We’ve always loved Genesis’ Zero, it’s an unashamed race bike that was developed by Genesis in close cooperation with the Madison Genesis pro team, and it shows.
- The Genesis Zero Disc 3 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The head angle of 73.3 degrees is steeper than most and the 73-degree seat angle is just what you’d expect of a race designed rig. The wheelbase is just shy of a metre at 998.7mm, that’s longer than the rim-braked version, because of the extended 410mm chainstays for disc compatibility, but still short enough to make the Zero a seriously nimble-handling bike.
It’s good to see that unlike many of its rivals Genesis uses the same frameset throughout the range, so no lower grade carbon downgrades. This is the same chassis that’ll be ridden by the team this year.
The frameset is the star of the show; it’s defined by a solidity and stiffness that combines with the aggressive angles to make a bike that’s brimming with speedy purpose, all without feeling harsh. Some of that is down to the Fulcrum’s disc-specific rim profile that’s a little wider and the supple 25mm Continental tyres.
The frameset looks understated but the details show some clever thinking, like the straight-legged fork with an offset dropout creating a longer path for vibrations and effectively smoothing the road noise up front. The substantial chainstays are offset by the skinny bridgeless seatstays, which also help to reduce road noise.
I love the way the Zero responds, it shifts up to speed with ease and handles direction changes quickly. It offers a sublime balance between stable and swift, meaning it’s just as at home being swept through long fast turns as it is switching lines and traversing through the pack.
When climbing, the low, aggressive ride position meant I was much quicker to rise out of the saddle than on a more endurance-orientated bike. If you’re the sort of climber that likes to go in full attack mode rather than sit in and spin, you’ll appreciate its charms. If you’re a steadier climber, the Zero might feel like a bit of a handful.
The pro-compact heart of the 52/36 drivetrain and 11-28 cassette is driven admirably by Shimano’s brilliant new Ultegra mechs and chainset. The new rear mech has a larger capacity than before, so you could go to a 30- or 32-tooth bottom gear.
Genesis has looked to save a few pounds in the braking and shifters, switching to the BR-RS505 flat-mount brake units and non-series ST-RS685 levers. Both perform pretty much identically to Ultegra, only lacking the cool new dark metallic grey finish.
Where you can see, feel and hear a difference is with the disc rotors, rather than the new slick, smooth and, all-importantly, quiet IceTec rotors of the new Ultegra group, the Zero 3 gets Shimano’s more basic SMRT81 units, which feel a bit ‘softer’ and are quick to get vocal when braking hard.
Elsewhere, the Zero 3 comes with a fairly standard smattering of aluminium components from the Genesis stable, which is all decent stuff. I did find the combination of a very stiff alloy bar and bar tape that’s been stretched thin on fitting did get wearing after a few hours in the saddle.
The Genesis comfort saddle is well shaped. The padding is on the squishy side, so after a few hours of riding you do feel the hard hull rather than the soft padding.
I like the Fulcrum wheels with their wider rim shaping the tyres well, and the smooth hubs and fast freehub pickup are always welcome.
The Zero 3 is a seriously capable race bike. The chassis is excellent and for the most part the components are too. The specification compromises to get the Zero down to the price are clever when it comes to the brakes units and shifters, but some of the components are on the middling side.
I’d want to upgrade the bar and disc rotors, but as a whole I’d recommend the Zero 3 to riders looking for a bike that’s rapid going forward and controlled when stopping.