Focus has a lot in common with its compatriot Cube. Both companies were little known in Britain a few years ago and both of them make bikes at very, very competitive prices. Focus does have a top-level pro team riding its bikes – Ag2r-La Mondiale – which Cube doesn’t yet have, allowing it to develop its bikes and test them under the toughest and most demanding conditions, although you might argue that many of the road surfaces us mortals have to contend with present equally stringent (and more relevant) examinations…
Highs: A very dynamic and lively ride for a comparatively modestly priced bike
Lows: External cabling won’t appeal to all, and average non-cartridge brakes
Buy if: You’re looking for a good value entry-level road bike at the racier end of the spectrum
As with Cube’s Peloton, the Culebro 4.0 comes with Shimano Sora, this time in its more usual compact 50/34 guise. The 4.0 sits at the base of the four-bike Culebro range, which tops out with the Ultegra-equipped 1.0. But they all share the same frame and carbon fork, and they all have external cable routing.
Shimano’s nine-speed sora works well and has a light shifting action: Robert Smith
Shimano’s nine-speed Sora works well and has a light shifting action
This is a bit of a surprise these days, with internal cable routing quickly becoming the norm even at this quite modest price. But even Focus’s pro-level bikes have external cables, and there are advantages. They’re easier for the home mechanic to replace, and without internal cable channels the bikes are lighter too. Admittedly the latter is less of an issue on an entry-level bike weighing 9.23kg than it is on a team bike, but the ability to do all your own repairs more easily may well be relevant.
Shimano’s Sora is paired with Concept EX wheels. In fact, pretty much all the kit bears the Concept EX name, which is what Focus uses for its own-brand components. But whereas the handlebar, seatpost and stem look like the products of the same Taiwanese factories that produce similar products under a multitude of names, the wheels are made in France. They have unusually large flanges, which means shorter spokes for a – theoretically – stronger wheel. Schwalbe’s Lugano boots are decent budget affairs, though we’d swap them for something better when they’ve done their time.
The culebro’s racy dna makes it a strong sprinter and climber: Robert Smith
The Culebro’s racy DNA makes it a strong sprinter and climber
The Focus’s geometry is relatively uncompromising, with a steepish head angle and a long top tube that is more race than sportive. These factors combine for a bike that’s sprightly on climbs and a dynamic out-of-the-saddle sprinter, and it does this without beating you up too, thanks to good contact points.
At this price you’re never going to get super-light wheels, but the geometry and wheelbase make for quite lively descents, though the Sora brakes would benefit from cartridge calipers.