A good bike in its own right but doesn't quite live up to the ride experience provided by its steel framed siblings
Weight: 9200g Contact: www.genesisbikes.co.uk
Genesis have upped the ante with regards to their do it all road bike, the Equilibrium, regarded as one of the best in its class is now even more desirable thanks to its titanium frame.
First impressions, well it certainly looks the part. Genesis's usual understated graphics look even better against the bare metal and the build is spot on for four-season mile munching. The frame is made of 3Al/2.5V, a titanium alloy with good machinability and weldability making it ideal for bike manufacture. The geometry has been kept the same as the steel versions with just tweaks to the tube diameters to create the desired ride.
Up front is a XX44 headtube, designed for a tapered steerer - but by placing the top headset race inside the tube and the bottom one externally it gives the frame a more traditional look by keeping the outside diameter parallel. Tapered steerers are becoming common place on more and more frames these days, in a bid to keep the front tight - so the fact Genesis have included one on the Equilibrium shows its performance intentions.
From here the top and downtubes leave round before becoming oval, the downtube almost matching the bottom bracket for width making sure all the power from your legs goes through onto the tarmac. The welding here, as with the rest of the frame, is tidy and suits the frame. It looks the biz while also appearing industrial enough to take a knock or two. Finishing of the front triangle is the 34.9mm diameter seat tube adorned with Genesis' 'care' style label. It adds a bit of fun to their bikes and with the words 'Stamp, Grind, Sweat' gives a little nod that the Ti is happy to be ridden hard.
The fork is carbon fibre, well the legs are anyway with an alloy steerer. Mudguard mounts are down at the dropouts and the crown gives plenty of clearance for guards and deep drop brakes. The top of the fork legs are pretty chunky so I can't see flex being an issue.
While the front end is all about precision and performance, the rear errs towards comfort and compliance. No matter what the material, slimming the seatstays right down is a frame designer's way of bringing a bit of shock absorbance to the ride. Through experience I can say sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but thanks to titanium's natural springiness I reckon we should be alright here. In fact Genesis have gone a little further by ovalising them to only allow some give in one plane and keeping the triangle tight.
Chainstays are probably one of the busiest parts of a frame. Terrain has got to be absorbed, power laid down, and clearance for wheels and cranks means the profile needs to chop and change. The Equilibrium's are ovalised to match the seatstays and thicken and narrow as they go.
The beauty of titanium frames is the little add ons - brake and chainstay bridges - that sort of stuff and the Genesis has plenty of neat touches. The bottle bosses are welded rather than riveted and the dropouts are tidy with a couple of small countersunk screws. It all adds to that lifetime look of the frame.
The Genesis is going to be used in all weathers for all different types of riding, so a choice of kit that performs while standing up to the abuse of a British winter is a must. Shimano's 105 is always a good place to start. It offers 95% of the performance of Ultegra but is cheaper to replace and the slightly heavier materials used should stand up to the salt and crap a bit better.
Shimano's midrange group takes care of the shifters and mechs while the chainset is a non-series compact which, to be fair, you're going to be hard pushed to notice the difference with. Thanks to 105's cheaper sibling Tiagra becoming 10spd you can mix and match components so that's what we've got here, a 12-26 cassette.
As for the wheels, handbuilt 32 spoked, 3 cross is about as solid as you need unless you're carrying huge loads. The DT Swiss R450 rims are laced to Shimano 105 hubs which are hugely weather resistant and hard wearing, running smooth for years. The inclusion of brass nipples is preferred for the salty winter conditions compared to alloy.
As far as braking is concerned, Tektro are supplied instead of staying with Shimano. Genesis has gone for the R317 model which has a 57mm drop offering decent tyre and mudguard clearance.
The rest of the kit is branded Genesis stuff. The aluminium bars are oversized at 31.8mm and have a shallow drop offering a range of positions to all but the most unflexible among us. Our 56cm test bike comes with a 110mm length stem and 42cm wide bars. The seatpost is 31.6 diameter and alloy the same as the bars, an odd choice considering the frame's intentions of comfort, sticking an oversized aluminium post under your posterior.
All this weighs in at 20lb and costs £2299.99 with the frameset taking up £1499.99 of that if that's the path you decide to take.
The geometry of the steel Equilibrium is bang on and thankfully, as mentioned above, Genesis have left things as they are. The head angle is the same right across the board from 52cm – 60cm at 72° while the seat changes slightly from 74° to 73.5° at the 56cm size. This gives a good balance of performance and handling making being aboard it for a few hours a pleasurable experience.
Like a lot of riders with families and full time jobs about 80% of my training is made up of commuting miles in all weathers and conditions, so a bike like the Equilibrium certainly ticks all the boxes. The angles and slightly taller front end mean that the bike feels very familiar to ride, even when you jump aboard it for the first time.
Making anything an 'all rounder' always leads to some compromises but Genesis have managed to keep these to a minimum. While the wheels do tend to blunt the acceleration a touch once up to speed the Ti rolls very well indeed making it easy to maintain a decent average speed.
Climbing was also surprisingly good especially when you consider the weight. At no time do you ever feel like you're having to drag the bike up and you certainly can't feel any flex at the bottom bracket or downtube. Once you've crested the summit and hit the decent that new headtube comes into play. The steering is direct and tracks beautifully at speed with line changes just requiring a shift of weight on the bars. The Conti tyres help with good levels of grip, well in the dry anyway, they do have a tendency to break away without warning in the wet.
Shimano's kit works as well as expected delivering solid shifts consistently even after hours of rain and associated road grime. The feeling at the lever though seems to get lighter as each incarnation is released which can make for vague gear changes at times especially with thick winter gloves on. A change of brakes would be my first upgrade as they lack any real bite at all. They felt like the rim/pad surface just needed bedding in but it never happened - even with all the grit and paste from wet roads. A change to Swisstop Green pads helped but the calipers just flex a little too much.
Comfort is always one of the things mentioned when it comes to titanium frames and while that natural give is felt when riding the Equilibrium does feel a hell of a lot harsher than both the Van Nic Aquilo and the Kinesis Gran Fondo Ti previously tested. It's not uncomfortable or anything - it just doesn't seem to have the plush ride I expected. One thing that doesn't help though is the Genesis finishing kit is very stiff, the saddle taking some breaking in, plus it sits atop that large diameter 31.6mm seatpost offering no respite from the bumps. Up the front the bars have very little give at all so coupled with the stiff headtube your wrists can take quite a beating.
Those DT Swiss wheels get a huge thumbs up though, happily taking all the abuse you could chuck at them without budging a millimetre. Likewise the Shimano hubs were subjected to one hell of a lot of rainwater over the test period and were still spinning smoothly when it came time to give the bike back.
So all in all then what've we got? The Equilibrium can wear its all-rounder badge with pride. Whether you're commuting, out for the day on an audax or sprinting for signposts on the club run the Ti is a good bike to have under your cleats. It'll easily switch between ride styles being just as stable and easily controllable whether you're at full tilt or just tapping out a cadence.
On the flip side though it does lack something and it took me a while to put my finger on it, but it's a bit dull. There is very little in the way of feedback and no real excitement at speed. I know this isn't a race machine but these are all things that the original steel version had. Obviously if you're not so interested in speed and excitement the Equilibrium Ti will see you through many many happy miles.
Price wise it's on par with Kinesis' Gran Fondo Ti - so no complaints there and if Titanium isn't for you you can always go for the similarly equipped steel 725 framed Equilibrium 20 model for a thousand pounds less.
A good bike in its own right but doesn't quite live up to the ride experience provided by its steel framed siblings.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Genesis Equilibrium Ti
Size tested: 54cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Tiatanium alloy (3Al,2.5V)seamless tubeset for the frame, carbon fork with alloy tapered steerer,
Shimano 105 groupset,
DT Swiss rims 32 spoke with 105 hubs
Genesis finishing kit
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?
It's an all-rounder intended for virtually everything bar racing. With mudguard clearance and a slightly taller riding position makes it ideal for commuting and all weather training rides.It'll take pretty much everything you can throw at it.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality is very good as we've come to expect from Genesis. Things are kept simple but the overall finish is excellent with a great choice of decals.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The titanium tubes are drawn meaning there is no seam to be welded creating a stronger tube. Various profiles and diameters are intended to manipulate the ride quality.
The forks are carbon fibre sprayed to match the raw titanium. An alloy tapered steerer increases stiffness
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
the angles create a very stable, good handling bike
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The bike fitted well, our 56cm had a 558mm effective top tube and a 530mm seat tube (compact frame).
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes and no, it was comfortable but not as comfortable as a Titanium bike should be.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The front end is very stiff thanks to the tapered headtube, a touch too stiff in fact for an all day ride.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, the bottom bracket area takes all the power you can chuck at it.
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? very neutral, good handling but little feedback
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is good, tracking well and quick enough without being twitchy. Direction changes at speed feel very controlled.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels absorbed a lot of the harshness with the help of the 25mm tyres.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The finishing kit is too stiff. A carbon post might help at the rear.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Shimano's cranks are always good at laying down the power.
For its weight it accelarates well.
As above, continued efforts will tax the legs though.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano's 105 works excellently in a way that you don't really notice it until it goes wrong, which never happens.
Wheels and tyres
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?
An ideal wheelset for getting the miles in. On a bike like the Equilibrium you don't want to be sacraficing durability for looks.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The small compact drops are an ideal compromise that'll work for both big or small riders. The bar tape was very nice.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? It was okay.
Would you consider buying the bike? No.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? No.
About the tester
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,