Focus already had a strong offering in last year’s Culebro SL, but for 2014, the German company has totally redesigned the frame, geometry and fork of its new SL.
HIGHS: Efficiently responsive frame, smooth, lightweight fork, excellent transmission value
LOWS: Sharp handling won’t sync with more sedate riders, relatively heavy frame
BUY IF… You want a keenly responsive, top-value update of a traditional racer
Focus isn’t shy of the fact that this is a performance-oriented bike and that’s obvious when we put our hands on the narrow bars. That frame is on the heavy side of mid-weight though, and its sturdy wheels are also relatively heavy. Despite this the Culebro has an unequivocally fast feel that was always engaging.
Anyone claiming stiffness advantages for oversized axles or press-fit bottom brackets will also find their argument undermined by how well the Focus takes the wattage from your feet and uses it to fire you up the road. The perfect frame and fork alignment also contributes to overall efficiency as well as endorsing build quality.
Frame alignment was excellent throughout testing:Russell Burton / Future Publishing
The Focus also puts a lie to the idea that alloy bikes have to be harsh. Yes, you’ll know about rough patches through your rump, but the carbon fork does a great job of chamfering the edges off impacts and applying filler to the road’s largest cracks.
Lively handling from steep angles and a short back-end also meant our 58cm bike had no trouble dodging the worst our backroads could offer. Combined with the long stem and narrow bar the geometry can introduce an occasional twitch compared to more docile-feeling bikes, but more aggressive testers welcomed the swift handling as an integral part of its character.
This is a bike eager to get things done and flatter your fitness whether it’s serious mileage, short, sharp hill work or your first competitive event.