A policy of offering good quality products at very competitive prices has propelled Wiggle’s Focus bike brand to a very popular position in the UK. Their ‘cross bike range typifies this corporate philosophy and starts with their cheapest model, the Focus Mares. The words ‘German Lightweight Engineering’ are proudly emblazoned across the top tube along with a dash of world championship stripes –Focus bikes have been ridden to cyclo-cross championship success.
This battle-cry could not be better conveyed than when examining the Mares’ frame construction. The 6061 aluminium alloy tubes are neatly welded, with gusseting to reinforce the joint between the head and down tubes, and there’s a stack of mud clearance front and rear. Coupled with a solid-looking seat tube and beefy stays, Focus have somehow creating cycling’s answer to the Tiger tank. [Hope it is a bit lighter – ed.]
The analogy is meant as a compliment. It might seem that the frame appears a little agricultural in construction, but with the addition of a carbon fork and striking colour scheme the whole bike looks incredibly good value for the money.
The use of Shimano 105 components and FSA equipment along with Concept SL 2800 wheels further enhances this view. Focus have even supplied the bike with a reasonable cross tyre in the form of Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph. As with some other manufacturers, Focus have fitted V-brakes, in this case Tektro, to their bikes instead of traditional cantilevers for the 2009 season. This addition probably aims to gives the bike a dual purpose appeal to the commuter and weekend ‘cross racer and would also explain the FSA Gossamer Pro chainset with 50/34 rings. This last item, or more specifically the chainring choice, detracts from what otherwise is a great value for money ‘cross bike.
Unfortunately we made the mistake of thinking that the letters XL that appear on the seat tube meant just that, Xtra Large. In fact, the frame is around 57cm, too small for the tester who at 6’2″ would need the XXL, So a full-on race test will have to wait.