Genesis Croix de Fer  £1149.99

9/10

Capable on- and off-road steel milemuncher; well worth the extra money over its CdF stablemate

Weight 11170g   Contact  www.genesisbikes.co.uk

by Iwein Dekoninck   January 6, 2013  

Genesis's Croix De Fer hardly needs an introduction. You most likely already know that it's a do-it-all bike, and that its credentials were firmly established in 2010 when Vin Cox got the Guinness World Record for riding it around the world faster than anyone had done before.

For 2013, it looks a whole lot more black, and hasn't changed much otherwise since last year. Why fix it if it ain't broke, right?

First things first then; who's it for? According to Genesis it's "equally well suited to year-round commuting on asphalt, hammering down sun-baked bridleways, or even exploring the world". I pretty much agree with that.

While it's not sluggish, it's not really a bike for racing on. Having said that, the Croix De Fer is a good choice to do pretty much everything else on. With a set of mudguards and some decent road tyres, you've got commuting, audaxing and club rides sorted. Stick some decent 'cross tyres on, and you'll find it surprisingly capable off-road - to the point where your mountain bike might find itself staying in the shed.

That sounds familiar, I hear you saying; that's exactly what Genesis say about the CdF, which is £250 cheaper, too. So why would you want to stump up the extra for the Croix de Fer?

First to mention is the lovely Reynolds 725 that the Croix De Fer is made of, a much posher version of the more utilitarian Reynolds 520 of the CdF. It makes for a livelier ride, and keeps the weight down a bit; which addresses two of the niggles I reported when I reviewed the CdF.

While the Avid BB5s on the CdF are functional and work well, the BB7s the Croix De Fer comes with just work better. Similarly, while there is functionally nothing wrong with the Sora 9-speed drivetrain on the CdF, the Tiagra 10-speed specced on the Croix De Fer is a joy to use.

While cassettes are easy to swap out, I appreciated the much more practical 11-28 the Croix de Fer comes with, compared to the 11-25 on the (heavier) CdF. I'm a spinner, not a honker; low (appropriate?!) gears are Good.

Further, while both versions use Shimano's M475 disc hubs, the rims are upgraded from non-disc Alex G-2000 to Alex XD-lite; I didn't really notice a difference in how they ride, but they certainly remain a sturdy, dependable, heavy-ish, wheelset. The seatpost and stem are also different.

In my book those are all proper, worthwhile upgrades. The kind that you won't regret, and will enjoy every time you go out on the bike.

I mentioned the Croix de Fer's off-road capabilities, but what's it like for racing 'cross on? Compared to the CdF, which I think too heavy and sluggish to race, the livelier and lighter nature of the Croix de Fer certainly make it viable to have a go. I did, and enjoyed the racing; though if you're planning to go beyond having a go, you'll want a proper, lighter cyclo-cross bike.

While the top tube is not shaped specifically to make shouldering more comfortable, it didn't cause me any discomfort over and above the state you might expect to be in running up a muddy hill mid-race. Mud clearance, however, is not generous - especially at the fork crown.

Just like on the CdF, there are braze-ons for mudguards, two bottle cages, a rack front and rear, as well as mounts for a downtube-mounted mudguard. Unfortunately, the braze-ons suffer the same shortcomings as on the CdF: the rear disc brake is mounted on the seatstay, making it fiddly to fit a normal rack and guards. I managed it with a Tortec Ultralite rack, mounting both the rack and mudguard stays on the rack braze-on. If you are going to fit mudguards, you'll need to swap out the tyres for 32mm or smaller; there isn't enough clearance under the fork crown to go bigger.

The 35mm Continental Cyclocross Race tyres are not bad on the road, and work well on dry towpaths and singletrack - though I recommend swapping them out for road tyres on the road and better 'cross tyres off road to make the most of the bike.

While there is nothing wrong with the CdF, the Croix de Fer is undoubtedly a better and more versatile bike. Easily £250 better. Utility or utility with added fun, your choice.

Verdict

Capable on- and off-road steel milemuncher; well worth the extra money over its CdF stablemate

road.cc test report

Make and model: Genesis Croix de Fer

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 725 Steel

Forks: 1-1/8" DB Cro-Mo unicrown (w/ double eyelets & low rider bosses)

Headset: VP-A51A 1-1/8" Threadless

Shifters: Shimano Tiagra 10spd ST-4600

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra RD-4600 10spd

Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra FD-4600

Chainset: Shimano Tiagra FC-4650 Compact 50/34T

Bottom Bracket: Shimano Hollowtech II

Chain: Shimano Tiagra CN-4601 10spd

Freewheel: Shimano Tiagra CS-4600 10spd 12/28T

Hubs: Shimano HB-M475 / FH-M475 6-Bolt Disc

Rims: Alex XD-Lite Disc 32H

Spokes: Stainless Black w/ brass nipples

Tyres: Continental Cyclocross Race 35c (wire)

Brakes: Avid BB7 Mechanical Road (160mm rotors)

Handlebars: Genesis AL-6061 DB Compact Drop OS/31.8mm

Stem: Genesis AL-6061-T6 OS/31.8mm

Grips: Microfibre Shockproof Tape

Saddle: Genesis/Velo VL-1200 Road CrMo Rail

Seatpost: Genesis Twin-Bolt AL-2014-T6 27.2x300mm

Pedals: Shimano PD-M520 SPD

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?

Last years' boundary-blurring, runaway success story returns for another year in a fresh new practical paintjob. Loved equally by commuters and weekend adventurers, the Croix De Fer is the ideal 'fun' bike to have in the shed. A bike for "someone who rides whatever is in front of him rather than aligning to a particular tribe."

Now synomous with the Genesis brand, we were unsure as to how the Croix de Fer would be recieved when we first introduced it back in 2010. We needn't have worried though; the Croix de Fer has become one of our greatest success stories.

Equally well suited to year-round commuting on asphalt, hammering down sun baked bridleways or even exploring the world. It's a versatile and beautiful bicycle that crosses many boundaries.

For some time it was the holder of a Guinness World Record when in 2010, in pursuit of an often-contested record, Vin Cox rode his Croix De Fer around the world faster than anyone had managed before. To prove this bikes versatility further, in August 2011 the Montane Icemen used a pair of Croix de Fers to circumnavigate the 1600 mile coast line of Iceland in just 14 days.

The spec hasn't really changed much since its' inception - testament to the fact that we got it right first time.

Utterly timeless and subtly beautiful, we think the new Croix de Fer looks better than ever.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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

The frame and fork are of a decent build. The paintjob has stood up to cross racing and muddy lane commuting.

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

The frame is made from lovely 725 Reynolds steel while the fork is made from double-butted chromoly.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The geometry feels like somewhere between cyclo-cross racer and tourer; slightly closer to cross-racer than to tourer.

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

At a 56cm effective top tube, it was exactly what I'd expect and fits me (178cm / 80kg) like a glove. It's slightly more upright than an out-and-out cross racing bike, which actually works really nicely.

Riding the bike

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

Very comfortable, without sacrificing too much liveliness. Whereas I'd never have taken the CdF cross racing, I would (and did) take the Croix de Fer to my local painfest.

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

Given that it's billed as a do-it-all bike, at home (but not perfectly suited) on a racecourse, but also with a set of panniers, the designers got the stiffness right. Yes, there is some flex, but not so much that it gets in the way of enjoying the ride, on or off road.

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

Not as efficient as a proper racehorse, but a lot more efficient than the CdF. Happily efficient.

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

There is toe-clip overlap, especially with mudguards. No 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?

On the road, the bike handles like a light-weight tourer should. It goes where you point it, with no surprises. Some might call it a little on the slow side.

Off-road though, the slightly slacker head angle comes into its own, and inspires enough confidence to tackle most routes you normally reserve for the mountain bike.

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

I didn't like the saddle - easily swapped out, no biggie. Yet again, I'm impressed with how far Tiagra has come, comfortable hoods, the shifting is buttery smooth and keeps on shifting.

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

If you're worrying about stiffness, you best look at another, more performance-orien ted bike. This one is fine as it is.

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

The compact chainset with the 11-28 cassette is just right. So much better than the 11-25 on the (heavier!) CdF.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10

It's a tad on the heavy side for accelerating quickly.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

Slightly let down by its weight.

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

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

Shimano Tiagra works really well and keeps on shifting, even with mud plastered all over the bike.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10

The wheelset is solid, rather than racy.

Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
8/10

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?

You could swap out the wheels for something a bit lighter. If you're considering that, though, you're possibly missing the point of this bike and you might be better off with something else.

The tyres I would swap out; I used the Maxxis Razes I reviewed recently for any off-roading/cyclo-crossing and a bombproof set of Continental Contacts for commuting.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

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

If only the STIs didn't have cables coming out everywhere - the only reason to go up to 105 in my opinion.

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

I'm hardly telling you anything you don't know already, but the Avid BB7s deserve a special mention here. They work really well, noticeably better than the BB5s specced on the CdF, and in a different league to any cantis I've ever used.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, if I was in the market for a light-weight tourer.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, depending on what they're after.

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

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

The Croix-de-Fer is a very capable mile-muncher that is not afraid to tackle the stuff you normally reserve for your mountain bike.

Overall rating: 9/10

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

 

17 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Call me shallow but many lovely looking bikes are ruined by the Tiagra dinner plate on the front.

posted by Some Fella [824 posts]
6th January 2013 - 14:21

12 Likes

Agreed, it's a hideous-looking bit of kit.

posted by andyp [1078 posts]
6th January 2013 - 15:14

11 Likes

I second that. Even the Dura Ace can look bad; particularly on slender steel tubed bikes.

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [39 posts]
6th January 2013 - 17:27

8 Likes

I think you have simply been conditioned by carbon. Small diameter tubes used to be the norm and yes, they do make things look different - though that straight fork is reminiscent of my first mountain bike 20 years ago.

Gerard the Kiwi

GerardR's picture

posted by GerardR [86 posts]
6th January 2013 - 19:48

12 Likes

I like the chainset - shiny is good, esp on steel bikes.

posted by localsurfer [169 posts]
6th January 2013 - 21:09

8 Likes

3rded, Shimano seem to have lost the plot in the chainset design department. SRAM do some much better looking cranks at that price point but I guess there's a cost saving in speccing the whole group. Very nice looking bike apart from that though.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [917 posts]
6th January 2013 - 21:32

13 Likes

And 4th'd, I stuck one of these on a bike recently because I found it cheap on ebay, I put 105 everywhere else, wish i'd spent a little extra on the chainset.

posted by bike_food [123 posts]
7th January 2013 - 7:55

13 Likes

This type of bike is the bike a lot of people need Cool
They are more capable off road than a lot of people would think, and for on road, disc brakes are a very good idea, saving rim wear in the winter.
Spec is always a bit of personal choice depending on how you are going to use the bike. I think cyclcross gearing would be better unless you are only going on road with it, and then you would want to change the tyres.

There are quite a few of these types of bikes around now. If you fancy something a bit expensive but with room for huge tyres and a nice looking frame check out the Singular Peregrine, or for a much more offroad bias,the Gryphon (I have one amazing bike)

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
7th January 2013 - 9:04

11 Likes

I've been riding a 2012 Croix de Fer for a year now and love it. Since then I've thrown it round the Hell of the North Cotswolds, along routes such as Coast & Castles, and down a series of muddy potholed lanes, and it's proved ideal. I can see the logic in the change to black (the original white does get scuffed every time you lean it against a Sheffield stand) but it doesn't look as cool!

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [141 posts]
7th January 2013 - 9:21

15 Likes

"First things first then; who's it for?"

People rather smaller than me, sadly - same as all of Genesis's drop-bar bikes Sad

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [433 posts]
9th January 2013 - 12:15

8 Likes

I have got a 2012 Crox De Fer and I have used it for Paris - Roubaix, Fully Loaded JoGLE with front and rear panniers, Local trails, winter hack...

It is absolutely fantastic all round bike, my only mods, Hope Hub back wheel (To cope with the loaded rear pannier better than cup and cone) and mountain bike 11-34 cassette and rear mech - again to cope with loaded bike.

my ONLY niggle is the colour - the 2012 was White, in Black this makes it the PERFECT tourer, commuter, Lazy summer trails bike Smile

Damn I want to respray mine NOW!

john.berry's picture

posted by john.berry [21 posts]
9th January 2013 - 18:58

13 Likes

A great review of a bike that's on my shortlist for my next purchase. How does it compare with the Vapour Disc (apart from being lighter) and other steel frame cross bikes such as the Cotic X?

posted by Embles [8 posts]
14th January 2013 - 13:13

11 Likes

Bez,
Don't understand your comment! I'm 6"2 and 100kg ( planning on shifting 20 kg of that) this year. Would it be suitable for me?!!

posted by twosparetubes [13 posts]
5th March 2013 - 13:24

8 Likes

twosparetubes wrote:
Bez,
Don't understand your comment! I'm 6"2 and 100kg ( planning on shifting 20 kg of that) this year. Would it be suitable for me?!!

Don't worry, I'm just under 6'3" and 95KG's and I couldn't be more delighted with this bike. I've got the 58cm frame and it feels great. Replaced the tyres with Continental Grand Prix Four seasons and have a Topeak Super Tourist DX Rear Pannier fitted.

Comfortable, flexible, fairly quick and a confidence inspiring ride. I spent a long time deciding between many different rides, I made the right choice. It would fit you fine too Smile

posted by Genesis_CdF_Fan [1 posts]
23rd March 2013 - 12:53

11 Likes

Recently purchased one of these.
I bought it solely for use in wet weather so had it kitted out with full length guards and 28mm Spesh Armadillos. I bought it to replace a lighter aluminum Allez which I'd been using for the same job for around 3 years but had grown tired of constantly replacing Crud road racers on.

I thought I'd made a mistake the first time I took it out on a lengthy ride due to the extra weight but after a few more rides and learning to adapt my riding style a little I fell in love with it and now can't wait to get out on it.

For a training, winter/bad weather bike it's perfect. Feels solid as a rock and gives loads of confidence when the roads aren't great i.e. mostly everywhere.

Disc brakes are awesome in the wet again giving lots of confidence unlike rim brakes when you are never quite sure what's going to happen.

Highly recommended.

posted by bike_food [123 posts]
24th March 2013 - 11:50

11 Likes

My mate rides one of these in white, and I'm fairly sure he's just north of 6'4". I take my 'cross a little more seriously so I've got a genesis Vapour in Matt Black. He loves it, I may add, since it handles so much of his kind of riding...

posted by Linkinbassist [33 posts]
25th April 2013 - 17:57

14 Likes

twosparetubes wrote:

I've got the 58cm frame and it feels great. Replaced the tyres with Continental Grand Prix Four seasons and have a Topeak Super Tourist DX Rear Pannier fitted.

Hi Twosparetubes - what size Contis did you go for and do they make much difference to the stock knobbly tyres on road? I've been advised to go for a 700x28 Gatorskins for my Croix but I'm not sure they're right.

Thanks

posted by Embles [8 posts]
14th May 2013 - 18:50

11 Likes

road.cc reviews

Latest reviews

7/10
£2999.96
November 16, 2014
8/10
£21.99
November 16, 2014
7/10
£51.99
November 15, 2014
7/10
£5.99
November 15, 2014
8/10
£29.99
November 14, 2014
7/10
£19.99
November 14, 2014
9/10
£14.99
November 13, 2014
8/10
£180.00
November 13, 2014
5/10
£99.99
November 12, 2014
7/10
£599.99
November 12, 2014
8/10
£29.99
November 11, 2014
9/10
£70.00
November 11, 2014
7/10
£149.99
November 10, 2014
8/10
£45.00
November 10, 2014
9/10
£1124.99
November 9, 2014
8/10
£28.00
November 9, 2014
9/10
£45.00
November 7, 2014
7/10
£120.00
November 7, 2014
5/10
£38.00
November 6, 2014
8/10
£5.99
November 6, 2014
9/10
£1949.00
November 5, 2014
10/10
£4.99
November 4, 2014
8/10
£54.99
November 4, 2014
8/10
£129.99
November 3, 2014
9/10
£109.99
November 3, 2014
8/10
£999.00
November 2, 2014
7/10
£19.99
November 2, 2014
9/10
£32.00
November 1, 2014
8/10
£399.00
November 1, 2014
9/10
£250.00
October 31, 2014
8/10
£199.00
October 31, 2014
9/10
£139.00
October 30, 2014
 
1