Focus Izalco Review
One of the first questions I almost always get from people while out on the road is “how’s the Focus?”. Our O2 Racing team has ridden the Focus Izalco for the past two seasons and it’s about time I answer this question properly.
The Izalco Team Replica is the model of bike we’re riding. The main differences with our bikes and the standard stock model is that we’re using the Zipp Firecrest wheels, Quarq powercranks, and 3T components. It’s probably a ~$10,000 AUD bike the way they’re built up. However, the first thing to put into perspective here is that if you swap the Zipp wheelset and the Quarqs for a nice pair of DT Swiss wheels and SRAM Force cranks, then you pretty much have the stock floor model. I was blown away to see that the bike sells in the shops for only ~$4500 AUD.
I have to be honest here, when I try to use words to describe the way this bike rides and feels, the first thing that comes to mind is “neutral”. It’s definitely comfortable and not over-the-top stiff. It’s not extremely responsive or twitchy like some other bikes I’ve ridden, but nowhere close to being sluggish. It’s simply a good solid bike that I have no problems racing or riding for 5-6hrs at a time. For the price, it’s one of the best bikes I’ve experienced.
When I try to quantify the characteristics of this bike, keep in mind there is a massive price difference between the Izalco some of the bikes that have blown me away (the Parlee Z5 is one of them). Also, simply add a different set of wheels and the characteristics can change completely.
This bike comes stock with SRAM Force. I was an early adopter of Force since the day it was released back in 2006 and I’ve been a big fan of it ever since. I’ve used SRAM Red before and there’s definitely a small difference in the responsiveness of the shifting as well as weight, but personally I couldn’t justify the difference in price. Force is more than good enough for me.
I think some people are too pre-occupied with weight these days and figure that if it’s not 6.8kg’s then it’s not a light bike. While a light bike is certainly nice, it does not necessarily translate into a good handling, comfortable bike or fast bike. I wouldn’t turn away a feather-light bike if it was comfortable and handled nicely, but I don’t think it should be the one and only determining factor.
The Izalco Team Replica frame itself weighs just under 1kg and the fork weighs ~300g.
The stock standard Izalco Team Replica with FSA components, SRAM Force, Fizik saddle and DT Swiss wheels comes out at 7.7kg.
The way my bike is built up (XL with the Zipp Firecrests and Quarq cranks) weighs 7.4kgs (including pedals).
– Internal cabling to keep the bike looking clean
– BB30 (oversized bottom bracket which substantially increases stiffness and reduces weight)
– wide tyre clearance (this is a claimed benefit by Focus. I have yet to encounter a problem by not having enough tyre clearance)
– lots of choices within the Izalco range to suit your budget and preferences in style
I love the lines and shapes of the tubing throughout this bike. The simple paintjob with low-key glossy pearl white and matte black looks really slick and is easy to keep clean. You gotta admit, it looks fast!
Difference Between Izalco Lines
The Izalco comes in a few different ranges:
IZALCO Team Katusha
IZALCO Team 1.0
IZALCO Team 2.0
IZALCO Pro 1.0
IZALCO Pro 2.0
IZALCO Team Replica
The top of the range model is the Izalco Team. This is the frame that Katusha rides. The only difference I can see between the various “Team” models are the groupsets, wheels and color schemes. The frame is also different than the Pro range with more internal cabling and
made from a higher carbon weave which translates into slightly less weight (savings of about 100g) and slightly different compliance.
The next tier down is the “Pro” range. The major difference here is that the Pro frames have a slightly different internal cable routing design (no internal routing inside the chainstay to the rear derailleur). The models within the Pro range are simply a different groupset and wheel choice to suit your budget.
Ask a disgruntled mechanic his opinion and he’ll usually give it to you straight up. I’ve spoken candidly with mechanics who work on these bikes regularly asking about their complaints on design and maintenance. Fortunately no one I’ve spoken with can fault it in any way. The internal cable routing design can be a major hassle with some brands, but there are no complaints with the Izalco.
5 year manufacturer’s warranty on the frame.
What I Would Change
One pedantic thing I would change on my particular bike (and I’m really reaching here) is the cable to the derailleur being attached externally on the chainstay. I’m nuts about keeping my bike clean and with the chainstay being white it’s difficult to get perfectly clean. No big deal that I can’t live with.
Would I buy it with my own money?
Definitely. These are the second batch of Izalcos we’ve purchased and I wouldn’t be spending all this time writing this if I didn’t like the two I’ve ridden.
Bikes@Brighton has been servicing O2 Racing’s bikes for the past 6 months now and they’ve been nothing but good to us. Ask for my mate David. He’s a top bloke and he’ll make sure you’re looked after.
If the Melbourne CBD is more convenient, BSC Bikes also carries Focus. Ask for Will.