiguing and certain ti frames and bikes loosing a bit of their 'zing' - this has come from people riding a new identical frame compared to their own two/three year old, very well ridden frames.

I can't recall all the info (I found this out when chatting to som industry insiders three years ago) but I know that it's an issue with cheaper titanium frames' and is to do with the grade of titanium. Can't say therefore if genesis titanium frame might suffer from this or not, but something to check up on for anyone thinking of getting a titanium machine - I.e. Just cause something is carbon doesn't mean it's any good, just cause it's steel doesn't mean it's heavy and just cause it's titanium doesn't mean it a bike/frame for life.

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zedthegreat [38 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
vonhelmet wrote:
zedthegreat wrote:

I really like this and was actually considering a self-build for my n+1.

Is it possible to buy a full disc brake groupset though? From my searches you can buy (for example) a 105 caliper group set then have to buy non-series levers and discs, leaving parts left over. What I ideally want is mix n match component buying...

You can buy a SRAM hydraulic groupset in one go... I appreciate that's not much use if you're looking specifically for Shimano.

That is true, one just reviewed today here! Quite a lot more expensive than I thought (but isn't it all!)

Avatar
zedthegreat [38 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
rayoung wrote:

Here's mine, just built up a couple of weeks ago and getting off the beaten track.

It's a great bike, really eats up the cobbles and potholes. I had it on a cyclocross race today as well, it's definitely versatile. I'm the same height as the reviewer and also ride a 56cm but can't help thinking that a 54cm might have been a bit nippier.

Zedthegreat, you can build it up using individual components rather than a whole groupset. I used all shimano 105 parts but with TRP disc brakes and it still came in at a good price.

Looks good - I'll have a wee shifty and price that up myself.

Avatar
happy_otter [9 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I couldn't decide between this frame and their Equilibrium.

http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/road/frames/equilibrium-frameset

They both look gorgeous in that colour.

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temporaldoom [1 post] 1 year ago
0 likes
Raven wrote:

Great bike. Superb ride and easily keeps a quick pace. Built mine on hope hubs/ grail rims, and full ultegra. Love the colour of the frame though I'm not sure on the longevity of the satin finish paint.

Sorry to drag this up from the depths but I'm wondering how your paint work is holding up. I have the same frame and am very disappointed in it's ability to chip of paint quite easily.

Avatar
VictorCP [2 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I have had my Croix De Fer Ti for just over a week and I am really enjoying the bike. Very comfortable ride, climbs well, accelerates well and is generally a very nice bike.

In the photograph it is pictured sitting next to my neighbours Kinesis ATR, which was the bike I originally intended to buy until I saw the Cdf ti. I have not regreted the purchase so far.

I would say the handling, on road at least, of the Cdf Ti is better overall than the ATR. It feels very much like my carbon Giant Defy Pro 0 (2015), it is not as quick but it is a little more stable. If you look at the geometry, the Defy and Cdf Ti are similar. 

Build quality is very good indeed!

Great winter bike and will be very useful in the summer for some light touring and mixed road/country track rides that up to now I have done on my Anthem 29er.

Certainly not a light bike as built but given I have been trying to keep up with the ATR on my Anthem 29er, it is light enough! 10.63Kgs with SKS 45 mudguards and peddles. No plans to lighten it in the short term. However, I do have a pair of Reynolds Black Label TR wheels that are currently fitted to my Anthem, that may find their way onto the Cdf in the fullness of time!

 

Kinisis ATR (XL) on the left and Cdf ti (M) on the right after first short test ride.