Let's not beat around the bush, the Genesis Croix de Fer Ti is very desirable. Its steel-framed predecessor has become one of the UK's most popular adventure road bikes, for good reason – it can do nearly everything well, for a good price.
So can a finely worked titanium frame improve the riding experience to the point where it’s worth spending nearly double the asking price of its impressive steel-framed sibling? Let’s find out.
Gorgeous titanium frameset
Let’s begin with that titanium frameset. It’s a beauty. Made from 3AL-2.5V double-butted titanium, it looks chunkier than the skinny-tubed steel Croix de Fer. There’s a noticeably thicker down tube (oversized at 44mm), beefy S-bend chainstays, and a tapered head tube mated to a carbon fork.
The frame comes unpainted, of course
The bottom bracket area looks considerably stiffer, inviting you to stamp on the pedals that bit harder and see if you can make the bike squirm. It is meant to be a faster CdF, after all. The seat tube tapers upwards to accept a skinny 27.2mm seatpost, for added comfort.
We love the understated graphics of the Croix de Fer Ti – the dark grey logo outlines look smashing against the unpainted Ti frame. That distinctive cross facing up from the top tube managed to goad me on beyond my normal riding efforts too.
There's room here for enormous 40mm rubber
There’s external cable routing for brakes and mechanical shifting, and full internal routing if you’re planning on going the Di2 route – and for this kind of money, well you might do. It’s not too posh to forgo front and rear mudguard and rack eyelets, either.
Solid but unspectacular spec
The rest of the spec on our test bike was solid and well-chosen, if arguably a little below-par for a bike with this price tag. Shimano’s excellent 105 groupset provides shifting duties, and the compact 50/34 crankset can get you up nearly any hill.
The compact black 50/34 crankset will look great until you scratch it
Shimano’s outstanding hydraulic disc brakes were powerful, reliable and easy to modulate, though we didn’t get on so well with the new(ish) RS505 brake levers. Those brake hoods were a bit too large for our hands to ever feel comfortable on them.
Elsewhere there’s the new RandoX handlebar, which Genesis describes as the “bastard love child between a modern compact drop bar and a traditional randonneur handlebar”. Which means the drops are flared to 8 degrees, and the tops are backswept to 6 degrees, for added comfort and control.
A Genesis Road Comfort saddle is a comfy place to sit, but like the cork tape on the handlebars, the extra padding does rob a bit of road feel. The wheels are tubeless-ready Alex Draw rims running on Shimano HB/FH-RS505 Centrelock hubs, shod with Clement’s 35mm X’Plor USH tyres.
Zingy and responsive ride
Having a thorough acquaintance with the steel-framed CdF, I was excited to see how its posher titanium sibling measured up. So I rode it hard across a mix of my favourite local roads, through some very muddy fields and bridleways, up painfully steep 20% hills and as fast as I dared down the other side.
If you want to ride mixed terrain fast then the Genesis Croix de Fer Ti is an excellent choice
I came up smiling. This bike delivers on its promise – it really is a posher, faster Croix de Fer in all riding scenarios. It’s responsive and highly accurate in the corners, with a solid, rewarding feel to it. Rattling over farmland and sunken tractor tyre tracks to test just how far I could push those Clement X’Plor USH tyres, I found that the lack of shoulder lugs meant they did occasionally lose a bit of grip, but in a predictable way that rewarded rider corrections.
Inevitably, no rolling stock combination can excel at all things, and that’s true here. The Clements provide enough cushioning for deeply rutted bridleways, enough grip to (usually) keep spinning off-road provided it’s not too wet, and they’ll roll well enough on roads thanks to the firm central ridge. If you’ve got a sportive planned for summer you’ll want to stick some slicks on there, but otherwise they do a good job in most scenarios we found.
Clement X'Plor tyres in 35mm width adorn Alex Draw rims
The titanium frameset manages to feel brighter and more zingy than its steel stablemate. Which is quite an achievement. It skips through minor road blemishes and responds immediately to hard efforts when you put the hammer down – I recorded PBs for multiple sections of a regular riding route.
The extra control offered by the flared RandoX handlebars was noticeable: being able to angle your grip slightly by clutching onto the drops meant that rough, sketchy descents were taken with confidence. The backwards flare of the tops took a bit more getting used to though.
So what didn’t I like? Well, as mentioned above, the saddle and cork bar tape are a little on the over-padded side – they take the sting out of rough off-road riding, but for most of the test loop I felt a bit 'overprotected' by it. Our test bike came with non-spec Shimano Ultegra-level brake levers, presumably as the 105-level levers had only just reached the market when it was being built. But we know that the latter are great brakes, if you get on well with their shape that is.
And then there’s the price – is it too expensive? Well, on the one hand, it didn’t embarrass the steel-framed CdF, which remains a bike I love to ride. And the spec is middling for this kind of money, though the sum of the parts is a quick, classy riding experience. On the other hand, you do get the incredible look and feel provided by a titanium frame – and for some people that’s what matters.
The Genesis Croix de Fer Ti delivers a fantastic ride across all sorts of terrain right out of the box, but if you take the time to tune it to your individual riding preferences, you’ll be rewarded with a bike that can do everything, in real style.