We've been riding Ridgeback's Genesis series since it first spearheaded the flat bar road movement. It's proved a successful formula that's now splintered off into its own Genesis brand, which also covers mountain bikes and a fixed wheel. The featherweight Day 03 is a rung below the flagship model, yet still comes generously endowed with carbon stays and parts - all for the relatively modest price of £800.
The latest incarnation of the Genesis Day 03 boasts custom triple-butted, heat-treated 6066 aluminium tubing, so the frame can be light yet strong in the right places. To help dampen out that road buzz, it has carbon stays and a carbon fork. All this performance does come at the expense of practicality though. Clean lines mean tight clearances - you can just about squeeze in some 28c tyres, and a lack of rack eyelets will point many towards the cheaper Day 01 and 02 models for greater versatility.
Likewise, you won't be fitting any full-length mudguards come the winter months, though SKS's excellent Race Blades (www.chickencycles.co.uk, £35) will keep the worst of it at bay. The welds are neat and the finish is good, if a little uninspiring.
Genesis have pulled out all the stops on the Day 03 - £800 gets you a super stiff and great looking Hollowtech 2 Tiagra chainset and a 105 rear mech at the back. Being a Tiagra triple means it's 9-speed over the 10-speed 105, but we don't have any problem with that. It's easier to set up and arguably better for a bike you'll be using most days. Tiagra callipers offer great braking, though the levers feel unduly long in these days of two-finger braking.
A carbon seatpost and a carbon flat bar offer added comfort - it's just the grips that give rise to complaints. They're thin and unsupportive and gave us sore, tingly hands on 40-mile-plus rides, especially given the lack of hand positions on a flat bar. All in, though, there's a lot there for the price.
The Genesis' R550 Shimanowheelset is 105 in grade and has cropped up on a lot of road bikes. It's impressed us with its performance, strength and value, and although we wouldn't necessarily choose R550s for being manhandled around town, they've proved perfectly strong enough for it. As with most road wheelsets with few spokes (16 and 20), they're trickier to true yourself. The Continental Ultra Race tyres didn't fare so well. Although there's supposed to be a puncture-proof lining, a few of our rides were blighted by blow-outs. They're on the thin side for the realities of riding in the city, and we wouldn't recommend them come winter.
It's immediately clear from the first ride that the Day 03 is really a road bike in flat bar clothing. Its sub-20lb weight and light wheelset propel it up hills effortlessly. A stiff frame ensures little lateral flex, transferring all your effort into a blur of scenery, while a steep head angle means handling is whiplash fast. We did sense a thin hollowness to the frameset, which, along with its fast handling, means it's not as planted as the other bikes. This taut quality felt at its best when we rode our local hilly road loop or did a fast commute into work. In this context, there's little to differentiate it from a light, efficient road bike, other than the less aero position of the flat bars, which offer great control whether tearing down a winding hill or keeping an eye on surrounding traffic. In the city, those thin, high-pressure tyres aren't forgiving and can jar you, despite the bike's abundance of carbon.
The Genesis Day 03 is suited to a fast commute to work, with mile-munching leisure rides at the weekends. Its handling and ride suit a confi dent rider, and the geometry is spot-on for a more upright position. But like a sports car in the city, it's not the most practical of bikes for gritty, everyday, urban riding. With a price tag of £800 it's great value for money but a change of grips and tyres would complete the package.