Bike test 04: RIDE 71 – Focus
The fourth bike on test in #RIDE71 is from Focus. The Izalco Max has been reviewed before but this time it’s the disc brake iteration… and the differences are significant. It is still light (with an 808g frame) but the different braking mechanism requires changes to the design of the frame which we believe actually enhance the ride characteristics. Longer rear stays and thru-axle technology are the main differences but it would be remiss to simply plonk disc brakes onto a frame that has been designed for traditional calipers.
Reviewed by Graham Springett, the Focus Izalco Max Disc left quite an impression…
“The Focus Izalco Max Disc is an excellent machine, meeting any demands anybody could possibly make of a modern carbon roadie: light, stiff, responsive, comfortable. Buy one and you will have one heck of a fun time,” concludes Springett. “What makes it all the more remarkable is that it manages to integrate a new and impressive braking system without any compromise whatsoever.”
Built with SRAM Red, the retail price of the Izalco Max Disc in Australia is $8,999.
Read more about this most intriguing 6.7kg bike, see p.202 of #RIDE71.
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Click the photo below to begin the slideshow of 31 close-up images of the Focus.
Click the Soundcloud file to listen to what Rob Arnold had to say about the Focus and/or read the transcript below…
[Note: there is a fair bit of wind noise in the voice file. Sorry about this.]
“I’m just catching my breath after a pretty good half hour hit-out on the Izalco Max from Focus. It’s a lovely bike with disc brakes from SRAM. The first thing I’ll say is I don’t remember stepping onto a bike and feeling immediately comfortable. The bars are wider than I’d like, they’re 44s which seems odd for a 52cm frame, you’d want to bring them in at least two centimetres, but I got used to them really quickly.
“The frame absolutely suited me. This is the right size and it took only 10 minutes before I was leaning into corners more than I’ve every done on a recent test bike. I think the Lapierre [Aircode 900] was the last one that I was really throwing around as much as this. And then once I started doing that I really started to push the limits and I was pretty impressed.
“We keep talking about how disc brakes are going to help people who have got long alpine descents and that’s absolutely true but for the first time on the road today – of a test bike with disc brakes – I started thinking, ‘These are first-class for crits as well.’
“I was holding off braking going into corners as long as I could and then just ripping them on and I felt in command.
“It is very stable through turns – that’s the message I’m trying to portray here.
“Out of saddle, coming up a steep climb like the driveway at the finish here, it does have a bit of rear wheel skip so I needed to adjust my position a little bit because in a light gear, it was pretty easy for the back wheel to jump around a bit. Some bike just do that and I can’t explain why this one prompts you forward a bit more than others but it does.
“I think this is a fabulous looking bike, there’s actually very little I would change.
“Disc braked bikes tend to be a little bit heavier just because of the mechanism they’ve got to carry but this one feels very light and rides very light.
“There’s a lot to like about it.
“The shifting is SRAM and when you go through the range of gears like we do with the test bikes it takes a little bit of time to get used to and for some reason the double-tap didn’t really work for me this time around, only because I’ve been on some Shimano bikes of late and I must be getting used to that mechanism. By the end of the half hour I knew what I was doing and it was really natural.
“I do think that SRAM looks great and it functions well, you just need a little bit of time to adapt to it.
“There’s a lot to like about this bike. I’m really curious to see what Graham has to say about it. He was on the Izalco Max that we had on test before so it’s going to be interesting to see what he has to say when he compares it with the disc brake version.
“There are differences; obviously they relate to stopping and this one, with the big hoods is a pleasure to ride.
“The hoods are worth referencing because they are necessary for the disc brakes so there’s a little bit more bulk to them. You get used to them very quickly and you find yourself in interesting riding positions.
“I found a lot more control with the front going down the steep start of the ride on the driveway that I often reference in the discussions insofar that I was filming with the GoPro, braking with my right hand front – which is contrary to how I normally ride – and the modulation was such that I could stop exactly where I wanted and when I wanted.
“You can tell that the disc brake cynic in me is fading fast.
“Fantastic ride Focus, thanks.”