Geneisis’ Croix de Fer (CDF) was influential as a bike that helped start the trend for road bikes that could go beyond tarmac.
It had bigger tyres and clearance, more relaxed geometry than a racer but not as sedate as a tourer, and it had all the fixtures and fittings you’d need for globe-trotting adventures.
So it’s no surprise the Croix de Fer ended up being a hugely popular bike among commuters – its versatile design and smooth-riding steel frame make for perfect urban and suburban transport. The only real surprise is that it’s taken Genesis so long to offer a flat-bar version of the original.
Genesis Croix de Fer 10 Flat Bar frame and kit
This new model’s skinny-tubed steel frame is well finished with easy-to-maintain external cable runs (I like the brass cable adjusters on the down tube).
It has fittings for three bottle cages (the third on the underside of the down tube), low-rider mounts on the fork (for front panniers), mudguard mounts front and rear, and rear rack mounts.
The disc-brake mounts are the old-style post mounts and require adaptors for flat-mount standard calipers, while the bottom-bracket shell is a dependable, threaded BSA standard.
Often, bikes at this price will have square-taper bottom brackets, which just aren’t as reliable or stiff as modern two-piece designs.
The build is impressive for its modest price with a full set of Shimano Sora in 2×9 gearing with the little-seen Rapidfire Sora flat-bar shifters with gear windows. The chainset is Sora’s quality two-piece design, too.
Shifting performance is excellent, although you do need to stay on top of lubing the cables and bike cleaning to keep them friction-free because so much exposed gear cabling isn’t optimal in wintry conditions.
Genesis Croix de Fer 10 Flat Bar geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||73.5||73.5||73||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||71||71.5||71.5||72|
|Seat tube (cm)||47||50||53||55||58|
|Top tube (cm)||52.4||54.4||56.1||58.2||60.5|
|Head tube (cm)||11.5||13.5||15.5||17.5||19.5|
|Fork offset (cm)||5||5||5||5||5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7.3||7.3||7.3||7.3||7.3|
Genesis Croix de Fer 10 Flat Bar ride impressions
As for on the road, I love the way the Croix handles. Its road-bike geometry (73-degree seat angle and 71-degree head angle) and short 1,035mm wheelbase make for a bike that’s easy to throw around.
The wide 660mm flat bar offers plenty of leverage for sprinting or climbing out of the saddle and gives the steering response a fine balance between fast and stable.
This all adds up to a bike I’ve enjoyed riding. The steel chassis mixes bottom-bracket stiffness with a bit of life from its skinny tubes, especially when riding on rougher terrain.
The wheels are basic but tough Jalco XCD23 rims on unbranded hubs with six-bolt fittings for the disc rotors. They attach to the bike via standard quick releases, which are simple for maintenance and puncture repairs, but if you’re using the CDF to commute on and leaving your bike outside, ensure you factor in securing the wheels with an additional lock or two.
The Croix de Fer 10 should come fitted with WTB’s 40c Nano tyres, and the frame can take up to a 40c tyre on the rear and a 50c on the front. I have a lot of experience riding the Nanos, which are fast, all-road tyres with a bias towards gravel.
My test bike came equipped with Maxxis Overdrive Excels in a bigger-than-stated 35c. While these are plenty tough enough for urban duties, they roll rather sluggishly and hamper the bike’s quick-handling feel; the rubber lacks urgency in acceleration and can feel somewhat squirmy under hard cornering.
With the correct WTB Nano tyres fitted, the CDF 10 is a capable flat-bar gravel machine. Plus you can load it up with luggage and use it for everything from weekend getaways to globe-spanning expeditions – the classic Mjölnir steel frame and chromoly fork are most certainly built to last.
With a change to some fast road slicks this Genesis would make a superb urban commuter, especially because the frame and fork are built tough.
Yes, an aluminium flat-bar bike at the same sort of money would have a lighter frameset, but it wouldn’t have the superbly lively steel spring of the Croix de Fer’s well-appointed butted steel.
If low weight isn’t your overriding priority from a flat-bar bike then the CDF 10 comes highly recommended.
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Cranks||Shimano Sora, 46/30|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Sora|
|Handlebar||Genesis alloy 660mm|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Sora|
|Tyres||Maxxis Overdrive Excel 35c tyres (production bike gets WTB Nano 40c tyres)|
|Wheels||Jalco XCD23 rims on KT-K68 hubs|