Genesis Zero Disc Z1 review£2,199.00

Team Madison Genesis pro bike gets discs

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The original Genesis Zero is the result of development by Genesis’ designers and plenty of team input, with the race geometry coming via the evolution of the stainless steel beauty the Volare and its first stab at carbon, the caliper equipped Zero.

The new Zero disc stays true to the self same racing shaping, with my XL machine having a long 405mm reach and low stack of 595mm. The head angle of 73.3 is steeper than most and there's a slightly more relaxed 72.4-degree seat.

At the back end, the skinny seatstays offer enough give to kill any vibrations reaching you

The only difference is a slight increase in wheelbase (to 14mm over a metre) thanks to the slightly extended seatstays (410mm).

The inclusion of front and rear thru-axles and flat mounts gives the Disc a super clean look, and unlike many of its rivals Genesis uses the same frameset throughout the range, so no lower grade carbon downgrades here.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the frameset, as soon as you get on board it feels like something special.

It has a solidity and stiffness that immediately impresses. The Zero has a wonderful balance between firmness and comfort, and some of that comes from the use of Fulcrum’s wide rimmed wheels and supple Conti tyres. More importantly, some of this comes from clever touches on the frame design, such as the fork with its straight legs and offset dropout.

This creates a longer path for road noise to travel thus lessening any vibrations by the time they reach your hands — a smart solution that we first saw on bikes such as Trek’s super smooth Domane and BMC’s impressive Gran Fondo.

At the back end, the skinny seatstays (unhampered by a brake bridge) offer enough give to kill any vibrations reaching you, yet the beefy chainstays and bottom bracket ensure excellent power transfer.

Zero 1 components

I love the way in which the Zero handles. It offers a sublime balance between stable and swift, meaning it's just as at home being swept through long fast turns as it is switching lines and traversing through the pack.

The pro-compact 52/36 chainset and 11-28 cassette make for a great all-round combo, but it’s in the drivetrain where the elephant in the room rears its head.

Unlike the rest of the competition, the Zero comes in with a much lower grade group — that being Tiagra. Now, I am a fan of Tiagra, it’s finished beautifully and makes for a decent, hard wearing group, but it's only 10-speed, which means that any upgrade path much further down the line will be expensive.

The shift quality is good, but it is occasionally prone to a slow up-shift and it required far more fettling to keep the shifts smooth throughout my (admittedly filthy, and wet) test rides than the higher grade groups it's up against in the Road Bike of the Year category.

Aside from the opinion dividing shifter units, I’ve no qualms in recommending the BR RS505 flat mount disc brakes with their impressive performance. Elsewhere the Zero 1 comes with a fairly standard smattering of aluminium components from the Genesis stable, all decent stuff but nothing worth shouting about.

The Genesis comfort saddle is well shaped, though the padding is on the squishy side so after a few hours riding you do feel the hard hull rather than the soft padding. I like the Fulcrum wheels, their wider rim shapes the tyres well, and Fulcrum's smooth hubs and fast freehub pickup are always welcome.

The overlying effect of the lower end group and mid-level components is that the Zero 1 always feels like it's carrying extra baggage on the climbs and the 8.9kg all up weight (before you add pedals, bottles and cages) does dull its abilities on steeper slopes.

It’s a real shame that the Z1 isn’t better equipped with lighter parts and drivetrain because the frameset is one of the best of the new breed of racing disc chassis. It really deserves the finishing touches to make it really shine. If it were my money I’d fork out the extra £200 to upgrade to the 105 model.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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