The Genesis Croix de Fer is now in its 10th year of production and the 20 frameset has the look of a well-proven classic. The tank-green livery with gold details is matched with brass anti-corrosion cable adjusters either side of the slim ring-reinforced head-tube.
The 725 chromoly steel is made by respected UK tube manufacturer Reynolds, and the frame is a mix of large 34mm diameter down-tube, 31mm top tube and slim 28mm seat tube. The resulting baseline ride is well balanced between firm and forgiving.
The slim, tapered fork does a good job of extending that precise-but-unpunishing character to the front wheel, and both ends are threaded, ready for racks and mudguards.
A slim, tapered fork helps the Croix de Fer strike a balance between firm and forgiving
The plate dropouts, with old-school bracket-dependent brake mounts, are crude though, and it could do with a couple of extra cable guides to stop the rear brake line rubbing the paint – and getting worryingly close to scuffing the rear tyre.
The extra cost of going for a steel frame over an aluminium one is evident in the Tiagra components, but the lack of an 11th cog at the back is at least offset by practical equipment gains elsewhere.
We appreciated the brass anti-corrosion cable adjusters
The retro-script labels on the Clement X’Plor tyres are a good match for the overall aesthetics of the CDF, and the tyres themselves are good for sustaining speed well off road and a robust performance on tarmac. And if you want a plusher, more puncture-proof ride the tubeless-ready Alex Draw 1.9 rims will happily oblige.
A cruiser not a sprinter
The compact, flared bar helps minimise the shock that reaches your hands, while the backswept top makes for a comfortable wrist angle. You’re equally well taken care of by the curved Genesis saddle, which all our testers appreciated on longer test days, and even the crepe paper-style bar tape was well received. The decade of development that has gone into the Croix de Fer 20 shines through when it comes to comfort and ride quality.
Moving onto the brakes, and the fine control and initial bite of the TRP cable/hydraulic hybrid brakes is improved further by the decision to use compression-resistant cable housing for maximum clarity.
The decade of development in the Croix de Fer 20 shines through in its comfort and ride quality
And it’s just as well, as at nearly 12kg the CDF is quite weighty. Put the power down and it feels like you’re trying to accelerate a truck rather than a sports car. Persevere, though, and the slick-shifting Tiagra will eventually get you up to speed, at which point it’s like you’ve switched to cruise control. Whether it’s the most pristine tarmac or a frozen, tractor rut-riddled farm track, the Croix de Fer holds onto speed remarkably well, even for steel.
The stout rear end means you can stomp a fair bit of power through it when you need to, and the reasonably precise handling and aggressive pyramid-tread shoulders of the Clement tyres will be welcome when you’re taking on dirty trails.
The ride certainly isn’t jolt-free, but the steamroller-like Genesis encourages you to keep on the power and skim over the worst surfaces Roubaix-style. In fact, the only time its weight was a real handicap was when we had to heave it over locked bridleway gates.