Many urban bikes display modernity wherever you look – disc brakes, thru-axles, wide tyres and the like. Not this Genesis. The Equilibrium is about as resolutely retro as it’s possible to be.
In this era of instant gratification and ever-shrinking attention spans, this harks back to a golden age of steel frames with straight tubes, narrow tyres (at least by today’s standards) and a look that wouldn’t have been out of place a few decades ago.
Can it still hack it in today’s high-tech cutthroat world?
This harks back to a golden age of steel frames with straight tubes and narrow tyres. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The Equilibrium sports some of the narrowest tyres around, which made me think its ride might not match the wider rubber for comfort, but not a bit of it.
From the first ride this proved a slow-burning treat of a bike. It’s a little heavier than a carbon or aluminium bike at the same price, but on my largely flat 17-mile commute this was as pacy, poised and composed as anything I’ve ridden this side of a full-on aero road bike.
The Equilibrium zips along with a sublime smoothness, silent until you freewheel. This is thanks to steel’s comfort and ‘springiness’ and the excellent Donnelly Strada tyres.
The name may be new, but the Stradas would have carried Clément branding not long ago. They’re ‘only’ 25mm wide but these are high-end road and rougher-stuff tyres that cost £27 each, a lot on a bike at this price.
They contribute to the bike’s smooth, silent running and they handled well on gravel and the canal towpath; though this was in the dry. The tan walls look superb too.
The Shimano 105 is a modern touch on a retro bike. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Shimano 105 is here, with one exception. It’s the newest R7000 series and I reckon it has the best shifting of the bikes I’ve tested recently. There’s nothing wrong with the Metrea or any of the SRAM groupsets’ shifting but the crispness of its shifting is a treat.
And this 105’s silver subtly complements the Equilibrium’s blue steel frame. The one exception is the braking, which comes courtesy of silver Promax deep-drop dual calipers with cartridge brake shoes. They’re not great.
It’s not that they won’t stop you, but compared with the effort of even cable-actuated disc brakes – let alone hydraulics – you have to grab a handful of brake lever to stop.
The brushed-alloy stem, bar and seatpost complement the steel frame well David Caudery / Immediate Media
This has been a longstanding criticism of the Equilibrium and made more poignant by the fact that Genesis and Shimano share the same distributor. The new 105s don’t have a mudguard-compatible deep drop option, but older Shimano R650 Ultegras are still around, and in silver.
Another change I’d have liked is the cassette. Not that long ago 11-28 was standard, but with Shimano now making 11-32 and 11-34, I’d have gone for one of those.
I coped most of the time but climbs over 10 per cent would have been helped considerably (as would the knees) by a lower bottom gear.
As pacy, poised and composed as anything I’ve ridden this side of a full-on aero road bike. Robert Smith
But I massively enjoyed riding the Equilibrium. The reason that the design echoes those of yore is that steel was a good material then – as it is now.
This Genesis is smooth, subtle and purrs along nicely. The frame is well matched with its curved carbon fork, Velo gel bar tape and short-reach, short-drop bar.
The riding position is ideal for long, fast commutes, day rides, club rides and more, and it has mudguard and rack fittings for day-to-day riding. Sweet.
Genesis Equilibrium geometry (M)
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 71 degrees
Seat tube: 53.5cm
Top tube: 56cm
Head tube: 16cm
Fork offset: 4.95cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.2cm
Bottom bracket height: 27.4cm