After weeks of eye scratching Internet research we thought we had found THE bike that was going to take us all the way to Singapore. So we bought a bus tickets and travelled 500km to a specialised retailer in Toulouse, took them for a test drive and realised that we actually hated them. Luckily Guillaume, the friendliest man ever, had a couple of Genesis in stock… And it was love at first sight! Why? Well, let’s see…
Although we are bike travelers we are also humans and the first thing that makes you fall in love is undoubtedly looks. Genesis Bikes know this way too well and have been making beautiful two-wheeled machines which scream handsomeness for a few years now. This is of course also true of their touring bikes; the Tour de Fer series (hereafter TdF). It does not only have impeccable geometry, but also comes in wicked colours. Again, cyclists, but also humans 😉
Touring bicycles are designed to be comfortable since we tend to spend much more time than the average cyclist on them and for longer periods of time. Some manufacturers sacrifice performance in order to offer a very comfortable ride but Genesis seem to have found the perfect balance. We have been on our TdF 20 for a year now and not once did we have posture related soreness in limbs, joints or muscles.
Ok. It rides well and it looks swell. I suppose these are personal traits which we could argue over for hours so, let’s have a look at some specs;
To start with, the frame is constructed using heat-treated Reynolds 725 steel tubing (which is about as good as it gets for bicycle touring) and which it’s made to go around the world. Steel is easy soldered anywhere on this planet and it provides attributes such as durability and vibration absorption which are just what you should look for when considering a new travel machine. Apart from these, the stronger structure of the material also allows for smaller tubes which mean lighter bikes.
Secondly, this bike also boasts some pretty good wheels; 36 spokes means more resistance and better shock absorption, Sun Ringle Rhyno Lite 36 holes rims are, again, pretty much ideal for a touring bike giving some extra resistance when fully loaded and all TdF come fitted with Schwalbe Marathon Mondial which is an excellent road touring tire which gave us our first puncture after over 6000km. Eventually we had to change them and we decided to fit a slightly more off road model, the GT365 and so far it has amazed us both on wet tarmac/mud and on very loose gravel/sand. Still on the wheels, these come fitted with Shimano Promax mechanical disc brakes which are not the best on the market but are easily maintained wherever you are. And to finish this wheels paragraph, the TdF 20 and 30 come fitted with a top of the range SP PD-8 dynamo which is ideal for lighting those powerful B&M Lumotec IQ-X lights or used with a dynamo charger to power up your devices as you ride.
Another great component is of course the drive train. We firmly believe that Shimano Deore is probably one of the best choices for any bike tourer who loves going uphill. We had thought about upgrading to a TdF 30 which comes with Shimano Tiagra but I must admit that we were worried about our knees suffering way too much on those steep hills. Deore is also durable and easy to maintain which, again, is something that should always be on your mind when considering travelling to far far away places.
The last reason why we seriously loved this bike from the very first few strokes is the handlebar. We define ourselves as mountain bikers hence we don’t have too much experience with drop bars, but if you check out any blogs on the subject you will immediately see that this is probably one of the biggest debates when it comes to bike touring. Our only advice on the matter is to go with whatever you find more comfortable and in our case it’s flat bars. The TdF 20 comes fitted with a 12 degrees backsweep handlebar which are not just comfortable, they also feel very natural whichever position you’re riding. There is plenty of space left-over for whatever gadgets or accessories you want to stick on there and they also come with top of the range, ergonomic grips which offer two hand positions and are made with a very resistant material which is still holding up fantastically after a year under the sun, rain, etc.
Apart from these “must haves”, the TdF 20 also comes with a pack of fun little extras, which are always nice, such as a very functional and practical spare spokes holder on the seat stays (life saver), a very nice set of pedals (although we love our SPDs), not one, not two, but three bottle holders, back and front Tubus carriers which are simply the best on the market and last but not least the previously mentioned B&M lights which are just out of this world.
However nothing is perfect and we have noticed a couple of issues which might give the guys at Genesis something to lose some sleep over like the fact that although all models come with three bottle holders, in size XS you can’t fit any beneath the downtube. We’ve been on the road for a while and still haven’t found a candidate.
Another quite important setback is the wheel clearance which “only” allows for wheels up to 35C with mudguards and 38C without, oh and while we’re on the subject, although all TdF come fitted with some great fenders we have encountered difficulties when the mud is really sticky since it tends to build up in rear (close to the seat tube) and stop the wheel from turning. To finish with, just a quick note about the saddle provided which has a nice, leathery feel and looks good but it’s only really suitable for commuting since it will definitely leave you cursing after only a couple of hours. Comically, in the specs they refer to this as the Genesis Comfort.
Our overall… is that we love our TdF 20, we find it incredibly good value and very close to the ideal touring bike. It drives well when loaded but it’s also a good choice for a commuter bike given all the extras and it can be used straight out of the box.