From the off it’s obvious that Focus have decided to go for upmarket Ultegra gears as the killer hook on their high value Culebro. Though don’t overlook the new, lightweight triple butted frame when you’re looking at the fancy carbon levers, as the combination creates a very well sorted – if not overly characterful – race-style ride.
- Highs: Ultegra will appeal to spec checkers. Triple butted frame and decent kit build into a lightweight racer
- Lows: Harsh ride doesn’t mix well with rough UK roads, while its position made it a handful for novice riders at first
- Buy if: You want a well kitted out, lightweight, firm- feeling racer at a very good price
The carbon Ultegra brake levers, sleek derailleurs (and even matching cassette) are definitely a big draw for those whom Top Trumps best bits is a major part of their buying decision. Focus certainly haven’t put all their component eggs in one basket, however, and the supporting cast of Tiagra chain, Focus-branded FSA compact chainset and Concept brakes with cartridge pads all do their jobs well.
The very shallow drop FSA compact bars were appreciated by several of our less experienced riders who found them much more useable than standard deep drops.
Otherwise the long stem and steep 73.5 degree parallel frame angles give the new Culebro frame an old-school Continental racer feel. It does introduce some handling traits you need to be wary of though, particularly a tendency for the front end to tuck and dive at slow speeds on climbs and corners, which contrasts dramatically with a stubborn attitude to steering at higher speeds.
But once you’re used to it it’s an accurate ride and we had no trouble staying the right side of the grip line even in greasy conditions. It’s not ideal as a fully fledged winter/commuter as there are no mounts for either guards or a rack on the frame. Frame alignment was also out by a couple of millimetres across the rear end, which isn’t great.
The Concept brakes with cartridge pads are effective stoppers
As a relatively light bike, it spins up to speed nicely and doesn’t mind pushing the pace on climbs either. Its firm ride overall definitely favours smoother road choices than rattling round the backroads, and potholes we failed to dodge came through the bars and back end pretty brutally, regularly breaking our rhythm and concentration on rough surfaces.
As a result, while it acquitted itself well in terms of speed at all times, the harsh hammer on typical UK tarmac and slightly stilted handling feel meant it always got okay rather than overwhelmingly positive reports from our test team.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.