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Pro bike: Chris Jones' Rapha-Focus Mares

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Chris Jones has the only custom Rapha-Focus custom team bike; the rest of the team's bikes are a production color

Chris Jones has the only custom Rapha-Focus custom team bike; the rest of the team's bikes are a production color (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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Another look at the massive seat tube with relief for the front derailleur

Another look at the massive seat tube with relief for the front derailleur (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The Fi:zi'k Aliante saddle is color matched and mounted to a durable two-bolt alloy Easton EA70 seat post

The Fi:zi'k Aliante saddle is color matched and mounted to a durable two-bolt alloy Easton EA70 seat post (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The Mares frame features plenty of mud clearance, especially with UCI mandated 32mm tires

The Mares frame features plenty of mud clearance, especially with UCI mandated 32mm tires (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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Jones rides Dugast tires; Typhoons in the dry and Rhinos in the wet

Jones rides Dugast tires; Typhoons in the dry and Rhinos in the wet (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The Mares fork bulges with a bow legged stance

The Mares fork bulges with a bow legged stance (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The massive seat tube features relief to properly align the front derailleur

The massive seat tube features relief to properly align the front derailleur (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The Focus Mares uses size, and stiffness, specific tubing profiles to each size monocoque frame

The Focus Mares uses size, and stiffness, specific tubing profiles to each size monocoque frame (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The Rapha logos are under the clearcoat, pro

The Rapha logos are under the clearcoat, pro (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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Jones uses TRP's EuroX Magnesium with SwissStop's Yellow King brake pads

Jones uses TRP's EuroX Magnesium with SwissStop's Yellow King brake pads (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The blue, pink, red and cream colors of the Rapha-Focus team are carried on the bike's down tube logo

The blue, pink, red and cream colors of the Rapha-Focus team are carried on the bike's down tube logo (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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SRAM's Red BB30 crank offers a super low stance width for plenty of ankle clearance even on the muddy days

SRAM's Red BB30 crank offers a super low stance width for plenty of ankle clearance even on the muddy days (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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The custom frame is complemented by color-matched parts throughout

The custom frame is complemented by color-matched parts throughout (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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Pink hoods, you must be fast

Pink hoods, you must be fast (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)
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Easton's EA70 bar and EA90 stem finish off the elegant kit

Easton's EA70 bar and EA90 stem finish off the elegant kit (Image credit: Matt Pacocha, Bikeradar.com)

If looking good is half the battle, Rapha-Focus rider Chris Jones wins half of every race he enters just by showing up with the hottest kit, including his custom Rapha themed Focus Mares cyclo-cross bike.

Jones’s bike is based on an off-the-shelf carbon frame that’s been painted in the black, pink, red, blue and cream colors of the Rapha-Focus team by Cycle Art in Vista, California – and it's a one-off.

By the time the Rapha-Focus partnership came together, the team frames had already been shipped from Germany in time for Interbike and CrossVegas. It was too expensive to hand-paint a fleet of bikes, so Jones has the only one.

The Mares features all of the bells and whistles associated with today’s carbon frames, including a tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket and carbon dropouts. It also has some features that are unique to Focus.

The company's Size Stable Stiffness Per Size (SSPS) design uses three different tube diameters across the four available frame sizes. As such, Jones's large Mares gets a larger diameter down tube than the smaller frame sizes for improved stiffness.

The stiffness theme is continued by the oversized seat tube, which tapers from a super-wide bottom bracket junction to a svelte, and presumably more comfortable, 27.2mm seatpost diameter. The tube is shaped to accept a front derailleur.

The fork, however, may be the most striking feature of the Mares. Its bow-legged carbon structure embodies an aggressive, elbows out, attack-the-course attitude. Focus USA’s marketing and cyclo-cross team manger, Brian Dallas, compared the stance to that of a bulldog.

"Fork chatter is always a concern in cyclo-cross," said Jones. "When we jumped to this fork, there was no chatter whatsoever. On other bikes, guys spend hours adjusting toe-in. This fork is nice; the mechanics don't have to stress about the perfect toe-in. The braking is always good."

Jones’s Mares is outfitted with kit that's more working professional than ultra exotic. TRP’s EuroX Magnesium brakes and a mix of Easton’s alloy EA70 and EA90 aluminum cockpit components complement a SRAM Red BB30 transmission and drivetrain.

"I've never had any problems with them," said Jones of his brakes and the emerging trend in ’cross toward more powerful low-profile brakes. "I'd rather have better performance in the mud, which you get with the wider cantilevers... My strength is my power, not necessarily my technical skills, so anything that can give me an advantage in the mud I need to utilize."


Another look at the massive seat tube with relief for the front derailleur.

The Fi’zi:k Aliante saddle, while custom colored, features durable K:ium titanium rails rather than the brand’s braided carbon variety. Even Jones's new 2011 CrankBrothers Candy pedals are the more economical and durable 3 model with a stainless steel spindle, rather than the titanium-clad 11.

The one area where no expense is spared – and arguably the most important when speaking of performance – is the team's selection of wheels and tires. Jones’s quiver of Easton EC90SL carbon tubulars are clad with a mix of Challenge and Dugast rubber; the latter is the choice of most pros both domestic and abroad, thus his Dugasts see plenty of use.

“We mainly have Challenge tires [noting that they're the team's official tire sponsor],” said Jones. “But we have some Typhoons and Rhinos on hand, so we end up riding whatever tires we feel most comfortable on.”

Complete bike specifications: