Two equally priced entry-level road bikes from opposite sides of the Atlantic go head to head: Genesis Volant 00 and GT GTR 5
Genesis had originally been set to release the most budget model of its all-new budget road range for £649.99, but at the last second managed to trim it to £599.99, edging it into the ultra-competitive entry-level £600 price point.
This makes it a direct competitor with road machines from Stateside big-hitters like Giant, Specialized, Trek and of course our GT tested on the next page.
Built from reliable old favourite 6061 alloy, Genesis hasn't done anything fancy in trying to mess around with curved tubes, massive junctions where they meet and the like - instead the Volant looks like it perfectly encompasses the brand's modern-retro image. It's all straight lines and plain-gauge tubing, but an oversized head tube adorns the front end for extra stiffness
The geometry is compact, with a lightly sloping top tube, but traditional nonetheless - it really looks like a proper road bike rather than a long-distance comfort sportive machine. Upon closer inspection, an absence of mudguard eyes reinforces the image - this is clearly not intended to be a budget all-rounder as is more often seen at this entry-level price point.
Despite that, out on the road the Volant was a much more comfortable ride than expected - and by comfortable we don't mean dull and clunky, insulating you too much from all road feel. Instead, it's lively and involved, but without being clattery or too harsh. Contrary to what we would have thought by going on initial appearances, it turned out to be the smoother ride of our test pair.
The front end in particular felt efficient but not harsh, whether from the carbon fork, the oversized head tube or a combination of the two. The front is low without being back-breaking, but is just enough to be purposeful and with a nimble, efficient feel to the rest of the frame, it was an encouraging ride overall, with a frisky but responsive character.
At this price there will always be compromises though, and although the Shimano 2300 chainset is de rigueur at this price point, it definitely had the effect of neutering this bike. Finishing kit too, though perfectly adequate, was nothing to write home about and personally I would have to immediately change saddle and bars for a better fit for me. The bars are wide and have a very traditional side-on profile, which made control a real challenge for someone like me with smaller hands.
Ultimately though, the effect of all this is that the Volant 00 is just an intriguing taster of what may lie further up the Volant range. For a wannabe racer on a budget it's a really decent way to start, rather than compromising with a more sportive or endurance-orientated machine.
For the same reason, it won't be to everyone's taste but clearly Genesis has got the fundamentals right on this new design right out the factory.
6061 alloy with carbon fibre fork
Shimano 2300, Tektro R320 brakes
50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm
Continental Ultra Sport 25c
Formula hubs, Alex rims