A lively steel frame, great fork and fine wheelset make this a fun bike to ride on all but the gnarliest trails. The forgiving ride character is a massive bonus and well worth taking on a bit more weight
The Genesis brand has been developed over the past couple of years by Shimano’s UK importers Madison Cycles. There are five bikes in the Altitude range, starting with the £700 Reynolds 520 steel ‘00’ and topping out with a £2,400 Shimano XT-equipped titanium framed model. A £1,100 ‘20’ model is similarly equipped to the ‘10’ on test here, but switches to a Reynolds 853 steel frame.
Ride & handling: Flexible (not flexy) fork and forgiving frame mean lots of fun
The Altitude comes with a RockShox Recon 351 suspension fork that can be adjusted between 85mm and 130mm of travel using a handy U-turn dial. The most surprising aspect of the bike is that it feels at ease when riding at both ends of the fork travel.
The steering is inevitably lazier at 130mm, but the soft spring equates to plenty of sag at this extreme (both of our test riders weighed about 175lb) and hardly any sag at 85mm.
The shortest setting is great on climbs and was still fine on most of the twisty singletrack that makes up our regular test routes. About 110mm is the best ‘leave it where it is’ setting if you’d rather not fiddle, adding comfort and control on rougher trails, and smoothing out all but the bumpiest drops.
The overall ride feel of the steel frame is slightly more forgiving on rough trails than the other bikes here, also exhibiting a hint of flex when you hit the terrain hard and fast. This is flattering rather than detrimental to general handling, and makes it a fun bike to ride.
A well put together steel framed rig with a fantastic fork: a well put together steel framed rig with a fantastic forkSteve Behr
Frame: Reynolds steel is still a force to be reckoned with
In a market dominated by aluminium, it’s good to know there’s still a place for steel. Quality steel frames exude a ride quality that can make the extra weight a worthwhile sacrifice. The Altitude ‘10’ frame is made of Reynolds 520 – a good quality chromoly steel that’s double butted in the main tubes to keep the weight reasonable and the ride feel lively.
The beauty of a frame like this is in its tidy slimline looks and lack of complex tube shapes, which is the polar opposite of many modern aluminium frames. But while predominantly round straight-line tubes dominate, there are some subtle design touches here.
The slightly oversized sloped top tube is ovalised into the top of the seat tube, which extends above the top tube and has a forward facing seat clamp slot. The top tube is gusseted behind a ring-reinforced head tube and the gear cables take the most direct route to the mechs – under the down tube.
There are Crud Catcher mudguard bosses on the down tube, two sets of bottle bosses, lots of mud room around the rear tyre and neat cowled dropouts.
Continental mountain king tyres are grippy and reasonably fast: continental mountain king tyres are grippy and reasonably fastSteve Behr
Equipment: Superb fork, and SPD pedals are included, but shifting is finicky
The coil version of RockShox’s Recon 351 is a superb fork. The compression function varies appropriately at the different travel lengths but, inevitably, handling varies slightly as the geometry changes at different lengths. The lockout lever on top of the right leg leaves a tiny amount of movement to relieve harshness, and the rebound damping adjustment is great.
The one obvious downgrade to make room for the fork is the Shimano Deore crankset – nowt wrong with it, it’s just not quite up to newer standards. The rear mech is Shimano SLX, front mech and shifters are Deore and the brakes are also Shimano. The combintion is powerful and well controlled after a couple of bedding in sessions. Rear shifting is finicky, so despite several careful adjustments, shifting only reached perfection in the top or bottom sprockets.
The wheels, comprised of Shimano hubs, Alex ZCR rims and Continental Mountain King 2.2in tyres, are light and roll fast, and the tyres’ wide spaced knob pattern provides good grip. We like all the Genesis brand finishing kit and the Altitude 10 comes with Shimano SPD clipless pedals.