The Genesis Croix de Fer adventure road bike is a head turner. Blending a traditional steel frame with cutting-edge technology, it’s a bike that crosses boundaries and is equally at home on the roads, trails or even exploring the world. If you like your ride with character, take your coffee with cake and would rather be a wolf of the road than a sheep, then a Genesis Croix de Fer could be all the bike you need.
What makes the Croix de Fer range stand out?
British brand Genesis are forging a growing reputation for making beautiful, versatile steel-framed bikes and the Croix de Fer is one of their best-selling creations. Even Harrison Ford rides a Croix. The Croix, or CdF to those in the know, has achieved legendary status as a ‘one-bike-for-all-occasions’ contender. Clip on your panniers, lights and mudguards and commute on it during the week, explore the local bridleways at the weekends…and if you fancy a spot of cycle touring, the Croix will be your trusty steed through all weathers and conditions. Indeed, cycle explorer Vin Cox won a Guinness World Record in 2010 for circumnavigating the globe faster than anyone else on his Croix de Fer. A recent Guardian review of the Croix de Fer 20 described this do-it-all bike as “rather like your most annoying school friend – good-looking, good at sport and science.”
What’s new on the Croix de Fer for 2015?
For 2015, Genesis have added another two models to the Croix de Fer range, bringing the total to five. They’ve upgraded the fork across the whole range, adding a carbon CX fork to the CdF 30; they’ve increased the gear range with an 11-32T cassette; geometry has been tweaked for an even comfier, more responsive position; they’ve switched out the Continental Cyclocross tyres and replaced them with Conti Cyclocross Speed semi-slicks; and they’ve made clever use of some exciting new developments in road disc technology, with the Croix de Fer 30 and Stainless featuring the new Shimano 105/hydraulic disc brake pairing.
2015 Genesis Croix de Fer range – a quick overview
|Croix de Fer 10 ||£849 ||Entry-level model, with Genesis’ own double-butted steel frame and forks, TRP Spyre-C disc brakes, Shimano Sora drivetrain, Alex Rims and Shimano Deore hub |
|Croix de Fer 20 ||£1,199 ||Next model up, with Reynolds 725 chromoly frame and steel forks, Tryp HyRd cable/hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, Alex Rims and Shimano Deore hub |
|Croix de Fer Ltd ||£1,199 ||Essentially the same as the CdF 20, but with a monochrome paint job and a slightly smaller 48/34T chainset. A limited number have been produced…will it become a collector’s item? |
|Croix de Fer 30 ||£1,749 ||Featuring the exciting Shimano 105 11-speed/Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc brake combo. Reynolds 725 frame, carbon fork, Alex Rims and Formula sealed hub |
|Croix de Fer Stainless ||£2,499 ||Top-of-the-range Croix, with a new KVA MS3 ultra-thin frame for 2015 and raw stainless steel finish. Same Shimano 105/RS685 gear and brake setup as the CdF 30, with Alex Rims and Formula sealed hub |
How does the Genesis Croix de Fer ride?
I’ve been riding the Croix de Fer 30 since January, mainly to commute into the office, but I’ve also taken it down some local trails and around Rutland Water, of course. I love the position on the bike and the general ride feel. It’s my first steel bike and I switched from a Specialized Ruby Expert carbon road bike onto the CdF, so the frame initially felt like a big beast, but it’s fast – much faster than I was expecting, and responsive, too. It’s got a nice stable feel to it – the lower bottom bracket and longer reach on the 2015 model ensure it never feels twitchy, unlike some other alloy ‘cross-inspired bikes I’ve tried. The Shimano 105 gears are slick and the disc brakes are a dream. Gear range is perfect with the new 11-32T cassette, even on some steep climbs I’ve tested it on.
I’ve attached a Tubus low rider rack and some Ortlieb Front Roller panniers and even when they’re pretty laden with laptop, lunch etc, the bike still handles well and doesn’t feel sluggish. Alex Rims with 35c Continental Cyclocross Speed tyres are nice and grippy, even on icy early mornings, and definitely roll faster on tarmac than the older Cyclocross knobblies. The steel frame + carbon fork pairing is impressive at soaking up the bumps on trails and on pot-holey roads.
My Dad always told me steel was real and I’m definitely a convert. In fact, the Croix handles off-road riding so well, I’m considering trading in my hardtail mountain bike, which has sat lonely and redundant in the shed ever since the Croix arrived.
Oh, and the Croix 30 turns heads, even if you’re not Harrison Ford. People have actually stopped me to ask me what bike I’m riding, and I’m creating serious bike envy among friends and colleagues.
Croix de Fer frame and fork
The Croix de Fer’s steel frame harks back to a more civilized era of dropping match sticks to count miles and the consumption of tea and fruitcake over energy gels. Whilst its elegance may leave mouths agape and eyes staring, don't be fooled into thinking that these machines of a golden age are lacking in technology. The latest in steel tech is used, like Reynolds 725 seamless, heat-treated Chromoly, to draw tubing that is thin and lightweight without compromising stiffness and power transfer.
Forks are new across the Croix range for 2015. The 10, 20 and Ltd models have new curved Chromoly fork blades, while the 30 has an upgraded carbon CX fork, which shaves a few grams and absorbs the bumps, while leaving ample clearance for the 35c tyres and space for mudguards, too. As well as mudguard compatibility, all Croix de Fer models come fitted with rack mounts. These steel beauties really are ready for anything.
Upgraded geometry for 2015
With the Croix de Fer now Genesis’ bestselling model, they’ve been careful not to rock the boat too much – nevertheless, the frame geometry has been carefully tweaked for 2015. With a lowered bottom bracket and longer headtube, the Croix’s ride position now feels a little less upright and more in touch with the bike. It’s still considerably more upright than an aero road bike, of course, but if you’re looking for all-day comfort and not a race win, the CdF’s geometry, combined with the extra comfort that the steel frame/carbon forks offer, is a real winner. This bike will make you want to hunt out the long way home, just to enjoy a few more miles in the saddle.
Wheels, brakes and drivetrain
Alex XD-Elite Rims feature across the CdF range, and are a solid and sturdy choice. Paired with the semi-slick Continental Cyclocross Speed tyres and disc brakes, they make for a stable, confident ride. The semi-slick tyres, new for 2015, are smoother than the old Cyclocross tyres, but I’ve found them plenty grippy enough, both on muddy trails and icy roads.
The Croix de Fer takes advantage of some exciting new developments in bike tech in 2015, with the CdF 30 and Stainless models featuring the Shimano 105 11-speed/Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc brake pairing. We think this will be a game changer in the road/”adventure-cross” genres, bringing bike tech that used to be the sole preserve of big spenders down to a more sensible price point, so it’s accessible to mainstream riders. The Croix 10, 20 and Ltd also make clever use of TRP Spyre-C cable-operated disc brakes with dual-piston action, making for better pad/rotor clearance (i.e., no rubbing), improved performance and easier maintenance.
The increased gear range across the 2015 range (11-32T cassette) is perfect, whether you’re rolling fast along the flat or pounding up a steep hill, fully laden. The Shimano 105 gears on the Croix 30 are crisp and smooth – in fact, they’re a joy to use – and the 10 and 20 models feature quality Shimano Sora and Tiagra respectively.
Contact points are all Genesis’ own kit – perfectly good, and I find the handlebars particularly comfortable, although I have swapped out the saddle for a Specialized saddle that suits me better.
2015 Croix de Fer: our verdict
The Croix de Fer is a versatile and beautiful adventure bike, blending traditional style with cutting-edge technology. Whether you plan to use it for commuting, audax, touring or general-purpose riding, it’ll find its way to the front of your bike collection, and stay there. View the Croix De Fer Range
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