Bike Test: Focus Izalco Max Disc (2016) RIDE71
When this bike was reviewed for our magazine, it was at a time when the uptake of disc brakes was really just beginning. A lot has changed since – and the Izalco Max remains a market leader.
First impressions mean a lot when you’re considering a new bike. Here is what Rob Arnold had to say after his first ride on the Izalco Max with discs…
“The first thing I’ll say is that I don’t remember stepping onto a bike and feeling so comfortable.
“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 ever done on a recent test bike.
“We keep talking about how disc brakes are going to help people during alpine descents and that’s absolutely true but for the first time, I started thinking, ‘These brakes 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.
“The shifting is SRAM and it takes a little bit of time to get used to… for some reason the double tap didn’t really work for me at the start of this short test ride. But, 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.”
Click the image above to read the review of the Focus Izalco Max Disc as it appeared in the magazine.
“I had the privilege of spending a substantial number of hours aboard an Izalco Max Team AG2R a couple of years ago1 and found it to be ‘a beautiful machine which will have you waking up every day with a sense of anticipation as you get ready to ride it’.
“I’m delighted to report that the Izalco Max Disc offers the same superb ride, a lightweight and responsive frameset which enables you to dispatch rises in the road with a few strokes on the pedals.
“This has a racing design and geometry – unlike many disc brake road bikes, the so-called ‘endurance’ machines – so it climbs beautifully, is stiff enough for some hefty sprint action and gives precise steering. It also provides an admirable degree of comfort, courtesy of a split-design Focus CPX Plus carbon seatpost. But when the time comes to rein in all that speed, you’ll have at your disposal SRAM’s Red hydraulic disc braking system.”
– Graham Springett
Build report in brief
Focus/SRAM has spec’ed the bike with a 160mm rotor on the front and 140mm on the rear. Obviously the belief is that a larger rotor on the front is necessary to disperse heat on the bike’s primary brake. A larger front disc also gives it more power as the pads are biting on what is effectively a longer lever. Motorcycles are the same.
A point of difference and possible look into the future is that Focus has opted to use thru-axles on the Izalco Disc. It created award-winning Rapid Axle Technology (R.A.T.) skewers for cyclocross in 2014 which have a small T-pin at the end of the axle that rotates 90 degrees to lock it into position.
The axle can be pre-adjusted to fit the frame’s width and therefore makes wheel changes comparatively quick. It feels very secure and is likely to be imitated should thru-axles become the accepted wheel fastening method for road bikes. Focus has opted for a fairly standard 15mm front axle and 12mm rear axle.
- Focus has done its best to make things easy when assembling this bike from scratch… the internal rubber sleeve for the rear brake was useful but the fact that the frame holes weren’t large enough to fit the brake hardware.
- External gear cables and a standard Aheadset ensure preparation was simple for the ‘standard’ elements of the test bike (if disc brakes are considered an anomaly).
- Inside and out, this Focus Izalco Max Disc is perfect.
- There was not a speck of carbon out of place or fleck of paint where it shouldn’t be. If the colour scheme was a little more adventurous it would have received perfect marks.
- SRAM Red with carbon wheels and a new braking system is enough to earn it near top marks. The lack of an electronic drivetrain was all that was stopping the Izalco from achieving a five-star rating.
- The gear cables are external but the brake hose runs through the bike which keeps things neat and tidy and reduces the chance of damaging the line.