There aren't many MTBs built in the UK these days. This one isn't either, but it's as close as you're going to get for this sort of cash. The Genesis name first emerged as a subcategory of Ridgeback bikes, but it has now evolved its own identity and offers some excellent medium budget alternatives to the big multi-national marques.
Frame: designed for UK conditions
Genesis frames are designed in-house by Madison. UK-friendly features on the Core include Crudcatcher bosses under the down tube, loads of mud room around the tyres and a forward facing seat clamp, to stop the wheel spray from running into the seat tube slot. The top tube offers lots of standover clearance, there are two sets of bottle cage bosses and a couple of decent gusset reinforcements behind the head tube will help to stop frontal impacts from becoming structurally terminal.
The coffin-shaped top and down tube profiling and swoopy chain and seatstays keep handling crisp and direct, but their super stiff characteristics mean you'll need to rely almost solely on the tyres and fork for comfort. The good news is that SR Suntour's XCR fork is surprisingly good. Decent rebound damping is adjustable on top of the righthand leg and a steep (73 degree) seat angle sits you far enough forward to get the best out of a well controlled 100mm (3.9in) of travel.
The ride: neutral & controlled but not plush
As with most sub-£500 bikes, the ride of the Core is predictably neutral and well controlled, but not exactly plush. The frame's shock-shrugging abilities are limited so you're relying on the fork and the tyres for comfort. The 2.2in tyres are a good choice - they roll well, grip well and, at about 35psi, add comfort to an otherwise harsh ride on rough terrain. Still, it's good for a £450 bike. The ride position of the Core feels comfortably confident, handling over difficult terrain is superb and the weight rarely feels a burden on climbs.
Equipment: lots of Shimano
Not many bikes in this price bracket come with as much Shimano kit as this one does. But you wouldn't really expect anything else from Shimano's UK importer. A Deore rear mech and Alivio shifters performed without fault but the Altus front mech is clunky when shifting under pressure and the chain kept skipping on the middle ring of the Alivio cranks, once jumping off completely on a climb and depositing the rider over the handlebars.
It's a problem we've encountered far too frequently with new chains and cranksets, though fortunately it always seems to settle down after a few rides. Shimano's hydraulic disc brakes, the wheels and the Continental Mountain King tyres are all highlights on a £450 bike. All the finishing kit is decent Genesis branded stuff too.