The endurance and sportive road bike market is one of the most interesting and competitive at the moment, and last year German bike brand Focus threw its hat into the ring with the brand new Paralane.
On paper, there’s a lot going for the Paralane. It’s designed solely around disc brakes, just like the Specialized Roubaix and Giant Defy, offering reliable braking in all weathers and increased tyre clearance - it’ll accept up to 35mm tyres.
There’s the almost standard 12mm thru-axles at both ends but these are slightly different to the thru-axles derived from mountain bikes that most companies are using. Called Rapid Axle Technology (RAT for short) they are much easier and quicker than regular threaded thru-axles and even conventional quick release skewers, requiring just a 90-degree turn to engage the T-Bar at the end of the axle into the opposing dropout.
Quite a few endurance and sportive bikes, despite providing clearance for them, don’t take mudguards at all. Your only option is clip-on mudguards. The Paralane has mudguard mounts so will take proper full-length mudguards, and joins a small number of modern carbon endurance bikes in offering that versatility. For many UK cyclists, it’s a big box ticked. Better than just providing mudguard eyelets, Focus impressively goes one step further and fits each bike in the range with its own design mudguards. No extra cost, it’s all part of the package. There aren’t many large bicycle brands offering that.
The frame cuts a striking presence, with lots of angular shapes designed to provide a balance of stiffness and comfort. For stiffness, there’s an oversized press-fit bottom bracket, huge down tube, tapered head tube and chunky chainstays. For comfort, there’s a 25.4mm seatpost and slender seatstays, plus the use of 28mm wide tyres. All cables and brake hoses are internally routed. Focus claims a 56cm frame weighs just 907g which is very light for this style of road bike.
A size medium has a 375mm reach and 577mm stack, with six sizes available. Helpfully, Focus prints the stack and reach on a sticker on the frame to help the bike shop and consumer choose the right size bike. The 56cm size has a 72-degree head angle, 75mm bottom bracket drop, 180mm head tube, 46mm fork rake, 1,015mm wheelbase and 560mm top tube.
The Paralane is available in a wide range of specifications, the pictured bike has a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and costs £2,999. The list of parts includes DT Swiss wheels with 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres, Focus branded handlebars, stem and carbon seatpost and a Fizik Aliante R5 saddle. This 56cm bike spins the scales right around to 8.4kg (18.5lb) which is a good weight for a bike of this type and specification, they typically come in at 8.5-8.7kg.
So there's a quick first look at the new Paralane before I clip in and start riding it. I've actually already ridden this new bike at the worldwide launch last summer, but that was a brief ride but enough to leave me impressed. You can read my Paralane first ride here.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.