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For 2015, the steel-framed Genesis Volare is available in five different builds offering a wide selection of tubeset and component choices. The Volare 40 marries a Reynolds 853 frame to a Campagnolo Athena groupset – a classic combination if ever there was one. The frame uses the same geometry as the Volare 953 Team Edition which we've tested previously and found to be excellent, honed over the past three years with input from the British pro team Madison-Genesis.
For a run through of the Volare 40's frame features and components, see our 'Just In' feature published a while back. The use of Reynolds 853 tubing, a high tensile strength steel, enables Genesis to use larger diameter tubes with thinner walls to increase the frame's stiffness without adding weight – this is a race bike after all. With an all-in weight of 8.4kg, the Volare 40 is, despite this, still around a kg heavier than carbon or aluminium framed bikes at this price point. The overall aesthetic though is still of a traditional round tubed steel frame, distinguishing it from the myriad of aero-optimised (insert acronym here) carbon race machines.
On the road, the Volare 40 is a bike that is, above all, fun to ride. It may not be the fastest in terms of pure speed, but it certainly puts a smile on your face. There is an excitement when swinging one's leg over the top tube that only a Campy shod steel frame can induce. It feels just a little bit special.
You can roll your eyes all you want (and I'd be the first to join you), however, this feeling is not merely the result of some ephemeral, nostalgic longing for all things classic and Italian, but of the racy geometry and well thought out details. The 56cm test bike features slightly-steeper-than-usual 73.25 and 73.3 degree seat and head angles respectively, giving a trail figure of 54mm (smaller sizes feature a much larger trail). This is on the low side for a race bike and gives the Volare its sharp and responsive handling. In lesser frames, this could lead twitchiness and instability, but the extra stiffness associated with the Volare's oversized 44mm internal diameter headtube ensures that the steering response feels direct and predictable. As a result, the Volare is a demon through the corners, feeling secure and planted whilst at the same time encouraging the rider to push just a little bit further.
It's no slouch in a straight line either, with no sense that an energy is being lost when laying down the power. It'll never quite match the latest carbon creations in terms of aero slipperiness or shear lack of mass, but it makes up for this through its responsiveness and playfulness. The Volare's race bred genes are clearly discernible in the bike's character and it is all the better for it.
The Volare's competitive intentions are also felt in terms of its compliance. Often, people talk of steel and its 'springy' and smooth ride, but the Volare in this sense feels not much different from any number of quality carbon race bikes in that it does a reasonable, if unremarkable, job of reducing road buzz. The 25mm tyres and their more rounded profile due to the 17mm internal width rims help in this regard too.
Overall, the Volare 40 is not so much a bike which exhibits the classic qualities associated with steel, but a bike which feels every bit as responsive and exciting as the best modern carbon race machines while retaining the understated, classic appearance of the frames of old.
The 2015 Campagnolo Athena groupset on the Volare 40 is a departure for Genesis, which have mostly been specced with Shimano – not surprising given that Genesis sister company Madison is the UK distributor for the Japanese manufacturer.
The groupset is a good match for the frame, in terms of both its Italian provenance and classy styling (FSA crankset notwithstanding) and is an option widely welcomed by the public if the comments on our 'Just In' feature are anything to go by.
The updated Athena shares the hood ergonomics of the top-tier Record - which to this tester's hands feel just about perfect - and the characteristic shifting feel and performance associated with Campagnolo groupsets. Though functionally there's little to complain about, it does feel outgunned when compared to Shimano's latest 105 groupset which is often found on bikes at this price point - the shifts are simply a little slower and less precise. Indeed, Genesis' own Volare 30 (the next model down) features a full 105 groupset and can be had for £500 less than the 40. The catch is that this cheaper model uses Reynolds 725 tubing instead of the 40's more premium 853 tubeset.
There will always be an emotional association between steel frames and Campagnolo groupsets that will, for many, outweigh the big increase in price; it's a combination that just feels right.
The one departure from the Campagnolo drivetrain comes in the form of the FSA Gossamer crankset with so-called semi-compact 52x36 chainrings. This is a gearing combination favoured here at road.cc as it provides a good balance between the top end race gears and easier gears for that trip to the Alps. This is matched to a 12-27t Chorus cassette, which is actually an upgrade from Athena.
Beyond the drivetrain, the Volare 40 spec is functional if not exceptional value; it's good enough not to detract from the riding experience. The Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels are solid, dependable wheels which, with their upgraded CX hub seals, look to be durable too. At a claimed 1645g per set, they're light enough that they can be wound up to speed relatively easily and reinforce the overall bike's playful handling. The 17mm internal width of the rims gives the 25mm Continental Grand Sport Race tyres a well-supported profile that boosts confidence through the corners and adds a touch of comfort too.
Finishing kit is from Genesis and is more refined than you'd typically expect from own brand items. The handlebars in particular have a nice compact shape with short reach and drop (70mm and 125mm respectively), that sits well in the hands and makes for many niggle-free miles. The skinny 27.2mm diameter alloy seatpost supports a flat-topped Genesis saddle with a shallow trough running down its centre. All in all, it's decent stuff and the lack of glaring logos complements the aesthetic of the frame nicely.
Overall, the Volare 40 is a lot of fun to ride - the combined result of the excellent geometry and, if I'm honest, the excitement that comes from swinging a leg over a bike that looks this good. Granted, it may not be as fast, as light, or even as good value (component wise) as many carbon race bikes, but if you're reading this review in the first place, then these qualities may take a back seat to the value in having a bike which stands out from the crowd. In this sense, the Volare 40's got you covered.
Playful and responsive race bike, guaranteed to put a smile on your face
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Make and model: Genesis Volare 40
Size tested: 56
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Reynolds 853 steel
Fork: ADK full carbon w/ 1.5" - 1.125" tapered steerer
Headset: FSA Orbit ITA-A Sealed Cartridge
Shifters: Campagnolo Athena Ergopower
Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Athena
Front Derailleur:Campagnolo Athena
Chainset: FSA Gossamer Pro MegaExo 52/36T
Bottom Bracket: FSA BB-CF86 BB86 Press-Fit
Chain: KMC X11
Cassette: Campagnolo Chrous 12-27T
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 5 CX
Tyres: Continental Grand Sport Race, 700x25c
Brakes: Campagnolo Non-Series Skeleton Dual-Pivot
Handlebars: Genesis Road Compact (D125/R70mm)
Stem: Genesis Road (+/-7)
Tape: Microfiber Anti-Slip w/ VexGel
Saddle: Genesis Road
Seatpost: Genesis, 27.2x350mm
Seat Clamp: 29.8mm
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?
The Volare 40 is a steel framed race bike which combines, in Genesis' words, "the harmonious pairing of British and Italian cycling stalwarts in a performance-orientated package that balances modern features with classic looks".
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very good. Welds are neat and uniform.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Reynolds 853 steel
Fork: Carbon fibre
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
On the steeper side with 73.25 and 73.3 degree seat and head angles respectively. The resulting trail at 54mm is quite low, resulting in fast but predictable handling.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The 56cm size tested has a reach of 392mm and a stack of 561mm. Pretty standard numbers for a 56 race bike.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The Volare 40 isn't exceptional in the comfort stakes, but still does a decent enough job of soaking up road buzz. Pain or discomfort on long rides is certainly not an issue.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The front end stiffness is superb and complements the fast handling to give a bike which is very fun to ride.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The wide bottom bracket, enlarged downtube and ovalised chainstays ensure efficient power transfer and little flex when really getting on the power.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Some overlap, but not enough to cause issues when moving.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling was fast but predictable. It's a bike which relishes being ridden aggressively and in an attacking mode
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The steel frame naturally absorbs road vibrations well, while the 25mm tyres are a nice touch as standard spec.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The geometry and stiffness of the frame must take the credit for the superb handling.
Only limited by its larger mass compared to a carbon race bike.
Typical Campy, but shifts are not as consistently fast and accurate as with the latest Shimano offerings.
The Campagnolo spec results in a significant price increase.
Solid, dependable and not too heavy either.
Increased hub sealing should boost long term reliability.
Nice handlebar shape.
Good quality but there's no getting away from the fact they are own-brand.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Age: 22 Height: 190cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.