The German Focus brand is far from a household name in the United States. But with new products, a growing range of models, and now a U.S. sales office, the brand hopes to make an impression on this side of the pond.
In their effort to gain recognition, Focus is off to a good start as the official bicycle sponsor of Team Milram. The German brand is (rightly) very proud of the fact that the Milram team is registered in Germany, populated with 17 German pros, and uses a range of German products, including the Focus Izalco bicycle, Lightweight wheels, and Continental tires.
Only a year into the relationship with Team Milram, Focus is already looking ahead and using the riders to R&D future models. We caught up with product manager Jorg Arenz to see the new Focus that the team will pilot into the future.
The 2010 Focus Izalco
For 2010, the Milram team’s Izalco model gets a few revisions to make it even lighter and stiffer than it is now. Input from team riders was critical in fine-tuning the ride characteristics and main features on the updated frameset.
For starters, the Izalco gets a tapered steerer fork and headset. Rather than going with the growing industry trend of 1 1/8th to 1.5-inches, FOCUS chose a 1 1/4-inch lower bearing. “I like more the traditional style,” said Arenz. He said that even this incremental increase in lower bearing diameter yielded a 10 percent increase in front-end stiffness. The 3T Funda Pro fork is exclusive to Focus in the tapered steerer version.
Next, the company looked at the down tube, and added internal cable routing. But rather than simply drilling entry and exit points for shifter cables, FOCUS incorporated fully enclosed “cable tunnels” along both sides of the down tube.
Called “Reinforcing Integrated Cable Tunnels,” they enclose the cables from the housing stops at the head tube to housing stops behind the bottom bracket. Visible externally, they purport to not only offer smooth, clean cable routing, but add lateral down tube stiffness as well.
Product manager Arenz explained that external cable routing can save 50-60 grams from a frame’s weight, but he feels that the slight weight penalty of Izalco’s internal routing is significantly overcome by the added stiffness and ride quality of the integrated cable tunnels.
Other aspects of the bike are relatively standard on high-end carbon frames designed from racing heritage. A fat BB30 bottom bracket keeps it stiff, while very slender and flattened seatstays bring a measure of ride comfort. The rear dropouts connect chain and seat stays in a smooth arc.
And for versatility on European roads, the frame is built with clearance for 25mm tires. “It’s a key point for the market and the consumer,” said Arenz. “For most riders, and clincher tires, more clearance is better.”
The new Izalco will be available in four colors, eight sizes and a range of component spec options, including Dura-Ace, Ultegra, Chorus, and others. Further, the frame will come in two levels, “A” and “B.” The “A” level Izalco uses Toray high modulus carbon fiber to achieve a frame weight of about 990 grams in painted size 58cm. The “B” level will be identical in form and finish, but less costly and about 160 grams heavier, by virtue of using less high-grade material. “B” level bikes will be available with second tier component groups like Ultegra and Chorus.