Home
Is this a vision of the future? A lightweight e-bike that provides assistance only when you need it

Last week Tony pondered if the new 3T Strada was the future of road cycling, but could the future actually be this new Focus e-bike? That's the bold claim by the Germany company behind an e-bike that is unlike other e-bikes, because the power only kicks in when you really need it, such as on a steep climb, and a 12.5kg weight should ensure it’s easy to pedal without assistance.

It’s called Project Y and is the first e-bike we’ve yet seen that very closely resembles a regular road bike. It's scarily similar to a regular road bike, just the fat downtube really gives it away. The low weight is courtesy of a full carbon fibre frame with a lightweight Fuzua Evation drive system adding just 4kg and built into the bottom bracket, with the downtube housing the battery and motor.

Focus Project Y -2.jpg

Where the Fuzua Evation differs from the more common Bosch and Shimano Steps systems is that it can be removed entirely and you can ride the bike without power assistance. With the motor and battery removed only the gearbox remains in place, but it only weighs 1kg so the whole bike comes in at under 10kg in race bike build. 

Key to the lightness of the system is the smaller capacity battery, 250Wh compared to the more common 500Wh on other e-bikes. That obviously means a shorter range but Focus is pitching the addition of the motor as providing assistance only in those times when you really need it, such as climbing, where it can deliver up to 400 watts of additional power, instead of having pedal assistance all of the time, as with regular e-bikes. 

Focus Project Y -6.jpg

“We want maximum performance at all times and on every leg of the ride, so we are integrating an electric motor to provide assistance in those critical situations. However, the assistance only kicks in when you really need it. On slopes, off-road or when setting off – whenever it's possible to eke out a little more,” explains Focus.

Because e-bikes are limited by law to 25km/h Focus has worked to ensure a seamless transition at this speed, the assistance feels completely natural it says. You clearly spend a lot of time above 25 on a lightweight road bike but it’ll be interesting to ride the Focus to find out how it feels and performs when the motor cuts out.

focus project y e-bike3.JPG

The bike is built around providing clearance for up to 32mm tyres with mudguards fitted, or 35mm tyres without mudguards, providing plenty of setup options. All cables and brake hoses are routed internally and it’s compatible with a variety of drivetrain configurations. Naturally, it’s a disc brake only bike, using 12mm thru-axles but in the wider Boost standard that has rapidly become standard on the latest mountain bikes. That means extra width - while the axle diameter is the same, the front is 110mm wide and the rear is 148mm. Be interesting to see if this catches on in the road market because it obviously means none of your old wheels will fit!

focus project y e-bike1.JPG

Interestingly Focus has demonstrated different possible builds, including adventure, cyclocross and road focused options. While it’s still at prototype stage the German company is serious about putting it into production, but when that is and how much it will cost we don’t know at this stage.

Sister site e-biketips.co.uk had a closer look at the bike at the recent Eurobike Media Days event and chatted with Senior Product Manager Andrew James about the bike in the video below. 

More at www.focus-bikes.com/gb_en/project-y-future-racing-bikes

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.