New bikes are always exciting but when Focus announced an all new "all-road" bike we knew it was going to be a "game changer". Last week i managed to get my hands on a demo model, so we headed to deepest darkest West Sussex to check out what was to offer whilst testing a [new-to-me] 1x set up on the all new Focus Paralane...
Focus's "exciting new-road bike", promised to be a "true all-rounder with ground-breaking versatility". My first impressions were how clean looking everything is with no front mech and with everything colour matched into the satin-black-on-matt-black colour scheme - you'd be forgiven for thinking it was carbon. The best bits of the build for me were the hydraulic SRAM brakes and the integrated mudguards, which come as part of the package. This shows how much thought has been gone into the Paralane rather than with other companies who have merely adapted a cross bike to fill the gap - it really is a proper fun winter bike.
Focus has gone further still by revising their geometry with the Paralane compared to their race orientated models. The "endurance tube design" is a fancy way of saying that they've made it more stable, which aids confidence, which in turn makes you faster - this is a hard trick to pull. The difference of this geometry compared to their other racing models also made it easy to achieve my very short fit with a normal stem length, which was a massive plus for me personally, but also for the bike fitting I do at the shop - so many riders fall into this same fit and this is why it's so important for us to ride and test the bikes we sell.
Anyway, back to Partridge Green and in particular Stan's Bike Shack for second breakfast! We met up with a few guys from Kinesis UK and their mates and then rolled out towards Billinghurst, before stopping for coffee [and third breakfast - or maybe elevenses!] at Petworth. In the first couple of flat hours the thing I really noticed about the 1x set up was how quiet it was - the shift is almost clunky, albeit very positive, but the drivetrain is otherwise silent compared to a double. What shone out was how simple this system is, with one single lever that operates both up and down on the rear cassette - easy to use with cold hands and there are no worries about crossing my chain or getting stuck in the big ring on a steep climb.
For the second half of the ride we rode through Graffham Common where we were met with hills and small muddy lanes - lots of pot-holes, grime and even gravel. The Paralane simply took everything in its stride - comfy, stable and effective breaking gave a confident ride when the roads got a little sketchy and again the wider range of gears allowed me to spin quickly up a the hills bagging 2 QOM's on its first ride!
The following day I couldn't wait to go playing with the Paralane - we worked out a route with some off road sections and cobble paths before heading along some of our favourite lanes in east Sussex, which resulted in three more QOM titles! This just goes to show that a well thought out frame with mudguards, hydraulic brakes and 1x set up really does represent the future for Winter bikes that work. Whatever the roads threw at the Paralane it gave me back positive responsive feedback and this made me far more confident in the areas that I'd usually be fearful of.
Cheers to Bruce from Kinesis UK for leading our ride on Sunday, Glen (The Velo House) for setting the Focus Paralane up for me and to Olly for loaning it to me! Great riding with Bruce, Glen, Josh, Jo and Scott.
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Words by Pip Jenkins. Pip runs The Velo House Ladies rides and is one of our bike-fitters. She races on the road and TT for Southborough Wheelers.
Photos by Glen Whittington.