The Genesis range is the premium bike brand of UK Shimano distributor Madison, also responsible for the Ridgeback line of bikes.
The butted aluminium frame is much as you'd expect: neatly TIG-welded, with strengthening gussets above and below the head tube joints. Only the rear wishbone seat stays look unusual, as one gently S-bends the whole length, while the other is welded to its side above the tyre.
Any bike much under £500 usually omits either a decent, damped fork or hydraulic discs. The Genesis gets both. Admittedly, Hayes Soles aren't that finely modulated. Yet they're way better than the V-brakes or cable discs you often see on bikes at this price.Shimano M475 hubs are reasonably well sealed and are fine for XC duties. They're laced to decent eyeleted rims, which are less susceptible to cracking around the spoke holes, and shod with Continental Gravity tyres. The tread is good on firmer surfaces like hardpack and rocks, and less good on loose or wet terrain. Small economies have been made with the drivetrain, which is a 24-speed mix of Alivio, Acera and - for the rear mech - Deore. It works fine, and out on the trail you miss the extra three gears and more spangly mechs far less than you'd miss hydraulic discs or a decent fork.
The 17.5in frame is a touch short, which entry-level riders will probably like. If you want to put the hammer down though, you need to open up the cockpit by switching to a 100mm stem or sliding the saddle back - that or make the leap to the next frame size up. The fork is better than the XCR name might lead you to expect, as this version is oil-damped and rebound adjustable. It's smooth and plush, yet it really wants a stiffer spring. The preload dial doesn't do much and even 11-stone riders may chafe at the sofa-like sink when you weight the front end. It's fine on twisty singletrack and it just about coped with a steep drop on Dalby's black route. Uphill it's a bit vague though, especially when you stand. Lockout would be well worth having.
The Genesis is better suited to new riders rather than existing bikers on a budget, thanks to its slightly hybrid-flavoured riding position and its comfort-first fork. Lighter and less aggressive riders will like the fork's smooth controllability, while for heavier or harder riders, its soft spring can be frustrating. Nevertheless, this is a very good value starter bike with some shrewd spec choices.