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The CDA 30 sits at the top of Genesis' aluminium gravel and adventure range, taking a lot of cues from its steel sibling, the Croix de Fer. It's versatile thanks to a multitude of frame and fork mounts and considerable tyre clearance, but the mechanical braking leaves a lot to be desired. It's on the weighty side too.
I recently reviewed Genesis' Croix de Fer. It's their 'do anything' bike for taking on the gravel tracks or making epic journeys on the road, while it's just at home on the commute or as a winter trainer – the CDA is exactly the same, right down to the geometry.
The only real difference is the frame is aluminium alloy rather than the Reynolds 725 steel you find on the Croix de Fer. They share the same steel fork, though.
Having both bikes here at the same time meant I could ride them with the same wheels and tyres fitted to compare the ride feel. It won't come as much of a surprise that there isn't a huge amount in it.
The aluminium CDA feels a touch stiffer around the bottom bracket when really going for it on the climbs, and I can detect that 'steel feel' from the tubing of the Croix de Fer – but I wouldn't say it makes it any more comfortable.
As we've said time and time again, aluminium frames have evolved by a massive amount over the last decade, and there is no buzzy harshness to be found in this Genesis.
Like the Croix de Fer, the CDA is heavy. It's not so much the 11.6kg weight itself; after all, many bike of this type sit north of 11kg.
The Kona Rove LTD (review to come) I was riding at the same time is 11.1kg, for instance, while the Scott Addict eRide I'm currently (geddit?) testing is around 11.3kg. Even that with no motor assistance still feels sprightly, as does the Kona – especially if you're already rolling.
It isn't a responsiveness the CDA shares, though. It seems to carry its weight differently, which can make it feel quite sluggish, and not just in the hills. Those draggy false flats can become a bit of a chore.
If you're just happy to cruise along and take in the scenery, you will at least find the CDA a pleasure to be in command of.
On the road the handling speed is quite sedate, but the only time that's really going to be an issue is if you're having to push on because you are late for work or something.
On the majority of downhills I found the CDA handled gracefully, and it's probably the one time its weight is actually a benefit as it gives a very planted feel. It isn't affected by broken surfaces like some very light bikes can be, which gives extra confidence.
Everywhere else the handling works just fine, and if you start loading the CDA with frame and bar bags you'll be thankful of the more relaxed steering.
This isn't just a one-surface machine though, so it needs to work off-road too. Something it does well. The slack head angle of 71° keeps the bike from feeling twitchy on a loose surface, and the long 1,035mm wheelbase helps keep the CDA easily under control should it get slippery.
The rest of the geometry works really well from my point of view. The front end isn't massively tall, and I can run plenty of seatpost to create a decent drop from saddle to bar, so it still at least feels like a road bike.
I can use the drops without feeling too stretched out, and getting a low-slung position enables you to balance your centre of gravity when descending.
Overall, just like I said for the Croix de Fer, the CdA is a comfortable and easy bike to ride, whatever the terrain.
The ALX 8 tubing is a mix of 6066-T6 and 6061-T6 alloys, and features double-butted walls. That means that tube walls are thicker at their ends where they see bigger stresses, both from riding and from welding.
Speaking of welding, it's a bit on the agricultural side, perhaps fittingly for of a bike of this style with its ability to take the rough with the smooth. It's also probably more noticeable due to the silver paintjob.
I like the colour though, and it stands up well with the daily abuse of gravel riding. The green decals bring a bit of class to the whole frame and fork too.
As I mentioned, the CDA comes with mounts aplenty. You get the usual bottle cage mounts on the down and seat tubes, but you get three bosses on each instead of the normal two. This gives you some adjustment for larger bottles – excellent if you are using frame bags. There is also a bottle cage mount under the down tube.
On the top tube there are bosses for a 'bento' box, allowing storage here without relying on straps around the steerer tube.
Other than that, there are the usual bosses for mudguards and racks, plus the chromoly fork has three bolts on each leg to accept various luggage-carrying accessories.
For bikes like these, being able to fix them out in the wild trumps aero gains. With that in mind the CDA has full external cable routing across its entire length.
Okay, it's not the smoothest or neatest looking gravel frame, but the easy access will help should you need to repair a cable without removing all of your luggage. Tyre clearance is decent at 42mm, which allows you to use the majority of gravel tyres on the market.
It's also worth noting that Genesis provides a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork.
While on the subject of maintenance, the bottom bracket uses external bearing cups that are threaded into the frame rather than anything press fit. This design stands up well to all kinds of weather conditions, and when it does wear out it's a simple swap using one tool and a bit of grease.
The CDA range is disc brake-only, although they stick with quick releases rather than going down the thru-axle route. It's a bit of a strange one if you ask me, as thru-axles bring extra confidence of wheel retention on rough surfaces and, on the fork especially, help resist the twisting forces from the caliper as it pulls on one side.
That is unlikely to happen here, admittedly, as the braking power from the CDA's setup is woeful... more about that in a minute.
The CDA comes in five sizes spanning X-small to X-large, which Genesis says should suit rider heights from about 1.5m through to just under 2m. This one is the medium model, which has a 561mm top tube, a 155m head tube and 530mm seat tube.
The wheelbase is 1,035mm and for angles it has 71.5° at the head and 73.5° for the seat tube. The bottom bracket drop is 73mm. All this adds up to a stack and reach figure of 593mm and 385mm respectively, which is pretty typical for this size and type of bike.
To be honest it's a bit of a mix and match when it comes to the drivetrain, in a bid to balance versatility and cost. It's good to see Shimano's gravel-specific GRX groupset make an appearance, though.
The CDA 30 uses some of the RX400-series GRX, which is 10 speed (the RX600 and RX810 are 11 speed), but it has much lower ratios than the equivalent Tiagra road groupset.
Shimano does offer a RX600 chainset in 10 speed though, which is what the CDA runs with its 46/30T chainrings. That's paired to an 11-34t cassette for a decent spread of low gears, which go some way towards offseting the weight of the bike.
The RX400 front and rear mechs slide the KMC X10 chain between sprockets smoothly, and it really is a solid groupset to use whatever the conditions.
All GRX groupsets use hydraulic braking, which adds to the overall cost, so Genesis has used Tiagra 4700 mechanical STi units instead, paired with Promax DSX-717 cable-operated calipers.
The stopping power isn't that impressive even with 160mm rotors front and rear, and I found myself having to really plan ahead should I be travelling at speed – way more than with even the most basic of hydraulic systems.
Bedding the pads and discs in helps, and a pad upgrade would also see a performance boost, but on a bike of this weight (which could even double with your bikepacking accessories bolted on) needs more bite.
The finishing components are all Genesis branded, and it's decent stuff. It's all aluminium as you'd expect at this price and, to be honest, I wouldn't be in a hurry to change anything.
The shallow drop of the handlebar allows you to get loads of use out of it whether you are on or off-road, and the Genesis tape is comfortable.
I like the Genesis saddle too. It's a shape I get on well with and it has plenty of padding without being over the top. I find anything too squishy can cause numbness, but no issues here.
It's a belt and braces approach when it comes to the wheels, with 32-hole Shining DB-31 rims and KT-K68 hubs laced with 14g steel spokes. They aren't the lightest, but I had no issues with durability on rough gravel surfaces.
The test period was very wet, but they haven't complained. The hubs still spin quietly after having plenty of water and grit thrown at them.
The rims are shod with WTB's Riddler Comp in a 37mm width. With smaller knobbly bits in the centre and more pronounced ones on the shoulders, they strike a good balance between road and off-road ability.
If you're going to spending the majority of your time on a smooth surface for touring or commuting, say, I'd definitely swap them for something slicker, but for flitting between surfaces they are a decent compromise.
Puncture proofing doesn't appear to be an issue, and grip levels on all but the softest mud are good.
Even though the CDA 30's price increased from £899.99 to £999.99 over the test period, it's still not a bad price for a bike with some decent components and a quality frameset. Many rivals with kit like the CDA – the ones we've tested, anyway – tend to go with steel for the frame.
I mentioned the Rove earlier, and although Kona offers aluminium versions, they lack the mounts on the fork and so on. The steel models have them though, starting at £1,199 for the entry-level Rove with nine-speed Sora. If it really is aluminium you want, the Rove AL 700 is £799, but then you're looking at an eight-speed Claris groupset.
Sonder bikes has the Camino AL we tested a previous version of in 2018, which uses an aluminium frame and fork. The fork can take a rack and mudguards, as can the frame, plus there are various other mounting points and it has 50mm of tyre clearance.
A 1x SRAM Apex build with mechanical Tektro MD-C310 brakes will set you back £949 – that's a lot of bike for the money. Alternatively you could go for GRX but with hydraulic braking for £1,299, or just a frameset alone for £299.
There is a lot to like about the CDA 30. The ride quality is very good and if you want a strong, capable bike to tour, commute or have some adventures on, it makes a lot of sense.
It is a bit on the weighty side which dulls the ride a little if you want to use it 'bare' and cover ground quickly, but its impeccable manners mean that – so long as you aren't in a rush – your journey will be memorable.
A bit on the weighty side, but the CDA delivers a smooth, controllable ride over any terrain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Genesis CDA 30
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
BRAKE LEVERS: Shimano Tiagra ST-R4700 10 Speed
BRAKES: Promax DSK-717 Mechanical Disc
CASSETTE: Shimano CS-HG500-10 11-34T
CHAIN: KMC X10
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano GRX FD-RX400
GRIP TAPE: Genesis
HEADSET: PT-1606 EC34 Upper / EC34 Lower
PEDALS: NW-91K With Cage
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano GRX RD-RX400 10 Speed
RIMS: Shining DB-31 32H
SEAT POST: Genesis Alloy 27.2 x 350 mm
SHIFTERS: Shimano Tiagra ST-R4700 10 Speed
SPOKES: Steel 14 g
STEM: Genesis Alloy 31.8mm -6 deg 100 mm
TYRES: WTB Riddler Comp 700 x 37c
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, "Our all-new top-tier CDA matches a great specification at an even better price. Our aluminium frameset is again the centrepiece for this versatile build.
Suited to commuting, utility, touring, road and gravel, the CDA is no less adaptable than our flagship Croix de Fer, from which it takes inspiration.
Somehow, we've managed to add Shimano's excellent GRX gearing making this CDA the one if you're planning to head straight off the beaten track.
Just add some bikepacking bags and you'll be off, wherever the route takes you! Beaten up B-roads, bridleways, byways and everything in between, the CDA will tackle it with a grin.
Of course, being a CDA, there won't be any complaints if it's used as a winter road bike, resplendent in full-length mudguards - or even a posh commuter with panniers fitted.
Impeccable manners that threaten to outshine our original Croix de Fer, as the student becomes the master!"
It is a very versatile machine with a good ride quality.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the top of the CDA range. Beneath are the CDA 20 and CDA 10 which cost £849.99 and £749.99 respectively.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The welding isn't the smoothest I've seen, but the CDA looks well made and I like the silver paintjob.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
FORK: Genesis Chromoly With Anything Cage Mounts
FRAME: ALX 8 double-butted 6061/6066-T6 aluminium alloy
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry numbers are similar to an endurance road bike, apart from a slightly slacker head angle to give more control off-road. It works to create a machine that rides well on various terrains.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I've mentioned the stack and reach figures in the main review, and there is nothing really surpriisng about the numbers for a bike of this style and size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the CDA is comfortable. The frame and fork do a good job of isolating you from road buzz and general chatter.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are absolutely fine for the style of riding the CDA will see.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is pretty good as the frame and components aren't really wasting any power. The overall weight does make the bike feel a little sluggish at times, though.
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?
The steering is relaxed but that doesn't mean that the CDA feels dull to ride on the road. It's still actually quite fun, and the handling is well balanced for when you head off-road.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I like the saddle shape, and the tyres bring a decent cushioning to the ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The GRX chainset offers good levels of stiffness when getting the power down.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The GRX gearing gives lower ratios than a road set up, which helps climbing, especially off-road.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Gearing-wise, things are very good thanks to the ratios and shifting quality. It's just the Promax brakes that let the component side down.
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?
Tough wheels that'll take plenty of abuse, they are a touch on the heavy side if you aren't carrying heavy loads off-road.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
A good compromise between road and gravel.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Genesis-branded stuff all works well, and I see no need to change any of it.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, on those days when I just wanter to meander around
Would you consider buying the bike? No, I'd want something lighter and with better brakes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, but dependent on their style of riding
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Many bikes able to carry this much kit tend to be steel at this price, but there are a few aluminium options out there. The Sonder Camino AL offers good value for money with its Apex/mechanical build, for instance, and is fifty quid less than the Genesis.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The CDA 30 is a capable bike with very good ride manners, and the spec is pretty good for the money. Its high weight and poor brakes scrub off some of its capabilities though, and keep the overall score to a seven.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!