The Genesis Croix de Fer is a genuinely capable all-rounder which can tackle off-road mud, rides confidently on road and can be loaded up for touring.
It's a model that has cemented its place within the fabric of the UK designed bike scene after years of reliable existence - and earns itself a place in the Editor's Choice Awards of 2017 for being a true all-terrain mile muncher ideals for those seeking a bomb proof touring machine.
Genesis has been selling its Croix de Fer for years. It’s a classic do-it-all machine, as happy load-lugging as picking its way along muddy tracks – and anything in between. Genesis markets the Croix de Fer as an adventure bike and, with its wide clearance and tyres, it fits well into this fashionable category.
The Croix de Fer steel frame is a classic heavy-duty frameset. It’s made with round-profile Reynolds 725 tubing with unlugged, welded joints. There’s an old school straight 1 1/8in head tube with external bearings, which supports a steel fork.
All the cables run externally, with brazed-on guides and neat zip ties to hold them in place. There are rather smart-looking brass barrel adjusters on the head tube for the derailleur cables.
You get fittings to bolt pretty much anything you want onto the frame: two sets of eyelets on the front dropouts, low-rider pannier mounts on the fork, rack and mudguard mounts at the back and two bottle bosses.
It all feels completely bombproof. That does mean that it's not been designed to be a weight weenie's dream. The overall weight 11.74kg - sure, that means it's not quick footed, but it is utterly reliable.
A competent spec
Genesis has kitted out the Croix de Fer 20 with a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset. Tiagra looks neat, with a similar aesthetic to 105 and older Ultegra and Dura-Ace. It also inherits the precise, light shifting of those more expensive groupsets.
The Croix de Fer 20 has a 50/34 compact chainset, coupled to an 11-34 cassette. This gives a huge range, allowing you to progress at reasonable speed on the road and also to tackle steep and muddy off road. It would also give you plenty of range for touring.
Genesis fits TRP Hy-Rd disc brakes. These are cable operated, but have a hydraulic reservoir built into the caliper. They are very effective, with the hydraulic cylinders giving strong, confident braking. It’s a neat solution, allowing conventional mechanical brake levers to be used, but is progressively being eclipsed by fully hydraulic systems, which are now available on lower-priced groupsets and will offer better braking performance still.
At this level, the Croix de Fer comes with unbranded wheels, which carry 35mm Kenda Flintridge Sport tyres. Again, this all feels capable of taking anything in its stride, although the tyres could be upgraded to better cope in muddy UK winter conditions. They have enough air in them to ride over most obstacles comfortably though.
Happy on all terrains
Despite its off-road credentials, the Genesis Croix de Fer gets along well on road, with those 35mm tyres having a tread with a low enough profile not to offer too much rolling resistance.
The weight means that we found this was a machine for those happy to spin up hills rather than try to push harder. Over long distances, we did notice road vibration was transmitted via the steel fork to the bars; seasoned tourers likely to spend long hours in the saddle might already be planning on double-wrap bar tape, anyway.
The ride on road feels very stable, and this is transferred to off-road handling. The Genesis Croix de Fer is a bike which gives a lot of confidence through the mud and puddles that are a feature of UK bridleways pretty much the whole year.
If versatility is your ultimate goal, there are other options within the adventure and cyclocross arena that might meet your needs just as well. However, if you’re looking for a steel bike that will manage heavy-duty touring as well as off-road duties, the Genesis Croix de Fer looks to be bang on the money.
If you're tempted, our model came in at £1299.99 and is available from Genesis and its chosen distributors.
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Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.
He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.
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