When Ridgeback brand developers/distributors Madison Cycles decided to launch Genesis as a separate entity, it was a wise move. For a start, it’s a great name for a brand. They were able to develop a UK-centric range of bikes that would reach far beyond the imagery or brand identity confines of their other house brand, Ridgeback. We’ve been impressed with every Genesis we’ve tested.
The Core 1.0 looks good and rides like a serious trail bike when the going gets rugged. It’s also remarkably well equipped for a £450 bike. Is there a downside?
Sharp, lively handling without ever feeling nervous
It makes a nice change to see a frame that’s simply designed for the job, rather than relying on oversizing in places where it’s not necessary. The Core’s tapered 6061 double-butted tubes are gusset-reinforced where it matters, but otherwise formed to create a mix of suitable strength and enough forgiveness on the trail. Coffin shaped top and down tubes make for a slimline look and Crud Catcher bosses bring attention to the fact that Genesis frames are designed in the UK. There are two sets of bottle cage bosses but no rack mounts, although it’s not easy to fit a rack on a disc brake-equipped bike such as this anyway. Most riders liked the battleship grey paint job, and the ‘Do Not Tumble Dry’ seatstay graphic is a nice touch.
We really like the wishbone seatstays – like the chainstays, their curviness provides foot and mud room plus some vibration deflection at the back end. The frame’s standover height is generous and the extended seat tube has a forward facing seat clamp, out of the spray. The Suntour XCR fork offers a well controlled 100mm of travel with superb rebound damping control but a not very effective preload dial. We have no long term experience of this fork, but its performance impressed, apart from a little untraceable clunk at the start of each rebound stroke.
Genesis distributors Madison Cycles are Shimano UK distributors too, so it’s no big surprise to find a full Shimano drivetrain here. The rear mech is from the Deore group, the shifters are eight-speed Alivio (other bikes on this test are nine speed but you’ll be lucky to find a nine-speed model at £450), the front mech is a clunky but still efficient Acera model and the crankset is Shimano’s low budget steel-ringed Octalink offering. The chain jumped under pressure on the middle ring during the first couple of rides then it seemed to wear in.
The Hayes Sole hydraulic disc brakes performed well throughout the test and the Core wheelset is excellent for a bike at this price: Alex DP17 rims, Shimano hubs and big, grippy Continental Gravity treads. A Genesis branded four-bolt stem, skinny 26in riser bar, strong seatpost and comfy saddle all meet their required function and we like the soft file-surfaced handlebar grips – often an area that’s overlooked on lower budget bikes. The seatpost was long enough to allow our 19in test bike to fit riders up to 6ft 2in.
Most frames on £450 bikes offer a sound basis for a quality bike these days, but wise component choices are still critical. The Core is a good example of a bike designed by someone who knows what he or she wants from a bike. It’s well put together, far better finished than most, well suited to muddy UK conditions, and the geometry is ideal for riders who want to really attack cross-country trails rather than just riding along admiring the views.
The fork is buttery plush and a better ride than forks we often find on sub £500 bikes. Big profile, quality tyres, which give a lot of comfort as well as grip, add to the confidently neutral ride feel, boost the fork and give the Genesis the edge over many of its rivals. A decent 100mm travel fork is a big confidence and control plus when you enter a rough section of trail fast, either by mistake or on purpose.
This bike is at its very best on fast, challenging singletrack. It offers sharp, lively handling without ever feeling nervous and the fork, the frame geometry and the sensibly high bottom bracket allow you to really attack the bumps, pedalling more into and through rough sections than you might on a more conservative bike. The 29.6lb weight makes its presence felt on the climbs, but it’s average for the price and the downhill performance more than makes up for it.