I’ve put more miles on this bike than any I’ve owned before. Find out what spending more than 20,000 miles in the saddle of the Genesis Croix de Fer has revealed about the bike…
This is going to be less of a traditional gear review and more like a write up of an extremely long-term product test. I bought my Croix de Fer in late 2010, since then I’ve ridden it over 20,000 miles across 13 different countries. I’ve spent countless hours commuting on it, touring on it, and even
racing it. The tag line on the Genesis website calls the Croix de Fer a ‘boundary blurring’ bike, and I think that might just be the best way to describe it.
It’s definitely not perfect — the wheel base is a touch too long, and the frame weight is a little too heavy — but these are minor flaws next to two qualities that it has in abundance: comfort and reliability. I’ve ridden my Croix de Fer well over 300 miles at a time and taken it on tours of over 4000 miles in length; not once in all that time have I ever felt unduly uncomfortable in the saddle. It’s a bike that invites you to push yourself harder for longer, without niggling aches and pains distracting from the ride. The lightly sprung steel frame takes the sting out of any roughness in the road, making your endurance the limiting factor — not the quality of the bike.
This awesome ride quality is coupled to the reliability and versatility of the frame: I’ve run my Croix de Fer in a number of different configurations — heavily loaded for long-distance touring, lightly weighted for adventure racing, and with odd bits and pieces strapped to the back while commuting. I’ve never had it let me down in all that time, whenever I want to go, it’s ready. To some this might sound like an odd statement — all bikes are ready to go, right? But I like bikes that run quietly and efficiently, and some bikes, no matter how much you tweak and fiddle with them, always seem to have odd creaks and clicks (Cannondale *ahem*), not so the Croix de Fer. It seems to just work — and in a distance / commuting bike, there is nothing better than a bike that doesn’t cause you stress.
As I said above: the Croix de Fer isn’t perfect — it’s long wheel base, which gives it awesome stability, means sinuous mountain descents have to be taken a touch more cautiously. Riding down the Passo dello Stelvio earlier this year, I certainly felt that I would have like a bike with sharper handling. The frame weight is also a bit of a limiting factor: while for some applications this isn’t an issue (i.e. fully loaded touring) in other’s it’s a pain — the front fork alone, with steerer tube cut, weighs in at nearly a kilo. I know, I put it on the scales when I swapped out the headset. The weight in particular bothered me during the Transcontinental Race — I’d honed my gear down to make it as light as possible, but not much could be done to make the bike frame lighter! Although, having said that, I was glad I had such a robust frame later in the race when my route selection put me on Serbian goat tracks for 20 miles!
If it’s not the bike I’d choose for future adventure races, it’s one that’s going to stay in my stable for a good few years yet — I’ve never had such a versatile bike, and it’s a testament to how highly I rate it that in the three years I’ve had it I’ve upgraded just about every component and been through countless chains, cassettes, and chain rings. After all the places it’s taken me — Norwegian fjords, Alpine cols, Pyrenean passes, American plains, Spanish sierras, and Canadian coastlines — I can’t see ever getting rid of it. It’s a tough call, but if I could just have one bike, this might just be it.
N.B I’m in no way affiliated with Genesis. This is just my opinion! Next up I’m going to be reviewing the dynamo lighting and charging system I’ve used on this bike. Watch this space…