Focus Paralane 8.9 GC review

Superb comfort paired with single-ring simplicity

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £2,459
Focus Paralane 8.9 GC

Our review

An ideal off-the-shelf, all-weather, all-round package — the Paralane is a tough act to follow
Pros: Superb comfort, well-integrated mudguards, great performance
Cons: The 1x gearing has some minor limitations
The Paralane is Focus’ solution to ‘anyroad’ riding, and comes with the promise of transporting you along swiftly and comfortably on just about any sort of firm surface, be it tarmac or something else altogether.

The Focus Paralane 8.9 GC is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.

Focus Paralane 8.9 GC frame and kit

Compliance is designed in through the stepped, straight fork, flattened bridgeless seatstays, and chainstays, which begin deep and chunky before flattening and bulging out horizontally, before tapering towards the dropouts.

The semi-compact geometry allows more of the 25.4mm diameter carbon seatpost to be exposed to add flex, while the angular head tube and oversized bottom-bracket shell oversee power delivery.

Every Paralane comes with a set of minimalist Curana mudguards, and these latest ones improve on the original model by having a second stay on the rear mudguard.

The previous versions only had one stay and were prone to slapping against the wheel. The rear mudguard’s stays slot into holes in the dropouts and are secured with grub screws for a solid fit, while a secondary clamp that serves as a seatstay bridge provides additional support.

44t chainring SRAM crank
No front derailleur, just a single 44-tooth chainring attached to SRAM cranks
David Caudery/Immediate Media

This Paralane comes with SRAM Apex 1, and the non-series S350 chainset with a 44 tooth chainring. Along with the 11-36 cassette, the gearing is good in most situations — it’s able to climb steep hills, and only starts spinning out at around 35mph on descents. Our only complaint is that the jumps between certain gears are a little big.

The bike has good endurance road-bike speed on flat and rolling terrain; it will easily clip along at 20mph and feels willing on the climbs too.

Mavic’s Aksiums are partly responsible for the lively feel, even when shod with 32mm Continental SpeedKing CX tyres. Their generous tyre volume meant I could run pressures around 70psi, which combined with the frame’s design, slim carbon seatpost and comfy Prologo Kappa saddle, gives the Paralane a seriously smooth ride.

The bar and stem are alloy BBB items. They’re nicely finished and stiff enough. The bar is well-shaped and has a deeper than average drop for a bar classed as compact, which helps to make up for the tall 180mm head tube on my large bike.

The additional 15mm headset collar raises the bar even further, but the resulting position is more neck-friendly endurance than sit-up and beg.

male cyclist riding green bike through country side
The Focus feels planted on and off tarmac, and confident through corners and on descents
Robert Smith

The 72-degree head angle strikes a sensible balance between road and mixed-surface riding, and the 1,010mm wheelbase keep things stable when the going gets exciting, but the bike still reacts positively.

Its 75mm bottom-bracket drop is more than average, but makes for a planted feel on and off tarmac, confident cornering and quick descending, as long as you don’t want to pedal at very high speeds.

Focus says the Paralane will accept tyres up to 35mm wide without the mudguards, which would be the preferable rubber set-up if you’re heading for gravel. But as specced, it makes for a great all-rounder with few performance compromises.

If you’re looking for a quick commuter or a training bike with a feel that’s not far removed from your favourite road bike, the Paralane 8.9 GC is a comfortable and weatherproof option.

Focus Paralane 8.9 GC specifications

  • Sizes (*Tested): XS, S, M, L*, XL, XXL
  • Weight: 8.79kg
  • Frame: Carbon SL disc, RAT Evo technology
  • Fork: Carbon disc, RAT thru axle
  • Chainset: SRAM S350, X-Sync 44t ring
  • Bottom bracket: Cannondale alloy Press Fit 30
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-1130 11-36
  • Chain: SRAM PC-1110
  • Derailleurs: SRAM Apex 1
  • Shifters: SRAM Apex 1
  • Wheelset: Mavic Aksium Disc
  • Tyres: Continental SpeedKing CX 32mm
  • Wheel Weight: 1.45kg (f), 2.04kg (r)
  • Stem: BBB Basic alloy
  • Bar: BBB Basic alloy
  • Headset: SuperX 1 1/8” – 1 1/5”
  • Saddle: Prologo K3
  • Seatpost: BBB CPX Plus carbon, 25.4mm
  • Brakes: SRAM Apex 1 hydraulic disc, 160mm Centreline rotors

Focus Paralane 8.9 GC geometry

  • Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
  • Head angle: 72.5 degrees
  • Chainstay: 41.5cm
  • Seat Tube: 50.5cm
  • Top Tube: 56cm
  • Fork Offset: 4.75cm
  • Trail: 6cm
  • Bottom bracket height: 27.5cm
  • Wheelbase: 1,015mm

BikeRadar would like to thank Stolen Goat, Lazer, Northwave and Effetto Mariposa for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.