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Brand Spotlight: Dominic Thomas talks Genesis Bikes

Genesis bike designer Dominic Thomas explains to Mark Sutton why he chooses to ignore market trends, other brands’ developments and carbon fibre to concentrate on clean, simple designs built with the UK in mind…

What exciting things can dealers expect to see at iceBike* this year?
We are showing a whole host of 2013 prototypes on the stand, including High Latitude (Latitude 29er), Mantle (basically core 29ers), Fugio (an 853 Cross Race bike), Equilibrium Titanium, Volant (road bikes) and, fingers crossed, a final production prototype of the Grapil suspension bike. It is a great chance to see what we have been working on and to give us some much appreciated feedback.

What design inspirations have gone into the 2012 line-up?
We concentrated on the same basic design principles that have always been key to Genesis and that is to create bikes that are functional and let the function be the main focus of the design, keep them as utilitarian as possible and to avoid trends like the plague. A bike shouldn’t be a ‘statement’ and risk going out of fashion in two minutes. Primarily it’s a tool, whether for commuting, touring, racing, exploring the woods, or just getting lost on.
Intended use starts the design idea, but you have to throw durability, reliability, comfort, affordability and versatility into the mix. Once all these things are thrown into the pot and considered you come out with a great product. I make a conscious effort not to look at what other brands are doing as there is far too much marketing rubbish in the market. I think it’s only when you ride lots that you can dream up new bike ideas, or indeed just ways to evolve or tweak existing products.

What challenges/testing have you put this year’s line through in the prototype stages?
Perhaps our biggest launch of 2012 has been the Fortitude 29er models. These are the first 29er bikes we have introduced and as you’d expect, a lot of testing has gone into these products to make sure that we’ve got it right.
The original prototype of Fortitude was ridden for a good six months before the final frames were ordered. Testing was extensive and ranged from two hour blasts in my local riding spot (North Downs) right through to piloting the bike singlespeed for 24 hours solo at Mountain Mayhem. For most of the six months I rode the prototype singlespeed so that I could concentrate on getting the geometry dialled. Not having the distraction of gears allows you to focus on the feel of the bike and nothing else.

Any UK-specific design features?
All of our bikes are designed with the UK in mind, meaning they’ll last in most climates. Genesis is a rider’s brand and our bikes are designed to be ridden hard with the minimum of maintenance and fuss. On our cross and road bikes we feature eyelets so that mudguards can be fitted easily, an essential for winter commutes. On our MTBs we always give plenty of tyre mud clearance as this is very important. A good example of this is with our Fortitude 29ers where the prototype had 430mm chainstays, but I felt the mud clearance wasn’t enough for sloppy winter rides. Sure it rode great with the super short stays, but the bike design was compromised. In production I added 5mm to the chain stays to improve clearance, so they’re still relatively short in 29er terms, but we now have plenty of space for mud to pass through. Another neat touch was to roll and flatten the seat tube to give even more mud clearance between the rear tyre and the seat tube.
We use Alfine hubs on several bikes. It has worked well for us and it’s something that UK customers definitely buy into.

Which other events and shows will the Genesis range be present at this year?
Our big UK consumer event of the year was the London Bike Show. I was unsure how the show would be and whether we would get the right type of customers there, but it was great. One of the best UK shows I’ve been to for years.
Speaking for Genesis alone, we had loads of enthusiasts stopping by the stand who were eager to see our new models in the flesh, or just keen to talk bikes with us. I found it a really positive experience.
Our other big show of the year is Eurobike. It’s a great show and it takes our little brand to a much wider audience. We will also have a presence at some races this year including Mountain Mayhem and Bristol Bikefest.

Which materials have been used in this year’s catalogue? Still Reynolds tubing?
We use lots of Reynolds steel throughout our range, it’s a fantastic material to make bicycles from. It’s really strong so tubes are small in diameter and thin walled which gives the frame a comfortable, but engaging ride. I’m not a big fan of hydroformed alloy frames and often I see manufacturers using overly formed shapes to make a bike look more aero or sporty.
Steel is expensive, so we use alloy on our entry-level mountain bikes, but we don’t overly form the tubes – we use round straight rounds tubes that only look slightly chunkier than our Latitude steel frames. We also use titanium on our high-end bikes. It does everything that a good steel ride does, but a fair bit lighter, however it’s a fair bit more expensive! I am currently considering some exciting ideas on how we can utilise Reynolds 953 stainless steel within our range.

What price range do the bikes span?
They range from a £549 entry-level Core 10 MTB, through to £3,199 for the Latitude Titanium. Two very different bikes, but equally important to our range. Our best-sellers are the Croix de Fer and the Day One Alfine. Both retail at £1,099 and are in many ways our most versatile bikes. The good news for dealers and consumers is we’ve launched the ‘CdF’, which is a cheaper version of the Croix de Fer with a Reynolds 520 frame, Avid BB5 brakes and a Sora groupset, all for £899.99.

What differentiates the models at various price points over competitors?
For our core MTBs, we always offer a really great frameset, a frame that can happily be upgraded over time. Beyond that we always make a point of offering a good fork and good hubs. These are bits that usually fail first on entry-level mountain bikes.

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