Focus Bikes is a bicycle manufacturer based out of Cloppenberg, Germany. Its German roots are attributed to company founder, Mike Kluge, a former world cyclocross champion. Focus Bikes are well known in the United States, but mostly in the cyclocross racing scene. Focus Bikes such as the Mares in rim and disc brake models have been seen under the likes of Jeremy Powers, and other well known cyclocross racers.
The Australian market for Focus is one of the biggest in the world. The Paralane is listed on the Focus USA website, but little is known about it; this is the first opportunity we’ve had to examine one in person.
Not necessarily a gravel bike, the Paralane is marketed more as an Endurance Road model. However, this hasn’t stopped riders of the gravel mindset from taking the Paralane out of their comfort zone and down one’s local gravel road.
Tyre clearance is listed by Focus as 35mm, but company insiders inform me the bike will reliably handle a 38mm wide tyre. That bodes well for tyres such as the Panaracer GravelkingSK in 35mm – a favorite among the Gravel Cyclist crew. The Paralane also has provision for mounting fenders.
The stock Paralane 105 build is fitted with Schwalbe One Race tyres in 700c x 28mm, on Fulcrum’s CEX disc brake wheelset.
To increase vertical flexibility in the Paralane’s rear triangle, Focus engineers tested different tubing cross-sections. It was clear to the engineers that a tube cross-section that is as flat as possible and almost elliptical, was the best design.
The Paralane is available in six different models, including the premium-build SRAM Etap model, the Donna Ultegra women’s build and the Paralane 105 you see here.
As the name suggests, Shimano’s excellent 105 level groupset is on this model, but Focus opt for RS505 hydraulic braking and mechanical shifting. The 105 shift levers are bulbous in appearance but their performance is close to the company’s higher end groupsets.
Concept branded parts are a house brand for Focus.
Shimano’s hydraulic brakes are superb at just about every level of their line. Focus chooses the latest flat-mount standard and a 160mm Ice Technologies brake rotor up front with 12mm thru-axle. The Paralane features the Focus RAT system – Rapid Axle Technology – this is a quick change thru axle system that if adopted at the WorldTour level, could end concerns for slow wheel changes. We’ll be posting a video on how the RAT system works very soon.
Flat-mount disc brakes for the rear, 160mm rotor, 142mm x 12mm thru-axle with RAT technology.
All cables, derailleur and brake, are internalized on the Paralane no matter if a mechanical or wired electronic drivetrain is being used.
Clean routing and no stiction at the headset associated with overly stiff cables or silly routing.
Focus get creative with the headtube and fork on the Paralane. Rather than just extending the headtube, which can have a negative impact on standover height and overall design, Focus lower the bottom bracket and extend the fork a little.
Thus, the Paralane’s headtube is only marginally longer compared to their top flight road bikes.
The longer, distinctive fork provides additional clearance for wider tyres. The extended fork is 10mm taller than the company’s road-going variants.
Brake cable routing through the fork is clean and discreet.
Bottom bracket drop is set at 75mm, providing a lower center of gravity which is designed to improve stability and handling.
On the 105 build, chainrings are 50 / 34. This ratio is fine for the bike’s true intended use, but if you’re looking to grind some gravel on this bike, a 46 / 34 chainring set would serve you much better.
Shimano’s long arm front derailleur technology has trickled down to all levels.
Focus wisely spec an 11-speed 11-32 cassette on the Paralane.
The seatpost is branded as a Concept CPX measuring 25.4mm x 340mm. Narrow seatpost widths like 25.4mm are not new – they were common place on vintage steel road bikes, although that was more a necessity for catering to available tubing size.
Fizik Aliante saddle.
The second-tier bike in the Paralane line-up is the Factory build. The Factory build shares the same frame as the 105 bike, but the parts selection is vastly different.
SRAM’s Apex single chainring / 1X drivetrain is at the heart of this bike, along with a pair of Zipp 30 Course wheels. Be sure to check our recent review of a custom Zipp 30 Course wheelset by Wheelbuilder.com.
Don’t mind the stack height – this sample is currently on display at the 2017 Tour Down Under expo. Handlebars are a compact drop Concept EX model.
The Factory build Paralane comes in a matte finish with stealth branding highlights and sharp yellow accents.
The SRAM S350 crankset is fitted with a 44 tooth chainring. Matched to the rear 11-36 cassette that comes stock on the Factory build, the low 44 x 36 gear will get you over many climbs. However, for longer or steeper climbs, riders may want to consider a 40 or 42 tooth chainring.
The Paraline frame is flexible. The Factory build may be a 1X, but riders can add a double chainring and derailleur if they desire.
SRAM’s Apex derailleur and 11-speed PG-1030 cassette.
The RAT thru-axle system is standard equipment on all Paralane models.
This bike is almost too good to take onto the gravel, but remember – dirt and crud wipe off!
Primo quality Zipp hubs feature on the Zipp 30 Course wheelset.
The 30mm wide model of the Schalbe G-One is standard equipment on the Factory build Paralane. However, the sample bike is fitted with the S-One tubeless version.
Access to internal gear cabling, electronic or mechanical, is made simple with an easy too access ports at the bottom bracket.
Just like it’s slightly lower end 105 model brethren, all cables on the Factory build are internalized.
The front derailleur cable port remains empty on the Factory build.
SRAM’s road-oriented hydraulic brakes are excellent, with great feel and modulation at the lever. Apex hydraulic brakes stop the stock 6-bolt 160mm rotors with ease.
160mm rotors at the rear wheel.
Discreet fender mounting points.
A nicely sloped shelf behind the bottom bracket ensures mud and crud won’t congregate.
The parts collection on the Factory build Paralane features bright yellow accents that really set off against the matte black look of the bike.
Even the slots on the Fizik Antares saddle feature yellow accents!
All models of the Focus Paralane are available now.