Even in their most basic form, mountain bikes – whether they look similar or not – vary wildly. For example, even if you ignore the obvious differences in frame material and transmission types, Genesis’s Longitude rigid 29er is very different from a rigid machine such as Cannondale’s Trail SL 29.
The Genesis is 38mm longer, three degrees slacker, and 20mm wider at the bars than the Cannondale in the equivalent size – dictating that their trail manners will be vastly different. So is (relatively) long-and-low, enduro-inspired geometry a viable choice for for ‘adventure’ bikes?
With its slacked-out geometry (for a rigid bike), the Longitude's solidity doesn't preclude mischief
Frame and equipment: timeless principles and tough spec
Given that the earliest mountain bikes came from long, low, steel cruisers and that physics hasn’t changed, we say: why not?
Built long and low from double-butted chromoly steel, our 19in frame Longitude offered a 638mm top tube ending in a 68-degree head angle. Why steel? On a bike that may find itself halfway up an Andean mountain loaded to the gunnels, it makes sense – a broken steel frame is much easier to mend than a frame made of anything else. A village blacksmith could probably do it.
Curiously for a bike with more braze-on mounts than you can shake a shop full of bolt-on accessories at, there are no Crud Catcher mounts. That’s the only omission though.
Want a front rack? No problem. Rear rack and mudguard? Yep. Three bottle cages? Check. Fit a pair of slick tyres and appropriate rack age and you’ve got a rugged, no-nonsense commuter or tourer.
This is a bike that’s designed to be as simple and maintenance-free as possible. So much so that Genesis hasn’t even built the frame with suspension-corrected geometry – so you can’t upgrade to a suspension fork without ruining the handling.
TRP's Spyke mechanical discs do a solid job
Genesis says it’s so the frame and fork could be tailored to work as a complete package, reducing the length of the fork legs to allow narrower tapered blades for a more forgiving ride.
At 13kg (29lb) this isn't a particularly light bike – the spec is rugged, ignoring weight concerns for reliability and price – but there’s scope for lightening the drivetrain and cockpit in particular.
Shifting is Shimano’s proven Deore (with clutch derailleur), as are the hubs, while the crank is non-series Shimano – solid with a scalloped back, rather than hollow. Genesis’ comfy own-brand saddle is similarly no-nonsense, as are the grips, stem and seat post – fastened with a QR seat clamp.
The Longitude will take 50mm rims and 29+ rubber, though only with double or single front rings. It doesn’t really need a triple anyway, unless you’re very heavily laden and it’s only then you might regret the non-hydraulic TRP Spyke brakes. Otherwise they’re powerful enough with a (hard) squeeze against the Jagwire ‘compression less’ cable outers, plus light and easy to maintain.
Ride and handling: trusty workhorse not averse to some rough handling
With its long top tube, swept-back bar and easy-rolling, 29in wagon wheels, the Longitude quickly demolishes any concerns that it’s going to be a harsh handful on the trail. Weight distribution is spot-on and the chunky Continental X-King tyres deliver all the grip you’ll need, whatever the terrain.
The big wheels, steel bones and comparatively laid-back geometry mean the Longitude is never going to be a singletrack ballerina. But it’s adept at doing what Genesis designed it for – devouring big chunks of trail mile after mile, day after day, with no fuss. The fact that its olive-drab paint and utilitarian design so winningly recall Steve McQueen’s bike from The Great Escape is another point in its favour.
Chunky treads on stability- and volume-boosting wide rims are the best solution for rigid bikes
Sitting on stock Alex Supra35 rims, its X-Kings don’t look that big, yet they’re 2.4in, and there’s still plenty of clearance. The volume and stability boost of the 35mm rims means low-pressure traction is as good as it gets before you switch to full-on fat bike sizing, while the handling stays on the ‘regular’ side of the equation. We weren’t too keen on the way the weird, 20-degree backsweep bars pull your elbows in and down, though the bike works well with regular bars.
You’ll definitely feel the lack of suspension, but it’s worth remembering that all mountain bikes used to be made this way. The constant chatter of feedback from the fork takes a little getting used to but it’s easy to modify your riding style. You soon learn to read the trail a bit further ahead, pick the line of least resistance and use your upper body to help finesse the front end over and through the worst of the obstacles.
The Longitude’s solid, dependable feel only turns into slight unforgivingness if you really hammer it. (For a bike that’s ostensibly for cruising across continents where repairs and spares are scarce, it’s surprisingly up for a bit of hammer.)
While Genesis calls the Longitude ‘mid-fat,’ we reckon ‘skimmed’ would be better (and semi-skimmed for 29+) – but ultimately we think its niche is a much broader one: mountain bike.
It makes progress a bit slower than on a hardtail with a decent suspension fork, but there’s very little that the Longitude won’t take in its stride – and there’s nothing to beat the feeling of satisfaction of a tricky line cleared with no sprung assistance.
With great geometry, very well chosen rolling stock and a tough, if unflashy spec, this is a bike that’s happy to tackle almost anything in nature’s hills. Ride it round your local trails, or the whole world.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.