Genesis Altitude 30 review£1,300.00

Great trail taming long-forked steel hardtail

BikeRadar score4/5

The Genesis Altitude 30 is as well executed a long travel, steel hardtail as we’ve come across. It’s lively, versatile, easy to run and a whole lot of fun. It reminds us that there’ll always be a place for a bike like this: a tool to resharpen trail skills and, more important, reconnect with the simplicity of mountain biking without compromising what you can ride.

Although the Altitude’s all there on paper, it wasn’t until we’d ridden a few times that it really started to click. There’s a springy, lightness to the frame that imbues it with a floaty quality over the most rooty of singletrack. Add this to the confidence of long forks and you won’t feel out of your depth on steep, gnarly rock gardens either. We like our all-day, full-on epic rides, and this bike proved to be the perfect tool

Ride & handling: floaty & flingable inspires go-for-it

We weren’t immediately smitten by the Altitude 30’s trail manners, but it crept under our skin over a couple of months of hard riding, as we tapped into the light, floaty feel of its 853 frame and called upon its direct, efficient climbing. It’s a well rounded bike, whether you’re railing round Welsh singletrack, heading out for a day on the moors or munching down those Lakeland babyhead descents.

It doesn’t quite have the snappy fast handling of some hardtails – leaving the fork at around 115mm of travel, with 15mm of sag, felt about right. In fact, we only really needed to wind down the super-plush Revelations for steep climbs, or draw upon those extra 130mm reserves –and the resulting slacker head angle – for the real steep, rocky stuff.

The Shimano Deore XT components perform exactly as they should – crisp gear shifting and well modulated braking – leaving you to get on with the riding. There, the stretched top tube, short cockpit and long seat post inject even the large frame with a lively, fling-able feel. The contact points work well, and we weren’t rushing to change any of the Genesis-branded finishing kit.

Our only quibble was with the Mountain King tyres, which we normally rate for all-round riding. The cheaper version fitted here – rather than the fancier Black Chili compound – felt squidgy under hard cornering, especially in dry conditions.

We had minor quibbles with the DT Swiss rims, built up on quality Deore XT hubs, which knocked a little out of true and needed a few turns of the spoke key. Maybe this was also down to our riding, as the bike’s confidence-inspiring demeanour encourages you to really go for it.

Frame: nicely crafted lightweight steel

Taking a look round at the frame, we were impressed with the clean lines, the quality of the TIG welds on the Reynolds tubing and the overall attention to detail, all of which set it a distinct cut above the cheaper chromoly offerings. What does it mean, apart from bumping up the price? 

Basically, 853 is a top-notch, heat-treated, air-hardened steel used for the main triangle, with a good strength-to-weight ratio that helps trim some fat. Butting in strategic points allows both tautness and a little give, but what’s nice here is that the tubing diameter varies according to frame size, so smaller riders won’t suffer from a bike that feels overly stiff.

Elsewhere, the Altitude has plenty of UK-friendly touches, including a mount for a mudguard and generous tyre clearances, even taking into account that the 2.2in Continentals fitted tend to run narrower than others. That’s good for both our mud-clogged winters and for summer fun abroad, as the Altitude will happily take wider, more aggressive tyres for rocky shenanigans. 

Other neat touches include the cowled dropouts and open-ended hose mounts; there are three on the top tube so cable-ping won’t distract you while you’re in the zone and railing over all that rooty singletrack.

Dissecting the bike’s innards reveals reinforcement internally at the head tube, which helps handle braking from those long forks. Meanwhile, a neat throat gusset dissipates stress, although it’s longer on production models than that of our sample.

Equipment: great looks complemented by good parts

Looks-wise, we like the new-leaf, tennis-ball green finish – there’s a paleness that pushes it just to the right side of neon. Production models will benefit from a tougher coat, which is a good thing, as ours has chipped relatively easily. Add in a complete Shimano Deore XT groupset courtesy of Madison’s Shimano connections, X456 DT rims built with black, stainless steel spokes and matching finishing kit, and we’re talking about one good-looking bike.

Verdict: lovely, but consider its cheaper stablemate

The more we rode the Altitude 30 – and rode it hard – the more we appreciated its well balanced, all-round character and quality feel. That would probably be enough to seal the deal, except for the fact that a glance through the Altitude range reveals a cheaper sibling snapping on its heels.

The LX-equipped Altitude 20 drops a rung in the groupset ladder but comes in at an impressive £300 less, thanks to a recent price cut. It’s also downgraded to a fixed 115mm Revelation in place of the U-Turn version. But seeing as this where the bike feels best, it seems better value for money for a small dip in performance.

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