Focus Merluza £699.99

Value-for-money commuter that'll handle light touring too

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Focus Merluza fills the previously unoccupied soft, luxury end of the touring market and offers great value for money.

Its lighter kit and wheels limit its use to recreational purposes such as day-long rides in the countryside and general commuting – it’s marketed as ‘commuter ready’ in the City Bikes section of Focus’s website.

Ride: stable but not ponderous

The Focus Merluza’s ride slots comfortably between the adroit climbing ability of a cyclocross bike fitted with mudguards, and the stiff and stable ride of a full-on expedition rig like the Koga Miyata Terra Cruiser. The steering is light yet stable when descending at speed, and the provision of auxiliary brake levers for the flats is very handy, although their narrow spacing means that they’re not ideal for fast descents.

 The Mini-V brake arms provide impressive control whether panniered up or not, and the Schwalbe Road Cruiser tyres provide a sense of speed combined with the puncture protection needed for touring and commuting.

Frame: tidily-welded aluminium with all the trimmings

Focus’s Merluza frame uses 7005 series aluminium and is ovalised both for looks and to make it easy to weld the oversized tubes. Designed to withstand the rigours of light touring (we think) and regular commuting, the Merluza’s tubing is a constant thickness throughout its length, and the XL frame tested weighs 2.24kg. Welding is neat throughout and there’s a full complement of rack and mudguard eyes, and bosses for one bottle cage. The aluminium fork looks stylish and sports low rider rack bosses.

Equipment: 105 at heart

For a £750 bike, our Focus Merluza is well equipped and includes Shimano 105 10-speed components together with an FSA Gossamer 30/39/50 triple chainset. The 12-27t cassette provides a sensible set-up for light touring and commuting, though we can’t help thinking the gear indexing should have been tuned a little better given that this will arrive at the customer’s door. Other kit includes highly effective Tektro RX5 brakes, a Fizik Pave Sport saddle which includes a very compact yet surprisingly effective integrated rear light, and an 11cm adjustable stem. The SKS mudguards are tough but they could have done with a mudflap for foul weather.

Wheels: good for commuting; could be beefier for touring

Focus’s use of Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels on the Merluza is slightly at odds with the rest of the bike as they are more usually seen on budget racers. They look good though, with their black spokes and midi-section rims and the hubs are easy to service. The spoke pattern, based around left hand radial rear and crossed driveside, is up to the job for commuting, though for touring – which is what we reckon this bike is more suitable for – you should consider stronger/heavier wheels. The Schwalbe Road Cruiser tyres are great for wet weather commuting as they’re very resistant to punctures.

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