VIDEO: Demonstration of Focus R.A.T. (Rapid Axle Technology)

Nowadays, thru-axles are the norm on most new gravel bikes, and at the level of professional road racing in the WorldTour, the technology is slowing inching its way in. But thru-axles aren’t always noted for their speed of a wheel change. Speed isn’t so important in gravel cycling and racing, but in road racing, speed is a must-have.

In 2014, Focus Bikes developed R.A.T. (Rapid Axle Technology), a new way of thinking about thru-axles.

“Thru axles increase stability and stiffness, but usually also take more time to change the wheel. Not so with FOCUS. The specially designed Rapid Axle Technology is the fastest wheel-change system; much more so than even traditional quick-release levers.”

“With FOCUS, there is a small T-pin at the end of the thru axle, which is pushed into a mount on the other side, so the axle only has to be rotated 90 degrees to close the quick-release lever. This technology received a Eurobike Award at Eurobike 2014.”

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  1. Avatar Dean Wette

    I really hate the RAT axles on my 2016 Focus Mares CX. They’ve been far more trouble than worthwhile. The adjustment nut seized up on the rear a few times (the axle had to replaced the first time, a clever mechanic fixed it the second time). My mechanics don’t like them either.

    Maybe a pit mechanic can change wheels faster, but the normal thread thru-axles are much faster and easier for me. As a non-racer RAT are the devil. I ended up replacing the rear one with a Robert Axle Project thru-axle (sadly, they don’t have a solution for the front one).

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to buy a bike with proprietary tech like this (Giant’s Dfuse seatpost also comes to mind).

    • JOM JOM

      Dean, appreciate the feedback. Zero experience with the R.A.T. system.

      I don’t want to say anything negative with the system considering I have not time on it, but I can relate to your statement about non-proprietary technology. Wheels that use proprietary spokes, etc, irk me the most.

      • Avatar Dean Wette

        Sure, I understand. I am curious to see what you think in the end. The new Cervelo R -series disc bikes use RAT, but from the launch video they look a bit different (refined?). Maybe they are improved enough from my 2016 model that they work better. If so, I might check with my LBS to see if mine can be replaced with the newer ones.

    • Avatar Tommy


      The worst thing ever invented to cycling. The rat system is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever used

      • Avatar Dean Wette

        I’m happy to say I won’t have to worry about R.A.T. anymore. I just bought a 2018 Salsa Warbird carbon frameset with a Lauf Grit fork, and moved all the best bits of my Focus Mares to build my dream gravel bike. Now it’s a Salsa Carbon Warbird Grit with SRAM Force1 groupset, Stans Grail Team tubeless with Gravelking SK 700×43 brownwall, the new Easton EC70 AX gravel handlebar & matching EC70 stem, Thomson Masterpiece seatpost with Fizik Gobi R1 saddle, and Cane Creek 110/40 headset. The rear thru-axle is a Robert Axle Project. The one that came with the Lauf fork is pretty much the same style as the Robert Axle. This is one of the smoothest, most quiet and most comfortable bikes I have ever ridden.

        I have a XX1 10-42 cassette and chain on order to replace the 11-36 I have now (already have the XD Driver I need). I’ll change my 40T chainring to a 42T, but am giving some serious thought to a Absolute Black 42T oval.

  2. Avatar Trey H

    I’ve a similar system on my 2016 Manitou fork. Total pita since day one. I plan on sticking with “old school” thru-axles from here on in.

  3. Avatar Gerry

    I have replaced the rear TA Twice and the front once. The third time resulted in a warranty repair that took 2 months to complete. I have a 2015 Mares AX1 that is fun to ride, but would recommend to anyone.

    • JOM JOM

      Thanks for chiming in Gerry. We like to hear about the good and bad.

  4. As a bike fitter by trade I need to set the customer up on an indoor trainer. There is no trainer available that can support this innovative technology as the rear wheel can not be clamped firmly in place.

    • Avatar Dean Wette

      My bike shop has fitted me on on my Focus with R.A.T. on their trainer numerous times. But they have to remove the R.A.T. receiver and replace it with an adapter. It can be done. You just don’t have the right parts for it.

  5. Avatar Wille

    So disappointed I bought a Focus. The best thing I can do now is to hopefully sell it. The RAT system and the wheels are deplorable. Aside from the RAT system being difficult to use, the carbon wheels popped at one of spoke nipples on a gentle ride.

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