Focus Killer Bee review£750.00

Good looking Euro ride

BikeRadar score2.5/5

Big in their native Germany, Focus bikes have a definite European flavour. We don’t mind Euro handling when it’s balanced with light weight, fast race reactions and a decent spec. Unfortunately the steel-legged fork and chunky frame (considering its compact dimensions) mean the Killer Bee isn't fast enough to excuse its low-slung, limited leverage handling.

Ride & handling: Hefty weight and cockpit dimensions restrict acceleration and agility

Focus's frame sizes are on the small side, but this can be rectified by sizing up. However, even then there are some crucial dimensions that cramp the Killer Bee.

The 620mm riser bar barely has room to fit the controls between grips and bends, and it makes dynamic or aggressive moves awkward to pull off.

Spending another £30 could get you a decent width bar for technical control, but the (relatively) high price and budget RockShox Tora fork already put the Focus on the back foot in value terms.

The low bottom bracket means regular toe tapping and grounding in off-camber, rutted, rooty/rocky or other limited clearance situations. Given the German obsession with light weight, we’re also surprised by the Focus's heft.

Fast rolling tyres and the fork lockout help on longer climbs, but the Contintental Race King rubber makes the sketchy handling even more dicey in the damp.

Focus killer bee: focus killer bee
Focus killer bee: focus killer bee

Frame: Short and compact, but overweight for a climbing/distance rig

The frame is a mix of contemporary hydroforming, with the diamond profile to round, expanded end top tube, and old school oversizing – the big bi-oval down tube with large forked gusset underneath. A shared weld seam behind the heavily convex integrated head tube completes the stiff front end.

Triangle to round seat and chainstays get A-frame bridges, but there’s decent tyre clearance despite the 2.2in tyres. Machined dropouts with mudguard/rack mounts look neat, although there are no matching mounts on the upper stays.

The thick-set seat quick-release collar looks cheap and cable routing into the rear mech is awkward. Frame sizes are on the small side, but with a range that stretches right up to XXL you should be able to find a good fit.

Equipment: Decent transmission plus fork with remote lockout

You're only getting an average frame so at this price you'd expect a decent kit collection. While it shares the same power bulged, post mount lowers as RockShox's Recon SL forks, the steel legs of the Tora add an extra half pound, but the coil springs are smooth and road climbers will love the remote lockout lever.

Otherwise, the SRAM gears, Truvativ Stylo cranks and Avid brakes with 185mm front rotors are bang-on the money. The narrow Concept bars are a big steering stifler, though, and the seatpost is prone to slipping even if you crank it up super tight. The wheels are average rather than outstanding and you’ll need to add winter tyres and a wider bar to your list.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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