UK brand Genesis have a bigger range of bikes than ever for 2012. The Core aluminium hardtail range runs to ﬁve bikes, of which the 26.5 is the most expensive. Bereft of gimmicks, it's simply a well-thought-out, good-looking, lively and lightweight trail hardtail. It's decent value for money, too.
Ride & handling: Lively, lightweight hardtail for maximum trail fun
The Core 26.5's low weight and compact frame make it quick off the mark, but while it pedals like a cross-country bike there’s more to the Genesis than that. It likes to lead from the front, with a stout front end pointing the way and the rest of the biking following on. It responds well to an over-the-front riding style, hauling the bars to initiate turns and chucking the thing about.
The ride beneﬁts from a couple of the component choices. The RockShox Reba fork is quieter and better controlled than the cheaper Recon usually found at this price, which boosts conﬁdence. As do the Shimano SLX brakes, which offer lots of power and great feel.
The slender back end and skinny 27.2mm post make the Core a comfortable place to be, although the choice of seatpost size will prove limiting if you ever want to ﬁt a dropper post. On a bike this entertaining, you might well want to.
Frame: Well thought out chassis, but 27.2mm post limits dropper options
The Core is bursting with the kinds of features popular on UK hardtails and rarely found elsewhere – a front-facing seat clamp slot, Crud Catcher mudguard bosses on the down tube and so on. Indeed, the mere concept of a lightweight hardtail with a 120mm fork is pretty much unique to Britain.
Polished aluminium bikes used to be all the rage. They're less common now, and all the more distinctive because of it. The 6069 aluminium Core frame also stands out by using predominantly straight tubes – something of a rarity among all the ﬂared, curved and hydroformed masses.
The top and down tubes have a gentle taper, but substantial tube forming is reserved for the back end. The seatstays have a distinctive D-shaped cross-section and weave their way from dropouts to seat tube. They curve in for heel clearance, out for tyre clearance and then swoop back in and are welded together above the tyre to form a wishbone arrangement. At the opposite end, small gussets beef up the join with the tapered head tube.
Equipment: Excellent fork and saddle, plus low overall weight
Genesis are relative minnows in the bike industry, so you wouldn’t expect a killer spec for the money, but the Core puts up a decent showing. A key pick is the RockShox Reba SL fork, which is a cut above the usual fare at this price. It’s got a tapered steerer and a 15mm through-axle to boost stiffness.
Finishing kit is mostly Genesis’s own gear, which is all ﬁne. The Madison Flux saddle is one of our favourites. Transmission and brake parts are from Shimano, with a 3x10 Deore/SLX transmission setup and excellent new SLX brakes. You even get a pair of SPD pedals. The whole bike comes in at a commendable 11.4kg (25.1lb).