After a very successful launch, UK-designed Genesis bikes hit a lull. The company’s really tightened its focus for 2014 though and the single remaining full-sized Core model is outstanding for the money.
Highs: Responsive, upgradeable ride; size-specific cockpit syncs well with the confidence boosting handling balance
Lows: No rebound damping means a bouncy ride after big impacts; hard compound shallow tread tyres sketchy on slippery ground grip
Frame and equipment: rising above the generic
It’s obvious straightaway that the Core isn’t just a generic, off-the-peg factory frame. The 44mm head tube can take tapered forks, and there are mounts for that most British of bolt-ons – a Crud Catcher mudguard – below the head tube-reinforcing gusset. The top tube slopes down to an extended seat tube with a forward facing clamp slot to keep spray from the rear wheel seeping into the frame.
The SR chainset turns a transmission that’s totally Shimano (including chain and rear cogs) for guaranteed smoothness and durability and the excellent brakes are Shimano too. As if 650b wheels weren’t enough of an impressively up to date feature, the rims are shaped for easy conversion to tubeless running, which will add even more smoothness to the ride.
The main tubes are double butted (thin in the centre, thicker at either end) for a strong but springy feel and there are neat scoops and flat sections on the rear stays. With the skinny seatpost this gives the Core a high class ride, reducing chatter and sting from the trail.
Ride and handling: assured charisma, with a few inevitable compromises
As soon as we got rolling, our testers agreed that the 69-degree head angle geometry is absolutely spot on for the 650b wheels. While we didn’t like the stuck-on-foam style grips, the 700mm handlebars and short 75mm stem complete naturally neutral steering that’s encouraging without being intimidatingly eager. In a classic example of small details making a big difference, bar and stem sizes change according to frame size and so does crank length, so small riders still get a proportional fit.
It’s a tribute to how good the rest of the ride is that the almost inevitable cost related compromises of the Genesis don’t stop its charisma shining through. With no rebound damping to calm the bounce back of the springs after bigger hits the Suntour fork can certainly become a handful. It doesn’t suffer from the metal on metal top out of other cheap forks, and there’s enough control in the geometry and cockpit to tame them. That same assured handling meant surfing the plasticky compound Continental tyres down damp descents was fun rather than frightening, and their easy speed certainly helped on the climbs.