Light for a long-travel hardtail at 11.9kg (26.3lb), the Genesis Bikes Core 40 is well equipped for the price and it’ll cope with almost anything you’ll find on an cross-country trail ride.
Genesis Bikes is the house range of UK importer/distributor Madison Cycles so its UK design roots are more than just a token gesture. The 40 sits at the top end of the Core range, which kicks off at £449.
The ride: capable at any travel
It’s not easy designing a frame that’ll handle consistently well across the full range of travel in a fork with as much adjustability as the Core's RockShox Recon. Between 85 and 130mm of travel, static head and seat angles vary by two degrees or so and the bottom bracket height, by nearly an inch.
When riding, the fork will sag, compress on bumps and pop back up to full length when the front is not weighted. Consequent geometry variations are even more extreme, so you can’t expect the handling to be spot on for every fork setting on every terrain.
The frame designer has come to terms with this well. Many riders end up leaving a fork in one setting, so you could say that the true test of the bike is whether it will take almost anything in its stride in any travel setting.
It does. Twisty singletrack handling is best at around 110mm, climbs best on 85-100mm and drop-offs on 130mm. But you still get away with poor line choices if you forget to alter the settings, and the compression damping can be flicked to ‘locked-out’ for climbs if you can’t be bothered to stop and use the U-turn dial.
Think of bikes like this as 105mm travel bikes with a bit in reserve at both ends. The Core 40 is close to ideal if that’s what you’re after.
Chassis: lots of detailing adds up to a super-capable hartail
There’s a lot going on in the Core frame. It’s a light frame with extra strength and durability added via clever tube profiles, thicker tube walls and big weld contact areas at the tube ends, plus some tidy gusseting to help protect the head, down and top tube juncture from occasional reckless riding.
We won’t even try to describe the individual tube shapes of the Core 40. They’re interesting and complex, and there’s no way we can analyse whether all the bulges, flat sections, distorted ovals, indents and curves are worthwhile in terms of feel or durability.
There are bosses for two bottles and a Crud Catcher, a forward facing quick release seat clamp and we like the ‘shortest-route-under-bottom-bracket’ cabling. The geometry seems to offer the ideal combination of efficient stretch and neutral handling in medium fork settings.
The fork, an efficient RockShox Recon, offers a leg top dial to adjust compression damping – from super plush to almost locked – in any travel setting, plus a U-Turn dial that gives you 85-130mm (3.4-5.1in) of suspension travel. Rebound damping adjustment is very effective too.
Equipment: Shimano centred good stuff
As Genesis Bikes' parent Madison Cycles is the UK Shimano distributor, it’s no surprise to see a full suite of Shimano components here. Apart from Deore hubs and upgraded inboard-profile Deore XT Shadow rear mech, everything is from the under-utilised but excellent Deore LX group.
That means you get two aluminium chainrings instead of the middle steel ring of Deore, and centre lock rotor disc brakes that look slightly classier than Deore. However, you lose the better modulated Servowave action of XT. We’ve come to trust the function and durability of Shimano brakes at every level.
Shimano SPD pedals are included.
The wheels are a highlight too. Light DT Swiss X455 rims and Continental low profile Speed King 2.2in tyres mean acceleration and climbing are quick, while the wide spaced knobs don’t block in the mud but still grip well.
The remainder of the finishing kit is decent Genesis branded stuff – four-bolt oversized stem, 26in low rise bar, long two-bolt seatpost and a light, fairly comfy saddle.