After a couple of years and quite a few blog posts and discussions, I finally have an Equilibrium 20 to ride and share my thoughts on. I suspect the good people at Genesis Bikes might well have sent me one just to stop me asking and I’m delighted they have (regardless). Ironically a week or two before the shiny new cream 2014 Equilibrium 20 arrived, my colleague and riding buddy Damien built himself an Equilibrium for the winter (with my help), so there are two of them to ponder.
I’ve already written about the changes to the 2014 Equilibriums and you can catch up here if you need/want to (http://girodilento.com/genesis-equilibrium-2014-updates-evolution/).
The one I’ve been sent has thoughtfully been fitted with full SKS Chromoplastic mudguards, which is how I imagine most people will be riding them at this time of year. Personally, I preferred last years copper colour but I may be in the minority as most of the other people I’ve showed the bike too have said they really like the new cream version. Certainly the way the bike has been put together with a black gruppo, brown bar and saddle and the 32 spoke wheels with silver spokes, works really well. It’s a retro but modern look. In fact, if it was mine I wouldn’t be looking to change anything about it aesthetically, as the look works very cohesively.
So far I’ve managed to ride a little under 100miles on it. Rides have included my short local commute, a couple of short rides around some local loops and an 85km ride with my fastest riding buddy that featured over 1300m of climbing.
It’s enough to give some initial observations. The Equilibrium is a very easy bike to like, there’s something kind of indefinable about it that seems to imbue it with a bit of a personality. My colleague Damien has already named his Equilibrium (the copper coloured one) Rusty and the name works. The one I’m riding has already been affectionately named as well (it’s been called Richie, but I’ll spare you the long boring explanation of how it got the name). They’re bikes that suit names and this is from someone who has never named a bike before – never.
The Equilibrium even in the 20 guise is far from a light bike, the 56cm one I’m riding weighs in at 9.9kgs with mudguards (but without pedals or bottle cages). So when you pick it up (and I keep asking people to), you think crikey, that’s not light. However already that doesn’t seem very important most of the time as when you’re riding the bike and even when you’re climbing pretty nasty hills, it doesn’t feel heavy. It rides in a way that feels more light than it is, which has been messing my brain up a bit, as so far I can’t adequately explain why.
As a steel bike the Equilibrium brings some of the wonderful things about steel to the ride too. It’s very quiet for a start. All of the carbon bikes I’ve ridden (and some of the aluminium ones) have transmitted noise through the bike as they ride – but not steel ones, they seem to ride silently and I love that quality. Steel frames also do zone out a chunk of the smaller vibrations from the road as you ride, giving you a smoother ride and a nice road feel.
In the flesh the Equilibriums tubing (Reynolds 725) doesn’t look too skinny or at least not as skinny as I thought it might. It’s certainly thick enough to deliver a plenty stiff ride – but one that’s comfortable too. The finishing kit seems to be just right too – down to the feel of the bar tape and the Madison Prime saddle, which I’m enjoying as well.
Another surprise has been the wheels, particularly the Shimano 105 hubs, which roll incredibly well and have left me wondering how good Ultegra or Dura Ace ones must be. Some of the spokes have come loose in the rear wheel though, so they’ll need a tweaking and this can happen from new bikes, so it’s not a complaint.
The Shimano 105 shifters, mechs and cranks all work perfectly as you’d expect. 105 is a great groupset – the beginning of the high end in my opinion and it’s fantastically cheap and reliable to run, so perfect on a bike like this.
The few rides I’ve had so far have been really enjoyable – it’s a fine companion. The only thing I would offer for guidance is that it’s definitely not a race bike and hasn’t been designed as such. Obvious you might but I wanted to point it out anyway. So when I was out riding the 85km loop with my friend Warren who was riding his 7kg carbon aero bike, I was always going to lose the battle to keep up (in fairness I normally loose that battle even on a lighter racier bike), so I just set my own pace and cracked on. I’ll continue to crack on and will report back with more findings in due course.
More information here: http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/road/sportive/equilibrium-20
Thanks for reading