Focus Izalco Max Disc review

A bike that shows why disc brakes belong on road bikes

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Focus Izalco Max Disc is as good a disc brake road bike as you're likely to find on the market today. It offers a fast and exciting ride over all terrains thanks to the stiff, light frame and the excellent handling, while braking is impossible to fault in wet or dry conditions thanks to the excellent Shimano hydraulic disc brakes

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lightweight despite the discs

  • +

    Balanced, precise handling

  • +

    Assured braking

  • +

    Stiff bottom braket

  • +

    Very comfortable

Reasons to avoid
  • -


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In the past if you were after a bike that would be as good in the hills as it was on the flat, then anything with disc brakes was immediately out of the question due to the added weight. But things have changed with the new Focus Izalco Max Disc, a fantastic bike that thrives on all terrains.

In fact this bike is so good that we crowned it the winner of the disc brake road bike category in the 2016 Cyling Weekly Bike of the Year awards.


The lightweight frame is also agile going downhill

The lightweight frame is also agile going downhill
(Image credit: chris catchpole)

The heart of the bike is a fabulous frameset, that has only been marginally tweaked so that it can stand up to the asymmetrical torque of flat-mount disc brakes. This means that it weighs only slightly over 800g for our 56cm test model – very light by any standards, let alone for a disc brake bike.

>>> Which climbs faster - a lightweight bike or an aero bike? (video)

The frame also includes thru-axles front and rear, which are better able to cope with the asymmetrical strain of disc brakes, but uses Focus’s Rapid Axle Technology, which means that they are just as easy to remove as traditional quick-releases.


The hydraulic disc brakes providing consistent stopping in all conditions

The hydraulic disc brakes providing consistent stopping in all conditions
(Image credit: chris catchpole)

Although this particular version of the Focus Izalco Max Disc comes with a bit of a mish-mash of components, the combinations are absolutely spot-on. Both derailleurs are Dura-Ace, which is as smooth and precise as ever, while the Shimano RS805 flat-mount disc calipers, combined with 160/140mm rotors, offer reliable braking in all conditions, even when tackling lengthy descents.

>>> What do pro riders think of disc brakes

The DT Swiss wheels aren’t super-light, but can hardly be said to hold you back. They also come tubeless ready so if you do decide to ditch the inner tubes you don’t have to go looking for new rims — although the bike is supplied with normal Schwalbe One clinchers.


Focus Izalco Max Disc CPX Concept seatpost

The innovative seatpost design only adds to the comfortable ride

If you’re after a bike to tackle everything the road can offer you then the Focus Izalco Max Disc is a fantastic choice. The low weight means that it climbs like a dream, gliding smoothly up steady gradients. And if you’ve got some lighter carbon wheels to put on then it will bound up the steeper stuff too. Coming down the other side is just as fun. The bike feels nice and stable even under heavy braking, but still lively enough to be chucked into corners with reckless abandon.

>>> Bike handling techniques: how to improve your cornering?

What’s more it’s comfy too, with the split seatpost design helping to take the sting out of rough roads. However, if you want even more comfort then —because Focus has removed things like the brake bridge between the seatstays — there’s plenty of clearance for wider tyres, with Focus claiming a 28mm limit.


Although you can get a Focus Izalco Max Disc with SRAM Red for £4,699, this version, with a mixture of Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra with an FSA chainset seems to represent much better value. Everything works perfectly, and when combined with an outstanding frame seems like a pretty good deal at just over three grand.

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