The angular lines of Focus’s Izalco Max look like they’ve come directly from a concept drawing.
There’s the minimalist Izalco Max frameset with truncated aerofoil tube profiles, dropped seatstays, asymmetric chainstays and a super-slim aero fork crown, which is part recessed in to the bottom of a very short 125mm head tube.
A complete Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic discs provides the stop and go, and it rolls on a set of 45mm deep carbon rims.
Initial feel is very good, the broad, sculpted 105 levers offering even more purchase and the position on my 56cm machine is just perfect; its low front end and integrated headset creating a slammed look that’s ideal for fast riding on the drops or stretched out across the hoods.
Prologo’s Scratch saddle has more padding than average, but is well-shaped and firm enough not to distract from riding hard.
On reaching cruising speed, I became aware of a low pitched whistling noise, much like the sound that roof bars on a car make. No matter what I did, it persisted through direction and upward speed changes and it seemed to be coming from the narrow fork crown.
Wind direction made no difference either. I could ignore it, but it was always present, creating mild embarrassment when passing other riders.
Noise or not, the Izalco Max is seriously fast with a frameset that’s torsionally stiff enough to produce very direct speed responses, and a wheelset that’s more than happy to oblige.
Standing on the pedals elicits satisfying acceleration and quite a deep rim sound too, which being able to lean so hard on the utterly solid front end makes easier to exploit.
Underpinning much of the Izalco Max’s performance is its stability. A fairly normal 73.5-degree seat angle and 410mm chainstays but relaxed 72-degree head angle dictate the relatively long 1,010mm wheelbase.
More unusual is the 78mm bottom bracket drop, the thinking behind which is to keep the rider’s centre of gravity low, while accounting for the greater air volume of modern road tyres, which otherwise increase overall height. You feel very much ‘in’ the bike rather than perched on top, and the generous wheelbase and head angle really help directional stability.
On rough surfaces, the Focus absorbs bumps and vibrations well, and steers accurately through the worst tarmac without being deflected from its course.
The handling is impressively crisp, able to gather up sudden braking and emergency gear changes, while changing line around an obstruction without drama.
The Alex CF45 wheelset’s 19mm internal width makes the 25mm Contis fitted measure 28mm, adding comfort and stability, plus they’re quick on all terrain and not bothered by cross winds, but the freehub is quite loud.
Shimano’s 105 hydraulic groupset brings faultless performance and braking, but the only thing that affects the Izalco Max’s race-worthiness is the 50/34 compact chainset.
I wasn’t lacking speed during my test period, but some may prefer the gear ratios and higher top-end speed of larger rings. The Focus is a little heavy compared to similar bikes, but its easy speed, composed ride and gradient-crushing abilities are excellent.
Focus Izalco Max Disc 8.7 specifications
- Sizes (*tested): 47, 50, 52, 56*, 58, 61cm
- Weight: 8.25kg
- Frame: MAX technology carbon disc, RAT Evo technology
- Fork: MAX technology carbon
- Chainset: Shimano, 50/34
- Bottom bracket: Shimano PF86
- Cassette: Shimano 105 11-30
- Chain: Shimano HG601
- Derailleurs: Shimano 105
- Shifters: Shimano 105
- Wheelset: Alex Rims CF45 Disc
- Tyres: Continental Ultrasport 25mm
- Wheel weight: 1.38kg (front) 1.76kg (rear)
- Stem: BBB Deluxe aluminium
- Bar: BBB Deluxe aluminium
- Headset: Acros
- Saddle: Prologo Scratch
- Seatpost: Focus Aero Carbon, D-Shape
- Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors
Focus Izalco Max Disc 8.7 geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72 degrees
- Chainstay: 41cm
- Seat tube: 53cm
- Top tube: 56.4cm
- Head tube: 12.5
- Fork offset: 4.5cm
- Trail: 6.3cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 7.8cm
- Bottom bracket height: 27cm
- Wheelbase: 1,010mm
- Stack: 55.4cm
- Reach: 40cm
- Price: £2,649 / AU$4,499