Last year’s Cayo Evo featured much the same component list, Fulcrum wheels, alloy bar, stem and post, quality Pro Logo saddle and a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. It was, however, about five per cent cheaper than this model.
This might seem a case of the German brand snatching away some value in the last 12 months, but it is, in fact, down to Shimano’s upgrade adding an 11th gear to Ultegra.
Highs: Great balance between racy handling and smooth comfort
Lows: Not the most reactive of tyres, though that’s easily cured
The all-new Ultegra offers most of the benefits of the new Dura-Ace: faster, more positive shifts, mechanical braking at its best but still with that smooth silent soundtrack you expect from Shimano. The FSA chainset can’t match the slick speed of Ultegra but it’s a necessity, because the frame’s BB30 and Shimano don’t make a compatible crankset.
The Cayo Evo of course retains the charms that so impressed in 2013. The frame and fork achieve a rare match of firmness and comfort that only comes from a design team that knows what they’re doing. The geometry doesn’t stray away from the accepted standards and they haven’t messed with angles either. So the beautifully composed ride can only be down to the frame’s tubing dimensions and fibre lay-up.
For the record, our large test bike has a 170mm head-tube, and a 992mm wheelbase with a 565mm top tube matched to a 570mm seat. So its not trying to be sportive-relaxed, but neither is it flat-backed fast. It’s sensibly proportioned and a very easy place to get used to.
Up front, the angular and very substantial head-tube junction feels impervious to twisting forces. This means that when firing it down a twisty descent or threading your way between ruts and lumps the Cayo is completely at one with your inputs. Free of flex, unflustered by the road surface and never one to be bounced off line.
There are clever things going on under the Evo’s skin: the highly defined ridge that runs either side of the down-tube not only provides a direct channel for the gear cable’s internal route, it’s also a reinforcement for the frame adding stiffness where needed. This is truly clever, innovative stuff. The back end has big boxy chainstays matched to a Cervélo-like slimline set of seatstays. It means the Cayo has a fine combination of swift response to pedalling inputs plus floaty-smooth ride in the saddle over rougher roads.
In your hands, the Cayo has switched from last years FSA bar to a CEX (Concept) compact drop bar. It’s Focus’s in-house component line, and while the bar doesn’t have the stiffness of the old FSA unit, it doesn’t detract from the overall ride.
We like that Focus has switched up the ratios on the own-branded FSA chainset to a 52/36: it makes sense to give a little more at the top end but still have a comparable lowest gear, thanks to the 28 sprocket over the old 27 (because of that 11th gear). The wheelset comes from Fulcrum, but the CEX 6.5 may not be that familiar because it’s a Focus-only pairing. It’s based around the latest Fulcrum rim shape and basic but well-sealed hubs. The Schwalbe Durano S tyres offer a bit more volume than a standard 23; they felt competent on damp surfaces without ever really sparkling with speed in the dry.
This article forms part of Cycling Plus magazine’s Bike of the Year 2014 Awards, which is on sale now. Cycling Plus is available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.