Focus Spine C 0.0 - first ride review

First impressions of this lightweight trail ripper

BikeRadar score3/5

Focus may be best known for its road and cyclocross offerings, but the company has invested heavily in the development of its mountain bikes in recent years. The latest addition to the German company’s off-road line is the Spine, a 27.5in trail bike with 120mm of front and rear travel wrapped up in a lightweight, single-pivot package.

Spine specifics

  • Four carbon and six alloy models (two of the alloy versions are women’s-specific)
  • 27.5in wheels
  • 120mm of front and rear travel
  • Carbon frame weight: 1,980g (claimed)
  • Alloy frame weight: 2,450g (claimed)
  • Four frame sizes (S-XL)
  • Pricing: TBA
  • All models available in August 2015

Design details

The Spine takes many of its design cues from the 160mm travel SAM. It sports an oversized junction where the head tube meets the top and down tubes to bolster front-end stiffness. Likewise, the single-pivot suspension relies on double rows of bearings at the rear pivot to keep flex in check.

According to Focus engineers, single-pivot suspension designs that place the shock inline with the top-tube can suffer from inconsistent suspension performance between frame sizes. This is due to the fact that the orientation of the link driving the shock can change as frame size increases. To combat this discrepancy, Focus employs different composite links for each frame size to keep the suspension rates relatively similar, though not exactly the same. Large and XL frames get a slightly more progressive shock rate to provide better performance for heavier riders.

The spine has internal routing through ports on the sides of the head tube:
The spine has internal routing through ports on the sides of the head tube:

Ports on the head tube allow for a variety of cable routing options

Both the alloy and carbon versions of the new bike share internal cable routing through ports on the side of the head tube. Different versions of these ports will be available for mechanical and electronic drivetrain configurations.

The Spine uses a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket, low direct mount front derailleur mount, and is compatible with 1, 2 and 3-ring drivetrains.

A medium Spine carbon has a claimed weight of 1,980g (without shock). The equivalent alloy version has a claimed weight of 2,450g.

Focus will offer four carbon and six alloy versions of Spine. Two of the alloy versions of the Spine are women’s-specific. Geometry on the women’s models are the same, though they come equipped with narrower handlebars, smaller diameter grips and gender-specific saddles.

US, UK and Australian pricing are yet to be finalized.

Spine C 0.0 first impressions

The focus spine c 0.0 is the top bike in a 10 model line-up:
The focus spine c 0.0 is the top bike in a 10 model line-up:

The Spine C 0.0 weighs in at 11kg / 24.25kg

I spent a day riding the flagship Spine C 0.0 on the rugged trails above Naturns, Italy. The terrain was steep and alternated between flowy loam and rock- and root-strewn goodness.

Short, 428mm chainstays, a roomy top tube with a long reach (444mm for a size medium) and an appropriately slack 68-degree head tube angle make for a playful trail companion. The house-branded 60mm stem and 760mm carbon handlebar are right in line with the Spine’s spirited demeanor.

The Spine’s rear suspension is quite easy to load to pop out of corners and preload for jumps without pushing too far into the shock’s travel. On the flipside, it’s not the most active rear end when it comes to delivering all-out traction.

The very steep 75-degree seat tube angle — a feature carried over from the long-travel SAM — does take some getting used to and may cause some riders fit issues, as there’s no longer offset version of the RockShox Reverb seatpost. 

This was my first time riding the 27.5in version of the RS-1 and it was notably less prone to the torsional flex that is present on the longer-legged 29er version. That said, RS-1 fork increases the price of the Spine C 0.0 without a significant increase in performance over the more capable Pike. Sure, you lose some grams, but you also lose external compression adjustments, a better damper and a stiffer chassis.

If you’re a rider looking for a well-rounded 27.5in trail bike, the Spine is certainly worth throwing a leg over. In its stock form, the Spine C 0.0 could be a worthy marathon cross-country rig, but it begs to be set up with a longer-travel fork. 

I recommend checking out the second-tier Spine C Factory, which will come with a Pike and SRAM X01 drivetrain when all the Spine models become available in August.

For more information, visit www.focus-bikes.com.

Josh Patterson

Tech Editor, US
Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 72cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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