The Ag2r edition of the Izalco Team is a strictly limited edition, brought out mid-season to celebrate Focus’ relationship with the French team. It has a full Campagnolo Record EPS groupset, super-light 50mm-deep Fulcrum XLR wheels – just 1,324g a pair – and finishing kit from Ag2r co-sponsors Fi’zi:k.
We’re big fans of the Izalco platform, too – it was awarded the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year 2012 award, and we’re still impressed with it in this guise. It’s a super-light package that combines all-round smoothness and comfort with a totally focused, rapid-handling raciness.
It might be running a traditional 53/39 chainset and 11-25 cassette but the reality of having such little mass means we never wanted for an extra gear, even on the steepest climbs of our test loop. It was just a case of getting out of the saddle and using the sprightly nature of the complete package to attack any inclines.
A special mention should go to the wheels; the XLRs are a huge benefit everywhere – you get the acceleration of a lightweight hoop, combined with the ability to hold higher speeds. The lack of weight means faster climbing and a feeling of instant acceleration when you want to go on the attack, and with a bike that’s this much fun you’ll be on the attack more often than not.
Braking on the smooth-sided XLRs was better than we expected, too, but we often found at the bottom of a long descent that our pre-emptive braking resulted in a high-pitch screech, shattering the otherwise smooth and silent glide of this pure superbike.
The position you adopt on the Izalco should feel more aggressive; its steep 73.5-degree parallel angles, sub-metre wheelbase and long top-tube make it seriously rapid and reactive, but it’s accommodating enough for riders used to a more traditional position.
Focus Izalco Team SL Ag2r
The performance of the complete Campagnolo Record EPS groupset is about as close to flawless as it gets. The electronic lever operation retains the positions of standard mechanical Campagnolo, but the inner trigger has been moved further down the inner face of the hood, making it much easier to shift from the drops than with the standard system, but with everything well within reach when riding on the tops.
The Izalco’s ride is a bit harder than some, thanks to the use of an all-aluminium cockpit from Fi’zik: – on our test bike but not yet available to buy – and Fi’zi:k’s aluminium seatpost. On the bike to be sold in Britain, these are replaced with equally high-end FSA carbon parts that should smooth the ride significantly.