Reynolds 725 butted and heat-treated cro-mo alloy is used for the three main tubes of the frame, with butted standard 4130 cro-mo in the rear triangle. The singlespeed frame makes for a sleek machine with the bare minimum of braze-ons required for a geared bike. To combine the horizontal dropouts with an IS disc mount, slotted caliper bolt holes are used, maintaining perfect caliper alignment, no matter where the wheel is positioned. Built-in chain tensioners prevent the wheel from shifting once in place.
Using RockShox’s basic Recon XC fork may limit the external adjustment available, but it does match the no-nonsense nature of the beast. A Solo Air spring means the shock pump needs to be attached only once to set the bike for rider weight and sag, then a small tweak with the damping adjuster at the base of the other leg and you’re done. It’s worth taking the rebound adjuster out once set up, though, as it’s held in place by the friction of a small O-ring — ours fell out when packing the bike, post-ride. “Most people’s memories of planetary gear systems dates back to a Sturmey Archer three-speed on their mum’s shopping bike, but performance has come a long way since then”If you do need to tweak the damping, a standard 2.5mm Allen key does the job. Don’t go mad with adjustment, however, as small changes have a large effect and the usable range is contained within the central third of the adjuster’s throw.
There are plenty of nice touches on the spec sheet of the IO ID and nothing has a negative effect on the ride, save the tyres. A good-shaped bar, comfy seat, lock-on grips and sturdy wheels all pale into insignificance compared to the gearing, though. Designed as a ‘trekking bike’ component, the seven-speed Shimano Alfine hub gear’s 307 per cent gear range is equivalent to a large range (11-34) cassette, so a single chainring setup is very usable and that’s what we see here. Most people’s memories of planetary gear systems date back to a Sturmey Archer three-speed on their Grifter or their mum’s shopping bike, but performance has come a long, long way since then. Shifting is completed in less than a third of a pedal stroke (like a derailleur) and the steps are very even. You do get a similar jump from fifth to sixth as you do in the middle of a conventional cassette and the lowest gear can be a little tall for prolonged steep, draggy climbs in the mulch.
But a real bonus is the never changing, perfect chainline, which makes up for some of that and guarantees a silent ride from the slap-free chain. When starting from a standstill in anything higher than fourth gear you get a feeling that the gear is not quite engaged for the first 10 degrees of the pedal stroke. But once you get rolling it disappears and doesn’t affect the overall ride.
Once you get used to remembering the shifter works like a Rapid Rise rear mech, the Alfine hub gears’ performance is a revelation. The ability to shift without the cranks rotating is a well-known benefit of the hub geared machine but, in use, it’s surprising how often — once you remember it’s possible — that you begin to do it. Barrelling down a technical descent, you can concentrate on the trail without having to remember to shift in preparation for the climb after the sharp corner at the bottom. Shift, and less than a third of a pedal stroke later you’re in gear, regardless of whether you’ve shifted one, two or seven gears. Multiple gear shifts are a minor issue, though, as you cannot dump multiple cogs at once. Only a single click is possible up or down the range. When shifting to higher gears, however, there is a distinct lack of a ‘click’. While this causes no performance issues, we’d like a more defined feel.
Tyres aside there’s little we’d swap from the standard spec, as everything works fine. The fabled comfort of steel is there, with exceptional trail manners thanks to well-balanced geometry.
The actual gear shifting performance on the IO ID is awesome. Genesis has come up trumps for a truly winter-proof machine. With such direct drive coming from the singlespeed-style layout, there are never any grumbles from a chain tweaked out of perfect alignment. Sure, the shifter feel isn’t as positive as we’d like and the range is only equivalent to a single chainring, but for a vast number of riders it’s plenty. With a well laid out, comfortable steel, frame, decent stem length and wide bars, the IO ID is a great place to just get on with the job, regardless of the conditions. It’s not even difficult to get the rear wheel off.
MBR RATING 9/10