Focus’s Super Bud Expert combines a conventional-looking frame – boasting a trend-busting 91mm of rear wheel travel – with a mid-range component package. It’s clear Focus’s engineers know what they’re doing, but the Bud’s design belongs to an earlier era. It shows in the poor performance of the rear end, and it’s mostly down to the position of a couple of pivots. This is a rare case of German engineering failing to deliver vorsprung durch technik.
Ride & handling: Stable, but outdated suspension design robs you of momentum
For hardened cross-country racers less interested in comfort and control than outright speed, a well-designed and lightweight full susser with limited travel makes some sense. For the rest of us, arguably less so – particularly when, as in this case, the limited travel is hobbled further.
The Super Bud’s relaxed angles make for stable handling, and the budget RockShox Recon fork fares well in the rough. It’s not such good news at the rear though, where the already limited travel on offer is hampered on the one hand by the sluggish Suntour Raidon shock and on the other by the low position of the chainstay pivot.
The Super Bud's suspension design pre-dates the switch to shocks with compression damping control. It works by using chain tension to help extend the shock, effectively reducing bounce and wallow under hard pedalling loads.
On a race bike nearly a decade ago this made sense, but on the Super Bud it simply prevents the shock from working properly when you’re on the gas. Square-edged lips that other bikes simply ﬂoat over act as momentum-robbing stoppers for the Focus.
Frame: Tidy and functional, but shock gets bogged down on successive hits
The Focus is tidily put together; simple, sound engineering abounds. Hydroformed wizardry is conspicuously absent, but an open-ended welded gusset under the down tube does the job just as well. Chunky welds and solid, forged chain- and seatstay bridges both complete the functional look.
Unfortunately the Suntour Raidon air shock lets the side down, with non-adjustable rebound that’s initially snappy but ends up sluggish enough to bog the shock down on successive hits.
Equipment: Decent coil fork, quality Mavic wheels and powerful Avid discs
RockShox’s budget Recon SL is a decent coil fork whose main disadvantage over costlier air-sprung alternatives is that it offers limited rider weight adjustment. It does come with a bar-mounted lockout lever, though.