Genesis iO iD Alfine 8 £1320

Steel-framed old-schooler

BikeRadar score 3/5

The iO iD twins – available with either eight- or 11-speed transmissions – have been built around Shimano’s Alfine hub gear system. Billed by Genesis as ideal bikes for riding in bad conditions with minimal maintenance, they’re an interesting example of a bike company pushing Shimano’s technology further than the Japanese giant are comfortable endorsing.

Ride & handling: Low-maintenance year-round bike at a fair price

Although it’s the more basic of the Alfine brothers, the eight-speed hub performs decently on the trails, although the big gap between ratios in the middle of the range takes a bit of getting used to. 

Genesis are right to emphasise the quiet nature of the hub-based transmission. From the almost silent freewheel mechanism to the absence of chain slap, the iO iD wafts through even the lumpiest of technical trails with only the subtle hiss and gurgle of oil through the fork’s innards as accompaniment.

The frame’s origin, in a collection of relatively modest chromoly steel tubes, is obvious. Although the iO iD has more spring to its step than any of the aluminium competition, it lacks the resilience or liveliness of frames built from better tubesets. That’s no big surprise, given that Reynolds 520 tubing used here is a little heavy and unsubtle next to the likes of Tange Prestige and Reynolds’ own 853.

Genesis deserve credit for spotting an opportunity where Shimano fear to tread. The iO iD is a cost-effective way into hub-geared bike ownership, but we’d stick with the simpler – and cheaper – eight-speed option. The higher price of the Alfine 11 model (£1,500) isn’t justified by the relatively basic frame.

Frame & equipment: Great value frame offers an affordable entry to hub gear ownership

A traditional design – and the Reynolds tubing badge – mark the Genesis out as an old-school remix that wouldn’t have looked out of place 20 years ago. Subtly larger tube diameters, geometry built around the 100mm-travel RockShox Recon Gold RL fork and an open-ended gusset at the head and down tube junctions are the only obvious clues that this is a bang up-to-date design. 

Reynolds 531 steel was a stalwart of the frame building scene before mountain bikes were even a glimmer in a Californian hippy’s eye. The Reynolds 520 tubing used by the iO iD is a modern development of this cycling tradition, with similar properties. It’s good, reliable stuff but isn't the lightest or most refined option. This is reflected in our test bike’s 13.3kg (29lb) all-up weight. Svelte it ain’t, but it enables Genesis to undercut most of the Alfine-equipped competition. 

Because it’s built specifically to accept the Alfine hubs, Genesis have been able to tailor the frame to suit.  Slender stays taper demurely into horizontal dropouts and neat cable routing provides a home for rear brake and hub gear runs only – there's no provision for a front derailleur. You could go singlespeed, but if you want a frame that’ll adapt to anything you’re looking in the wrong place. 

The newer 11-speed Alfine hub has some worthwhile refinements, but the eight-speed option is a lower-cost alternative that’s still worth considering. Shifts are smooth and clean, it doesn’t have the irritating jump between gears one and two that the 11-speed version does, and it’s £180 cheaper. Ramming home the winter bike theme, there’s a pair of Crud Catcher-compatible bosses under the down tube.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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