Product Reviews December 13, 2011

Genesis 'Day One' with Shimano 11 speed Alfine hub

This is my new bike. I've waited a couple of weeks before writing about it because I wanted to make sure I properly understood it. I'm there now. It's a real mixture. Race bike geometry, drop handle-bars, Avid BB-7 mechanical disc brakes, hub gears, Alex CXD medium depth wheel rims and a Reynolds 853 steel frame (heat-treated, air hardened and butted tubes.) It's the new 2012 edition, with a white frame and black trim, sporting brown leather bar tape and saddle. Nice touches, it looks classy. It's the latest incarnation of the Day One, and from what I can ascertain, is the only production drop handle-bar 11 speed hub currently available. According to Genesis it's inspired by the 'Croix de Fer Cross' bike that Vin Cox used to set his round the world cycling record on. Indeed, Genersis make a nod to this with '163' badge on the seat tube indicating the number of days spent riding during his 29,000 km epic adventure. 

We have already ascertained that I like a bike to offer a new experience compared to the others that I already own. Buzzing around on the single speed has been a lot of fun and I've been on some reasonable spins on it; up to 50 miles. However, it is hard work trying to keep up with another road bike and unless I'm cycling around Brighton in the evening, it's not a practical alternative to a geared bike.Having got a racer, a single speed bike and a venerable MTB, I decided the gap in my capability list was a cyclocross racer fitted with an enclosed hub. A 'Winter' bike if you will. I say Winter bike because it's much more sturdy than the Specialized. Having ridden on the Day One for a while now, getting back on the Allez Elite makes you realise what a total bone-shaker it is. Riding it day in, day out, you don't notice it. Compared to the smooth ride offered by the steel-framed Day One, it's the first thing you pick up on. In addition it sports 28c Conti Ultra Gatorskins, also contributing to a more comfortable ride. 

The real appeal of this over other models is the Alfine hub. It's the 11 speed version as opposed to the previous 8 geared type and in it's new incarnation Shimano have made the mechanism more reliable. It resembles the old Sturmey Archer 3 speed drum hub you may have ridden when you were younger. Completely enclosed, it should protect the gears from all but the most persistent Winter muck. Protecting the gears, thus reducing the need for maintenance was another key reason for me choosing the Day One. I cannot stand cleaning my bike, it's dull, dull, dull so this seemed like a perfect solution. The gears themselves are operated off the handlebars like 'Flightdeck', clicking brake lever in to go up the gears and using the thumb change to go down. In doing so you also move a small yellow marker at the back, which is quite handy, telling you broadly which gear you're in. Remember you don't need any road speed to change gear; at the lights just change gear as you see fit. Easy! Along with the hub, the 11 speed 'Versa' gear lever is also new. 

As far as I can tell, this bike has three areas for improvement. Firstly the bike is quite heavy. I think it weighs around 12 kilos although interestingly the data is not provided on the Genesis website. I don't know why.(The hub itself weighs approx 1.5 kilos) Secondly (and I've not had to do this yet), changing an inner with disc brakes and this hub looks mildly complicated. Finally the hub set up is critical - because the gears will slip if the cable tension is not perfectly balanced. I've ridden about 300 km and already the gears are slipping (though a certain amount of this is expected as the bike is brand new.) Indeed, opinion regarding the 11 speed hub is divided. It reads like Marmite - you either love it or hate it. Some folks swear by the hub, saying they'd never return to a bike with a derailleur. Others have been fed up with the gears continually slipping and have sold their bike on. I can understand the irritation with the gears slipping - there's nothing worse than climbing a hill and crunching your groin on the cross bar due to an unforeseen gear change. Having said that, it's all about having the bike set up properly and for sure the gear cable will stretch and this needs to be tensioned accordingly. Only time will tell whether this is more or less reliable than a derailleur. 

The bike is certainly eye catching. The attention to detail by Genesis is excellent. The finishing touches are good - I especially like the 'G' badge at the front. Should you wish it can be converted to a single speed as well should you feel the urge. It will be a great training partner and I'm working on the premise that a slightly heavier bike will make me fitter. However, if I was to summarise my experience so far I would say this; it's a great Winter bike but I would not substitute this for the Specialized on a permanent basis. It's just not fast enough.

The Day One 11 speed hub costs £1700 with the 8 speed hub, costing £1150.

For more information on Vin Cox's record breaking ride, see www.greatbikeride.com

For a review specifically on the 11 speed hub, read here - http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/first-look-shimano-alfine-11-speed-hub-gear-24930/

Words: bikebritain ltd

Thumbnail and Slider Image: bikebritain.org

 

Postscript: Genesis Day One Review
 
Sincw writing the initial review, I have been asking myself whether I've been too quick to judge the Day One? Of course, if you buy a bike you want to be happy with it, and as I said to to John, owner of the LBS 'M's-Cycles' in Shoreham, I think I should be happier with it than I am. Then I thought, maybe this bike is like a pair of leather shoes. You rarely buy shoes that are immediately comfortable - why should a bike be any different? Perhaps I just need to break the bike in so to speak and ride in a more Day One friendly fashion.
 
I think the trouble is I think it should be behaving like my pure road bike because it looks broadly the same. However, as I've been reminding myself, this is a different beast. This bike is built for touring, doing high mileage day in, day out. It should have panniers on it (no chance). And mudguards (unlikely). And you know what, I think the Day One would be ideally suited to that. It's not going to break any speed records, but it's not designed to do that. Having spent the best part of a fortnight riding it off and on, and I beginning to understand it better. For instance, I took it up for a test ride of the Steyning Bostal Road, part of my 'round the block'. It's never an easy climb, but the gear ratio offered by the Alfine handled the incline without a drama. I just plodded my way to the top and enjoyed the view when I got there. 
 
Make no mistake, prior to dropping the bike back to John, it was running like a dog. The main issue here were the gears slipping. I can confirm there's nothing to be gained by leaving them to deteriorate either, as it was skipping a couple of gears at a time in the end. I should add I was told to expect this as the gear cable stretched. The Alfine hub is very sensitive, so making sure the cable has the correct tension is critical for smooth gear shifting. A bit of tweaking later we were back on the road with gear slippage a thing of the past......
 
The ride on the Day One really is smooth. The saddle is far more comfortable than the Bontrager fitted to the Trek. Maybe I've not done enough miles to test it properly! With the terra 2 EVOs fitted plus the Garmin it really looks the part, so I shall be ploughing round the roads of West Sussex this weekend, clocking up some more Winter mileage. I will definitely be doing the Worthing Winter Warmer on this bike; it was made for Audax! Until then I'll keep you posted how me and the Genesis get along.
 
More words on the Genesis Day One by bikebritain Ltd.
Registered No. 6993486

bikebritain
38 Salisbury Road
Worthing
West Sussex
BN11 1RD