Genesis CdF  £799.00

7/10

A good all-rounder as long as you don't expect to get there first

Weight 11300g   Contact  www.genesisbikes.co.uk

by Iwein Dekoninck   July 11, 2012  

A budget kid brother to Genesis' popular steel road all-rounder, the Genesis CdF is a solid urban and light-touring ride, as long as you're not in a hurry to get from A to B.

The Genesis Croix de Fer has a good reputation; it was even used to set a world record when Vin Cox rode a Croix de Fer around the world. Genesis say the Croix de Fer is one of their most popular bikes, so they decided to introduce a little brother: the CdF. The frame has the same dimensions, but is made from Reynolds 520, as opposed to the Croix de Fer's 725.

Genesis say this strategy - using the same geometry and the same material, albeit a different grade - has "retained the handling and ride quality their steel framed cross style bikes have become known for".

When I first picked the CdF up from road.cc HQ, I was expecting a steel framed racer with clearance for bigger tyres and disc brakes. I was disappointed - the CdF will not set any PB's; that's not its style. Riding it a bit more though, I discovered that if you put the racing thing to one side, it's a really nice ride. As much as the comfort and springiness of steel is a cliche, that is the ride experience.

That steel-feel makes the bike a great commuter or light-tourer. The frame isolates you from most of the road buzz, and handling is solid, though certainly not the most lively I've ridden. There are braze-ons for mudguards, two bottle cages and a front and rear rack, as well as for a bolt-on front mudflap on the downtube.

While that's great, you'll need to choose your pannier rack carefully to make sure it doesn't foul the disc brake caliper which is seat-stay mounted rather than a more rack friendly chain stay mounting. I managed to fit a Tortec Ultralite rack with just a couple of washers to space it out a little on the caliper side. There's eyelets for mudguards too if you want to fit them. I didn't - because there isn't enough clearance between the fork crown and the 35mm Continental Cyclocross Race tyres for a comfortable fit.

The choice of Reynolds 520 chromoly means the CdF is no lightweight. Unfortunately this is exacerbated by a distinct lack of suitable gears to get up hills. The 34 x 25 bottom gear is provided by a Shimano Sora compact chainset, shifters and front and rear mechs. This may well be low enough to get up hills on a lighter and racier bike but, unless you like a battle, it isn't low enough for the CdF. Even when I swapped the chainset out for a triple (resulting in a 30x25 bottom gear) I could have done with lower gears at times.

Shimano Sora 9-speed is functional, but doesn't give the same buttery smooth shifting feel you get from the new 10-speed Tiagra. While the hood grip ergonomics feel less Spartan than 8-speed Sora, comfort is not in the same league as the more expensive units. I also didn't really get on with the thumb downshift. The lever is a bit small, and can't be reached from the drops, unless your hands are as big as our Dave's.

Braking is courtesy of Avid's BB5. It's a cheaper version of the BB7, which has a reputation for being the best mechanical brake on the market. The BB5s work really well too, though you get more adjustability and bigger brake pads from BB7s - and a bit more braking power.

Handlebars, stem and seatpost are Genesis own brand and do the job just fine. I quite like the handlebar shape; the drop is shallow enough to actually spend some time there. The saddle is also Genesis own brand. I didn't get on with it, but that's no biggie; saddles are a personal thing.

The wheels, though a bit on the heavy side, are comfortable and sturdy, and they stayed true throughout testing. The Continental Cyclocross race tyres work surprisingly well on the road and on really shift on dry towpath and singletrack. You'll probably want something a bit knobblier for proper mud though.

Verdict

All in all, it's a good all-rounder as long as you don't expect to get there first.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Genesis CdF

Size tested: 56cm

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 Steel

Fork: Cr-Mo

Headset: 1-1/8 Threadless

Colour: Glossy Pale Blue

Shifters: Shimano Sora 9spd

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Sora

Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora

Chainset: Shimano Sora Compact

Bottom Bracket: Shimano Hollowtech

Chain: Shimano CN-HG50

Freewheel: Shimano 9spd 12-25

Hubs: Shimano M475

Rims: Alex G-2000

Spokes: Stainless Black

Tyres: Continental Cyclocross Race

Brakes: Avid BB-5

Brake Levers: Shimano Sora Sti

Handlebars: Genesis Compact Drop

Stem: Genesis Alloy

Grips: Microfibre Tape

Saddle: Genesis Road CrMo Rail

Seat Post: Genesis 6061 27.2mm

Pedals: Shimano PDM-520

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?

This is what Genesis say: "Following the popularity of the Original Croix de Fer, we introduce the CdF. Using the same geometry as its sibling it combines a Reynolds 520 tubeset and Cr-Mo fork, retaining the handling and ride quality that our steel framed cross-style bikes have become known for.

The Cross bikes have become our most popular export. As popular in Scandinavian countries as it is in the UK - it's a road bike that won't get bogged down in the winter, can join in on summer singletrack rides and copes with all-weather cross-terrain riding in a way that few bikes can match. With improved, wider, separate rack eyelets its perfect for lightweight touring. The drive is reliably provided by Shimano 9 speed components, whilst Avid BB5 Disc brakes give responsive braking in any weather. This is simply a cross-boundaries, cross-continent, cross-inspired kind of bike. Wherever you find yourself, there's fun to be had."

The CdF uses the same geometry as the Croix de Fer, but the steel is not as fancy, making the frameset heavier. It is a good bike for all-day riding, but it's not a cyclo-cross racing bike. It doesn't look it was designed for the latter anyway, as there is hardly any clearance between the fork crown and the 700x35 Continental Cyclocross Race tyres.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

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

The frame and fork look well put together; the finish has stood up to muddy lanes in very wet weather commuting.

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

The CdF frame is made from Reynolds 520 steel, as opposed to its more expensive sibling, the Croix de Fer, which is welded together from Reynolds 725. The fork is made from non-specific Cr-Mo.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

While the geometry is, on paper, very similar to a proper cyclocrosser, the bike feels much more like a tourer. For me this fits with the "do anything" badge Genesis have given it.

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

Height and reach were fine on the 56cm model tested; it felt really quite comfortable.

Riding the bike

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

The bike is very comfortable as long as you're not trying to get up any steep hills, when the lack of suitable gears puts a downer on things.

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

Considering that this is not a racing bike, it's stiff enough to do what it is designed for: all day in the saddle with or without a (modest amount of) luggage.

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

Considering the weight and cyclocross tyres, efficiency's really not too shabby - for a (relatively) lightweight tourer.

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

There is a small amount of overlap. I didn't find it a problem.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Steering is pretty neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It handles just like a decent touring bike, which is not a surprise given that it's made from the same material and has almost the same geometry (on paper) as my touring bike. The handling is solid; don't expect any surprises either way.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I didn't get on with the saddle, and swapped it for something my shape after the first ride. I'm not a big fan of the Sora style downshift. If you're planning to mainly ride on the road, I'd go for a road-specific tyre.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

I wouldn't swap out anything to change the bike's stiffness.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

If you wanted a more lively ride, a lighter wheelset would make a difference. Having said that, if you're after a lively ride, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.

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

Power transfer is OK for a touring bike.

Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10

The bike is a bit too heavy to do much quick accelerating.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
5/10

You'll need something else to be quick off the lights.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10

It feels stable at speed

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10

Cruising is what it's good at.

Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
5/10

It needs a whole other set of gears to be any good at climbing. Like a triple AND a bigger cassette.

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
4/10

This bike is seriously overgeared.

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

A compact chainset with a 12-25 cassette is nowhere near low enough for my commute, which admittedly is pretty hilly. This bike would benefit from mountain bike gearing in my opinion, especially if you're carrying stuff.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10

While not lightweights, the wheels were absolutely fine and stayed true throughout.

Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

The tyres worked surprisingly well on the road.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

I don't like the Sora style downshift. My hands are too small to be able to shift down from the drops. Or is the thumbshifter too far away?

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

The Avid BB5s work better than I expected. Once they are set up, there isn't that much difference to the BB7s

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? I did on the flat, but not up hills. And I love riding up hills.

Would you consider buying the bike? No.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Not unless they lived somewhere flat and didn't mind the weight.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

It's too heavy to be a cyclocrosser. While the frame has the makings of a good tourer, it will need lower gears to be ridden comfortably anywhere that is not flat.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 32  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: All of them!  My best bike is: Cervelo Dual

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, Audax

 

25 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The rack and mudguards don't have to share the same bosses, there are completely separate bosses for each.

posted by joules1975 [69 posts]
11th July 2012 - 9:41

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I would have liked to see this review consider the angle of swapping out the tyres for something racier - say as set of 25C Gatorskins.

That's a relatively inexpensive and easy change that anyone could make, and seeing as pretty-much every negative in this review *could* have been due to the CX tyres fitted, it would have been interesting to see that theory tested.

andyspaceman's picture

posted by andyspaceman [219 posts]
11th July 2012 - 10:05

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adding to the points made above, i really believe the hoods are down to preference. i love the sora with the thumb shift.

but, at 799.99 though there are a lot of bikes out there that are steel/ are not steel, but still give a great ride , and cheaper than this.

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
11th July 2012 - 10:44

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If anyone thinks that a 34-25 isn't low enough to get up hills.

Well, you know what I'd think about that.

(#5)

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
11th July 2012 - 10:49

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joules1975 wrote:
The rack and mudguards don't have to share the same bosses, there are completely separate bosses for each.

yup, that's one of them there mistakes. i've amended the copy.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
11th July 2012 - 10:58

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Raleigh wrote:
If anyone thinks that a 34-25 isn't low enough to get up hills.

Well, you know what I'd think about that.

(#5)

I think the point really is: why would you spec an 11-25 on a bike of this nature when you could have specced an 11-28? it doesn't really make any sense to limit the range of gears.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
11th July 2012 - 11:01

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IMO, 11-28 is the perfect cassette.

Straight block up to 16, then BAM, some climbing sprockets.

Best of both worlds.

Plain Face

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
11th July 2012 - 11:03

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I have a Salsa Vaya, which runs with SRAM Apex compact and 32T cassette.

I like that 32. It doesn't get used all the time, but it's there. And when you're lugging a heavy bike with a bag on it up a steep hill at the end of the day that's a good thing to know.

Cool

posted by BigDummy [284 posts]
11th July 2012 - 11:50

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Have I got this right - this bike is called the CdF & is the cheaper sibling of the Croix de Fer? Like some people call me 'Ant' and some people call me 'Antony'? But I'm the same person & this is two differnt bikes...

Maybe I'm just a bit too stupid for modern marketeers but I find that really confusing Thinking

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posted by Bikesoup [22 posts]
11th July 2012 - 13:32

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Bikesoup wrote:
Have I got this right - this bike is called the CdF & is the cheaper sibling of the Croix de Fer?

yup, spot on Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
11th July 2012 - 14:07

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Raleigh wrote:
If anyone thinks that a 34-25 isn't low enough to get up hills.

Well, you know what I'd think about that.

(#5)

Up until two weeks ago I would have agreed with you; but I've just got back from a week in Alpe D'Huez & after two days I bought a 11-28 to go with my compact front ring. those extra couple of teeth made all the difference & got me up the Alpe in under an hour. I think the 11-28 will be staying!

I've had the singlespeed version of this bike for three years now & whilst the 520 frame isn't light, it is versatile. I run it fixed with 28mm contis during the week for commuting & winter training; plus you can squeeze up 42mm tyres in there for some off road fun too! I don't really notice the extra weight & manage to keep up with the rest of the guys on the club run (most of the time) with the occasional application of rule 5

Carpe Diem ab absentis: seize the day off

Coodsta's picture

posted by Coodsta [95 posts]
11th July 2012 - 16:43

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Have you done a review of the full-fat Croix de Fer? I found a photo gallery but not the corresponding review. Not that it'll make much odds to me, since mine turned up last week Wink

Haven't really had a chance to have a proper go on it yet, but brief experience suggests that one could do serious miles on it in some comfort.

posted by steff [81 posts]
11th July 2012 - 17:00

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no, we've reported on the big brother bike but not had a full review on the site...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
11th July 2012 - 17:04

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I ride the original full fat Croix de Fer as my one and only bike. Had it 18 months now. I also changed my rear set to 11-28 (as a newbie I was frightened of doing the Road.cc Sunday Munch over Malvern last year). All in all it's ace. I run gatorskins when I need to be speedy on the road (Flanders 140km sportive this year) and the CX speed kings for everything else (including completing the South Downs Way).

I've also had it set up with full panniers for touring, hacked about through town on it and rode the novice race at Muddy Hell last autumn. Honestly, it's flipping great for someone like me who rides whatever is in front of him rather than aligning to a particular tribe.

Only two things left to do on it, actually ride up the Croix de Fer and I'm intending to ride across the USA. Both things well within the bikes capability (though not mine without a stack of training).

Looking at the compromises mentioned with gears etc I'd say save your pennies and get the original. It's speedier than it looks and stable in all kinds of scary conditions, cobbles included!

Shut up legs

slow-cyclo's picture

posted by slow-cyclo [74 posts]
11th July 2012 - 20:13

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@slow-cyclo: I think that sums up the Croix de Fer perfectly: "someone who rides whatever is in front of him rather than aligning to a particular tribe". That's why I bought mine earlier this year and it's been ideal: a week's touring, Sustrans routes, Hell of the North Cotswolds, weekend spins or an after-work blast up the local byways... it copes with them all.

Worth noting that the 2012 Croix de Fer has a 12-28 as standard - I just went and counted the full 28 to check.

Just thinking though... shouldn't this review have gone up a day later for full TdF tie-in goodness?

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posted by Doctor Fegg [134 posts]
11th July 2012 - 21:28

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I'll wait until 2013, when the Sora shifter will be replaced with what looks suspiciously like the old nine speed Tiagra shifters and which don't have the stupid, STUPID thumb levers. Angry

Sorry I really can't stand the Sora levers. Sigh

posted by sam_smith [48 posts]
11th July 2012 - 23:34

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Quote:
The rack and mudguards don't have to share the same bosses, there are completely separate bosses for each.

You are right, my mistake! Admittedly, I didn't fit mudguards because of the fork crown clearance issue.

Iwein Dekoninck's picture

posted by Iwein Dekoninck [113 posts]
13th July 2012 - 8:52

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andyspaceman wrote:
I would have liked to see this review consider the angle of swapping out the tyres for something racier - say as set of 25C Gatorskins.

That's a relatively inexpensive and easy change that anyone could make, and seeing as pretty-much every negative in this review *could* have been due to the CX tyres fitted, it would have been interesting to see that theory tested.

That is something that I could have tried, however, as I tried to make clear in the review, trying to make the CdF is somehow missing the point of the nature of this bike - in my opinion.

It will not reward you for trying to go quickly on it, it will reward you for enjoying a ride for what it is.

Because the weather was so foul during the test period, I was actually really glad to have the cx tyres. I commute on lanes and they saved them on quite a few muddy patches.

It's also worth noting that the inner rim width is 17.1mm (from the Alex website), compared to 15mm for a Mavic Open Pro, is a bit wide for a 25. I would personally not go smaller than 28.

Iwein Dekoninck's picture

posted by Iwein Dekoninck [113 posts]
13th July 2012 - 8:57

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Raleigh wrote:
If anyone thinks that a 34-25 isn't low enough to get up hills.

Well, you know what I'd think about that.

I used to think that. Then I changed jobs and started commuting on lanes.

It's not that I can't get up hills on 34-25. It's just that I spend less energy if I spin, and can keep riding for more days of the week.

I ride a Kinesis Crosslight Pro6 with a 34-30 bottom gear. I'm thinking I'll probably go up to 34-34 for the winter.

The Crosslight Pro6 is similar to the CdF in that it has disc brakes and take big rubber. It is different in that it has proper cx race geometry, takes BIG rubber (37 + 'guards easy) and the frame is as light as, say, a Ribble Audax frame.

In terms of gearing the, main difference between the two is that standing up on the pedals on the Crosslight is a pleasant experience that gets you somewhere, whereas you're much better of spinning on the CdF.

Iwein Dekoninck's picture

posted by Iwein Dekoninck [113 posts]
13th July 2012 - 9:11

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It would have been interesting to have compared the CdF and the 'big brother' Croix de Fer in the same review by the same person. Otherwise it's difficult to get an idea of exactly what the diffs are, except for the weight. Not that I can find any figures for the actual weight of either in the review.

posted by bikeylikey [164 posts]
14th July 2012 - 11:41

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Weight: 11300g

right at the top.

when we get a Croix de Fer we'll make sure Iwein gets a go Smile

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
14th July 2012 - 12:49

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Bring it on Dave Wink

Iwein Dekoninck's picture

posted by Iwein Dekoninck [113 posts]
17th July 2012 - 8:47

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I look forward to it. Looks like mine will be getting its first proper outing (on Durano Plus 700x32s - the stock Continental CX tyres are too noisy and squirmy on the road) this weekend.

posted by steff [81 posts]
18th July 2012 - 16:45

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Coming from an MTB background I was looking for something I could use in the winter for both road and single track. Steel frame was a must for comfort and I wasn't concerned about the weight of the bike. My first ride out was a 26 miler of single track, Bridlepaths and road. What impressed me most was how it climbs on single track, previously I was in the granny ring (22T and 32T on the rear for my MTB HT and got up on the CDF on the standard low gears (34T front 25T rear) I did have to get out of the saddle on some parts though. It's great fun and comes into it's own on single track but fun in a different way to an MTB bike. I guess if it's used solely for road then you could be disapointed but then that's not what it's for.

I have already changed the seat post and saddle which were at best average. I've added lighter pedals and will probably change the rear cassette to a 28 which will cost about £20 off the internet. Why Genesis did'nt put a 28 on is a mystery as it's on the more expenive version?

posted by steelbikekid [1 posts]
16th September 2012 - 10:54

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Genisis inform me ( via twitter ) that they plan to put an 11-30 casette on next years model.

posted by Chrisbpr [13 posts]
24th April 2013 - 17:48

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