Focus Culebro Tria £1600

Slippy aero ride

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

What struck us first about the Focus’s green, black and white frame was that it looked like a packet of Polo mints. If nothing else, you will stand out on this bike.

The second thing that caught our attention was how heavy it is – so much for the ‘German Lightweight Engineering’ tag on the seat tube. The hydroformed alloy frame and carbon fork weigh in at a hefty 2.25kg for an overall bike weight of 9.5kg, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to lighter rivals.

  • Frame: Heavy but stiff, which we could cope with if the fork wasn’t light and floppy (4/10)
  • Handling: Not bad if you’re going in a straight line, but a real chore when you’re climbing (5/10)
  • Aerodynamics: Low aero drag numbers on its own, compromised slightly by the high front end when we put a rider on board (8/10)
  • Wheels: Stiff, strong and handle well in the wind. The wind-up skewer is a bit odd, though (7/10)
  • Equipment: A great spec for the money – as good as you’ll find on any bike in this price range (9/10)

We measured the frame as having a 76-degree seat angle and 71.5-degree head angle, the latter giving the Culebro Tria lots of straight line stability. It also tones down the liveliness of the steering. The internal cabling is neatly done and we liked the addition of white Jagwire cables. These give slightly firmer braking and smoother shifting than the Shimano equivalents. We also liked the ruler on the seatpost, so you can easily remember your saddle height in case you need to take the post out.

Unfortunately, we weren’t so impressed by the fork. The bladed carbon unit is fine when you’re cruising along on the bar extensions, but get out of the saddle and you’ll notice it flex so much that the front wheel rubs on the brake pads. Our mechanic verified that it was indeed the fork that was causing the problem and not the wheels (we had no such problems with the back wheel rubbing, for example). Given how stiff the rest of the frame is, this was both surprising and disappointing.

On the road, the Culebro Tria gave us a well measured albeit slightly boring ride. In corners it was average, lacking the confidence of other aero bikes at this price. It didn’t give us any squeaky bum moments, but neither did it inspire us to push hard around bends.

When we did put the power down, the Culebro’s straight line speed was decent, and on descents it was solid. Here, its extra weight came into play: there was no judderiness and it handled speeds above 40mph with minimal fuss. Climbing, on the other hand, was a bit of a chore. The weight didn’t help, and neither did the super-flexy fork. We wouldn’t call it slow, but it was more laboured than we'd have liked.

In MIRA's wind tunnel, the Culebro Tria had a low CdA (coefficient of drag x frontal area) – 0.098 at 0° of yaw, 0.104 at -5° and 0.108 at -10°. When there was a rider on board, the combined bike+rider CdA still wasn't bad, at 0.237. We suspect we could have achieved a better position by getting a bit lower, but the 150mm-long head tube didn’t help.

The Culebro Tria had good componentry too: Shimano Dura-Ace shifters and rear derailleur, Ultegra front derailleur and brake callipers, an FSA Gossamer crankset, which had a rare 53/42 chainring combination, a SRAM chain and Shimano 105 cassette with an 11-27 range. We would prefer a 39-tooth front ring and a 25 as the biggest sprocket at the back, since it gives you an extra cog in the middle of the range.

Up front, the FSA Vision Tech Trimax Si R-Bend alloy handlebar is a good and popular choice for racing. It’s not light (810g) but it is comfortable and quick, affording both a narrow aero position and plenty of control on the horns. The elbow pads are width-adjustable, although the extensions aren’t. These are quite narrowly spaced at 75mm apart, centre-to-centre, so these won’t suit if you prefer wider extensions.

The brake levers look scarily thin, but you get used to them and we had no problems stopping quickly. The Culebro Tria’s saddle has a wide, soft nose that made for a pleasantly comfortable ride when ‘on the rivet’.

The DT Swiss R1900 clincher wheels certainly looked the part and they performed well enough out on the road.  Stiff and robust, they were able to handle anything that we threw at them.

They’re not particularly deep, so behave well in a crosswind. We didn’t see the point of the wind-up skewers though. The standard cam-action skewer has worked well enough for 90 years – why change it? The wheels came with Schwalbe Ultremo tyres; these are decent racing tyres, slightly better than the Continental Ultra Sports on the Ribble and the Scott. They’re a relatively expensive choice for training on though.

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