The Focus Raven Pro impresses for a £2000 bike with its a classy carbon frame, a decent fork, great wheels and a full Shimano XTR drivetrain. And UK source Wiggle has just dropped the price to £1700. Bargain!
Designed and built in Germany the Focus Raven Pro is a tight, agile and eager cross-country race bike. It was a great deal at its original list price and with its recent price drop, it’s a killer.
Ride & handing: low mass, razor-sharp rocketship
Racing types have a little more to gain from the Raven Pro than the average weekend trail warrior. For the lesser-skilled rider, the razor-sharp handling and minimally treaded tyres can take a while to get used to on demanding trails.
However, 22lb bikes with race-winning tyres and an acceleration kick like this can be wonderful when it comes to boosting your conﬁdence about your fitness and keeping up on a climb. It’ll take a few rides to tune your mind and body to the Raven’s coiled-spring responses, especially if you’re used to a 27lb full-suspension sofa.
You’ll be loving that weight loss on the uphills, though, and you’ll instantly feel ﬁtter when you stamp on these pedals. Just be aware that you’ll need to work a bit harder to gain handling conﬁdence on bumpy, slippy, slidey stuff.
Chassis: no-nonsense carbon with excellent Fox fork
Focus tells us that the most noteworthy construction element in its carbon frame is the SSPS (Stable Stiffness Per Size) concept. Here, the size of each section relates to the frame size, so that the stiffness-to-weight ratio is similar for all frames.
In essence, it’s a no-nonsense lightweight frame built for the ideal combination of comfort, strength and long-term durability.
There’s no obvious ﬂex anywhere, and the back end feels both tight in acceleration and more comfy than we expected over bumps.
We really like the forward-facing (out of the muddy spray) double-bolt seat clamp and the ﬂared proﬁling at the head tube and the bottom bracket.
Those who often shoulder their bike won’t be so keen on having all the cable routing under the top tube, though.
The Fox 32RLC (the L is for lockout, the R & C are for rebound and compression damping) is a favourite fork for racers, but the 100mm of nicely tuned travel makes it great for aggressive all-day usage, too.
Equipment: nicely sorted lightweight pick
With an Shimano XTR Shadow rear mech, Deore XT shifters and an 11-34 cassette, shifting is slick, quiet and precise.
The wheels are pretty special, too: DT Swiss X1800s are light yet tough enough to cope with aggressive trail riding, while the emphasis of Schwalbe’s tyre combo is on fast acceleration and minimal drag.
A Syncros in-line seat post and shortish stem are good choices for a bike with as long a top tube reach as this.
Verdict: finely tuned bargain
With much of today’s marketing hype focusing on the latest full-sussers, dealers have a harder time selling top-end hardtails.
To most riders, two grand is a lot of cash to sink into a bike that seems to offer very few bells and whistles.
Racers looking for a dash of unadulterated speed might recognise the Focus Raven Pro as a bit of a bargain, though.