The Genesis CDA 20 is part of the company's new entry-level adventure bike range and it really is rather good. Based on the Croix de Fer but with an aluminium alloy frame rather than steel, it's relaxing to ride on and off the road, comes well equipped for the money and will take full mudguards and a rack for commuting. The only real downside is the brakes, which are a bit on the iffy side.
- Pros: Very comfortable frame; neutral handling that works on all terrains
- Cons: A little on the heavy side; brakes don't offer a whole lot of power
Taking the CDA out for its first spin before reading the blurb, I was convinced the frame was steel. It just has that beautiful ride quality where there is a softness to it that filters out any road buzz and harshness. In my defence, the tubes do look surprisingly thin in profile, so it even looks like a steel frame.
With the tyres pumped up hard for a bit of a 'shakedown' road ride to make sure everything was set up correctly, I caught a glimpse of a bit of gravel that I'd never ventured down before. Barrelling off down the rutted and rocky track, the CDA was unbelievably comfortable.
Taking 20psi out of the tyres would have improved traction and stopped all the bouncing around, but for just a short blast before returning to the tarmac, the 6000 series alloy frame offered a pretty plush ride, helped by the steel fork.
Something else that is also pretty pleasing with the CDA is its handling. With a slack head angle of 71.5 degrees (size medium), a trail figure of 65mm (most race bikes are around 55mm) and lengthy 430mm chainstays with corresponding wheelbase, the CDA is a very stable, neutral handling machine. Exactly what you want for the style of riding it's aimed at.
On the road you can meander through the lanes without really needing to think about what you are doing, as the CDA is so easy to ride. If you are making use of the rack and mudguards mounts to press the Genesis into winter commuter service or some light touring, that surefootedness really helps when laden or riding in tricky weather conditions.
On fast, technical descents you have to scrub a fair bit of speed off before entering the bends, even when riding the CDA without any additional weight, and it's not quite the quickest to change direction in a hurry, but well within the remit of what I'm expecting here.
Stick some road tyres on and it's quite surprising how sprightly the Genesis is. Its 11.7kg (25.8lb) is masked quite well except when accelerating from a standing start or climbing long, steep hills.
In its standard form, though, with the semi-knobbly 37mm wide tyres, it's set up perfectly for life on the gravel, and while that handling is very neutral on the tarmac, on a surface that has a tendency to move beneath you the CDA has a slightly more fun side to its persona.
There is enough feedback coming through the frameset to let you know exactly what the Genesis is up to, so you can feel the tyres slide and react to it, which is fun and gives plenty of confidence.
In fact, the CDA is great to ride on a whole load of differing terrains. Some of my rides took me down through the woods on dry singletrack, and while the Genesis isn't as nimble as a cyclo-cross bike or a gravel blaster like the Cotic Escapade, when hopping over the roots it is still surprisingly capable.
Longer, more sedate byway riding is where the CDA 20 really excels, though, thanks to that combination of comfort and easy-to-live with handling. Stocking up on flapjack for a five-hour jaunt across the gravel tracks of Salisbury Plain was a very pleasant experience thanks to just how easy the Genesis is to live with. You can really just keep the pedals spinning and enjoy the scenery.
The only thing to watch out for if things get fast and technical is that the Promax DSK-717 cable disc brakes aren't exactly earth shattering in their performance, even after bedding in. They'll stop you, but they don't have the power or positivity of a good hydraulic setup and you do have to plan your braking earlier than you normally would.
Other than that, though – and occasionally the weight on some of those tougher climbs – there is very little to fault about the CDA's ride quality and characteristics; it's impressive, especially for the money.
Frame and fork
The frame itself is manufactured from a mixture of ALX8 6066 and 6061-T6 heat treated aluminium alloy tubing. These are double butted, meaning that the walls have two varying thicknesses; it's mostly done to improve comfort by having the thinner-wall sections away from the loaded areas like the ends, where they are welded, to promote a little flex without sacrificing stiffness where it's needed.
For the money, it's a nicely built frame. The welding is a little agricultural but considering the price and what the CDA is designed to do, I don't really think it looks out of place; it'll take some abuse and so will the paint job.
As I mentioned earlier, the tube profiles are quite slender for an alloy bike, but stiffness seems perfectly adequate around the bottom bracket area, and while I could detect a small amount of flex when really ragging the bike up a climb, it's not a huge amount.
That bottom bracket is a threaded design, as you'd expect at this price point.
There are no luxuries like internal routing here, but the cables are guided nicely down the outsides of the tubes, keeping them tucked out of harm's way, and it all adds to that functional look of the CDA.
There are mounts for bottles, mudguards and a rack, so the whole bike is quite versatile for a multitude of uses.
The steel fork is a bit on the weighty side, but it's tough and will take plenty of knocks and bangs when out on the trail. It's not the stiffest, just like the frame, but it does the job and adds to the overall comfort.
Tyre clearance for both the frame and fork is okay, too: you get 37mm tyres as standard, but you can go up to 700C x 42mm front and rear.
Something that does make the CDA look a little 'old school' is the post mounts for the brake callipers. They look very bulky compared with modern flat mounts, and when paired with the quite large cable-operated callipers I did have to tweak my foot position to avoid catching my shoe on the rear each pedal revolution.
In fact, the CDA does look a bit as if it has regressed from the 2019 model, which was much more modern looking with its chunky alloy frame, tapered head tube and carbon fork. It was £250 more expensive, though, and had less tyre clearance, so things balance themselves out a bit.
The CDA is available in five sizes, ranging from XS to XL, and the geometry is quite relaxed and similar to that of an endurance road bike.
It hasn't got a massively tall head tube, which gives it a slightly more aggressive riding style than many gravel bikes, but you're still not exactly having to ride with too much of a saddle-to-handlebar drop.
Figures for our size medium bike are: 561mm top tube, 530mm seat tube, 155mm head tube and 1,035mm wheelbase with 430mm chainstays. The head angle is 71.5 degrees and you get a 73.5-degree seat angle. All this adds up to a stack of 593mm and a reach of 385mm.
Gears and brakes
On bikes of this price it's quite normal to see a bit of a mish-mash of kit, and that doesn't change here. To be honest, though, it all works well enough and I wouldn't bother to make any changes straight out of the box.
The gearing is taken care of mostly by Shimano Sora R3000, a 9-speed groupset that has components that use the shape of the previous higher end models like 5700 series 105 and 6800 series Ultegra. The ergonomics of the brake levers and hoods makes them a very pleasant place to be.
It's a massive jump from the earlier Sora 3500 setup, with its thumbshifter and exposed gear cables running externally of the handlebar.
Component-wise, you are getting the shifters, and front and rear mechs from the Sora stable – the important parts, basically.
Elsewhere, there's a Shimano Alivio 9-speed cassette whose range is spread between 11 and 34-tooth, sprockets and a non-series FC-R345 Shimano crankset in a compact 50/34t size.
For me it was a decent enough spread of gears for all sorts of terrain, and taking the weight of the bike into account, though I did find quite a few large steps in the cassette ratios, which makes it difficult to maintain your preferred cadence.
The shifting of the KMC X9 chain across the sprockets was absolutely fine, and it worked well even when covered in dust and dirt.
I've already mentioned the brakes, but I'll repeat that the Promax DSK-717s aren't the best. The power just isn't there, and they don't give much in the way of feedback for you to modulate them. Once you've got used to them you can soon adapt, but you just don't get the get-out-of-jail-free card that you do with quality hydraulic systems, even with the 160mm rotors front and rear.
The rest of the finishing kit is Genesis branded and includes an alloy stem, seatpost and handlebar. There isn't a whole lot to say, really – it's decent enough stuff that does the job.
I did like the Genesis Road Comfort saddle as it had a nice balance of support and comfort.
Wheels and tyres
Genesis has gone for strength when it comes to wheels on the CDA: Shining DB-31 rims mated to 32-hole KT K-68 hubs by 14g steel spokes.
It's not the lightest setup, but I had no issues with them throughout testing; they took a fair old amount of abuse on the road and the gravel tracks. Trueness was well within acceptable levels and so was stiffness. That said, if I was going to be doing long distance rides I'd probably look for a lighter set of gravel wheels.
The hubs are set up for quick release rather than thru-axles, which is what I'd expect for this money, and they're also 6-bolt. I much prefer the Centerlock design for ease of swapping rotors and a larger choice of wheels for upgrading.
Tyre-wise, Genesis has gone for WTB Riddlers in a 37mm width and they are pretty good. A light tread in the middle gives decent enough rolling on the road while the more pronounced knobblies of the shoulder bite into gravel and soft mud, as long as it isn't too wet or deep.
Grip was fine on the road in the dry and even when damp, and the tyres didn't suffer any punctures.
They are fitted here as all-rounders to suit the versatility of the bike, but if you're likely to spend more time on a specific terrain you could fit tyres to match to get the best out of the ride.
At £699.99 the CDA 20 is well enough specced for the money, and while there are a few sacrifices made in terms of weight, the overall build is pretty decent.
Compare it to something like the Marin Gestalt, which costs £750. For that money you are getting an alloy frame and fork plus a lower spec Shimano Claris 8-speed groupset, although it is a bit lighter at 10.9kg.
The CDA 20 also stacks up well against the Triban RC 520 Gravel. The Triban costs £850 but does come with Shimano 105 shifters and mechs, which are two levels higher than Sora, plus it also has TRP's HyRd brakes, a cable operated hydraulic calliper setup.
The Triban, like the Genesis, also has an alloy frame, plus both use post mount callipers and quick releases, have basic alloy finishing kit and a similar non-series crankset.
I'd say the CDA has a better ride quality, and even though the spec list is a little inferior to the Triban's, the Genesis is good value at just £150 less.
The Genesis CDA 20 is better than the sum of its parts. The comfort of the frame and fork is perfectly suited to riding on the gravel or road, especially when you're going for longer distances, and it's decent value too.
A quality 'do a bit of everything bike' with an exceptionally comfortable ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Genesis CDA 20
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME: ALX8 6066/6061-T6 DOUBLE-BUTTED ALUMINIUM
FORK: CR-MO UNICROWN DISC
BOTTOM BRACKET: SHIMANO
SHIFTERS: SHIMANO SORA
REAR DERAILLEUR: SHIMANO SORA
FRONT DERAILLEUR: SHIMANO SORA FD-R3000
CASSETTE: SHIMANO ALIVIO
CHAIN: KMC X9
BRAKES: PROMAX DSK - 717
BRAKE LEVERS: SHIMANO SORA
RIMS: SHINING DB-31
SPOKES: STEEL 14G
TYRES: WTB RIDDLER
700 x 37C
HANDLEBAR: GENESIS X-RACE PRO / 16DEG FLARE / XS, 400MM / S-M, 420MM / L-XL, 440MM
STEM: GENESIS ALLOY
HEADSET: PRESTINE PT-1606 1-1/8" SEMI CARTRIDGE
SEAT POST: GENESIS ALLOY / 27.2X350MM
SADDLE: GENESIS ROAD COMFORT
GRIP TAPE: VELO TAPE W/GEL
MAX TYRE SIZE: 700X42C
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Genesis says, "The Croix de Fer's younger brother has had a makeover! Updated to share the same geometry and legendary handling as its steel counterpart, the all-new CDA swaps out steel for aluminium and in turn passes a nice cost saving on to you. For a little more cash, the CDA 20 gets you an upgrade to Shimano's excellent 9-speed Sora levers and mechs. It all makes for the perfect entry into the world of adventure bikes. The fact that it's compatible with a pannier rack and mudguards also makes it ideal as an everyday commuting workhorse."
I think it's a very versatile bike and while it has a couple of flaws, overall it's comfortable and decent value for money.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There are two models, this CDA 20 and a CDA 10 for £599.99 which comes with a Shimano Claris groupset.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The welding is neat enough and the quality of the paint job is good, quite robust too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is a mix of 6066 and 6061-T6 double butted alloy tubing while the fork is made from steel throughout.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The angles are quite relaxed but the overall setup is similar to that of an endurance road bike, however it works on both the road and the gravel.
Full measurements can be found here.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The CDA is nicely proportioned when it comes to the geometry. The top tube isn't massively long, and the head tube is reasonably short so you have this kind of sporty position without being too extreme.
The stack and reach figures are more biased towards endurance road figures rather than a gravel bike, which is why it works so well on various terrains.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, very comfortable. The frame and fork seem to deliver a very smooth ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is okay unless you really need to push it hard, when there can be a little bit of flex around the bottom bracket.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
For what the bike is designed for, the Genesis works absolutely fine; if speed is your thing you will be hampered by the weight.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very easy to live with, being calm on the tarmac and just a little bit edgy on the gravel.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I really got on with the Genesis saddle, which has decent padding that's firm enough for support.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Stiffness isn't really what the CDA is about, but the components like the stem and handlebar do a decent job if you want to get a shift on.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The tyres did a pretty good job of working on the road and the trails.
For the money, Sora is great, and you get the key components here.
Wheels and tyres
For mixed terrain riding they feel tough and durable, while not being the lightest.
I liked the tyres as they worked well on all sorts of terrain.
It's all decent enough kit for the money and does the job well.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The Promax brakes are the weak point of the build.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is priced competitively when you look at the competition I mentioned in the main review. For the money, it is a decent build.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I was really impressed with the comfort of the frame, and the geometry results in a machine with balanced handling. It is a touch heavy, though, and the brakes aren't great, which just nudges the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!