Focus bikes: which model is right for you?

Don't know your Izalco Max from your Paralane? We outline the key models in the road range from the German brand

Focus bikes was founded in 1992, headed up by cyclocross World Champion Mike Kluge.

The German brand produced six mountain bikes in 1994, having partnered with Derby Cycle Werke. It moved on to manufacture touring and road racing bikes, branching into carbon fibre come 2006.

The business is based in Cloppenburg, Germany,  but has subsidiaries in the United States and Italy.

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Like any major bike brand, Focus has a stable full of bikes created to suit certain styles of riding – from the road race driven Izalco Max to the all-day-endurance roller Paralane.

All carbon frames come with a six year warranty, which is a ‘nice to know’ and Focus boasts a couple of patented technologies which feature in a number of bikes across the range.

Focus Paralane in Freestyle design (Image: Focus Bikes)

Focus Paralane in Freestyle design (Image: Focus Bikes)

For 2018, the brand has ‘been dipping into the paint bucket’ as it puts it, adding ‘freestyle design’ to a number of models – though many come with more understated paint jobs on offer, as well.

We’ve outlined what to expect from each of the key road bikes in the range….

Focus Izalco Max

Focus Izalco Max Dura Ace Di2 2018 road bike

Focus Izalco Max Dura Ace Di2 2018 road bike

Designed for road racing, the Izalco Max enjoys an aggressive geometry, built around a lightweight carbon frame – which comes in at 735g without disc bikes and 745g with discs (for a size 56).

Stiffness has not been forgotten – ‘Stable Stiffness Per Size’ (SSPS) is in play – this means the frame material is adjusted across the size range (from 48 to 61) to create the ideal ratio of weight to stiffness – a quality we picked out in our last review of the model.

>>> Focus Izalco Max 1.0 review

>>> Focus Izalco Max Disc review 

The bikes are designed to be high performance machines, with the range starting at the Shimano Ultegra build at £3,299. The chainsets are largely semi-compact 52/36 versions, with 11-28 cassettes which still provide a wide range of gears.

The top end model – £6,799 with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 comes with disc brakes and a Focus Temp carbon wheelset.

The disc brake models feature ‘RAT’ (Rapid Axle Technology) – a thru-axle system which combines stability with lateral stiffness and allows for quick wheel changes.

Focus Izalco Race

Focus Izalco Race Utegra 2018 road bike

Focus Izalco Race Utegra 2018 road bike

The Focus Izalco Race aims to take a speedy, racing chassis to the masses. At a more affordable price point, the model comes constructed from carbon or aluminium, depending upon your preference. In the past, these needs were answered by the Focus Cayo road bike, no longer in the UK line-up for 2018.

The aluminium models are triple butted, to ensure that the frame stays stiff where it needs to be whilst maintaining a low weight.

Like the Izalco Max, the Race model uses a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket. This combines the easy maintenance of a Pressfit option with the stiffness of a BB30, and comes with a preassembled seal in the cups to further prolong the bearing life.

The geometry is a little less aggressive than the top end Izalco Max racer, and the aluminium Izalco Race has a slightly higher stack when compared to the carbon version (generally about 3mm), but it’s still designed to offer a ride which feels fast and competitive – and there are disc and rim options on offer.

>>> Bike gears: shifting explained for beginners

Izalco Race models start at £799, for the Aluminium model with Shimano Sora, featuring a compact 50/34 chainset. The carbon models begin at £1,099, also Shimano Sora, though with a 52/36 chainset. Cassettes vary from 11-28 to 11-36 – the wider ratio options provide lower resistance for the hills, but even the 11-28 will prove sufficient for most riders.

Across the range, there are Donna models which are designed to cater for female riders. These come with narrower bars and women’s saddles.

Focus Paralane

Focus Paralane eTap 2018 road bike

Focus Paralane eTap 2018 road bike

The Focus Paralane is an endurance road bike designed for all-day rides, on tarmac as well as gravel. To demonstrate their commitments to this, Focus specs the Paralane with disc brakes only and every order comes with a pair of mudguards designed for easy fitting to the frame.

Cable routing is kept internal, and RAT (rapid axle technology) is used to combine stability and lateral stiffness on a floating axle which makes wheel changes quick.

The aluminium models feature triple butted frames, and there are women’s specific versions with women’s saddles and narrow handlebars.

>>> Are wider tyres faster? 

As per the other models, the Pressfit 30 bottom bracket is repeated, as is the Stable Stiffness Per Size (SSPS) approach which sees each frame – stiffness and weight in particular – designed around the appropriate size.

Gearing takes a further step into the lower resistance territory, with 50/34 compacts and wide range 11-34 cassettes – though there is a ‘Factory’ version, specced for gravel riding by a Focus member of staff which comes with a single 44-tooth chainring.

>>> Are single chainrings the future? 

The tyres are largely 28c across the range, which start at £1,399 for a Shimano Tiagra build with hydraulic discs and an aluminium frame. A carbon build with Shimano Tiagra, plus hydraulic disc brakes comes in at £2,199, with a SRAM Red eTap model topping out the collection at £5,499, featuring Zipp 302 disc wheels.

Focus Mares: cyclocross bike

Focus Mares SRAM Force 1 cyclocross bike

Focus Mares SRAM Force 1 cyclocross bike

Being a brand founded by a cyclocross World Champion, with a history in creating race winning mountain as well as road bikes, Focus obviously has quite a well rounded CV when it comes to ‘cross.

The Mares cyclocross bike is not an ‘all road’ adventurer – it’s a cyclocross race bike through and through, with a geo designed for one hour, all out efforts.

>>> Focus Mares CX Disc Ultegra review 

All models come with disc brakes and the ‘RAT’ tech seen elsewhere, which means the fork is strong enough to cope with braking forces and wheel changes are easy. The same Pressfit 30 and internal cable routing also features, as well as the size specific carbon layup.

At the entry level point, there is a Mares commuter (£899) which comes with an aluminium frame, with pannier racks and mudguards fitted. The aluminium cyclocross range includes a Tiagra and 105 option, prices starting at £1,299.

The carbon models are available with 1x builds – SRAM Apex 1, SRAM Rival 1 or SRAM Force 1 (from £1,999), as well as double chainring specs in Shimano 105 or Shimano Ultegra (from £2,399).

Focus hybrid bikes

Focus Arriba hybrid bike

Focus Arriba hybrid bike

For those looking for a flat bar bike which can handle roads as well as cracked paths and parks, then Focus has a selection of hybrid bikes.

The Focus Planet range is created for city streets – you’ll find hub gears and a belt drive to keep maintenance low and ensure your trousers stay grease free. The top end Focus Planet Street comes with integrated lights and mudguards.

The Crater Lake is a Dutch style step-through frame, for relaxed riding on tarmac as well as gravel tracks. The tyres are wide for smooth rolling regardless of terrain, and gearing is kept low to turn mountains into mole hills.

The Arriba is the fast and punchy hybrid for fitness riders, with relatively narrow 28c tyres specced with tarmac in mind, as well as quick stopping disc brakes and men’s and women’s options with purpose designed geometry.

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