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  • Focus may have just made the perfect commuter/gravel/tourer bargain
  • Premier Icon n0b0dy0ftheg0at
    Free Member

    “Road boost” for 700×47 tyres and chainstays that are only 10mm longer than my road bike… Run away!

    Premier Icon convert
    Full Member

    here’s definitely a target market allright, one that’s largely been created to generate profit.

    I’d say there is a huge target market for this – or there should be. It is the very bike most should be looking to buy through C2W……. for actually cycling to work. I know, craaazy concept. There should possibly be a change to the C2W scheme that means only properly utilitarian bikes like this get on the list and not a tax avoidance scheme for gnar sleds toys.

    A whole cycle to work solution in one box so a non geek commuter cyclist who does not get a hard on over choosing the exact choice of rack or mudguard can buy a bike that just works out of the box. What’s not to love even if prices of new bikes makes me feel old.

    Edit – geometry chart looks a bit funky though – maybe an error slipped in there. ETT look long and reach looks short but the HA and SA are very conventional. What gives?

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
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    It’s not really sniping, it’s just folks pointing stuff out that either doesn’t suit them or is available better elsewhere, no bike is gonna unite everyone is it?.

    That’s fine, I’d settle for “I don’t like it”, it’s the “this is substandard because of X”, when X is a fallacy that grates.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    A Surly Disc Trucker costs less? Not a full build, and I betbthis is lighter.

    £1390 from Spa Cycles. Add in mudguards and a dynamo wheelset (phone for bargains) and you’re right there.

    https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m1b0s225p3814/SURLY-Disc-Trucker-Custom-9spd-Bar-End-Shifters

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
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    You can probably scrape guards, rack, hub for the £260 and then you only have to hope that you fit one of the few sizes they have left and are happy with a jumble of 9 speed parts.

    Premier Icon slowoldman
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    Mechanical discs, bar end shifters.

    Premier Icon milfordvet
    Free Member

    Spa’s Wayfarer is better in every regard.

    More gears, close ratio gears and better chainline (and customisable chainset rings), standard hubs 100/135 (easy for shimano dynamo), stronger better engineered rack, strong home servceable hubs, easily replaced cheap transmission parts and a superb steel Reynolds 725 frame in metallic paint (short or long frames depending on bar preference). Standard bike is just over a grand. That’s a real commuter for people who don’t do *ullshit and do commute, carry a load or do a bit of gravel with exactly the right components for the job (I don’t have one just saying).

    Premier Icon hopkinsgm
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    I’ll stick with my Genesis Tour de Fer thanks.

    As an aside though, nice to see a few more of these fully kitted bikes becoming available – it’s surprising how much a set of mudguards, pannier racks and dynamo lighting can add. Not to mention how much hassle running the cables to a rear dynamo light can be.

    Premier Icon chestrockwell
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    Like the look of the top two models. No bargain though that’s for sure!

    Premier Icon jam-bo
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    strange.

    STW consensus seems to be it’s shit geometry and terrible value for money.

    all the professional reviewers seem to praise the geometry/handling and consider it great value for money.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    I think it’s a good example of the all round all-road sort of bike that stops well short of world touring.
    Problem for brands making bikes like this is that a good wide-ranging bike invites comparison with a wider range of bike types at the same time as getting criticised at some point for not equalling all of those bikes in every component or design area.

    I’d always agree with those saying a bike like this needs smaller chainrings – try talking to Shimano on anything like that. ‘Gravel’ parts from them have been requested by product managers for a decade plus. Maybe by 2023 they’ll have a good 26-40 ish chainset for OE use …cue the ‘who needs doubles + FDs’ comments 🙂

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    Yeah, with a change of gearing I’d go for one of those (if I didn’t already have something similar). Seems a bit weird to be comparing a big brand like Focus to the likes of Spa.

    Premier Icon swanny853
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    Snarky comments about boost aside, I like it. Spec to me looks neither outstanding nor poor. The only real fly in the ointment is the 10s which iirc uses a different cable pull to older shimano 10s?
    Jameso- I ended up using a 40/28 double on my roadrat for lighter (camping) touring and with a mtb cassette it’s mostly ok. Could do with a bit more off the bottom so a 40/26 sounds pretty good to me.

    Boost makes some sense to me on a bike that you’d rather be able to use mountain bike wheels on so I suppose there’s some logic there.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    STW consensus seems to be it’s shit geometry and terrible value for money.

    all the professional reviewers seem to praise the geometry/handling and consider it great value for money.

    And which group are most likely to be ‘influenced’ by Focus?

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    I don’t think it’s a bad product, the non-commuter/touring spec version lacks the guards/rack/dynamo and lights. I think you’d struggle to add those extra parts aftermarket for the equivalent of ~200EUR. It’s a well thought out spec option that recognises the way this sort of bike often gets used.

    I can see me buying a bike like this in a few years, I’m currently one of those on trend suckers with a Disc braked Gravel bike, I also have a “Winter road/year round Commuter” with dynamohub/lighting, guards and a load lugging solution. that Focus would cover both bases in one bike, I’d just need ot be motivated to rationalise the two into one.
    I’d maybe prefer 1x but that’s just nit-picking…

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
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    Spa’s Wayfarer is better in every regard.

    Except the Wayfarer is almost 2kg heavier (14.6kg vs. 12.8kg stated weights), has significantly lower quality spec (Sora vs. GRX600400?), cable discs vs. hydraulics, 20mm higher BB (why?) etc. etc.

    The frame is built from ovalised Reynolds 725 to give the stiffness needed for heavy load carrying with the compliance needed for long days in the saddle

    This scares me also, I had a Salsa Vaya which by all accounts wasn’t even a particularly heavy duty tourer, and it rode horrible (well, not horrible, just not very nice) when unloaded, felt like you were slamming in to every bump instead of skimming over the top.

    Is it just me or does ‘Gravel’ attract an especially high volume of these sort of comparisons e.g. with much more old school type bikes? Does it really grate so much that an existing style of riding has been re-branded and ‘trendier’ looking bikes developed for the purpose? Because frankly I prefer the looks of the Focus as well…

    (edit: I agree on the gearing though, whether it’s a triple or just a double with lower gearing than 30×34 which I presume is what is fitted to the Focus).

    Edit: my bad, it’s GRX400 not 600, so Tiagra-ish level I guess.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    Jameso- I ended up using a 40/28 double on my roadrat for lighter (camping) touring and with a mtb cassette it’s mostly ok.

    Same here, MTB 2×10 on my gravel/tour/allroad bike. More useable range than GRX imo. 650B tyres help that gearing feel low enough.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
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    Does it really grate so much that an existing style of riding has been re-branded and ‘trendier’ looking bikes developed for the purpose?

    See tweed and flat caps etc. It’s not that it’s an old thing polished up to look new, it’s that the people who were previously invested in it were by and large grumpy old men too curmudgeonly to be cast in last of the summer whine who’s thing – which they largely liked because other people didn’t – is now being taken over by all show and no substance youngsters who don’t see the benefit of 50 year old tech, think steel is outdated, would rather spend 5k on a thing that works than 500 on the same thing in bits they have to make work and don’t even remember rationing.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Is it just me or does ‘Gravel’ attract an especially high volume of these sort of comparisons e.g. with much more old school type bikes?

    Probably, as the format goes back to the post-war touring boom or earlier? And most of us get a bit more fixed in our ways as we age. Helps when people are able to separate technical from aesthetic considerations though.

    I love the classic tourer aesthetic (Japanese in partic), practically I’m more likely to go with function first. Function can come from many eras. Sometimes there’s no reason to move on from what was already known to work in the what, 60s-70s? Hardly an area that needs modern engineering over what was available then. Why we’d think the lessons of one era don’t apply to the other in general, I don’t know. Some modern stuff rates as pretty stupid after some use compared to what’s been and gone, to me. But then we have some brilliant new/recent gear too. …OT

    Edit. The classical and the romantic. Where it meets is ‘quality’?

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    Is it just me or does ‘Gravel’ attract an especially high volume of these sort of comparisons e.g. with much more old school type bikes? Does it really grate so much that an existing style of riding has been re-branded and ‘trendier’ looking bikes developed for the purpose? Because frankly I prefer the looks of the Focus as well…

    Hiya! 🙂

    I see it a bit differently.

    A few years ago the road bike market was dominated by bikes that looked like racing bikes but weren’t.

    Now it appears to be dominated by bikes that look like touring bikes but aren’t.

    What they are though is excellent all rounders, a type of bike that everyone needs but nobody really wants.

    …because other people didn’t is now being taken over by all show and no substance youngsters who don’t see the benefit of 50 year old tech, think steel is outdated, would rather spend 5k on a thing that works than 500 on the same thing in bits they have to make work and don’t even remember rationing.

    🙂

    Not really.
    I love the new style of backpacking bikes, they are amazing things.

    Steel vs alloy is a red herring. The manufacturers will make a bike from whatever is cheaper to build – right now, that’s alloy.

    And a decent tourer hasn’t cost £500 for many years – a decent Hewitt or Jackson off the peg tourer was always as much as a very nice MTB.

    However, us old farts were right about some things – a double or triple is far nicer for touring than a 1*.
    Cable discs imho are the perfect touring brake.
    I can see the advantages and disadvantages to through axles – yes from an engineering point of view, no from a parts availablity perspective.
    And bar end levers are a genuine alternative, not least because they are versatile, repairable and simple.

    I like the Focus btw, but I’d tather have a Spa Wayfarer.
    I rode one of the prototypes they were selling off cheap and it was a genuinely superb bit of kit. One of the nicest riding and handling bikes I’ve ever tried.
    Bit boring to look at though. 🙂

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    And a decent tourer hasn’t cost £500 for many years – a decent Hewitt or Jackson off the peg tourer was always as much as a very nice MTB.

    If you’ve bought your tourer since we went decimal you’re an all show and no substance youngster. If you needed more proof you’ve not mentioned Sturmey once (and probably didn’t go glassy eyed and hear the stirring of a colliery band as you read that).

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    ..bikes that look like touring bikes but aren’t.

    Have the bikes changed in suitability for touring or has touring (in general/popular perception) changed in format/duration/loads used?

    The Focus and others seem to me to be the 50s bike re-issued. A clubman/road bike most of the time, a weekend/week-long lightweight tourer when the time is available.

    Trad touring with 4 panniers and a bar bag is still there but it’s a niche market but less through participation, more through how a good tourer will last 10-20 years so churn is low (I love that – more of that please despite my job being what it is). Still, many who would have trad toured for a week are ‘bikepacking’ now. I won’t get onto suitability/sense of how that all works out, all I’ll say is bikepacking’s fine if you can manage the minimalism. If not, go trad.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    The Focus and others seem to me to be the 50s bike re-issued.

    And much improved, I’d say. Nothing wrong with that.

    all I’ll say is bikepacking’s fine if you can manage the minimalism. If not, go trad.

    Mm yes but touring with all that luggage doesn’t lend itself well to off-road, IMO, at least not in the UK. Whereas the style known as “bikepacking” is much more suited.

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    Have the bikes changed in suitability for touring or has touring (in general/popular format) changed in format/duration/loads used?

    Not that much?
    You still need a bike that isn’t going to be compromised by luggage or terrain, whatever that might be.
    So, a nice spread of low gears, a longer wheelbase and a frame that will be strong enough to maintain safe handling under load.

    Pre bikepacking (a term I quite like, btw 🙂) I tried using a steel Rockhopper for offroad camping trips.
    It was awful compared to a proper tourer or first gen longer, stronger mtb.
    Noodly and light at the front with any kind of rear load. But it was all I had and I loved it.

    The Focus and others seem to me to be the 50s bike re-issued. A clubman/road bike most of the time, a weekend/week-long lightweight tourer when the time is available.

    I completely agree.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
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    Doesn’t ‘trad’ touring mainly lend itself to those with enough time to ride routes that actually warrant all that luggage? e.g. retirees? 😉

    Probably explains all the grumpiness 🤣

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Pre bikepacking (a term I quite like, btw 🙂)

    I went on an off-road camping/MTB trip for 6 days in college circa 1993. We put our gear in rucksacks and rode our entry-level early 90s MTBs. We called it bikepacking, because backpacking was the name for doing it on foot. I doubt we were the first to coin that phrase either.

    Bikes were fine too cos we were wearing rucksacks. To be honest I’d be pretty tempted to use one again on such a trip. That way, I don’t need a specialist bike 🙂

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Published 1982

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    But the biketouring-gravelcrosser wouldn’t be the specialist bike. 🙂

    Mm yes but touring with all that luggage doesn’t lend itself well to off-road, IMO, at least not in the UK. 

    Perfect for doing the shopping and carrying the grandkids about though. 🙃

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    That looks like great book btw!

    Premier Icon jameso
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    Doesn’t ‘trad’ touring mainly lend itself to those with enough time to ride routes that actually warrant all that luggage? e.g. retirees? 😉

    Probably explains all the grumpiness 🤣

    Think there’s plenty of people wiser and younger than myself riding across continents ‘trad touring’.

    Retirees are all touring the Rhine valley on e-bikes from what I’ve seen ..all zipping past me on my trendy gravel bikepacker with 5kg kit..

    Premier Icon RustySpanner
    Full Member

    🙂
    Last time we were riding in France it was all Brits of a certain age riding Spesh hybrids.

    In all honesty, for the type of riding we do now I could really get away with a less capable bike than the Disc Trucker.
    Buuuuut, I always fancied a ‘proper’ tourer and it’s massively exceeded my expectations.
    It does pretty much everything brilliantly apart from go fast up hill.

    It was good value too, a custom build from Spa.

    My neice tours on a Surly 1*1. Her fella
    rides an ECR. Everywhere. Ah, to be young again…..

    As soon as this crap is over we’re off to northern Poland.
    Can’t wait. 😀

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
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    Published 1978

    Used copies on amazon for about a fiver

    Premier Icon ampthill
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    The aluminium frame won’t be compliant unlike a steel one

    Surely we’re not still buying that for bikes with 40pm tyres

    I like the idea of my Arkose being 50s style versatile bike. I think Arkose builds are better value than that Focus but they are all sold out so can’t check

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Surely we’re not still buying that for bikes with 40pm tyres

    Especially with CEN rated frames.

    Premier Icon Tim
    Free Member

    Haven’t companies like genesis and cube made basically the same bike for years?

    I like the idea of a CX bike with slightly fatter tyres, but the marketing around ‘gravel’ like it’s something groundbreaking really bugs me for some reason. The niche between CX and an XC hardtail is pretty small

    Premier Icon chestrockwell
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    Dunno about all the other points but the Focus bikes just seem to have a groupset lower than the bikes I’ve looked at for similar money (same as the Orange RX9 and we know STW likes to knash their teeth at the Halifax mob 😉 ). Not necessarily a game changer for me but certainly a consideration.

    Premier Icon snotrag
    Full Member

    I really like it – ‘Gravel’ covers such a range from racy CX type bikes through to drop bar monster cross stuff yet the focus is exactly how I would, and did build a bike.

    I’m currently holding out for the new Fearless Warlock frame after selling my Vulture, however I’m getting a bit concerned it’s going to end up very pricy. And weighty.

    Regards Alloy – I owned stacks of Steel Hardtails, and currently own an On-one Scandal (which replaced the Vulture). In the days of CEN testing, large seat tubes for droppers, Larger tubeless tyres, I really am beginning to to wonder about the benefits of steel being worth it – my Scandal is the best feeling, fastest and comfiest hard rail of all those I’ve owned, yet has a circa 2kg weight advantage right off the bat.
    My steel gravel bike was wonderful, but it was hot light. I am wondering about an Alloy alternative!

    Premier Icon easily
    Free Member

    the Focus bikes just seem to have a groupset lower than the bikes I’ve looked at for similar money

    That’s exactly what I thought.

    same as the Orange RX9 and we know STW likes to knash their teeth at the Halifax mob

    Yep. But Orange do have some cache: they’re a bike company rather than a sports company, and they’ve been making decent bikes for decades. I’d expect Decathlon bikes to be priced like Halfords or Evans own brands – this bike, much as I like it, seems to be going for a bit more.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Especially with CEN rated frames.

    Not to mention that tourers are generally heavier duty frames- it’s not steel that makes a bike compliant, it’s thin tubes.

    Good design helps too. Like de-triangulating the front and rear triangles might frinstance but you can’t say Seatstays That Don’t Meet The Seat Tube In The Same Place As The Top Tube Is Real

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    Lovely video, but terrible voice over, for some reason his accent really grates with me.

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