A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to ride a Focus Izalco Team SL road bike in the first race of the Triathlon QLD series. Chris from Chaingang Performance Bikes was kind enough to lend me his to take on the hilly and adventurous 5 lap - 40k course as I decided the TT bike might be like dragging the Titanic around a speed boat racing circuit. Very happy with that decision as the Focus rode like a rocket the whole way! With Campagnolo electronic shifting and a whizzing pair of Enve 6.7 tubular wheels it was a thoroughbred of a machine to ride.
The impact of this bike was quite exceptional from the start - visually it has clean lines with smart green-accents that draw your eye from front to back along the frame. This alone makes the bike appear fast even when it is sitting still. With the Enve wheels as well I couldn't help but wonder if the engine (i.e. me) would be enough to do it justice.
The small details continued to remind me that this is no ordinary bike. From the near flawless shifting of gears (I had to visually look at the rear cassette a few times to check that it had actually moved), the feather-light frame and the incredible stiffness that sent power from foot-to-pedal-to-road to "far out I am flying up this hill!" in an instant. With that in mind it is still a comfortable ride despite being a stiffer frame - the day before the race it took me on a 100k spin with no complaints.
While you may think that a 40k ride slotted in between a 10k and 5k run (with over 5 laps of riding and 491m of climbing) does not sound like fun, you'd be wrong. I was like a kid in a candy store drilling this bike up the climbs, zipping down the descents and around corners trying to embrace my inner Jens Voigt (as safely as I could with a course full of other riders), and pushing it along the flats. Make no mistake - this bike is fast.
* fast and smooth shifting, very lightweight, great handling
* ruined my current road bike - it's just not the same
The guys at Chaingang Performance Bikes have been a great support for me over the years. While they have been stocking the Focus bikes range for a few months now, I will admit that I had not really given them much thought. However, this experience has changed my mind. After trying Chris' bike I started to do some research on Focus and have been impressed with what I have read. So much so that I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new Izalco Chrono Max Time Trial bike which recently won the Eurobike Award in the Time Trial bike category!
Disclaimer: I understand that some may wish to take this review with a grain of salt given that Chaingang Performance Bikes have been a loyal supporter of mine for the past few years. I completely support that view (and really believe any review of products should be read with a healthy degree of skepticism) and can only suggest that there is no harm in trying out a Focus bike (especially the ones mentioned above) to see for yourself.