Focus Paralane 105
With the Paralane, Focus has created a disc-brake road bike for all seasons, all conditions, and for a variety of riding styles. While that description might make it sound like a bike good at several things but not great at any one thing, you’d be wrong. It’s great at being a go-to bike when your route will take in myriad surfaces or conditions. (Or when you’re not sure what your route will entail.) Just as great, this bike would be near the top of our list if you could afford only one.
The Paralane’s versatility comes from both its geometry and its build. First, the endurance-oriented geometry offers handling that is refined and uncomplicated—that directness will have you hitting the apex of tight switchbacks just as well as it has you carving into bends on your favorite dirt roads. In a word, the handling is balanced—you’ll find yourself flicking over cracks, hopping potholes, and hitting dirt and tarmac with equal abandon
The stiff and relatively light frame makes for a very solid climbing platform, as well. What holds it back in this regard is the middle-of-the-road wheelset, which is on the heavy side. The 50/34T rings and 11-32T cassette also play to the bike’s strengths, offering adventurous gearing for those who like to tread off the beaten path or take the odd shortcut home. Finally, the frame is mated to a longer fork with a lower bottom bracket to keep the bike from looking too tall or sporting a garishly large head tube.
Slender seat and chain stays function as they should, making for a compliant, comfortable ride, particularly when mated to larger volume tires. The bike can accommodate up to 35mm rubber. (The bike comes stock with Continental’s Ultra Sport II 28mm.) The seat tube is also deeply flattened near the bottom bracket shell, offering up more means for comfort through leaf-spring-like flex. Finally, the 25.4-millimeter CPX seat post puts the finishing touch on one of the more comfortable bikes we’ve ridden.
The build on the bike further hints at its capabilities. The aforementioned tire allowance means you could further bolster comfort. More importantly, increasing tire size would allow you to ride rougher, sketchier terrain even more safely and effectively.
Focus ships the bike with full length, metal fenders, giving you improved protection during the less pleasant months.
Finally, Focus’s RAT Evo thru-axle system (142x12mm rear, 100×12 front) is hard to beat: more convenient than other thru-axle designs for which you need an Allen key, and far stiffer than any quick release.
The bike’s component spec (BBB Deluxe aluminum stem and bar; Shimano 105 drivetrain and disc brakes; Shimano RS170 wheelset; Prologo Kappa 3 saddle) is a sensible mix of the trustworthy, though none are particularly flashy.
If you’re looking for a bike that can handle everything from gran fondos to weekend excursions into parts unknown, this is a bike for you. If you can only afford one bike, the Paralane should be at the top of your list, both because it rides so well and because it can do so many things at such a respectable level.
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