GENETIC CX CANTILEVER BRAKES
150g £19.99 (pair/per wheel)
The Genetic CX Cantilevers are a wide-armed design, with cyclo cross and touring applications in mind. In common with other Genetic products we’ve tested, they offer decent bang for very modest buck.
However, despite considerable charm (and in common with some similarly priced competition) they are best paired with old school brake levers offering a decent helping of mechanical advantage.
Pros: Classy looks, decent power, modestly priced.
Cons: Check clearance with rack and feet, especially on smaller frames.
The arms are made from cold forged 7075 aluminium alloy. Ours were the mirror polished versions, with laser etched graphics. However, there’s a gloss black version, should you prefer; and both sets are supplied with aluminium alloy straddle wire kits.
Electroplated fasteners are a little softer than some but perfectly adequate - just add a trace of wet lube to the recesses to prevent them turning rusty.
Otherwise, standards of finish and lustre are very high, especially compared with others I’ve used and tested, of comparable price. Now, aside from adding to the allure, the bracing supposedly eliminates flex. Pads are comparatively short, cartridge models with medium density compounds (choice of condition specific replacements available?).
My Univega - a mile munching rough stuff touring bike, based around a triple butted cross county mountain bike frameset, was the primary rig of choice. Smaller, compact geometry framesets, such as this, present challenges with wide arm cantilevers. Most notably when it comes to four-point carriers/panniers and of course, heels.
Full disclosure. I am of a more feminine proportion - much longer limbed, relative to my torso. A shorter stem was a non-starter, so I run these Microshift brifters, which are designed for smaller hands.
Great in some respects but shorter travel means they will come closer to the bars before brakes really bite. Set up with with M system/similar low-profile patterns, such as these Avid Shorty 4 is pretty plug n’ play. Ready to go in ten minutes. It was nearer 45 before I’d got the travel, modulation, feel and of course, toe-in bang on with the genetic.
On a very traditional ‘cross bike running Cane Creek levers and bar cons, this took twenty minutes, easier than Tektro’s venerable CR720, which is arguably, the CX’s closest rival, price wise.
Allowing for some mid ride tweaks to counteract some minor cable stretch, the CX have impressed with their smooth, progressive action and after a few 20-mile, mixed terrain bonding blasts, I was ready to tackle the cut n’ thrust of stop-go rush hour traffic.
Despite reduced lever travel, the action never felt spongy and using the front in anger, I could even raise the rear wheel an inch or two. Saved my bacon, on a couple of occasions, when larger vehicles stopped unexpectedly. Then of course, there were the teenage wheelie merchants, demonstrating their craft - in the wrong place!
This story remained largely unchanged, through moderately damp forest trails, avoiding Kamikaze squirrels and dancing spirited, tangos with slightly confused rabbits. Mud and other gooey stuff tends to get impacted around the pads, regardless of arm pattern and the bike’s full-length chrome-plastics.
Embedded gritty noises aside, there’s been no real loss of function, or cringe-inducing squeal. That said; given my earlier observations, my heels tended to foul the arms, especially when re/mounting, or weaving through particularly tight singletrack.
This caused the brake to bind on the rim, though easily addressed, with a quick double touch of the brake lever. Less frequent, with use and again, something synonymous with the small frame, wide arm marriage.
By this point, three weeks in, I’d enough faith in them, to do a few supermarket trailer-runs, taking in my favourite 1in7 descent, on the return leg. Being brutally honest, though it passed said test with reasonable margin, in these contexts, something like the Avid Shorty would’ve inspired a bit more confidence.
Conversely, performance with the Cane Creek SL5 levers and traditional cross bike was a definite notch, or so higher and, for the most part, better than my experience with Tektro’s otherwise capable CR720.
Minor niggles, such as fastener quality aside, the CX represent great value. Worthy choices for a budget ‘cross build, cross biased winter single speed, or older touring lorries serving as commuters/ daily drivers. Good enough to make project Dawes’ component list.