Focus 2018 road and cyclo-cross bikes: Izalco, Paralane or Mares?
Take your pick from the Izalco race bike, Paralane endurance machine and Mares cyclo-cross steed
When you think of a German brand, often it’s direct-to-consumer Canyon or the customisable range of Rose Bikes that tend to spring to mind. However, there’s a third major player in Germany when it comes to road and cyclo-cross bikes: Focus.
While Ag2r-La Mondiale’s switch to Factor bikes last year means you won’t see Focus on the WorldTour presently, the brand is well known throughout the industry for producing cutting-edge road bike technology.
In fact, you’ll also spot its technology on other high-end mainstream bikes, with the likes of Merida and Scott buying in its R.A.T. thru-axle tech for some of their high-end disc brake bikes.
Engineering credentials confirmed, the brand keeps its offerings relatively focused (pardon the pun), with only three bike families in the range. The race bike is the Izalco, and mirrors Cannondale in that it headlines the line-up in place of any specific aero bike.
It comes split into two geometries and frame specifications. You can have the ‘Max’ which features Focus’ most aggressive geometry and premium carbon layup for maximum stiffness and lightness, or the ‘Race’, which is positioned as a blend of a racer and fast sportive bike. The Race comes with a slightly more relaxed geometry compared to the Max and has a slightly heavier carbon layup.
Both the Max and Race-spec frames are available in rim or disc brake-optimised designs. You can also opt for the Izalco Race frame geometry in an entry-level alloy construction, once again with options for both rim and disc brakes.
The Paralane is the endurance bike in the range, and like many bike manufacturers in 2018, Focus sticks to a fully disc brake line-up. It’s designed to be the ultimate long-ride machine, with a more relaxed geometry compared to the Izalco Race, and plenty of compliance married to a capability to stray onto the gravel.
With the Paralane’s versatility, the Mares is freed up to fill the slot of ‘cross-specific racer. It comes with a geometry ideally-suited to hard cyclo-cross riding, and of course comes fitted with disc brakes, clearance for 33c tyres and an internally-routed carbon frame.
The range might be small, but as we’ll find out, there are plenty of options for all riders. Let’s take a closer look…
As we briefly discussed above, the Izalco is available in two geometries, and comes in five permutations, with a whole bunch of specifications to suit.
Starting from the top, the Izalco is available in a ‘Max’ geometry, which offers the most aggressive ride achievable from a Focus road-specific bike. The frame is said to weigh in at 735g in the rim brake guise and gains only 10g if you have it with discs. Moreover, it’s a bike with high stiffness at its heart, receiving a tweaked carbon layup to make sure each frame size rides with the same efficiency.
In the rim-brake guise, you can have a fully tricked-out Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 bike for £6,799 – complete with the eye-catching paintjob you can see here – and a SRAM Red eTap bike for £5,999. From there, you can have Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 specifications, with an Ultegra-equipped bike for £3,299. If none of the range of high-spec builds suit you, you can buy a frameset (separate frames for mechanical or electronic groupsets) for £2,599.
The disc-brake version of the Izalco Max mirrors the pricing of the Dura-Ace Di2 and Red eTap bikes, while the Shimano Ultegra Di2 bike comes in at £4,299. You can only buy the Max Disc frameset with routing for electronic cables – again, at £2,599.
If these prices (or the super-aggressive geometry) don’t suit you, then the Izalco Race could be up your street instead. Still boasting a geometry suitable for racing, it’s been slightly relaxed compared to Max, while the carbon layup is simpler to allow for a more competitive price. Key features such as internal cable routing are retained, however.
The rim brake Izalco Race range tops out with a mechanical Dura-Ace model for £3,499, while an Ultegra Di2 bike will set you back £2,599. If you’re after a great value bike, you might be tempted by the Shimano 105-equipped bike at £1,399, or the £1,099 Sora machine, which leaves plenty of room for upgrading further down the line.
There are two disc brake models based around the Izalco Race frameset: a Shimano Ultegra version for £2,399 and a Shimano 105-spec machine for £1,899, both with Focus’ patented R.A.T. thru-axle technology, designed to ensure wheel changes are quick.
Finally, you also have a pick of two aluminium rim brake bikes for under a grand, both made of 6061-grade alloy. A 105 bike costs £999, while the Sora machine is £799.
Focus Izalco 2018 bikes
Focus Izalco Max Dura-Ace Di2 – £6,799
Focus Izalco Max Red eTap – £5,999
Focus Izalco Max Dura-Ace – £5,199
Focus Izalco Max Ultegra Di2 – £3,999
Focus Izalco Max Ultegra – £3,299
Focus Izalco Max Mechanical Frameset – £2,599
Focus Izalco Max Di2 Frameset – £2,599
Focus Izalco Max Disc Dura-Ace Di2 – £6,799
Focus Izalco Max Disc Red eTap – £5,999
Focus Izalco Max Disc Ultegra Di2 – £4,299
Focus Izalco Max Disc Di2 Frameset – £2,599
Focus Izalco Race AL 105 – £999
Focus Izalco Race AL Sora – £799
Moving into the endurance range and the Focus Paralane. It’s not only a long-distance road bike but is claimed to be equally at home on the rough stuff as well. It boasts the same approach to retaining comparable stiffness and ride quality across all sizes, just like the Izalco, so once again the carbon layup changes slightly as you move through the size range.
When you buy the Paralane, Focus supplies a set of bespoke mudguards, so it’s an ideal bike for traversing mucky roads quickly without getting mucky yourself. The builds hint towards its versatility too.
At the top of the range, a SRAM Red eTap bike rules the roost at £6,499, while if you want electronic shifting without the price tag, an Ultegra Di2 bike costs almost half of this at £3,499. There are also Ultegra and 105 bikes, costing £2,699 and £2,199 each.
To demonstrate the frame’s versatility, the black sheep of the range, a £2,999 ‘Factory’ spec bike, comes with a SRAM Apex 1x groupset. This means it’s arguably the perfect Focus bikeif you know you’ll spend most of your time on gravel, but want the flexibility to ride on the road without compromise, too.
An alloy Paralane frame props up the range, and features 7005 hydroformed tubing, while retaining premium features like R.A.T. thru-axle technology and internal cable routing. Those are available in two builds: Shimano 105 (£1,499) and Shimano Tiagra (£1,399).
Focus Paralane AL 105 – £1,499
Focus Paralane AL Tiagra – £1,399
The Mares is bred for one purpose only: to hit cyclo-cross race courses as fast as possible, in whatever state they may be in. It’s a racer and as such boasts a racy geometry, while the lightweight frame weighs a claimed 960g. Naturally, tyre clearance is optimised for 33c cyclo-cross rubber.
The range is topped by a SRAM Force 1x model for £3,199. There are also SRAM Rival 1x and Apex 1x bikes for £2,299 and £1,999 respectively to make up three of the five carbon bikes on offer. If you want to stick to a 2x drivetrain, you can have Shimano Ultegra for £2,599 or Shimano 105 for £2,149. A frameset will set you back £1,999 on its own.
There are also three aluminium models in the range, too. The 105 and Tiagra bikes offer a more cost-effective entry to the cyclo-cross race scene at £1,449 and £1,299 apiece, while there’s also a ‘Commuter’ model for £899. This comes fitted with mudguards and 35c tyres along with compatibility for a pannier rack and a robust Shimano Tiagra groupset – well-suited to those who want an everyday workhorse for the commute, as well as the option to get off the beaten track or race ‘cross.
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