Garneau A1 Review
Aerodynamics, light weight, stiffness and ride quality. If you're looking for the perfect bike frame, with options for a full custom paint job as well, look no further than Garneau's new Gennix A1.
In our latest review the team reacts to Garneau's innovative aero road frame and Gregory Addo and Roger Parmalee show it off on - where else? - the Brooklyn Heights Promenade set against Manhattan's iconic skyline:
GARNEAU GENNIX A1 REVIEW BY ROGER PARMELEE
Aerodynamics, light weight, stiffness and ride quality. When looking for the perfect bike frame these sound like ideal qualities, right? Well, throw those characteristics together with a full custom paint job and that’s what Garneau has done with their new Garneau Gennix A1, now available via the Garneau Dream Factory.
Having ridden Garneau's Gennix R1 at races across the country for the past three seasons, I was champing at the bit when I heard the Garneau was going to launch an aero road bike with the goal of equalling the Gennix R1’s stiffness in a package that would be even faster on the road. This was especially true given Garneau’s aerodynamic heritage derived from the Garneau TR1 triathlon bike.
When the Garneau Gennix A1 frameset showed up to my apartment several weeks ago I couldn’t have been more excited. That is until I built it up and took it out for it’s maiden ride. Then I was both excited and impressed.
Garneau Gennix A1 Review: The Stats
First, let’s talk technology and build set. The frame is made from RTCC 2 carbon, NVM2 monocoque technology with a full carbon, 1-3/8'' tapered steerer tube. All of which is industry jargon for cutting edge carbon construction that blends stiffness with an aerodynamic tube-shape.
The steering tube has an integrated headset that allows the top bearing to rest in line with the top tube. While I personally left a spacer between my headset and stem, anyone looking to slam their stem will have an added level of aerodynamics. It’s a subtle detail, but it’s clear Garneau spared no aesthetic consideration with the Gennix A1.
The frame has a BB386 EVO bottom bracket, a slight change from the BB86 bottom bracket in the Gennix R1 frameset the team has been racing on for the past three years. The over-sized BB386 EVO bottom bracket is there to ensure the frame has plenty of stiffness for maximum power transfer. But, more on that later.
The frameset comes with Shimano Dura-Ace 9010 direct mount brakes that are derived from the Shimano BR-9000 model, i.e., the best brakes in the industry today. Including brakes of this quality in the frameset is a nice touch. And while other manufacturers have chosen to go with proprietary aero brake setups hidden in the frameset, in my experience the ease of maintenance that comes with the BR-9010’s are far preferable, especially since Garneau says the trade-off in aerodynamics is negligible.
Lastly, the frame comes with a chain drop protector and a really nice Di2 battery mount that hides in the aero seat post that is likewise included in the frameset. All in all it’s a great out of the box setup.
Garneau Gennix A1 Review: The Aerodynamics
Let’s talk the shape of the frameset itself. Constructed using Altair Hyperworks software, the Garneau Gennix A1 incorporates an hour-glass shaped head tube that allows for the use of a full size tapered fork steerer while maintaining the overall emphasis on aerodynamics. As expected with an aero frame, internal cable routing keep things looking very orderly on the bike and minimizes drag, particularly when constructed with an electronic groupset like Shimano Di2. The downtube has also been similarly optimized for aerodynamics. The presence of water bottles on the frame were included in the design calculations from the very beginning, ensuring the frame is optimized for the real world and not just the wind tunnel.
Moving to the rear of the frame, the seat stays have a slippery, aero profile and have been lowered to minimize drag. And as one would expect from a cutting edge aerodynamic frame, the seatpost features a cutout to minimize spacing to the rear wheel while providing a shorter and more responsive wheelbase. As noted previously, the use of the BR-9010’s is a great touch for ease of maintenance and, as Garneau points out their placement at the seatstay junction, for minimizing deflection during periods of heavy torque.
While perhaps less noticeable than the overall aggressive shape of the frame, it’s worth pointing out that the seatpost and frame are designed using Garneau’s clean wedge type binder that has great aesthetics. It’s one of the cleanest seatpost binding systems we know of. The seat rail system also allows a great deal of flexibility in geometry. This makes the Garneau Gennix A1 entirely viable as a sometimes TT/Triathlon bike with the addition of aerobars to the cockpit.
All in all, the Gennix A1 is the most technologically advanced and aerodynamic road frame Garneau has ever constructed. According to the company the bike generates 14% less drag than the Gennix R1 model we have been riding for the past three years. That’s a truly impressive feat.
Garneau Gennix A1 Review: Custom Dream Factory Paint
Now, on to the paint job. The Gennix A1 is available as part of Garneau’sDream Factory Custom Paint Program. This is something that Team Health Warrior has taken advantage of on our every one of our Gennix R1 race bikes and we’ve stuck to the script for the A1.
The level of customization available through the Dream Factory Custom Paint Program is absolutely impressive, as is the execution in the finished product. It’s been great to style in our own design, which gives the bikes that much more uniqueness out on the road.
Garneau Gennix A1 Review: Putting it All Together
Putting aside the specs and the built kit, what ultimately matters is the feel of the bike on the road. We’re not putting the bike in a wind tunnel or weighing individual parts to extract every gram of weight savings. What we are looking for in a bike is a machine that performs great on the road - stiff, fast and responsive - and looks great doing it.
And in all honesty the first thing I noticed once I got the Garneau Gennix A1 on the road is that it’s fast. Really fast. You really can feel how smooth this bike rolls. Also, having a massive BB386 bottom bracket really helps get the power down and get the bike up to speed. Being a criterium racer and sprinter I have always felt that a stiff bike that you can get up to speed quickly out of corners or in the final sprint is vitally important. The Gennix A1 definitely accomplishes that task.
The bike is rock solid when cornering as well. Personally, I tend to like a bike that rides very neutral. By that I mean I don't like a twitchy bike or a bike the oversteers. In crits, the field bunches up tightly and there’s often bumping and barging so I want my bike to track as smoothly as possible. I definitely get this sensation with the Garneau Gennix A1. The lower center of gravity allows for a confident cornering experience. Even more so than with the Garneau Gennix R1, taking full-speed corners on this bike is smile inducing. It really is fun to throttle this bike around.
If you are looking for an aero road bike that’s fast, light, stiff, handles smoothly and is corners with confidence, the Gennix A1 is definitely worth checking out. The chance to express your creative side with a custom paint job through Garneau’s Dream Factory is the icing on the cake.
Photos by: Gregory Addo