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Genesis Croix de Fer 20

Everything, all of the time

JRtB test the old new school of drop-handlebar bikes. The Genesis Croix de Fer invented it's own category of cycling.  How much can a jack-of-all-trades master?

My wife talked me into buying my Croix de Fer (CdF) 20. It wasn’t a hard sell to be honest. We’d been talking about upgrading her mountain bike and exploring the idea of going on cycling holidays together. The trick was selecting a general-purpose bike that would allow us to ride alongside each other – in harmony, not like in trying to race. I’ll get back to what we chose for her in another piece – it’s a good story, complete with muck, sweet and tears.

For me the deal was done in two clicks and phone call. I said for me, the best option for a Genesis Croix. We saw a CdF 10 on the internet. This was late summer 2015 and the dealer was doing a cut price. We bought it. Five minutes later we get a call. “Out of stock sir, sorry, but you can have a CdF 20.” I smile, knowing that the set-up is better. The 10 has the basic Shimano Sora gears, the CdF 20 the Tiagra – which even for a middle-aged man like me does make a difference. We do a deal and I still save close to £400. Bargain.

It arrives boxed up and I assemble it and ride around the garden. It’s instant love. So much so that I am annoyed to be going on holiday the next day. I couldn’t wait to get home and it didn’t disappoint.

The CdF 20 is a CX, cyclo-cross, but if you check it now on the Genesis site they sell it as an adventure bike. Either way, it works and works well. It has been described as a go anywhere, do it all bike. They are right. It is robust, made from steel and has a traditional bike feel albeit geared towards trails but it will do anything. I’ve ridden it on all kinds of terrain and it is a sheer pleasure. I am not a big fan of mountain biking, but the CdF allows me to experience mixing up what I like about cycling on the road with trails, mud, ridiculously rutted and wet bridle paths and the occasional rocky descent. The hydraulic disc brakes are incredibly reassuring and precise and the handling is sure. Point it where you want – it gets the job done. The only issue is who is riding it.

There’s an argument that says the CdF is all the bike you’ll ever need. So, I tested that. With some road wheels, it becomes a better performer than the entry level carbon frame road bike I own. It’s more dynamic, feels strong, safe and is no slower. Again, the rider is the issue, but if measured by Strava alone the CdF gets me where I want faster and more consistently. Obviously, it is heavier, but not so that you notice – even when putting on the bike rack or the odd lift and move around the shed. What you lose in weight you gain in joy. The Reynolds steel frame has a classy feel, but more than anything else it provides a strong platform for fun.

Right now, the Croix de Fer isn’t carrying any panniers, but it can. No matter what wheels it has on it this bike can take you down the shops, to work or on a long-distance holiday across any terrain. For me, anyway, it is the ultimate just ride the bike machine. But then, I’ve not tested a cargo bike yet.

Bike test facts


  • Bike: Genesis Croix de Fer 20

  • Frame:  Steel

  • Fork: Steel

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra

  • Weather: Sunny, cold and muddy, wet

  • When: 2016

  • Test terrain: road (with potholes), road (without potholes), bridleways, grass, singletrack

  • Price: £1199.99 from Genesis

Credits: Andy Brown, 2017

What do we think of…the Genesis Croix de Fer 20…in 50 words or less


Not long ago, there would have been three empty spaces below this article. Nothing was really competing in the space. You had road, cyclocross or mountain bikes. Now, as the boundaries become increasingly blurred questions get asked about what the CdF actually is for, and what the competition actually looks like. It all depends on the rider. What use are you going to put your CdF to? If you can define an answer, then you might be able to find a competitor, in one dimension or another. We've included three bikes most like the CdF, in our opinon. This means we've also included Genesis's own Datum. Which is pretty much a carbon version of the CdF (it could be argued). 

Specialized Diverge Comp 

Full Carbon

From £2400, available from Noahs Ark Cycles, and other cycle retailers. 

Genesis Datum 10

Full Carbon

From £1899, available from Independent Bikeworks and other cycle retailers

Raleigh Mustang Elite


From £1000, available from Shop Raleigh

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