Genesis iO

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Fully rigid steel singlespeeds, eh? Nice looking and everything but a complete nightmare to write a review about. Well, a review that isn’t full of quasi-mystical gibberish about ‘purity’ and ‘soul’ blah-blah nonsense.

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Genesis iO

Genesis iO
Price: £499.99 (complete)
From:
www.genesisbikes.co.uk

Fully rigid steel singlespeeds, eh? Nice looking and everything but a complete nightmare to write a review about. Well, a review that isn’t full of quasi-mystical gibberish about ‘purity’ and ‘soul’ blah-blah nonsense.

I’ll come clean here. I do ride singlespeed quite a lot. There’s a standard list of reasons why people ride singlespeeds. Most of them are utter bollocks. “I can’t afford a geared bike” – yes you can. “I don’t like maintenance” – have you ridden a modern geared bike lately? I faff with my singlespeed more than my full bouncer. “It’s lighter” – oh, puh-lease!

The reason I like to ride singlespeed occasionally is that they are bloody hard work. And as such are intensely rewarding.

The iO is one of the bloody hardest work bikes I’ve ever ridden. And that’s why it’s so ace. Although the accompanying catalogue speak is full of the obligatory ‘steel is real’ clichés about the ‘unbeatable ride quality of steel’, out on the trails the iO isn’t particularly zingy at all. It feels a lot like my old cromo Redline Monocog (which can only be a good thing in my book because that’s my favourite hardtail of all time).

The ride is a great combination of agility and stability; able to handle itself on slow-speed steep twisty stuff as well as being unbelievably sure-footed at scary fast descending speeds. The fairly oversize tubing prevents it from becoming a wibbly mess when powering over rough ground. It also has great poise and balance for out-of-the-saddle teeth-grinding climbing.

It’s not ever going to be a particularly comfy ride with a rigid fork but the front end of the iO was like RigidPlus™. I’m not normally afraid of rigid forks but this was something else. In a moment of inspiration/desperation I swapped the 31.8 oversized stem and aluminium bars for a normal 25.4 stem and some carbon bars and couldn’t believe the difference it made. Obviously the steering and front end feel was still direct but the death-grip inducing harshness was gone. But if it was my bike I’d put suspension forks on it ASAP (hey, sue me).

That’s not the only thing I’d change either. Although the £500 price tag is pretty good for a complete bike, there’re not many bits on this bike that aren’t going to get replaced pretty sharpish if it’s ridden in the way that it needs to be. The semi-hydraulic Hayes brakes aren’t very powerful and are a faff to adjust for pad wear. An ISIS bottom bracket on a singlespeed? Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Genesis/Shimano hubs and freewheel don’t look like they’ll last for long and the rims are too narrow for modern riders’ penchant for fatter rubber.

Thankfully the iO is available as a frame-only for £249.99 and that’s what I’d personally recommend buying and building up yourself. There’s some really nice touches on the iO frame to go along with its sorted geometry and great ride feel: forged disc mount (much stiffer than a stamped-out one), headtube ring reinforcement, Crud Catcher bosses, front-facing seat clamp slot, three hose guides along the top tube (for a ping-free ride).

Overall: A very demanding but consequently highly rewarding bike to ride. Has that great type of cromo ride feel that I think is ideal for aggressive singlespeeding.

Benji

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