Genesis Equilibrium Disc road bike

7
£1,499.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Great multi-use all-rounder with a proven frame and dependable discs, but too heavy for fast fun
Weight: 
10,850g
Contact: 
www.genesisbikes.co.uk

Genesis Equilibrium bikes come in many guises these days: different grades of steel; titanium; and now with disc brakes. This latest incarnation feels solid and the ride is planted and predictable. It's a great bike for bashing out the miles on, although the overall weight detracts a bit at times from the springy fun we associate with one of our favourite frames. I'd question the choice of fork and the need for wheels as hefty as the ones specced, too, considering Genesis pitch this as 'the next generation of road bike'

We tested the original Equilibriumthen a Reynolds-520-framed beast, back in 2010 and we loved it. I still have one of those grey and red frames and to my mind there are very few bikes I'd rather be sat on for a big ride. It's comfortable, responsive '' fun, basically. Later versions switched to pricier 725 steel, and there's an 853 bike now, and a titanium version. We've tried them all; they're all good.

And this one's good too. Genesis have picked Reynolds 631 this time, an air-hardened tubeset that's long been a favourite of the touring and audax builders. It's rugged, but not quite as heavy as the likes of 520 for a given frame stiffness. This incarnation shares the same geometry as its siblings, save for 2mm added to the chainstays to ensure crisp shifts on the wider 135mm rear hub. As with the Reynolds 853 frameset Genesis have specced a steel fork too, although obviously this time it's a disc-compatible one.

The disc to the rear is placed on the seatstay, rather than the currently-more-popular chainstay position, because Genesis see the Equilibrium as more of a sporty all-rounder than a tourer/commuter. They've never added rack mounts to the Equilibrium frame and this one is no exception, so if you want to fit a rack you'll need to swap out the seat clamp for one with a rack mount, and double up on the rear eyelets, or use a Thule Pack 'n Pedal rack. It's definitely designed for mudguards though, and the frame and fork will take a 28mm tyre and a full length 'guard for all-winter duties.

The disc brakes are mechanical Hayes CX Expert callipers running from Shimano 105 levers. I've had these callipers on a few bikes now and I've never been disappointed with their performance; they have plenty of bite and they're easy to modulate. Adjusting the pad positions is fairly simple too, there's a barrel adjuster on the callliper to pull in the moving pad and the static one just requires the twist of an allen key. Genesis have specced 160mm rotors at both ends.

Transmission-wise you get mostly 105, save for a non-series chainset to save a bit of money. Some of that saved money goes into the wheels, which are H+ Son Archetype rims laced to dependable Shimano XT 6-bolt disc hubs. That doesn't make for a lightweight wheelset by any means but they should be pretty durable. More on that later though. They're shod with wire-bead Continental Grand Sport 25mm tyres, which is a cost-saver I could well do without, personally. Finishing kit is Genesis-branded alloy gear, with an own-brand saddle too.

The first thing I wanted from the Equilibrium Disc was that it should be fun to ride, like the non-disc bike is. And good news: it's definitely that. I've commuted on this bike, ventured out for club runs, snuck off-road, done a bit of everything, really. And it's a lot of fun. It's comfortable and assured, with a refined feel. The frame rides in a similar way to the other incarnations of this bike that I've tried. The fork tracks well and steering is positive. Planted. That's the best word to describe it, really. It's especially good going downhill: with a bit of heft in the wheels and the assurance of disc stoppers at hand, it's a bike that you feel you can really push on the downhill sections, and it doesn't disappoint. It's masses of fun at speed.

The brakes are excellent. I've been riding this bike on alternate days with the 853 version that has Ultegra-level long-drop callipers, and the difference is very, very marked, especially when battering down a steep descent with a main road at the bottom, in the hosing rain. Anyone who's not yet convinced of the efficacy of disc brakes on road bikes can come over and I'll get them to repeat the exercise.

The Hayes CX Expert callipers fitted to the Equilibrium Disc are one of the best of the new crop of mechanical discs coming to market. They're simple and effective. But it's incumbent on me, as always, to point out that it's not the extra power – and they are more powerful – on offer that's the swinger. It's the simplicity and predictability of the braking. They always work, and it takes less effort. It's not quite the perfect experience: it is possible, under heavy front braking, to make the fork flutter a bit. Not enough to be an issue, but it's not as confident as it could be when you really haul on the anchors.

The wheels, generally speaking, are excellent. I say generally speaking because three of the spokes in the front wheel loosened over the first couple of rides, and I had to bung it in the jig and re-tension it. Not the end of the world, but you'd be cross if you'd just forked out £1,500.

Since that they've been fine and they're great all-purpose wheels which should be very durable. The H+ Son Archetype rims won't get ground down, of course, and having completed the length of Chile fully loaded on effectively the same hubs as the XT ones used here, I'd expect them to last a very long time indeed. The 23mm rim bed means that you get a wider profile on the 25mm tyres specced which advocates claim gives a better feel from the tyre and a wider contact patch. I'd struggle to notice the difference, I think.

They're not light wheels, though, and the overall weight of the Equilibirum (10.85kg/23.9lb for our 58cm bike) means it's more of a cruiser than a racer. That's not to say it's not capable of long rides, or going fast, just that it's a struggle to do both and it feels most at home at a slightly more leisurely pace. The extra weight over a standard Equilibrium is noticeable, especially when you're hauling it up a climb or pushing off from the lights, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun bike to ride. It is. And it's comfortable, too, like all the other Equilibriums have been.

What all this boils down to is that the Equilibrium Disc, as specced, is great as a winter bike, or an all-purpose bike, or an Audax bike. But it's not really a disc-braked racer. It's too heavy, and the wheels especially so. As such, it's not 'the next generation of road bike' as Genesis claim on their website. At least not in this build. You wouldn't swap your full-on road bike for this bike, as specced, and expect to do the same sort of riding. Whereas with the non-disc Equilibrium, that's very much an option.

I'd like to see how the bike performed with a lighter, carbon, fork, sporty wheels and some fancier finishing kit. It's probably possible to get the bike to around 9-9.5kg without too much effort; at that weight it could be a different proposition entirely, although it would add significantly to the cost, and the Equilibrium Disc isn't the cheapest bike around to start with.

It's £200 more than the similarly-specced non-disc Equilibrium 20; that's a fair premium to be paying for better stoppers although with the steel fork you're not quite comparing like for like. The Charge Plug 5 is only £100 more to get SRAM's hydraulic brakes, although you'll have to wait until they've replaced all the recalled ones. Again, that bike has very heavy wheels (and tyres) and could be made a lot lighter, although even as specced it's lighter than the Equilibrium.

The bottom line: If you bought this bike as a solid, all-purpose machine with the extra dependability of disc brakes, then you won't go far wrong. It's capable, comfortable and fun. If you're looking to switch to discs for fast road riding, then this build is a bit too heavy to be a serious contender for your money.

Verdict

Great multi-use all-rounder with a proven frame and dependable discs, but too heavy for fast fun.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Genesis Equilibrium Disc

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 and Fork

Frame

Reynolds 631 Disc-specific w/ mudguard eyelets

Fork

Reynolds 631 Lugged Disc-specific w/ mudguard eyelets

Headset

M:Part Elite Sealed Cartridge Bearing 1-1/8"

Colour

Gloss Black

Weight

23lbs 10oz / 10.7kg (56cm)

Sizes

50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm

Transmission

Shifters

Shimano 105 ST-5700 10sp

Rear Derailleur

Shimano 105 RD-5701 10sp

Front Derailleur

Shimano 105 FD-5700 10sp

Chainset

Shimano FC-R565, 50/34T

Bottom Bracket

Shimano HollowTech II

Chain

Shimano CN-4601 10sp

Freewheel

Shimano CS-4600 12-28T 10sp

Wheels and Braking

Hubs

Shimano Deore XT M756, 6-Bolt, 32H

Rims

H Plus Son Archetype, 32H

Spokes

Double-Butted Stainless Silver w/ Brass Nipples

Tyres

Continental Grand Sport Race 25c (wire)

Brakes

Hayes CX Expert w/ L1 160mm Lightweight Rotor

Brake Levers

Shimano 105 ST-5700

Contact Zones

Handlebars

Genesis 0.3 Road Compact, 125mm drop x 70mm reach

Stem

Genesis 0.3 Road, 31.8mm, +/-7

Grips

Microfiber Anti-Slip w/ Silicon Gel

Saddle

Madison Prime

Seatpost

Genesis 0.3 Road, 27.2 x 350mm

Pedals

N/A

Compare

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?

A new and exciting category for us, and with it, the arrival of a dedicated road-disc frame platform. Controversial as the concept might be for some, we think road disc has a definite place, and brings with it some real tangible benefits for the masses. It is the ideal partner to our Equilibrium frame where the emphasis is a little less on 'race' and more on 'ride'.

With the increased braking power offered by disc brakes comes also a far greater degree of control. Less of the 'on/off' feeling sometimes associated with rim brakes, and ultimately less force at the lever needed for normal braking. Other benefits include zero rim wear (and therefore longer lasting wheels) and consistent braking performance regardless of the elements, wheel trueness or rim imperfections.

We plumped for Reynolds air-hardened 631 tubing for both the frame and lugged fork; providing us with the necessary strength and durability to withstand the increased braking forces, whilst enabling us to retain that classic skinny-tubed steel aesthetic.

Proven Equilibrium geometry and practicality combines with a traditional steel frame and lugged fork combo and modern mechanical disc brakes to create what we believe is the next generation of road bike.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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

Very nicely made, stealthy finish.

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

Reynolds 631 tubing

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

567mm top tube, 72° head angle, 73.5° seat angle

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

I'm between sizes on the Equilibrium; for the type of riding it's good for I'd probably size up rather than down.

Riding the bike

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

Very comfortable.

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

Steel frame is springy but not flexy, wheels are stiff.

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

It felt efficient although it takes a while to get up to speed.

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

A little bit but not an issue.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Just on the lively side of neutral.

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

The handling of the bike is one of its best features. It's very capable and planted.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
5/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
10/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
6/10

The drivetrain

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

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10

Wheels are good, tyres are average

Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

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

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? As an all-rounder, yes.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 190cm  Weight: 102kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853

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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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