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The Genesis Tour de Fer is a do-it-all tourer that could, arguably, do any riding that you need of it. It might not be the most lush or lustrous of rides, but it's a bike that will do whatever you want with the minimum of fuss and without complaint.
You're graced with reliable steel tubing, nigh-on puncture-proof Schwalbe tyres, Shimano gearing, disc brakes and a full complement of touring gear that includes mudguards, a rear rack, three bottle cages and even some spare spokes in a neat holder on the seatstays.
Is this the only bike you'll ever need?
Let's set things straight, this bike isn't likely to set your world on fire. It's a solid, stately tourer that is designed to get you from A to B, perhaps not fast but reliably so. Throw away any expectations of high performance in terms of speed and you can look at this bike in a different light.
The handling is predictable, never throwing up any surprises, and remains consistent whether riding loaded or not. I've ridden faster and more exciting bikes, but the Tour de Fer isn't designed to be either of those: it's a solid package that will roll you anywhere; a stately steamer with neutral handling – unashamedly average, if you like, though that sounds a little derogatory. It's not meant to be: for a bike like this that's what you want.
That neutral handling is present both loaded and unloaded. Ride it unloaded and you can do so in a leisurely fashion. Load it up with luggage and it maintains its composure and stability very obediently.
More than that, though, as often seems to be the case with touring bikes it seems to ride better with luggage. Having it loaded up seems to leave the bike feeling a little more planted around corners and creates, possibly because of the added weight, what I would describe as a little more "spring" in the tubing.
Unloaded, that neutral handling can feel a little meandering and vague, which isn't great for quick descents or tight corners where accurate handling is a must. That changes with luggage, where the bike feels much more capable of carving around corners, although the limiting factor is undoubtedly the tyres, which, while durable, are not particularly grippy.
This, too, has to be looked at in context. The Tour de Fer 10 isn't designed to be a high-performance racer; it favours a calm ride with handling that is forgiving of mistakes. What might, elsewhere, be described as slow and unresponsive, in this case allows you to (metaphorically) sit back and enjoy the ride.
On descents you'll want to take it easy anyway, with the brakes a little lacking in power. That means you'll have to judge your stopping distances carefully and take care not to come into corners too fast.
Again, though, for the riding this bike is designed for that's not likely to be a problem. You're unlikely to be winning competitions on the Tour de Fer; it's for cruising along, and it does that well. It's a refreshingly down to earth bike you can ride without too much thought.
The steel frame is Genesis' own Mjölnir double butted 4130, which provides a comfortable ride. I was actually surprised at how cosseted my rear end felt.
The design of the frame is elevated by details like the embossed iron cross on the top tube, and the pump peg on the head tube to allow a frame pump to be fitted easily. I've always liked the brass cable adjusters Genesis uses, too.
Schwalbe Marathon tyres almost have cult status as THE touring tyre, but I wouldn't say they are the most confidence-inspiring in terms of grip. They compensate nicely with durability and puncture resistance, though. My preference would be for something with a slicker tread for better rolling performance on the road, as well as something a little grippier. That's exacerbated in the wet, where the tyres end up feeling very greasy and leave you having to roll along tentatively.
Having the pronounced tread featured here seems superfluous, providing very little tangible benefit for the riding this bike might encounter.
The 35mm volume of the tyres isn't the largest, and it would be nice to have a bit more cushioning to further improve the bike's versatility. Obviously, with mudguards fitted there's always going to be a little less space but there are plenty of bikes out there able to fit large rubber and mudguards.
While the Shimano Sora drivetrain is undoubtedly budget fare, it still provides reliable shifting. It's quite gratifying returning to lower-end components and realising how well they actually work. Yes, they may not have the refinement and desirability of higher-end groupsets but they still work very, very well.
The triple chainset may seem a little quaint nowadays, but its 50/39/30-tooth rings paired with an 11-32t cassette provide the extra range you need when loaded up. It provides enough flexibility to grind your way up the steepest of hills and avoid spinning out when you cruise your way down again.
The Promax mechanical disc brakes leave a lot to be desired. Sadly, that's just a feature inherent to mechanical disc brakes generally. It does, as I said earlier, mean you'll have to take it easy (and even more so when loaded up) and be aware of your stopping distances.
Hydraulic brakes are out of the question at this price point, but I can't help feeling that budget rim brakes would likely outperform these so-called stoppers. That's the only real sticking point on a bike that is otherwise so well equipped.
You even get a full complement of mudguards that turn this into a full-on utility machine. For anything that is going to be vaguely useful in anything other than the best weather, they are indispensable.
In fact this bike comes 'touring/adventure ready', with three bottle cages and a rear rack mounted from the factory. It's a pity not to have a front rack too (I prefer loading up bikes at the front as I feel it leads to better weight distribution), but the one fitted is a quality Tubus item.
All you'll need to add are some panniers and bottles and you're good to go.
At the price, it's nice to get all the equipment you do, but sadly Genesis doesn't seem to represent quite the value that it once did.
An obvious competitor is the Trek 520. That comes in at £100 cheaper yet has a front rack, high volume tyres, more upscale brakes and slightly better drivetrain components.
Likely the decision about this bike will depend on which exact features you feel you need. Buying a complete build like this means you want something ready out of the box, and the deciding factor will be which particular set of features you require for your purposes.
This bike is thoroughly traditional in its outlook, and that's by no means a bad thing, though you should consider just what you need the bike for.
If you want something with all the latest standards that fits into a modern lineup you should probably look somewhere else. If you want an all-purpose machine that comes with all the gubbins you might ever fit or need, then it could be just the bike for you.
And that sums the Tour de Fer up quite well. It's a bike that will be ready when you are, that won't question the abuse you throw at it and that will stick with you reliably day in and day out.
It won't have sensibilities about weather or surfaces or complain about being burdened by luggage. It will just bravely soldier on and support you in whatever cycling goals you have.
If you'll allow me to wax lyrical for a sentence or two. This is a bike's bike – a bike that's true to the spirit of what cycling is about. Sure, there are bikes out there that may be more glitzy or more refined, but it's a bike that is honest about what it is.
No-fuss machine for commuting, touring, leisurely outings and more – a bike that just lets you enjoy your ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Genesis Tour de Fer 10
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME: GENESIS MJOLNIR SEAMLESS DOUBLE-BUTTED CROMOLY
FORK: CR-MO UNICROWN DISC
HEADSET: PRESTINE PT-1606 1-1/8" SEMI CARTRIDGE
SHIFTERS: SHIMANO SORA ST-R3030 / 3X9 SPEED
REAR DERAILLEUR: SHIMANO SORA RD-R3000 / GS CAGE
FRONT DERAILLEUR: SHIMANO SORA FD-R3030
CHAINSET: SHIMANO FC-R453 / 50-39-30T / XS, 165MM / S, 170MM / M-XL, 175MM
BOTTOM BRACKET: SHIMANO BB-ES300 68-121MM
CASSETTE: SHIMANO CS-HG300-9 / 11-32T
RIMS: JALCO DD24 / 36H
HUBS: KT K08F/K08R 36H / FRONT / REAR / 6-BOLT
SPOKES: STAINLESS STEEL 14G
TYRES: SCHWALBE MARATHON MONDIAL 700X35C
BRAKES: PROMAX DSK-717 DISC BRAKES W/ 160MM ROTORS
BRAKE LEVERS: SHIMANO SORA ST-R3030
HANDLEBAR: GENESIS X-RACE PRO / 16DEG FLARE / XS, 400MM / S-M, 420MM / L-XL, 440MM
GRIP TAPE: VELO TAPE W/GEL
STEM: GENESIS AS-027 / + - 7DEG / 100MM
SADDLE: GENESIS ROAD COMFORT
PEDALS: NW-99K W/ TOECLIP
SIZES: XS S M L XL
CHAIN: KMC X9
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?
Genesis says, 'The Tour de Fer 10 represents our vision of affordable escapism. A bike designed for the sole purpose of carrying rider and luggage long distances efficiently and in comfort, without leaving a sizeable dent in your pocket. We put it together as affordably as possible without cutting corners that would've been detrimental to the ride or long-term ownership. This meant choosing rugged, reliable kit that will last the high mileage for which we intend the bike to be used. Most of what makes it so good for touring is also 100% applicable to commuting. Everyday practicalities like large volume, puncture resistant Schwalbe Marathon tyres, tough 36H wheelset, powerful, controlled disc brakes, Tubus Cargo rear rack and custom length and extra-long Chromoplastic mudguards. Tour de Fer 10 is just as suited as a daily commuter as it is a cross-continent tourer.'
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the entry-level model. The more expensive models come similarly equipped, though with higher-end gears and dynamo lighting.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nice paint job, neat welds and detailing. Barrel adjusters were a little stiff.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Steel (Genesis Mjölnir Chromoly)
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Relatively slack for stable handling when loaded.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
No surprises here.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfortable and relaxed position, though I don't get on with Genesis saddles.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It has the flex you'd expect of a steel frame, which adds comfort.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It's a heavy bike and is not built for sprinting. Once up to speed it rolls happily along.
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? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's a heavy bike, but rolls along happily with predictable and reliable handling.
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.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Not really relevant for a bike like this.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
It's nice to have a triple chainset for churning up steep hills when fully loaded.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Basic groupsets just work so well nowadays.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
Standard fare wheels, built up with 36 spokes for a sturdiness that will withstand a lot of load and abuse.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A decent and reliable spec. Middle of the road and likely a good compromise for everyone.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
I didn't get on well with the mechanical disc brakes, which provided very limited stopping power.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, more than I expected.
Would you consider buying the bike? Not for my use case.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? If they're looking for a fit and forget solution to do everything with.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a good bike for the thing it's designed to do: load it up, carry everything you need and take it on an adventure.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking