Focus Mares 6.9 review

An affordable aluminium entry into cyclocross racing

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £1,849.00 RRP | AUD $2,699.00

Our review

The Mares 6.9 is a lot of fun on flat or downhill terrain, but gravity isn’t its friend
Buy if, You want a solid performer with a little extra versatility
Pros: Great fork, decent drivetrain and very secure handling
Cons: The chainring is a little large and there’s a lot of rotational weight
Skip to view product specifications

The Mares range was created with input from former World Cyclocross Champion, and Focus founder, Mike Kluge. Below the limelight-stealing carbon Mares bikes, the 7005 aluminium models are more affordable entry points.

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The 6.9 shares the near horizontal top-tube and Focus’s innovative Rapid Axle Technolgy (RAT) system, allowing wheel removal by flipping the lever open and giving it a quarter turn before withdrawing the axle. Reverse the process to refit.

The stocky all-carbon Mares fork gives the bike the head-on look of a rugby prop forward, with similar levels of burliness, and huge tyre clearance.

The frame is welded from hydroformed tubes, aside from the round seat tube. The top tube provides a flat shouldering surface, the down tube expands to better attach at the head tube and BSA bottom bracket shell.

Short head-tube contributes to compact front-end feel
Short head-tube contributes to compact front-end feel
David Caudery/Immediate Media

The seatstays are slim and round for their lower half, then flatter and larger at the top. The slim, but deep chainstays are bridgeless, and straight, with a crimped outer section for chainring room. The rear brake hose and gear cable run through the down tube, exiting behind a raised aluminium lip to continue externally rearwards.

This model comes with an almost full SRAM Apex 1 groupset, the only deviation being SRAM’s non-series S350 chainset. It’s single ring, but there’s routing for a front mech cable via a post behind the seat tube, plus a mudguard mount.

I find that the upwards-facing cable stops here cause excessive clogging in mucky conditions, with the result that the cable soon corrodes. Clearance at the back is good, especially considering its 35mm tyres. The seatstay bridge is high up, and has a mudguard mounting point, plus there are rack mounts on the back.

Focus’s RAT thru-axle system makes switching wheels quick and easy
Focus’s RAT thru-axle system makes switching wheels quick and easy
David Caudery/Immediate Media

My large Mares produced a reasonably compact position, certainly shorter than expected for a 56cm equivalent bike, but the short head-tube allows for a fairly low front end if desired. The BBB cockpit feels solid, with very shallow drops, and the Velo saddle has a great shape that’s well padded and supportive.

Slow speed acceleration highlights the rotational weight of the Novatec wheelset and big Continental tyres. It’s possible to gain speed fast, but they seem to reach a velocity ceiling, above which the effort required increases exponentially. Long off-road drags can be just that, but the tyres seek out grip even when the going gets soft.

Assured over mixed terrain, and fun to ride, this Mares only fears the steep stuff
Assured over mixed terrain, and fun to ride, this Mares only fears the steep stuff
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Their volume allows for lower pressures, and helps ride comfort, because there’s no getting away from the bike’s almost 10kg complete weight. That said, the Mares is a composed ride, largely thanks to the slack 71-degree head angle and the fork’s excellent ability to take a beating.

It feels rock solid descending on sketchy surfaces, and handles with confidence, especially when picking your way through technical terrain.

The Mares gives you total control over line choice, and the Apex hydraulic brakes have all the power you’ll need. The Apex drivetrain is ideal too, although the 44-tooth chainring is more suited to less arduous cyclocross riding, because even with the 36 sprocket, the combination of bike weight plus steep climbs will see you walking sooner.

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Still, it’s a comfortable, well-appointed and capable trail basher that could benefit from a bit of a diet.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Mares 6.9
Brand Focus

Available Sizes XS S M L XL XXL
Rear Wheel Weight 2430
Wheelbase (cm) 103
Top Tube (cm) 56
Standover Height (cm) 82
Seat Tube (cm) 52.5
Chainstays (cm) 42.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28.5
Wheelset Novatec N30 Disc
Weight (kg) 9.81
Trail 7.6
Stem BBB Basic aluminium
Shifters SRAM Apex 1
Seatpost BBB Basic aluminium
Seat Angle 74
Saddle Velo VL-1489
Rear Tyre Continental Race King CX 35mm
Bottom Bracket BSA
Rear Derailleur SRAM Apex 1
Headset Type Integrated
Head Angle 71
Handlebar BBB Basic aluminium
Front Wheel Weight 1710
Front Tyre Continental Race King CX 35mm
Front Derailleur SRAM Apex 1
Frame Material 7005 aluminium, disc, RAT Evo technology
Fork Offset 4.25
Fork Carbon disc, RAT thru-axle
Cranks SRAM S350, 44
Chain SRAM PC1130
Cassette SRAM PG-1130, 11-36
Brakes SRAM Apex 1 hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors
Frame size tested L