Focus Izalco Max AG2R Red review

Germany's biggest brand’s super lightweight race rig

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

The Izalco is a firm favourite of ours, with its predecessor the Izalco Pro picking up our Bike of the Year title back in 2012 and the Max version stiffening it, lightening it and making it more comfortable. This year's Max features SSPS – or Stable Stiffness Per Size – which means regardless of your frame size it should feel exactly the same.

  • Highs: Sublime handling, smoothness, and equipped to perfection
  • Lows: The mechanical-only frame
  • Buy if: You want one of the very, very best race frames wrapped in some of the best kit

Focus found that it could make a stronger, stiffer frame by limiting the tube diameters, which goes against most conventional thinking. The tubes themselves are mainly straight, with tube thicknesses down to as little as 1mm in places. The result? We weighed a painted 54cm frame including bottle cage bolts at 720g – very, very light.

All-external routing

The full-carbon PressFit 30 bottom bracket was chosen to reduce maintenance, which is the same reason for this model having traditional all-external cable routing. If you want to go electronic, Focus also makes the Izalco Max frame in a Di2/EPS-ready version.

The head tube features a vertical external rib while the 295g fork is made from a single piece of carbon, which should prove to be exceptionally strong. The bearing seats for the 1 1/8-1 1/4in headset are made from carbon too, as are the frame's dropouts, all in the name of keeping weight down.

So, light is good, but what of the ride? Well, the Izalco Max remains an absolute joy. Its ultra-light chassis means that it requires minimal steering input to get it to go where you want. It may look slender, weedy even, compared with some of its rivals, but from the saddle it's resolutely solid, unerring through the fastest bends and the steepest bumpy descents.

Over rolling roads the Zipp 303 Firecrests – which we gave a five-star rating to in 2014 – come into their own. They're stiff, speedy, accelerate quickly and are unhindered by crosswinds.

Pro race rocket – but a smoothie too

This Izalco also climbs superbly, its low weight helping you to get out of the saddle and attack. The position is long and low, but the bar's compact drop means you're not overly stretched when you're ready to gun it. The smooth manner in which the Max copes with ragged road surfaces also makes this a genuine pro-level race bike that's very easy to live with day by day.

In a world dominated by Shimano, it's good to be able to ride SRAM Red again. It's easy to forget just how slick SRAM's top-end groupset actually is. The Double Tap shifting snaps into gear superbly every time, and the speed with which you can ship across the block and the smoothness of the trim-free Yaw front derailleur are both marvels. Oh, and it's also the lightest groupset out there. Impressive.

The rest of the kit is equally convincing, from the Red brakes to the classy Fizik cockpit, the Cyrano stem and R3 bar giving just the right amount of compliance for rutted roads. The Concept split carbon seatpost offers a little give and is topped with a Fizik Antares saddle. And it's back to Germany for the tyres, the 25mm Continental GP4000s IIs proving sticky, grippy and surprisingly hardwearing.

There's little we can fault about the Izalco Max. It's a genuinely great ride and we'd change nothing about the equipment. It goes without saying that it's far from cheap, but worth keeping in mind that other brands would probably charge a few hundred pounds or dollars more for a similar spec.

Full Specifications

Name: Izalco Max AG2R
Built by: Focus
Price: £5,699.00 / US$ N/A / AU$ NA
Available Sizes: XXS XS S M L XL XXL

Bottom Bracket: PF30
Brakes: SRAM Red
Cassette: SRAM 11-28
Chain: Shimano
Cranks: SRAM Red 22 172.5mm, 52/36
Fork: Izalco Max P2T 10 Carbon T4
Fork Offset: 4.3
Frame Material: Izalco Max P2T 10 Carbon
Front Tyre: Continental Grand Prix 4000S II 700x25mm
Front Wheel Weight: 1090
Handlebar: Fizik Cyrano R3 aluminium 43cm
Head Angle: 73
Headset Type: FSA
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red 22
Rear Tyre: Continental Grand Prix 4000S II 700x25mm
Rear Wheel Weight: 1460
Saddle: Fizik Antares
Seat Angle: 73
Seatpost: Focus CPX Plus carbon 27.2mm
Shifters: SRAM Red 22
Stem: Fizik aluminium 110mm
Trail: 5.9
Weight (kg): 6.46
Wheelset: Zipp 303 Firecrest carbon clincher, 45mm rims, , 18 spokes front, 24 spokes rear
Bottom Bracket Height (cm): 27.5
Chainstays (cm): 40.5
Seat Tube (cm): 51.5
Standover Height (cm): 81
Top Tube (cm): 56
Wheelbase (cm): 99
Frame size tested: L 

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