Focus Izalco Max 5.0 review£2,999.00

First in line of the German ultra-light racer range

BikeRadar score4.5/5

First things first: the Izalco Max frameset is seriously light. The frame weighs in under 800g, and even adding the 5th Element carbon fork only just lifts the whole package above a kilo. This is a great start to making a lightweight bike, one that without pedals dips under the UCI minimum weight limit. Should you really feel the need to go lighter, the Tour replica AG2R model weighs 560g less, but it will lighten your wallet by six grand…

    Focus makes two versions of this frame, the one we’re testing for a mechanical drivetrain with mechanic-friendly external cabling, and a model with internal electronic cable routing. This does mean you can’t go electric with the same frame should you want to make the switch later.

    The lightness of the chassis informs everything about how well the bike rides; it has a deftness of touch, reacting instantly and without drama to handling inputs. The lightweight minimalist fork looks like it would falter under hard cornering forces but remained steadfastly solid, enabling you to hold the tightest of lines and barrel down descents at the greatest possible speed.

    The low weight, of course, comes into its owns when you start to climb, and this Focus makes a superb companion on ascents. The pro-compact 52/36 chainset and 11-28 cassette offer an ample range of gears for ups and downs, with shifting handled by the suitably slick 11-speed Shimano Ultegra. The only exception to the groupset is FSA’s new SL-K carbon chainset, which is over 100g lighter than the Ultegra equivalent while delivering equally swift shifting.

    The ride is smooth and comfortable even over broken surfaces, floating across scarred tarmac with barely a murmur. The frame is aided by a decent set of 1500g DT Swiss wheels and excellent high-volume Schwalbe One tyres, which are even more impressive than the Ultremos they replaced at the top of Schwalbe’s range. And though the position is long and the front low, Fizik’s compact ‘bull’ bar means you can still get into the drops without contorting yourself. Matched by the latest long Arione saddle that allows you to easily move around, the result is a very comfortable riding position.

    We really can’t find much to fault with the Max 5.0. And as for being mechanical shifting-only – that just means you have to make your mind up when you buy the bike.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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