Genesis Core 20 review

Well designed all-rounder

BikeRadar score4/5

Genesis grew out of the popular UK-based Ridgeback brand a few years back to concentrate entirely on bikes bred for the specific and often eclectic tastes of the soggy but trail infested island that is Great Britain.

The Core 20 stands out as a ride that’s both muscular and technically adept yet really well balanced and mileage friendly.

Ride & handling: Really good all-round British ride

The bar is the sole issue we had with the setup; otherwise everything on the Genesis feels great from the get-go. The head angle is slack, which immediately gives a confident, assured feel when speed and descent steepness increase or traction decreases. The 80mm stem is also short enough to catch the best lines and make mid-corner corrections without being super-twitchy.

Top tube lengths are generous on all sizes, which means plenty of breathing space on climbs, but the Core isn't so long between the wheels that you have to heave it through tight stuff like a bus.

The rounded tyres mean it tips into and out of corners easily. Their low weight and the stiffness created by the thick spindle-splined crank axle and chunky chainstays also mean it kicks hard out of corners or uphill whenever you want it to. Decent ground clearance means there’s no interruption of pedalling on rough/rutted ground either.

It’s the overall combination of handling and smoothness that really lifts the Core into the top rank though. The RockShox Tora fork is precise in where it puts its tips however hard you brake or corner, and does a decent job of isolating shock. Show it a long set of steps, though, and it starts to shudder. It’s certainly a fork you work with rather than around, which is a bonus at this price.

Considering the stay size and muscular overall feel we’re impressed by how little sting makes it up the slim seatpost to the saddle, and this really comes into its own as you go further and faster.

Genesis core 20: genesis core 20
Genesis core 20: genesis core 20

Frame: Aesthetically and technically great chassis

The five-strong Core family stretches from £599 to £1,199, with the first three bikes (10, 20 and 30) sharing the same frame. Hydroforming has opened up a whole new world of tube shaping possibilities, but . Interestingly, Genesis have stayed with mechanical tube extrusion – pulling the tube through a shaped die – for better control of wall thicknesses. We certainly can’t argue with the results in this case.

It’s a standard rather than inset headset head tube but open-backed molar shaped gussets on the top tube and a longer one under the throat create plenty of strength. Genesis even give the nod for up to 130mm-travel forks if you’re looking to upgrade later.

The round-to-oval section down tube has bolted mounts for the included Cycra Guard splash guard and welded cable guides on the throat gusset give clean open cable routing. The extended 27.2mm seat tube gets a forward-facing slot and neat quick-release collar.

The rear end is built from big D-section tapered stays with a pronounced curve for masses of tyre clearance. 3D dropouts also get a replaceable hanger. The upper wishbone is formed by seam welding the two seatstays together behind the seat tube, which looks great and gives loads of mud clearance. 

Equipment: Cracking kit including a decent fork

RockShox’s Tora fork gets significant upgrades for this year in the shape of Power Bulge legs and a webbed brace which keep it both reasonably light and usefully stiff. The air version is now almost as smooth as the coil. A full suite of Shimano Deore gears ensures smooth shifting, with a Shadow-style rear mech to keep things quiet.

The Octalink chainset and bottom bracket are impressively stiff and durable, while Shimano chain and hubs ensure a long life too. The brakes feel pretty basic though, and are one of the few obvious eventual upgrades.

Continental’s Mountain King 2.2in rubber is a good choice for UK conditions and helps keep weight reasonable, although the tyres on the Core 20 are different from the aftermarket versions you see in the shops with the same name: basic harder rubber versions aren’t as smooth or grippy as the full-price ones, but they roll fast and last for ages.

Genesis kit includes a squared shaft 80mm stem with big rear cutout and opposed bolts plus a well shaped saddle. The 660mm bar takes some back and forth twisting to feel right, though.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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