For our latest product feature we’re taking a detailed look at the rather stunning Genesis Croix De Fer Ti gravel, adventure and Bikepacking bike that can boast classic looks combined with a bang up-to-date contemporary specification. Most of you will be way ahead of us here, but for the uninitiated, the Ti in the Croix De Fer’s model name signals this adventure bike’s headlining feature – it’s constructed from one of the finest, most-desirable materials available in frame building – Titanium.
It’s fair to say that nowadays Titanium bikes are pretty niche; a rarity in a sea of cutting-edge carbon fibre frames and sleek hydroformed aluminium bikes. The reasons for this are complex and are mainly down to commercial viability within a very competitive bicycle industry rather than reflection on the material itself. Jump back in time to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and titanium was a more popular material, particularly within the mountain bike world. This was before aluminium frame manufacturing had become as sophisticated as it is now and predated the clever manipulation of carbon fibre materials which give us such cutting-edge bikes today.
The Genesis Croix De Fer Ti boasts classic looks blended with a contemporary spec.
As steel bicycle frames began to fade away as the first choice for mass-produced but high-end, premium bikes Titanium jumped in as the most sought-after material thanks to its magical mix of being light weight and more compliant than steel; giving a more lively, springy feel than the best steel tubing available. Alongside these benefits there was probably one of the most unique elements of this wonder material – one that is today instantly recognised by those in the know, one which is quickly referenced when anyone is extoling the virtues of Titanium – it’s unequalled durability.
Bombproof versatility is the name of the game when it comes to this durable gravel adventure bike.
It’s a well-known reference point made almost anywhere in the world during casual conversation – Cockroaches are so indestructible that they’d no-doubt survive a nuclear apocalypse! I did a quick Google fact-check and apparently there’s evidence that most Cockroaches can in fact survive moderate amounts of radiation with 20% even surviving atom-bomb level radiation. Why am I referencing this within a bike review? Because I’d like to make a small addition to this popular folklore; come the nuclear apocalypse not only will there be the surviving Cockroaches, there’ll be a healthy amount of titanium bicycle frames too! They really are that durable; you see, Titanium doesn’t corrode like other frame materials and is particularly hardwearing. That means you don’t have to paint it either and the end result is a frame that will look as good now as it does in a hundred years’ time. Post the apocalypse will the surviving Cockroaches eventually evolve to ride the remaining Titanium bikes? Only time will tell…
Infographic illustrating Johnny’s theory of future evolution.
Genesis are famed for their retro-styled steel bikes; a number of years ago they nailed their flag to the mast and committed to producing the majority of their bike models from steel, they famously even fielded a professional road racing team on lightweight steel bikes for a short while before conceding and moving over to carbon frames just like the rest of the peloton. Racing at the highest level aside though, the steel Genesis bikes found a wide fan base for a number of reasons including an appreciation for how the material behaves, with a lively, more compliant feel than a super-stiff alloy alternative and a large cohort of cyclists nostalgically looking back to the dream steel bikes they fawned after in their earlier years.
It’s not until you get up close that you begin to notice all of the special little details that make the Croix de Fer Ti so desirable.
Nowadays steel bicycle frame construction is almost exclusively the reserve of custom frame builders, with the finished product coming at a high price thanks to the almost endless hours that go into their creation. Genesis saw a niche and jumped on it; producing desirable steel bicycle frames in the Far East in a more affordable manner to bring classic steel bikes back to the masses. It seemed pretty obvious that after spending some time reinvigorating the steel bike market that Genesis would eventually explore the possibility of producing a Titanium alternative in a similarly more-affordable way to the traditional custom frame building business model.
Subtle Croix De Fer branding is etched into the bare titanium frame.
I’m no expert, but over the years I’ve heard a lot of bike brands explain just how difficult Titanium frame construction can be. The welding process has to be free of contamination with the welding environment free of draughts, humidity, dust and what is generally described as ‘atmospheric contamination’. This is what increases the cost of a Titanium frame compared to a frame manufactured from an alternative material; the construction process takes more time and requires greater levels of quality control throughout. It’s testament to Genesis that they have been able to achieve a similar result to their previous endeavours with steel frame construction and bring a Titanium frame, produced in the Far East to a more affordable price-point.
The craftmanship that’s gone into this titanium frame is sublime.
Needless to say, Genesis have nailed it when it comes to build quality, with every weld bead looking neat and flawless. Then there’s all the little details on the frame that stand out and reflect the craftmanship that has gone into the overall production process. With brand logos subtly etched into the raw Titanium and multiple bolt-on bosses peppered all over the frame as well as nice little details including traditional-looking brass barrel adjusters there’s a magic mix of classic looks blended with bang-up-to-date, contemporary functionality. While the Croix De Fer Ti’s gear cables run externally the rear hydraulic disc brake hose runs internally through the frame and modern thru-axles keep wheels aligned and secure. Upfront the frames’ headset is internal while a compliant full-carbon fork adds comfort and compliance to the ride.
The Croix De Fer Ti frame will not corrode or pick up the kind of typical cosmetic blemishes that a painted frame normally does.
Titanium is notoriously hard to work with, with the welding process being particularly complex, but the end result is stunning.
Even the Genesis head badge is stripped back and raw.
This Titanium gravel bike is made for so much more than just a quick blast around on your local trails. It can do that of course but the Croix De Fer Ti has also been designed to ferry you further afield, encouraging you to head out on multi-day Bikepacking adventures with the minimum of bike luggage or even go for front and rear pannier racks and set off on long bicycle touring expeditions. There’s so many bolt-on bosses throughout the frame and fork so you’ll be able to spend time refining and configuring your preferred Bikepacking set-up; this latest version of the Croix De Fer Ti has seen an increase in tyre clearance too with the option to run tyres up to 45mm on the rear and 50mm on the front.
There’s plenty of clearance between tyre and frame allowing you to run 700x45mm tyres in the rear.
The versatile Croix De Fer Ti is more than just a simple gravel bike; it can take multiple bags for cycle touring or Bikepacking adventures.
Brass barrel adjusters are stylish and a nice retro touch to this classic looking gravel bike.
A compliant carbon fork takes the sting out of the trails and also features multiple bolt-on bosses for Bikepacking luggage.
A capable gravel biking and Bikepacking campaigner like the Croix de Fer Ti needs a reliable & durable groupset to handle the continuous demands of riding unpredictable terrain off-road as well as being able to cope with the extra weight of a fully-laden Bikepacking rig. Genesis have spec’d one of Shimano’s brilliant gravel-specific GRX groupsets with the Croix De Fer Ti featuring the top of the range GRX 810 11-speed option (the equivalent of their Ultegra groupset on the road).
Genesis have spec’d the Croix De Fer Ti with a durable and dependable gavel-specific Shimano GRX 11-speed 810 groupset.
There’s a two-way split when it comes to bike brands fitting a single or a double chainring on their gravel bikes. A single ring keeps things simple and clutter free, as well as being a little and lighter and easier to maintain thanks to not having to run a front derailleur. The counter argument against this configuration is that gear ratios can be somewhat limited, with the potential that the gear ratios available are too low on faster road sections and too high when you get offroad and are negotiating super-steep inclines. Factor in the extra weight of carrying Bikepacking luggage and it’s easy to find yourself looking for more gears during long days in the saddle. With these factors in mind Genesis have gone for a double chainring setup; with a 46/30T combination upfront and a wide ratio 11-34T cassette outback they’ve given you all the ratios you’ll need to be able to pedal as efficiently as possible in all scenarios – uphill off-road on loose surfaces, on fast, flat tarmac sections and everything in between.
Genesis have gone with a double chainring chainset for a larger spread of gears over a single-ring option.
Shimano took their time producing their first gravel-specific groupsets and in the meantime we saw a lot of riders adapting their road-bike-specific Shimano groupsets to do the job, however there was a really good reason for the delay, with the Japanese component manufacturers famously only ever releasing kit when they are absolutely happy with the durability and functionality of the product. The GRX ST-R810 11-Speed shifters are a great example of this ethos with Shimano choosing to design the unit from the ground up rather than just re-badging an existing road bike shifter; the key changes that make all the difference when being used off-road are a taller hood shape to help provide a more secure hand position, an alternative, higher braking pivot on the lever to make braking from the hoods (rather than the drops) more effective and a reshaped, wider brake lever with a clever rubberised finish for enhanced grip in wet riding conditions. The levers are also slightly more angled; tilted laterally to be more in line with a flared gravel bike handlebar as apposed to a conventional road bike handlebar.
Shimano designed the GRX shifter and brake lever units to perfectly suit the unique demands of gravel riding.
With a 46/30T double chainring chainset there’s a gear to suit every riding scenario, regardless of whether the bike’s fully-laden or not.
As part of this brilliant gravel-specific groupset there’s a pair of direct-mount Shimano GRX BR-RX810 hydraulic disc brake calipers to provide plenty of stopping power in even the most difficult riding conditions. The compact direct-mount brakes sit neatly within the rear triangle meaning that there’s no possibility of them interfering with any of your Bikepacking luggage or being harmed during any of the small tumbles you may have on the bike which inevitably come with regular off-road riding. Shimano’s hydraulic braking technology has slowly evolved over the years, seeing regular improvements when it comes to braking consistency, power modulation and rotor cooling, with all those benefits coming to the fore when the GRX BR-RX810 calipers are faced with the unpredictable conditions of riding off-road on technical terrain.
Neat flat-mount hydraulic disc brake calipers don’t interfere with your Bikepacking luggage while providing plenty of stopping power.
Likewise, upfront the flat-mount GRX brake caliper will scrub off speed quickly and effectively.
Genesis have spec’d the Croix De Fer Ti with a durable but lightweight pair of 700c wheels featuring nice wide WTB ST Light i23 TCS 2.0 rims laced to a pair of durable and smooth-rolling Formula hubs. A wide rim profile means that the WTB Raddler gravel tyres benefit from a better sidewall profile and more surface contact with the ground; how so? Because the wide rim means the tyre is less pinched in for a squarer sidewall which is less prone to damage and pinch flats. That square profile means that more of the tread pattern stays in contact with the ground instead of curving away from the ground as you’d get with a narrower rim. More ground contact means more traction and greater control on loose terrain. As we’ve grown to expect, both the rim and tyres are tubeless ready and it’s worth reiterating, there’s plenty of benefits to setting your bike up tubeless, allowing you to run lower trye pressures, avoiding the potential for pinch flats and incurring less punctures from small thorns and the like thanks to the sealant inside your tyres.
The Genesis Croix De Fer Ti comes spec’d with durable WTB ST Light i23 TCS 2.0 tubeless-ready rims shod with WTB Raddler tyres.
The tubeless-ready Raddler gravel tyres roll fast on harder terrain but still provide plenty of grip on softer terrain.
The Croix De Fer Ti comes with 40mm wide tyres but can accommodate tyres up to 50mm wide.
There’s lot’s of nice little design details on the Croix De Fer Ti including this custom headset top cap.
When it comes to finishing kit on the Croix De Fer Ti Genesis haven’t cut any corners; there’s a brilliantly comfortable Brooks saddle which features a modern profile that will suit most riders thanks to its supportive width and fairly short nose. Brooks is a saddle brand with a rich cycling heritage in the UK and its traditional leather saddle complete with iconic rivets is instantly recognisable; it’s clear to see that Brooks have taken inspiration from that original saddle to create the new C15 Cambium All Weather saddle, giving it a modern twist with a weather-proof vulcanised rubber surface providing the sort of durability that’s perfectly suited to the demands of riding off-road. The Croix De Fer Ti’s cockpit is made up of Genesis-labelled alloy components with a conventional stem matched with a gravel-specific flared handlebar; a 16” flair of the drops giving you a feeling of greater control when you’re blasting down hill on technical terrain and helping you lever the bike into tight, loose turns.
The Brooks saddle features a modern profile but includes retro styling with rivets for a classic look.
The Brooks C15 Cambium all-weather is durable and grippy with a vulcanised rubber surface.
With a bike like the Genesis Croix De Fer Ti it’s very easy to fall into the trap of using clichéd descriptions like a ‘modern classic’ or ‘retro styled with a modern twist’ but that’s exactly what this bike is. The Croix De Fer Ti is a fantastically stylish bike made from one of the most durable and aesthetically pleasing materials available; Titanium doesn’t age, is bombproof and is ready to take on the demands of Bikepacking and gravel riding long into the future. A Titanium frame like this can be seen as an investment; components will come and go, will wear out and become obsolete, however the Croix De Fer Ti frame will stand the test of time. As I’ve already highlighted, Genesis have found a way to produce a Titanium frameset which boasts all of the sort of craftmanship you’d find on a more expensive custom-built frameset crafted by an artisan frame builder and brought it to the masses in a more affordable package. If you’re looking for the ultimate gravel bike that is equal parts exotic as it is practical then this Titanium masterpiece is the perfect bike for you; the Genesis Croix De Fer T is ready to accompany you on adventures for years to come.
This bike is more than a seasonal campaigner; it may well be a life-long cycling companion in one form or another.
- Frame: 3AL-2.5v Double-Butted Titanium
- Fork: Full Carbon
- Headset: PT-1860BC IS42 Upper / IS52 Lower
- Stem: Genesis Alloy 31.8mm -6° 100mm
- Cassette: Shimano CS-HG800-11 11-34T 11-Speed
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX FD-RX810 11-Speed
- Front Derailleur: Shimano GRX FD-RX810
- Shifters: Shimano GRX ST-R810 11 Speed
- Chainset: Shimano GRX FC-RX810-2 46/30T
- Chain: KMX X11
- Brakes: Shimano GRX BR-RX810
- Wheels: WTB ST Light i23 TCS 2.0 Rims, Formula Front – CL-712 / Rear – RXC-142S Hubs
- Tyres: WTB Raddler 700 x 40c Tubeless Ready
- Handlebar: Genesis Alloy, 16 deg flare
- Handlebar Tape: ODI Longneck Slide-On
- Saddle: Brooks C15 Cambium All Weather
- Seatpost: Genesis Alloy 27.2 x 350 mm
Written by Johnny Dodgin
Photos by James Vincent
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