The Genesis Croix de Fer 10 is said by its makers to be a "Supremely capable, infinitely adaptable" bike. But then it's also made from a steel named after the Norse god Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir), so the British outfit clearly likes a little hyperbole. Genesis also describes the Croix de Fer as the "original gravel bike", while Wikipedia calls it "an early incarnation" of the genre. One way or another, the Croix de Fer dates back to 2009, so it's certainly in the mix.
The Croix de Fer 10 has a chromoly frame and fork. This is a material that's stood the test of time and, if looked after, should outlast you and me. It can also be repaired more easily than aluminium but doesn't make for a lightweight frame — the test bike weighs a little over 12kg. Although if you're carrying considerable loads a little bit of extra weight isn’t actually that noticeable.
What you will notice is that the 35mm Kenda Flintridge tyres, though comfortable, steal speed from you on tarmac. They do come into their own on mixed, more gravelly surfaces, but if you do most of your riding on the road we’d go for slicker tyres with better rolling resistance, or better gravel tyres such as Schwalbe’s G-Ones. Either will help you raise your pace.
We had no qualms about the comfort of the Kendas, however, or indeed the bike overall. Its handlebar proved particularly popular. The Velo cork tape with gel padding enhances the comfort of the steel frame, while the bar’s 16° flare proves great for control when the going gets rougher. The simple 27.2mm seatpost and Genesis’s own Road Comfort saddle are both unobtrusive.
The Croix de Fer 10 swallows up loads nicely and if you’re looking for a beast of burden for day-to-day use, carrying shopping and weekends away, its toughness and versatility are welcome. For longer, heavily laden touring you’d probably want lower gears than are offered by the 50/34 chainset and 11-34 cassette, though for most other situations it’ll cover your needs without huge jumps between sprockets (provided you don't live in the Peak District or anywhere similar).
Fitting our Tubus rear pannier rack did damage some of the paintwork around the threads, no matter how much care we took. This is a shame, as the olive green frame looks the business. We’d suggest getting the threads tapped carefully if you’re fitting a rack to minimise potential problems. The Croix de Fer 10 also has rack fittings on the fork if you really want to get adventurous.
The Sora gearing works well and has cables routed neatly under the bar tape rather than dangling in front of the stem. The brakes are TRP’s Spyre mechanical discs, which feature dual-piston braking (where a pair of pistons pushes the brake pads onto the disc for more even braking). It doesn’t compare with a fully hydraulic system, but modulation and lever feel are excellent nonetheless and for a commuter/leisure/adventure bike its stopping power is more than adequate.
The Croix de Fer 10 is a bike for notching up the miles — slowly, comfortably and enjoyably. And it’s tough enough for just about any commute. Just remember to switch off Strava to savour the experience.