While I really like my Genesis Croix De Fer I am left frustrated by it. A good bike but not quite perfect. There are a few simple changes in the specification Genesis could have made to push it that little bit closer to being a perfect bike. I use mine as a road bike, on odd trails and cross country, and also as a tourer. So it gets varied use, yet under all of those uses it's not quite right. For now I plan on using all of the components to death, but at the first chance I will be changing the set-up.
- Weight - this is probably the main thing that bothers me. The stock bike (when I weighed it) was 11.8kg. With touring modifications it weighs 13.0kg (+ new saddle, + mudguards, + rack). Don't get me wrong, I know it's a steel frame, which I do really like. It's just frustrating that for £1100 there are plenty of 10-11kg (and less) equivalent bikes (steel included) out there with impressive specifications. If the Croix De Fer weighed 11kg I'd be happy, 11.8kg is just pushing a bit heavy.
- Gearing - for touring, as a cross bike, or even on steep roads the gearing isn't ideal. The compact 50/34T chainset is pretty standard, and saves on weight. The 12-25T cassette could have a slightly better range. 12-32T would be much better, and a long cage rear mech to go with it. I know the ratios will have bigger jumps, but I'd rather that than burning legs. It'd certainly make those 30% roads, or steep muddy banks, or loaded touring much easier and more enjoyable.
- Tyres - the stock tyres are rubbish. On tarmac (which they aren't suited to) they're noisy, and off-road they puncture far too easily. I originally opted for Schwalbe Marathon 32C tyres, but have since switched to Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 28C tyres saving me 600g in weight at £14 extra cost.
- Saddle - the stock saddle isn't very comfortable at all, but is quite light. I replaced mine, and from reading around forums a lot of people have done so too. The Brooks B17 replacement is a great saddle, although isn't the most sleek/fastest looking. I think it's a love/hate relationship... time will tell.
- Rack - the Madison Ridge rack is great value, cheap and lightweight. It is however a good 4 inches wider than a standard rack. In busy cities I just prefer to be as narrow as possible so that I don't get squeezed and I generally have a better sense of the bike when it is narrower. Annoyingly I think quite a few standard racks would actually be able to fit despite having disc brakes.
Changes I'd Like To See
- A lighter bike in general. I know this is a big ask as it's a steel bike. In fact 11.8kg is pretty good already. Maybe a Reynolds 853 frame and lighter tyres would shave 500g off. If they got it down to 11kg it would be a near perfect bike.
- Better gearing. The ratios are the same as I had on my Boardman Carbon bike, yet the Croix De Fer weighs 3kg more! A long cage rear mech and an 11-32T cassette would be perfect instead of the stock Shimano 105 short cage mech and 12-25T cassette. I spent £30 buying an 11-28T cassette which is the largest I can go without needing a long cage mech, or longer chain. Not a perfect solution, but cheaper than replacing a mech, chain, or chainset. A triple front chainset would have been more suitable, such as a Shimano Deore 26/36/48T.
- Rear disc brake mount on the chainstay. This would solve the rack issues, meaning I could mount any standard rack. Quite a number of frame builders have already opted for this.
Changes I Should Have Made
- A different rack. I'm sure I could have gone to a few cycle shops to see if a standard rack would fit. This in turn would make the bike with panniers on narrower and more aerodynamic. For now I'm sticking with my Madison Ridge rack as I don't want to incur more cost and as mentioned it's light and good value, just wider than I would like.