Genesis Core 50£1,199.99

Unbeatable all-rounder

BikeRadar score4.5/5

We’ve been big fans of the UK-designed Genesis range ever since it first appeared. The top-drawer Core mixes the responsiveness of their cross-country bikes with the poise of their all-mountain range to create a superb all-rounder that beat everything else on our favourite trails.

It didn’t matter which bike we tested it against – as long as there was some properly entertaining techy stuff involved, whoever was riding the Core not only came through first but also grinning the most.

Ride & handling: Light enough to race, but capable enough to tackle a black run full throttle

‘Tackle anything’ is the feeling the Core takes to the trail. Heading down to our test areas, its light weight and well-balanced ride position mean it hums along nicely. As soon as the technical dial gets turned up a few notches, though, the Genesis shows its Core values.

We’ve been banging on about Motion Control versus TurnKey damping on RockShox forks recently, but you only need to hit one long rocky or stepped descent to know exactly what we mean. It’s not as controlled as the BlackBox damping on the top Revelation and Reba forks but it comes through the rough in far better shape than anything else at this price.

Add a relaxed front end, which means you can properly get stuck in without worrying about jackknifing or going over the bars, and the Genesis just loves to be ridden as hard as possible as often as possible. The low weight and positive steering of the short stem make it easy to flick and hop about from line to line too.

In short, this is a bike that doesn’t just simplify normally technical singletrack – it looks for whole new lines of entertainment. The decent sized tyres, skinny seatpost and seductive-looking seatstays mean you’re not getting the battering you’ll often get from longer travel hardcore-style hardtails either. That means more traction at the rear wheel and, while you have to get your weight forward to keep the front end from wandering, it whips up technical climbs.

Frame & equipment: Decent spec, although we’d change the handlebar if we owned it

The frame is a mix of classic and modern. A conventional head tube is backed up with throat and top tube gussets and relatively standard tubes. The centre seamed D-section wishbone seatstays are a proper piece of art, with loads of mudroom around the 2.2in tyres and space for bigger if you need them.

It’s the geometry that’s interesting though, as Genesis have gone noticeably slacker than average for a cross-country trail bike up front. They've teamed this naturally more confident front end setup with one of our favourite forks: the RockShox Recon is an impressively stiff fork anyway, but screwing a hollow 20mm Maxle axle through the tips makes the front end inspiringly precise.

The Shimano SLX disc brakes provide serious Servo-Wave power that increases trail confidence. DT Swiss rims and SLX hubs are a durable wheelpack, and the Continental Mountain King tyres – more predictable in the 2.2in size than the 2.4in balloon option – are reliably surefooted in all weathers without weighing the bike down. In fact, they're rapidly becoming a classic all-rounder to rival the much-loved Vertical Pro from a few years back.

In fact the overall weight of the bike (11.9kg/26.3lb) is something of a shock, in a very positive way. The 27.2mm seatpost takes the sting out of rear end wallops and the new Ritchey-style twin side bolt seatpost is easy to use. White grips, saddle and fork all match nicely. The bar could be a bit wider and flatter but otherwise this bike is ready to tackle pretty much everything.

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