The Genesis Croix de Fer manages to match its distinctive white livery with a luxurious feel, whether you're riding on the road or off. Its high weight and smooth feel mean that it's definitely about versatility rather than velocity, although it was a Croix de Fer that Vin Cox rode around the world on in 163 days, setting a new record in 2010.
- Highs: The lovely smooth steel feel, relaxed handling and all-weather braking make for a true all-terrain all-rounder
- Lows: The hefty weight and soft feel don't reward extra effort, and the disc brakes aren't that powerful. You don't get front rack mounts for real touring, and you'll need a disc-specific rear rack
- Buy if: You want a bike that will tackle any routes that mix road and off-road and keep a smile on your face all the way
The Genesis's frame is made from Reynolds 725 steel tubing, with cowled dropouts and extra under-down-tube splashguard mounts. It's no lightweight but it offers a flexible and forgiving ride; the bike glides over surfaces that other cyclo-cross bikes bang and clatter across.
The fat 35mm Continental tyres add extra comfort and the relaxed handling increases the feeling of confidence, to the point where we were happy playing on mountain-bike-only routes. It makes even the grittiest railway trails feel like autobahn asphalt too, which immediately marks the Croix out as a proper mileage-friendly ride.
There's noticeable flex on tarmac bends, but the bit of give and take – rather than just rattle and ricochet – means it feels more composed and controlled off-road than many other bikes in this category. The 32-spoke wheels with Shimano Deore mountain bike hubs will take a hammering without complaining too.
Disc brakes are a real advantage in dirty weather, although the Shimano cable discs found here don't stop as sharply in the dry as the best cantilevers. The seatstay mount means you'll need a disc-specific rear rack, and despite the bike's otherwise obvious suitability to extended touring or exploring there are no fork mounts for a low rider rack.
Obvious frame flex – to the point of the front mech grinding when you put the hammer down – also discourages determined pedalling, and the weight (11.52kg) rules the Croix out for any sort of racing or competition.
The Reynolds steel frame sucks up a lot of money, which leaves the price high for a nine-speed Shimano Tiagra-equipped bike. Also, while the white bar and seatpost look slick, our sample already had a lot of cosmetic rust inside the top of the seat tube, so keep the insides greased if you buy one.
Hat Tip To: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear