Bike Test: Focus Paralane

The Focus Paralane is of two worlds

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Never mind that Focus doesn’t sponsor a team racing in the Tour de France. This is another German brand that has shown itself to be quick on the draw by producing exciting models for every known segment of cycling. Founded by former pro racer Mike Kluge, the brand’s DNA is infused with performance-oriented intent.

THE FRAME

It’s obvious from looking at the Paralane that Focus put some real time and energy into the frame’s design. In short, from the angled edges of the head tube to the flattened seat tube, shapely chainstays and top tube, there’s not a single tube that can be described as round.

The frame is available in six sizes. In addition to the hidden fender mounts, also has a removable seatstay bridge to mount the rear fender. Cable routing is all internal. The 99.6cm wheelbase was in the just-right range. It was not too short like an aggressive race bike but not too long like a touring bike.

THE PARTS

The Paralane has an interesting parts spec that’s topped off with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain with a 50-34 compact crank mated to a wide-ratio 11-34 cassette.

In addition to the undersized 25.4mm seatpost, the shapely chainstays help provide a compliant ride.

The aluminum Mavic Ksyrium Disc wheels are kept tight with Focus’ own locking RAT (Rapid Axle Technology) thru-axles. They’re slowed by an Ultegra hydraulic disc brake combo with front and rear 160mm rotors.

The Pro Logo Kappa saddle sat atop a swoopy 25.4mm BBB carbon post that had a big ol’ window in the head that brought some extra style points.

THE RIDE

The Paralane’s ride proved to be a bit of a paradox. The short wheelbase ensured some quick, snappy handling traits, giving the bike a racy feel, but the tallish 16.5cm head tube and wide-ratio gearing hampered those test riders with an inkling for more all-out performance.

In a less fast-paced world, the Focus delivered a fast-enough ride for cyclists who were happy to spend less time in a group ride and more time looking for adventure. Although shapely tubes in and of themselves don’t always impact ride quality, they sure seemed to with the Focus. The Paralane easily qualifies as an all-day-comfortable bike.

The fenders were a nice addition. Unfortunately, neither stayed on for long.

While the bike itself delivered a consistent and fast ride, our time with the Focus was marred with some niggling component issues that took away from the overall experience.

We liked the Mavic hoops, but had problems with the rear hub internals that would push the cassette forward and bind the chain nearly every time we’d stop pedaling. It wasn’t as bad when we would spin down slowly, but with sudden stops, it would be a problem no matter what gear we were in.

Although the fenders were a cool addition, unfortunately they proved more problematic than useful. The rear fender continually bottomed out on the tire over rough tarmac.  Eventually, the noise became too annoying to keep using it. The front fender had no such issue; it’s just that the nut that secured it wouldn’t stay tight. When it loosened on the first group ride, we figured in our rush to build it we must’ve not tightened it. We rode it home, stopping every few minutes to take the wheel off and hand-tighten it (since the nut threads onto a fix stud). Unfortunately, during our second group ride, it came loose again, and lacking any Loctite at the moment, the fender was left on the side of the road.

THE VERDICT

Bright and full of style, despite losing a few points for the tech issues, the Paralane brings an interesting mix of performance and comfort that definitely has a place in this age of broadened riding styles.

Focus makes the Paralane available at four different price points. They starts at $2599 (Shimano 105) and top out at $7999 (SRAM eTap).

PUNCH LINES

  • Solid, all-around package
  • Unique frame details
  • Fenders need improvement

STATS

Price: $5499

Weight: 18 pounds

Sizes: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL

www.focus-bikes.com

THE GEAR

Helmet: Oakley ARO5   

Jersey: Pedaled Heiko   

Bib: Pedaled Heiko      

Shoes: Sidi Kaos  

Socks: Pedaled Heiko 

Glasses: Shimano S-Phyre R 

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