Test report: Focus Cayo Expert SRAM  £2249.00

9/10

An exceptional bike and a very good value package, worth checking the Campag option too

Weight 7880g   Contact  www.wiggle.co.uk

by Tony Farrelly   March 4, 2009  

There's no doubt that Focus bikes have made a big splash in the UK since Wiggle introduced them a few years back, none more so than the Cayo Expert which has won rave reviews.

No wonder then that there are such high hopes for the Expert's latest incarnation for 2009, the Cayo Expert SRAM decked out in a mixture of SRAM Red, (rear mech and levers) and SRAM Force (front mech and brakes) with various other bits of high end SRAM componentry filling in any other gaps in the drivetrain.

This is a race-ready bike, although racers might would probably want to upgrade the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels, that would equally serve you well on any big day in the saddle be it a sportive, longer club run, or just a weekend blast throught the hills with your mates.

Focus Cayo Expert SRAM gallery

Does it deliver? Yes it does. This is a good bike, no mistake – if I was in the market I would seriously consider breaking with tradition and buying off the peg especially if Wiggle offered some way for customers to vary the spec.

I looked forward to every ride on the Focus and in the month or so I had it clocked up about 500 miles. For the money it is a great buy stacking up very favourably against other complete bike packages, and looks particularly good as bike prices go up.

Buying a complete bike is pretty much always going to be a more cost effective option even if you do end up immediately changing some of the original equipment out of either performance considerations or just from personal preference – wheels are the obvious place for manufacturers to save money and this bike is no different. The plus for the buyer (or the best way of rationalising spending money on more wheels) is that you've already got yourself a set of training hoops.

Given the hefty list price of SRAM groupsets as aftermarket components the Expert Cayo looks even more of a bargain, but then would anybody seriously consider buying these components at list priceto build up their own bike?

SRAM Red is a fantastic addition to the customer choice category, it's certainly top level stuff, but it didn’t perform any better than any other top spec gear I’ve used. Coming to the for the first time the levers took a little getting used to. It was amazing light to change down, a bit less so changing up and you couldn’t drop down a number of gears at once as you can with Campag.

I also prefer having two separate methods of changing gear – not all from one lever which caught me out on a number of occasions. In a race it could be your race losing move – although I've got to admit the pros don't seem to have any problems on that score. I did find myself unintentionally changing down whilst climbing or going over rougher roads. This was due to my hand position on the hoods and my fingers tending to rest on the levers. No doubt with time I'd get used to it. I could certainly get used to the SRAM Force brakes which were superb and I really like the shape of the lever hoods which reminded me of old-school Campag.

Speaking of Campag it seems to me this bike's biggest rival is likely to be it's Campagnolo equipped stablemate - the Cayo Expert Campa which for the same money sports a fair smattering of Campag Chorus and of course benefits from the same superb frameset.

Verdict:

An exceptional bike and a very good value package, worth checking the Campag option too 

road.cc test report

Make and model: Focus Cayo Expert SRAM

Weight: 7.8 Kg 17.3lb (18lbs incl Look Keo Carbon pedals)

Size: 54cm

Price: £2249

Specification

Frame: Focus Cayo Light UD Carbon Frame

Fork: Focus Cayo Race UD Carbon Forks

Rims: Mavic Ksyrium Equipe, QR

Front Hub: Mavic Ksyrium Equipe, QR

Rear Hub: Mavic Ksyrium Equipe, QR

Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 700x23c

Cassette: SRAM OG-1070 10 speed 12-26

Crankset: SRAM S950 compact 50/34

Shift Levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap

Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red

Front Derailleur: SRAM Force

Chain: SRAM PC-1050

Brakes: SRAM Force

Stem: FSA OS-150C

Handlebars: FSA Road RD305

Headset: FSA Orbit

Saddle: Fizik Aliante Delta

Seat Post: FSA SL-280

Frame

Material: Unidirectional carbon

Method of construction: bonded

Build quality:
Generally superb although the seat tube bottle bosses were not perfectly in line which meant a large bottle stuck out to one side meaning your knee grazed it from time to time.

Any other comments on build quality:

Everything was put together very well – cable stops on every cable. For once I didn’t really have to adjust/check anything which is rare in my experience for an ‘off the peg’ bike.

Frame geometry:
Head angle 72.5°
Seat angle 74°

Did the frame configuration work for you in terms of:

Height?
54cm c –-c is the size of frame I would normally go for – and unsurprisingly it felt just right.

Reach?
Reach was also fine - I was able to set the bike up almost as a mirror image of my own summer bike.

Handling?
Handling was fantastic. Was this solely down to the stiff frame, geometry etc or did the fine ride from the new Conti 24mm have a contributing factor. The fact is it felt smooth, responsive and cornered with a level of confidence that tempted you to push it just a bit further.

Was there any toe clip overlap with the front wheel?
No problems here – even with my big feet!

Riding

Was your general impression that the bike felt: stiff in the right places, but comfortable where it counted?

The Focus was extremely comfortable on any ride, flat and fast, lumpy, challenging and long. I rode it on rides up to 80 miles and became very attached to this bike in more ways than one! Quite often, I find it takes a while to become comfortable on a bike and feel that it is performing as you expect. Not so with the Cayo. After an initial concern that all was not well, which proved to be a problem with one of my own supplied pedals, the bike felt fantastic.

The frame is really stiff and felt like it wasn’t wasting any of your effort at all. The frame may have been let down a bit by the wheels which whilst being pretty good were not, in my opinion doing the frame justice.

Just stiff?
If so, was it stiff and efficient? Yes to both

Did it cause you any discomfort? Very little discomfort – even the saddle which looked chunky, was really comfortable.

Was the bike's stiffness purely down to the frame or could different component choices (tyres, seatpost, handlebars) have softened the ride without sacrificing efficiency?

I think the bike is a great all round package built round a fantastic frame set..

Which components (including the frame) contributed most to the efficiency and comfort of the bike?

Certainly the frame, the drive train was a joy but more on that later. The bars and stem were great with little flex.

Which components (if any) most detracted from the comfort and efficiency of the bike?

As mentioned earlier, I would have liked to try some better wheels. The Mavics are great all rounders, but a decent lightweight pairing may have added a bit more to the bikes all round performance.

Handling

Did the bike accelerate quickly from a standing start?

It did accelerate quickly due mainly to the stiffness of the frame (plus the power in the riders legs of course!) and the drive train

Did the bike accelerate quickly for a sprint?

I didn’t sprint on it much but I have no doubts that it would not be the reason for anyone losing a sprint!

Did the bike feel stable at high speed?

Absolutely rock solid

Did the bike feel stable at cruising speed?

As above

Did the bike feel stable at low speed?

As above

How did the bike behave when cornering on the flat?

Felt sure footed in the dry. In the wet, the tyres would let it down.

How did the bike behave when cornering on descents?

It’s sure footedness actually caused me to be a bit more ‘adventurous’ on some challenging descents I know. Particularly because the brakes were so powerful and progressive, which may of course be down to everything being brand spanking new.

How did the bike perform on climbs?

Brilliantly – very stiff and frankly a joy to climb on.

How would you describe the steering?

It was perfect in my book

Why would you say this was? What part did the handlebars and/or steering geometry play in this?

All of the above, hands off the hoods, bike was a dream. (not recommended of course).

Were there any situations where the bike handled differently than it generally did?

No it was all really good and as the miles clicked by, the better it felt.

Which components (if any) contributed to the positive handling traits of the bike, or did most to overcome any negative ones?

The gear change and drive train worked faultlessly. Took a little while to get used to and did cause some mis-changes.

Which components (if any) did most to detract from the positive handling traits of the bike?

None really

Drive train
(Front and rear mechs, cassette, chainset, bottom bracket, chain + shifters)

Rate the drive train for:
Performance: 10/10
Durability:   not sure
Weight: 9/10 
Value:   6/10 – as an after market buy, really dear
Best bit(s) if any? Shifters, chain set – and looks good
Worst(s) if any? No complaints but in my opinion, rear mech looks ugly compared to Campag top spec and £300?

Wheels + tyres

Rate the wheels + tyres for:
Performance:  8/10 wheels – 10/10 tyres
Durability:   not sure but seemed fairly bomb proof
Weight:10/10 nice and light but still felt solid on the road.
Comfort:   9/10
Value:   8/10
Best bit(s) if any? The wheels were OK but not matching the spec of the rest of the bike.
Worst(s) if any? none

Controls
(Handlebars, stem, brake levers, brakes)

Rate the controls for:
Performance:  10/10 - brakes superb
Durability:   9/10
Weight:   9/10
Comfort:   9/10
Value: 7/10 – I know SRAM is coming down in price but…
Best bit(s) if any? Handlebars very comfortable – hoods as nice as old Campag
Worst(s) if any? None

Other components (saddle, pedals) 8/10
Best bit(s)?  Saddle looked too bulky for my liking, but was in fact very comfortable.
Worst bit(s)? Seat post was very down spec but that said, good fine adjustment.

Overall

Did you enjoy riding this bike? Yes I did – very much
Would you consider buying one? Yes, but I think I would opt for a less expensive drive train and gear change option and spend the extra on better wheels if I could.
Would you recommend one to a friend? I would, but also with the above comment

About the tester

Name:  Test Pilot 1

Age:   48

What size bike do you ride? 54cm c-c

Bike you ride most often? Kinesis Racelight Gran Fondo Sportive/winter bike

Best bike (if not the one above)? Flandria FCS1 – Campag Record/Neutron Ultra plus a Fondriest TT bike with all sorts of wheels and a Daccordi Steel retro – Campag Record Delta Goupset.

How long have you been riding? 35+ years

How often do you ride? Currently 250miles/week

Which best describes your riding ability: Very experienced to Expert

Type(s) of riding you do: All sorts, but not road racing anymore – too dangerous these days

If you race, at what level? See above

If you time trial what is your PB? Have been sub 4hr for 100, can still knock out a 56 min 25 on a good day and can give a good account of myself on the Chain Gang.

 

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