A while back, a sleek Focus Izalco Extreme rolled into the RCUK office to replace the Trek Madone 6.9 which I had previously been riding, and not a bad replacement it has turned out to be.
I’ve ridden a few Focus models since online retailer wiggle started importing them from Germany a couple of years ago, and they’ve always impressed. Mostly because they offered darn good value for money, but themost recent Izalco proved just a little too stiff for my likings. Fine if you only ride on the smoothest Tarmac in the world, but that isn’t something the South East is blessed with.
So it was satisfying, reading about the new Izalco, to find that, following lots of feedback from the first year of supplying bikes for the Milram team, the significant changes have been both to increase stiffness but also improve comfort.
The result is a slender top tube, perhaps one of the most elegant I’ve seen on any bicycle frame thus far, with skinny Cervelo-esque seat stays, and a 27.2mm seat post. These changes offer an astounding improvement, with all-day comfort, tested in gruelling events such as the Dartmoor Classic and crit races around London, massively up on the old frame.
The eye-watering stiffness is still there however. A huge downtube with an enormous bottom bracket and slab sided chainstays all ensure the bike only projects forward once pressure is applied on the pedals, with no vagueness or softness detectable when pushing the pace up.
Straight out of the box (which is huge, the bike literally rolls out) the Focus has been fit for racing and long rides, with no changes required. I’m considering trying a slightly longer stem but that’s purely to reach the desired fit. I’ve never found Dura-Ace brakes on a number of test bikes to be any good, and here the TRP calipers were a considerable improvement, offering reliable and solid braking in all conditions. Only the rear Zipp wheel is showing an alarming degree of play in the hub bearings after some 600km of riding, so that’s something I need to investigate.
Above all, I’ve been really impressed with the Izalco Extreme so far. When people ask me how it rides, I happily rate it in the same league as such bikes as the Trek Madone 6.9 and Cervelo R3, so significant are the improvements Focus have made to this frame.
Focus Izalco Extreme Dura-Ace – three sizes: 54cm, 56cm, 58cm £3374.99; Di2 equipped £3599