Focus Paralane Ultegra road bike

On-trend adventure-cum-endurance bike: a true all-rounder

While some brands have introduced disc brakes to existing models, others have developed specific bikes for use with rotors – and Focus are among them, with the Paralane endurance bike.

It makes sense, really, as the Paralane is a bike designed to be as at home on gravel and dirt roads, as it is on the black stuff, so the additional modulation and all-weather performance served up by discs is a real boon.

Hence, the Paralane is disc-only and pitched towards “long adventures on country roads” – over and above a simple endurance road bike. As a result, the frame is designed with clearance for 35c tyres, which is perfect for off-road excursions. You also get plenty of space for mudguards.

Naturally, compliance is right at the forefront of thinking too (every brand has a name for it, but Focus calls it ‘Comfort Improving Areas’ technology), so you’ll spot flattened and tapered seatstays as they reach the dropouts, which take the punch out of rutted terrain in the first instance through the rear triangle, while the narrow, flattened profile of the seat tube allows even greater flex under sudden load.

That’s topped by Focus’ own narrow seatpost, which takes a split-vane approach to dissipate road vibration through a kind of ‘mini fork’ at the attachment point with the saddle. The seatpost has a diameter of 25.4mm, following a trend for the super-skinny (and so extra-flexible) started by Cannondale on their Synapse endurance bike (it also now features on the SuperSix race bike, also in the RCUK 100.

RCUK 100 2017 - Focus Paralane road bike

Similar comfort-boosting thinking stretches along the toptube, which is widened and flattened, almost merging over the seattube junction to join up directly with the seatstays. The downtube also keeps a relatively narrow profile, but is truncated and flares at the bottom bracket for additional stiffness, with stepped-up chainstay bulk towards the centre point too for efficient power distribution.

You might be forgiven for thinking this is an out-and-out endurance bike with so much thought having gone into compliance, but there’s a real edge to the Paralane, and that’s helped by the geometry. It’s more relaxed than Focus’ Cayo and Izalco race bikes, with a longer wheelbase, taller stack and lower bottom bracket, but the chainstays remain compact at 415mm and the headtube/seattube angles are still fairly steep, to keep acceleration sharp and the handling quick. It’s a geometry which gives the Paralane a true all-round flavour.

As a result, you might be forgiven for thinking the Focus Paralane is a contradiction, but much like the BMC Roadmachine it’s actually a marriage of concepts to create the a genuine all-rounder from the ground up. A real one-bike solution to challenge the n+1 equation. Add in the fact the frame weighs just 907g and the Paralane, like the Cervelo C5 also in the RCUK 100, has few shortcomings.

RCUK 100 2017 - Focus Paralane road bike

Focus Paralane Ultegra

There are ten bikes in the Paralane range, including two women-specific versions and two versions featuring SRAM’s 1x system, which is perfect if gravel adventure riding is your main motivation.

Our pictured RCUK 100 bike features a full Shimano Ultegra compact groupset with a climb-taming 11-32t cassette and BR685 hydraulic disc stoppers. The reliable DT Swiss R23 wheels make use of Focus’ own R.A.T. thru-axle standard, which enables quick wheel changes, and are shod with superb Schwalbe One 28mm tyres for increased comfort and grip at lower pressures. Throw in quality finishing kit via Fizik’s Aliante saddle and it’s quickly apparent that there are no corners cut through the contact points either.

But what strikes us is the Focus is another example of a road bike that, although on paper a contradiction of terms, is one of an emerging breed of bikes that can genuinely hold a candle to more specialised machines in their own fields. Mark our words, this is a sign of things to come.

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Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

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