With slender Reynolds 725 tubing, a curved, tapered-blade fork, panel graphics and 32-spoke wheels, the Equilibrium 20 is clearly designed to attract those with traditional tastes. It’s well finished, too, with tidy welds, socket-style dropouts and a ring-reinforced head tube, though the square-edged seat collar is slightly clumpy.
But under the metallic copper paint, the Genesis is far from old fashioned. The fork has carbon fibre blades, and the sloping top tube geometry is entirely modern.
Highs: Classic looks, a zingy ride and loads of practicality
Lows: Inevitable extra poundage from steel frame; brakes could be better
Buy if: You’re a steel fan on the hunt for a great-looking all-rounder
Hung off the frame is most of a 105 groupset, the key exceptions being an R565 compact chainset and Tektro brakes, which don’t have quite the commanding performance of Shimano’s offerings. You do get 105 hubs, though, the centrepiece of a no-nonsense wheelset, laced to DT Swiss R450 rims.
The spokes are plain gauge, which is slightly disappointing – building the wheels with butted spokes would save a useful bit of weight. Inevitably and unsurprisingly, weight is where steel suffers in comparison to other frame materials. Not all of that difference is in the frame and fork, but a lot of it is. And it can be big enough to be noticed on hills.
The sort of rider who’s tempted by a steel bike isn’t likely to be too troubled by that, though, and steel has certain other benefits. Some are purely practical, like the big tyre clearances thanks to thin frame tubing – the Genesis has healthy space around the tyres, as well as deep-drop brakes and mudguard eyes, so it’s ready for all seasons. Others are in the ride, with a delightfully lively, springy feel.
Genesis equilibrium 20: www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Out on the road the Equilibrium’s no slouch, although it’s more of a wind-it-up-to-speed bike than a sprinting tool – the springy feel is great at tempo on poor surfaces, but if you like to unleash sudden changes of pace you’d appreciate a more direct delivery.
That said, the Genesis has a relatively short head tube, so if you want to set it up with an aggressive position it’s easy to do so. We wouldn’t say that was necessarily playing to the strengths of the frame, but it’s another aspect of the bike’s versatility.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.