Genesis Volant 20
British brand Genesis prides itself on the fact its team are riders, designing for riders, and that it doesn’t get caught up in crazes or fashions. This philosophy has led to some groundbreaking models such as the ‘crossover’ Croix der Fer.
Its Aether 20 and Equilibrium 00 both have garnered shiny ‘Best on Test’ badges in previous reviews.
But what can Genesis manage to produce for a grand?
We know you shouldn’t be excessively swayed by the looks of a bike but, if you’re into a touch of retro, you’ll love the Volant. The blood-red frame with flashes of orange and cream harks back to a Merckx-era jersey, and the simple tubing gives a sense of sturdiness.
It’s not just styling, though – there’s no doubting the quality of the frame and, beneath the paint job, the carbon forks lend a touch of modern comfort. The groupset is Shimano Tiagra throughout. Second from the bottom of the pile of Shimano’s named groupsets, it never disappoints, but at such a competitive price point and with other manufacturers speccing full 105, it does seem a little miserly.
The shifters especially are plain ugly and we’re personally not fans of gear indicator windows from both an aesthetic and unnecessary bulk perspective. Gearing is spot on for a winter ride with a compact upfront and a wide 12-28t block on the rear. Plus, it’s good to see Tiagra brakes because pennies are often scrimped with cheaper Tektro offerings.
The wheels are standard fare with Tiagra hubs and heavy, if durable, Alex rims. Tyres are sensible 25c Conti Ultra Sports but, including QR’s and cassette, the rolling stock weighs in at a fairly burly 3.46kg. The Genesis own-brand finishing kit tops off the retro theme with plenty of bare alloy on show and very traditional-looking bar tape.
You roll off on the Volant with a smug grin on your face. It stands out from the humdrum lookalike clones, but a bike can’t just rely on cool looks. Fortunately initial ride impressions are good too. The ride position is comfortable, and while it doesn’t leap forward on small rises, there’s a tangible sense of stiffness and efficiency that gives a smart snap of acceleration.
Cruising on the flat, it rolls along well with little of the road buzz or harshness that you often associate with an alloy frame. On rough road surfaces it soaks up the bumps well, and although some of this will be down to the 25c tyres, Genesis seems to have struck a good balance between stiffness and compliance.
Following the advice of the ‘time to soar’ decal on its downtube and pointing the Volant at some gradients, for a 9.72kg bike it climbs surprisingly well. ‘Soaring’ is stretching the truth, but the Volant definitely works with you. It doesn’t dazzle and is more of a determined grinder, but it’s keen to please, shows no flex when you’re honking on the bars up a steep pitch and you’ve always got the 34/28 bail out. The Tiagra groupset is reliable and even shifts efficiently under heavy load.
Heading downhill there’s a reassuring solidity and sure-footedness to the Volant. It punches well out of bends, and scrubbing off speed is predictable and drama-free. All in all, it’s a pleasure to ride and, as you put
it away with an affectionate pat, you’re already looking forward to your next outing.