The Genesis Equilibrium Disc offers a stylish and comfortable alternative to the standard-issue carbon fibre road bike. Built from skinny Reynolds 725 steel tubing, it’s a nod to the way we used to make bicycles, yet the components and geometry still feel very fresh and modern.
Genesis is well-known for favouring steel over fashionable but lightweight carbon fibre, as it says its special heat-treated material does a far better job of soaking up lumps and bumps in the road. Throw into the mix a set of fat WTB Exposure 700 x 30c tyres and you have a machine that can be happily pedalled for hours on end without rattling the teeth from your mouth.
Although predominantly designed for on-road use, the fact the Jalco SR500 rims can house a set of 32c tyres means there’s plenty of room to fit a knobbly tyre that is capable of tackling some tough terrain. It’s not quite a full-on gravel bike, but it’s close enough.
Genesis provides a Shimano 105 groups and drivetrain, for slick shifting, while the Japanese brand also provides stopping power in the form of hydraulic disc brakes all-round. It’s a fine set up that’s finished off with a skinny carbon fibre front fork and eye catching brass adjusters for the exposed cabling. There's also pre-drilled holes for a Di2 upgrade.
As a stylish and more robust alternative to the lithe carbon fibre racers out there, it’s a neat proposition, but how does it fare when pitched against the best road bikes during a sunny weekend ride? We laced up our cycling shoes to find out…
Genesis Equilibrium Disc Review: price and availability
The Genesis Equilibrium Disc is available to buy now from Freewheel (opens in new tab) in the UK for £2,599.99.
Genesis Equilibrium Disc Review: the frame
Arguably the beating heart of this bike, the slim steel tubes that make up the frame have been deliberately conceived with endurance in mind and, as a result, it doesn’t have the same overtly racy feel that many of its wind tunnels-tuned carbon rivals do.
Even in medium sizing, the stretched frame feels long but when up to cruising speed, it has an excellent sense of stability about it. The fatter tyres (pumped up to a lower PSI) also help make it feel surefooted - the Genesis Equilibrium Disc doesn’t dart around rough roads like many of its competitors.
This stretched wheelbase and fairly long stem can make for quite a reach, especially if you suffer from stubby arms like myself, but I still managed to get properly comfortable during a long weekend ride with a friend.
Supple, yet stiff enough to offer a bit of excitement through corners, the frame is absolutely perfect for longer, more leisurely jaunts. The fact it has pre-drilled holes for racks and mudguards speaks volumes of its intended use.
The only downside here is the weight and at over 10kg, it’s very easy to get dropped on the climbs and fall well behind those chums who happen to be riding stiffer, lighter carbon frame bikes.
Genesis Equilibrium Disc Review: the kit
As previously mentioned, Shimano provides most of the powertrain and stopping kit, with mid-range 105 components used throughout. The brakes feature TRP rotors but still offer just the right amount of bite to bring things to a safe stop.
Genesis provides its own saddle, which not only looks cool but is extremely comfortable when going the distance. It’s a similar story for things like grip tape and carbon front fork, which is the marque’s own design. The drop handlebars are also Genesis' own and they feel well set-up for the bike’s general demeanour.
But again, we come to the sticky issue of rivals, with someone like Ribble offering a super light Endurance SL Sport, complete with the latest Mavic SL40 wheels and the same Shimano 105 group set for a very similar price.
A decent set of wheels on the Genesis Equilibrium Disc would help keep the weight down, but then it could also due the bike’s “go-anywhere” sense of fun. It’s not really the weapon of choice if you’re chasing PBs or tackling monster climbs.
- Fancy an aluminium alternative? The Ribble Endurance AL Disc is a great shout
- Keep feet toasty with the best cycling socks
- Want to venture further off-road? You need one of the best gravel bikes
Genesis Equilibrium Disc Review: the ride
The 50km or so test route I like to use features a nice mix of fast flat sections, a couple of nasty sharp climbs and an array of road surfaces that range from absolutely awful (cattle grids, anyone?) to the silky smooth.
There are sections of the route where higher end carbon road bikes absolutely fly and, once up to cruising speed, it’s really easy to keep the km/h climbing on your bike computer without having to pump Mark Cavendish wattage through the cranks.
Riding fast on the Genesis Equilibrium Disc is a little trickier, as any mild incline starts to bleed speed off. Keeping up with a friend on his top-end Specialized SL6 meant dropping a few gears, slowing down the cadence and really grinding things out. Or just letting him dance away up the steeper sections and catching him up later.
That said, the softer tyres and steel frame meant the bike felt comfortable throughout the journey and ironed out any of those annoying vibrations that travel through the carbon frame and cockpits of lightweight racing machines.
At around the 30km mark, I decided that this is most definitely a bike that’s easier to ride at a more leisurely pace, rather than attempt to crush any Strava Segments or beat any previous personal bests. It cruises along merrily at a decent clip, without the aches and pains ofter associated with overtly sporty set-ups.
It feels properly robust, too, and would easily handle some forays off the beaten path and down unexplored gravel tracks. Load the bike up with some racks or mudguards and you have one extremely stylish touring machine. Plus, the red paint job looks stunning basking in the sunshine outside a favoured coffee stop.
Alternatively, its strong steel frame and solid build also lend itself to a fast daily commuter, where it will happily grind out the miles without the need to don full racing gear and see every trip to the office end up as some kind of sprint race.
Genesis Equilibrium Disc Review: verdict
The Genesis Equilibrium Disc is a solid alternative to the carbon fibre racer scene and one that will suit riders who perhaps aren’t obsessed with ride data, wattage output and bettering previous lap times.
Point the bike towards a favourite countryside jaunt and it eats up the miles quickly and comfortably, without ever feeling too firm or the handling too sharp or twitchy. On the downside, it’s a fairly heavy ride to coax up big climbs, meaning King of the Mountain accolades are probably out of the question, unless you have superhuman legs.
Steel might have fallen out of fashion these days, but it still has its merits and the Genesis Equilibrium Disc proves that it’s still the material to go to for all-day comfort and the sort of robustness that will see this machine last a lifetime.
Rivals are few and far between but Ribble offers a Reynolds 725 tubed steel bike in the form of its tasty Endurance 725, which is £600 cheaper than the Genesis and packs Shimano’s fantastic Ultegra groupset. In fact, spend £400 more and you can have the Ribble with electronically shifting Ultegra Di2.
Similarly, ultra hip Brother Cycles offer both the Stroma road bike frame for £899, which can be built to specification, or the touring-friendly Kepler Disc, which packs fantastic SRAM Rival 1 gearing for a mere £1,900.