Genesis Smithfield review£800.00

The named-after-a-meat-market bike’s had a radical makeover

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The Genesis range of urban bikes has increased in size for 2016, and the Smithfield has split into two branches – the standard one with a frame inherited from Genesis’s Croix de Fer lineup of cyclo-cross bikes and this new radical iteration.

Twin top tubes

This bike has a pair of narrow diameter top tubes that are welded to the seatpost before flowing straight into the seatstays, almost like an old-school women’s mixte-style frame. The advantage of this configuration is a lower standover height.

Theoretically the frame won’t be as stiff, but stiffness is more of a concern for wannabe racers, not the commuters and leisure riders that this is aimed at. If you want speed, a 14.37kg bike with a swept-back bar and a sit-up-and-beg riding position probably wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – be your first port of call.

The eight-speed nexus hub gear is roughly equivalent to a 12-38 cassette:
The eight-speed nexus hub gear is roughly equivalent to a 12-38 cassette:

The eight-speed Nexus hub gear is roughly equivalent to a 12-38 cassette

The Smithfield really is a very leisurely, elegant ride. Don your plus-fours and spats, grow your Edwardian ’tache and cycle along in the wheel tracks of Edward Elgar (maybe listening to Pomp and Circumstance on a rear rack-mounted boombox, as an antidote to today’s R&B). The frame design also means that a lot of the narrow 27.2mm diameter is exposed, which should keep it comfortable, as should the dropped seatstays. And it does; the Smithfield is very plush.

The bike is pretty well kitted out for leisure and commuting use. The double-butted chromoly frame and fork should last indefinitely if looked after, the Tourney cable disc brakes are powerful enough and the eight-speed Shimano Alfine hub gears should give you sufficient options at both ends of the spectrum.

Leisurely cruiser

Even with that though, this really isn’t at home in the hills. A lot of weight and gravity don’t make great riding buddies, and the swept-back bar further diminishes its climbing credentials, not allowing you to get out of the saddle to any realistic degree. But for leisurely riding that’s by the by. You may have to add to your journey time to talk about the bike – it drew plenty of comments from cyclists and passers-by, uniformly positive too.

The Smithfield's double top tubes flow straight into the seatstays

Thanks to the swept-back bar the riding position is upright, which is great for seeing and being seen in the city, and allows you to watch the world go by on weekend rambles. Mudguards mean you’ll stay pretty clean too.

The wheels major on toughness rather than svelteness, but we’d envisage getting a lot of life from them, especially as the disc brakes mean that the rims don’t have to put up with the rigours of braking, and they can be ridden if they’re knocked out of true.

The swept-back bar creates an upright position ideal for taking in the sights of the city:
The swept-back bar creates an upright position ideal for taking in the sights of the city:

The swept-back bar creates an upright position ideal for taking in the sights of the city

The Smithfield is far from being your standard commuter steed, but don’t rule it out. It’s not just one for very short trips either, though the lack of adjustability with its riding position does hamper it if you’re envisaging using it for day-long rides.

Provided your scoot to work isn’t a Usain Bolt-like sprint – and doesn’t involve too many hills – this is a very good choice. Commute just a few miles each way to work? Definitely. Long, lazy weekend leisure rides? No trouble. Chatting with complete strangers about this super-distinctive bike? Another definite.

Commuter bike grouptest

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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