Last year it was the sublime Focus Izalco Pro 3.0 that took home the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year bratwurst. It was a bike raced by Tour teams but balanced and comfortable enough to get the most hamfisted MAMIL to the end of a sportive feeling like a pro. The Cayo provided us with a similar amount of talent flattering, and earned a place in this year’s competition’s top five:
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Tech ed Warren Rossiter talks through the Cayo Evo 4.0
Ride & handling: Well mannered, responsive confidence-booster
We’re more Cannon and Ball than Cancellara when it comes to bike handling, but over the rough stuff the Cayo was blowing some serious smoke up our asses. So adept was the Cayo at zipping between ruts and so composed over the bumps, we were starting to picture ourselves as Classics contenders…
This razor-sharp handling is achieved thanks to the classically aggressive frame angles and a mid-height tapered head tube – these help translate your commands into instant, but ultimately confidence-inspiring, responses.
It’s a bike that likes being flung around and many of its design signatures indicate that Focus may have been thinking about racing when they pencilled the Cayo – a substantial and angular head tube junction for huge resistance to twisting, and a diamond-like down tube profile hiding a midpoint ridge that adds torsional stiffness (and provides the channel for internal cables). A clever idea that pays dividends on the road.
Racy used to mean unforgiving, but that’s not the case here. Yes, the handling is spot on and the front end impervious to twists and flex. However, there’s no old-school Teutonic hardness through the bar – the fork’s design resists any side-to-side movement but seemingly encourages fore and aft flex, which takes out the sting.
It’s the same under the derrière. Broad chainstays flow out from the BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell then taper and flatten towards the all-carbon dropouts. From the dropout the seatstays kick out and further back from the axle. Focus say this extra length and elbow bend allow for more flex, and they’re right – while stiff enough under pedal forces, this never gets transmitted to you and all you can feel through your shorts is a smooth, responsive ride.
At 7.88kg (17.37lb) for a large there are lighter bikes, but it’s no heavyweight and the lively frameset matched to a decent gear range means the Focus never feels less than sorted on climbs. Sit in and pedal and you can wallow in the smoothness; get out and stomp and the response of the frame is equally impressive.
Frame & equipment: Well considered, with lots for your cash
As for the stuff hanging off the frame, the Cayo is well equipped and good value. The drivetrain combines Shimano Ultegra with a subtly Focus-branded FSA Energy chainset. Full and slickly done internal cabling looks bling with the use of Jagwire’s chrome outers, and the 50/34 compact and 12-27T cassette give a sensible and usable gear range.
The Fulcrum WH CEX6.5 wheelset is Focus-only but based on Fulcrum’s Racing Quattro, an aero profiled wheelset with a broader than standard rim bed. We’ve not seen Continental’s Radsport tyre before but its large volume for the nominal size (23mm) complements the wider rim well, with the deeply siped tread adding grip on wet roads.
Up front, a nicely finished Concept EX stem mates to an aluminium FSA compact bar with a short and shallow drop and ovalised top – thick, plush Prologo bar tape makes it comfortable to hold hoods and the tops.
The bike is finished with an aluminium Concept EX seatpost topped by the excellent Prologo Nago Evo TR saddle. We found the comfort spot on and the colour-coordinated details add a touch of class, as do the titanium rails – a rare find as original equipment on any bike, whatever the price.
While the Cayo Evo doesn’t make any geometry concessions to comfort, with its head tube just 170mm and wheelbase a short 992mm, the clever design and manipulation of the carbon fibres do make it more than comfortable enough for most riders.
If your needs are for a more upright, classic sportive style bike then the Cayo might not be for you, but during our shootout the Focus changed hands between riders of many styles and skills, and none found it wanting.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.