The 100mm (3.9in) travel Super Bud 5.0 is Focus’s cheapest full-suspension offering, but at £949 faces some stiff competition in the sub £1,000 category.
Ride & handling: Front suspension lets the bike down
Spin up the road heading for the trails and first impressions of the Super Bud are promising. It’s comfy, everything feels as though it’s in the right place and it sweeps through corners in a promising fashion. Venture off-road with any vigour though, and some key limitations make themselves apparent.
One of them is the tyres – the Conti Traffics are okay on hardpack and roll along nicely, but they quickly become out of their depth if the terrain gets loose. They also contribute to a bit of excess wheel weight. Tyres are a fairly affordable upgrade though, and one you’ll have to make sooner or later anyway.
More troubling is the RST Blaze fork. Despite its coil-sprung internals, it’s a rather blunt instrument, and is apparently immune to small bumps even with minimum pre-load. Hit something substantial and it will move, but then you have to take your chances with the non-adjustable rebound damping.
The fork bounces back at quite a rate, enough to unweight the front wheel if you’re not paying attention, and it tops out rather loudly too. You can tame it somewhat by committing more weight forward, but it’s easy to get it out of shape.
Strangely, the RST has a remote lockout lever – we would swap that for a rebound dial any day. The worn coating on the stanchions of our test bike was a bit worrying too, considering how few miles it had done.
It’s a shame, because in other respects the Super Bud has a lot going for it. The rear suspension is entirely competent – we didn’t have high hopes for the DNM rear shock, but with separate positive and negative air chambers plus rebound adjuster and lockout lever, it’s readily tunable and exhibits decent control.
The handling is classically neutral and a 3×10 Shimano transmission is a bonus at the price. If you’ve got a bit more to spend, another £300 will get you the Super Bud 4.0, which has RockShox suspension at both ends.
Frame & equipment: Delivers where ride feel fails
The Super Bud shares its frame with other models further up the range, and it’s an impressive bit of kit for a budget bike. There’s a semi-integrated head tube up front, subtly shaped top and down tubes and a proper four-bar back end with chainstay pivots and a swing link that drives a DNM shock, under the top tube.
It’s all very clean and tidy, with neat welds, machined covers over the pivot bearings and direct cable routing.
While the DNM rear shock and RST Blaze fork are very much entry-level parts, the Focus impresses with its spec elsewhere. A 3×10 Shimano transmission, with SLX shifters and XT rear mech, is a bonus for the money.
The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are entirely competent and Focus’s own Concept finishing kit is entirely up to the job at hand. The complete bike is fairly middling in terms of weight for its sub £1,000 category, although 14.6kg (32.2lb) is a little on the hefty side for a 100mm (3.9in) travel bike.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.