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Tech feature: 2011 Focus MTB introduction

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The Focus Thunder 2.0 uses the same frame as the 1.0 but a more affordable build kit.

The Focus Thunder 2.0 uses the same frame as the 1.0 but a more affordable build kit. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The extended seat tube lends more support for the carbon seatpost on the Raven 1.0.

The extended seat tube lends more support for the carbon seatpost on the Raven 1.0. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Seat stays on the Raven are relatively small, suggesting a reasonably smooth ride.

Seat stays on the Raven are relatively small, suggesting a reasonably smooth ride. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Post mount disc brake tabs on the Raven will fit either 160mm or 180mm rotors depending on the adapter used.

Post mount disc brake tabs on the Raven will fit either 160mm or 180mm rotors depending on the adapter used. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The tapered head tube on the Raven includes internal cable ports.

The tapered head tube on the Raven includes internal cable ports. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus says the demand for high-end carbon 26" hardtails is as strong as ever and the company is responding with more models for 2011.

Focus says the demand for high-end carbon 26" hardtails is as strong as ever and the company is responding with more models for 2011. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus includes a wide and flat 3T Xida bar on the top-end Raven 1.0 - but the color-coordinated fi'zi:k grips are too slippery for our taste.

Focus includes a wide and flat 3T Xida bar on the top-end Raven 1.0 - but the color-coordinated fi'zi:k grips are too slippery for our taste. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The carbon stays on the Raven hardtail frame leave a generous amount of room for wider rubber.

The carbon stays on the Raven hardtail frame leave a generous amount of room for wider rubber. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Tire clearance is pretty good on the Raven carbon hardtail frame.

Tire clearance is pretty good on the Raven carbon hardtail frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Focus Raven 1.0 includes a BB30 bottom bracket. Note the internal routing for the rear brake, too.

The Focus Raven 1.0 includes a BB30 bottom bracket. Note the internal routing for the rear brake, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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US customers won't see the top-end Project 1.0 but the 2.0 will be brought in at a consumer cost of US$4,800.

US customers won't see the top-end Project 1.0 but the 2.0 will be brought in at a consumer cost of US$4,800. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The US version of the Raven 3.0 will include a Fox fork and Shimano Deore XT componentry.

The US version of the Raven 3.0 will include a Fox fork and Shimano Deore XT componentry. (Image credit: James Huang)
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2x10 drivetrains are featured heavily on Focus's high-end off-road range for 2011.

2x10 drivetrains are featured heavily on Focus's high-end off-road range for 2011. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Color-matched components are a common theme in the Focus line-up.

Color-matched components are a common theme in the Focus line-up. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Crankbrothers' new stem design makes its way on to the Focus Thunder 1.0.

Crankbrothers' new stem design makes its way on to the Focus Thunder 1.0. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Color-matched Crankbrothers components are included on the top-end Thunder 1.0.

Color-matched Crankbrothers components are included on the top-end Thunder 1.0. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear suspension design on the Thunder is compact and has a low center of gravity but in our experience, is also a bit flexy.

The rear suspension design on the Thunder is compact and has a low center of gravity but in our experience, is also a bit flexy. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Thunder is Focus's 130mm-travel mountain bike platform for enduro-type riding.

Thunder is Focus's 130mm-travel mountain bike platform for enduro-type riding. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus simply doesn't yet have the market share in the US to bring in its complete line so some appealing-looking models unfortunately didn't make the cut.

Focus simply doesn't yet have the market share in the US to bring in its complete line so some appealing-looking models unfortunately didn't make the cut. (Image credit: James Huang)
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American versions of the Super Bud will get seat stay-mounted dropout pivots.

American versions of the Super Bud will get seat stay-mounted dropout pivots. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Tapered head tubes will be used on the upper end Super Buds while the more economically priced models will continue with straight steerers.

Tapered head tubes will be used on the upper end Super Buds while the more economically priced models will continue with straight steerers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus has decided to bring some of the 100mm-travel Super Bud range into the US but not with a Horst Link rear end.

Focus has decided to bring some of the 100mm-travel Super Bud range into the US but not with a Horst Link rear end. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Red Skin's triple butted and hydroformed aluminum frames will feature smoothly finished welds - but no tapered front end.

The Red Skin's triple butted and hydroformed aluminum frames will feature smoothly finished welds - but no tapered front end. (Image credit: James Huang)
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New for 2011 is the 29" Red Skin aluminum hardtail range.

New for 2011 is the 29" Red Skin aluminum hardtail range. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Sorry, folks, but US consumers won't get to see the stunning two-tone green paint job of the Raven 4.0 in person - unless they go to Europe.

Sorry, folks, but US consumers won't get to see the stunning two-tone green paint job of the Raven 4.0 in person - unless they go to Europe. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Focus Project's rear suspension design is also shared with the DiamondBack KnuckleBox - both companies are owned by Derby Cycle.

The Focus Project's rear suspension design is also shared with the DiamondBack KnuckleBox - both companies are owned by Derby Cycle. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus's Project 1.0 offers 150mm of rear wheel travel and all-mountain geometry and componentry.

Focus's Project 1.0 offers 150mm of rear wheel travel and all-mountain geometry and componentry. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus is hoping pedal-assist e-bikes will gain in popularity as they have in Europe.

Focus is hoping pedal-assist e-bikes will gain in popularity as they have in Europe. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Post-mount disc tabs on the FSL 1.0 are compatible with either 160mm or 180mm rotors - but not 140mm.

Post-mount disc tabs on the FSL 1.0 are compatible with either 160mm or 180mm rotors - but not 140mm. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The bare swingarm of the new FSL shows off the direct-mount front derailleur and pass-throughs for the cable and rear brake line.

The bare swingarm of the new FSL shows off the direct-mount front derailleur and pass-throughs for the cable and rear brake line. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Large-diameter cartridge bearings are housed in the swingarm yoke and a BB30-compatible shell is fitted below.

Large-diameter cartridge bearings are housed in the swingarm yoke and a BB30-compatible shell is fitted below. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Flat and relatively wide 3T Xida LTD carbon bars are included on Focus's FSL 1.0 flagship.

Flat and relatively wide 3T Xida LTD carbon bars are included on Focus's FSL 1.0 flagship. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Telescoping seatposts are included on many of Focus's full-suspension mountain bikes.

Telescoping seatposts are included on many of Focus's full-suspension mountain bikes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Though the frames are light, the spindly linkage on the First Extreme looks a bit underbuilt to us.

Though the frames are light, the spindly linkage on the First Extreme looks a bit underbuilt to us. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus's First Extreme range boasts 120mm of travel front and rear for the marathon or trail categories.

Focus's First Extreme range boasts 120mm of travel front and rear for the marathon or trail categories. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Electric pedal-assist bikes are an enormous segment for Focus. The US market will see just a few of them but there are literally dozens on tap for Europe.

Electric pedal-assist bikes are an enormous segment for Focus. The US market will see just a few of them but there are literally dozens on tap for Europe. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The only major disappointment in Focus's 2011 range is its women's range, which is limited to just a handful of models and almost all of which are restricted to low-end offerings.

The only major disappointment in Focus's 2011 range is its women's range, which is limited to just a handful of models and almost all of which are restricted to low-end offerings. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus says the production Black Forest aluminum hardtail will feature more properly smoothed welds than on this early sample.

Focus says the production Black Forest aluminum hardtail will feature more properly smoothed welds than on this early sample. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus says demand for 26" hardtails is still very strong, especially at the mid-to-high end. This Black Forest 1.0 features a triple-butted hydroformed aluminum frame with a tapered head tube, a SRAM X0 group, a RockShox SID fork and DT Swiss wheels.

Focus says demand for 26" hardtails is still very strong, especially at the mid-to-high end. This Black Forest 1.0 features a triple-butted hydroformed aluminum frame with a tapered head tube, a SRAM X0 group, a RockShox SID fork and DT Swiss wheels. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Angular contact ceramic bushings are installed inside the dropout pivots for better stiffness relative to conventional radial cartridge ball bearings.

Angular contact ceramic bushings are installed inside the dropout pivots for better stiffness relative to conventional radial cartridge ball bearings. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus's new FSL range of carbon full-suspension bikes builds on the existing First platform but with lighter weights and a more cross-country oriented 100mm of travel.

Focus's new FSL range of carbon full-suspension bikes builds on the existing First platform but with lighter weights and a more cross-country oriented 100mm of travel. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus builds its new FSL frame with a tapered head tube.

Focus builds its new FSL frame with a tapered head tube. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The bar-mounted computer on the Jafira Speed indicates speed and distance but also battery life and boost level.

The bar-mounted computer on the Jafira Speed indicates speed and distance but also battery life and boost level. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The seat tube-mounted Panasonic battery and drive system on the Focus Jafira Speed takes up a lot of room so the frame is built with extra-long chain stays.

The seat tube-mounted Panasonic battery and drive system on the Focus Jafira Speed takes up a lot of room so the frame is built with extra-long chain stays. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Seriously? Oh, yes - Focus has decided to bring to the US market an electric pedal-assist mountain bike.

Seriously? Oh, yes - Focus has decided to bring to the US market an electric pedal-assist mountain bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus opted for the BionX rear hub system given its more torque-laden power curve.

Focus opted for the BionX rear hub system given its more torque-laden power curve. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Focus-designed quick-release seatpost collars are very lightweight but yet impressively smooth to operate and capable of generating ample clamping force.

The Focus-designed quick-release seatpost collars are very lightweight but yet impressively smooth to operate and capable of generating ample clamping force. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus will offer the FSL cross-country platform in several different models, depending on your budget. And interesting, none of them have the specific '1.0', '2.0', or '3.0' designations - Focus doesn't want buyers to feel bad about upgrading a mid-level bike, especially when it uses the same frame as the top-end models.

Focus will offer the FSL cross-country platform in several different models, depending on your budget. And interesting, none of them have the specific '1.0', '2.0', or '3.0' designations - Focus doesn't want buyers to feel bad about upgrading a mid-level bike, especially when it uses the same frame as the top-end models. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Though striving to reduce weight, Focus's product managers have nevertheless refused to compromise on stiffness. Thru-axles are featured heavily throughout the line, even on some of the hardtails.

Though striving to reduce weight, Focus's product managers have nevertheless refused to compromise on stiffness. Thru-axles are featured heavily throughout the line, even on some of the hardtails. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Both the seat stays and chain stays are carbon fiber on the Focus FSL. Claimed frame weight is around 1.7kg (3.75lb) with rear shock.

Both the seat stays and chain stays are carbon fiber on the Focus FSL. Claimed frame weight is around 1.7kg (3.75lb) with rear shock. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The asymmetrical seat tube on the new FSL helps bolster pedaling stiffness.

The asymmetrical seat tube on the new FSL helps bolster pedaling stiffness. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The top tube-mounted linkage looks unusual but Focus says it makes the controls easier to reach and also leaves plenty of room for two water bottles. Plus, the open triangle is easy to portage, too.

The top tube-mounted linkage looks unusual but Focus says it makes the controls easier to reach and also leaves plenty of room for two water bottles. Plus, the open triangle is easy to portage, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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There are five internal cable ports at the head tube on the new FSL - two for the derailleurs, one for the rear brake, one for the optional rear shock lockout, and another for an optional telescoping seatpost remote.

There are five internal cable ports at the head tube on the new FSL - two for the derailleurs, one for the rear brake, one for the optional rear shock lockout, and another for an optional telescoping seatpost remote. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus's urban, commuter and utility range is enormous in Europe.

Focus's urban, commuter and utility range is enormous in Europe. (Image credit: James Huang)

Cross-country and marathon full-suspension models lose weight, grow in numbers

New from Focus for 2011 is the carbon fibre FSL range, which boasts 100mm of travel front and rear and an impressive claimed frame weight of around 1.95kg (4.30lb) with rear shock. The faux bar design's look is decidedly unusual what with its high-mounted and in-line rear shock but Focus points out several key advantages to the layout for the intended style of riding.

Not only can riders fit two water bottles in the main triangle but the open front triangle is also easy to portage and shock-mounted lockout levers are very easy to reach.

Other features include a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" front end, a PressFit30-compatible bottom bracket, unique post mount rear disc tabs on the chain stay for either 160mm or 180mm rotors, enough tyre clearance for 2.4" rubber, and a unique internal cable routing system.

Focus has generously outfitted the new FSL with five entry at the head tube: two for the derailleurs, one for the rear brake, one for an optional rear shock lockout, and yet another in case there's a remotely operated telescoping seatpost mounted.

Focus has been mindful of maintenance, too, with main pivot bearings that can be serviced completely from the non-driveside without having to remove the crankset, conical ceramic bushings elsewhere that are said to hold up well to dirt and water, and the unique shock placement also shields that normally weather-susceptible bit from tire spray.

Focus will offer up to four different FSL models ranging from the top-end 1.0 (US$9,700) with a 2x10 SRAM XX group, a RockShox SID XX fork, and DT Swiss carbon wheels to the more attainable 4.0 (US$4,400) with a 3x10 Shimano Deore XT package, a Fox 32 RL fork, and alloy DT Swiss hoops. Notably, all but the 1.0 will also include 15mm thru-axles up front for better steering precision and all FSL complete bikes will share the same frame.

Complementing the FSL is the 120mm-travel First collection for more marathon-type riding. Like the FSL, the First also uses a carbon fibre main frame and stays plus the unique high-mounted rear shock position – but with different linkages and leverage ratios to eke out the extra travel.

The tapered head tube and array of internal routing options carry over as well, but the rear end sports more conventional disc caliper mounts and the bottom bracket shell is conventionally threaded.

The top-end First Extreme will come with a Shimano XTR/XT mix, a Fox 32 RL fork and DT Swiss X-1600 wheels for US$5,800 in the US while other markets will also get a less expensive model with a SRAM X.9/X0 mix, a RockShox SID RLT fork and Focus-branded aluminum wheels.

If carbon's not your thing there's also the 100mm-travel Super Bud models built with hydroformed alloy frames. Focus will offer up to six models worldwide with the upper-end versions including a tapered head tube and all variants utilizing a true four-bar linkage system – at least outside of the US.

Americans will get their own Super Buds with seat stay-mounted dropout pivots and prices ranging from US$2,000-3,600 depending on build kit.

Hardtails are alive and well at Focus

While many companies are abandoning high-end hardtails, Focus's 2011 range will include six 26" carbon models alone. All are built around the same Raven frame that reportedly drops about 80g for a final claimed weight of about 950g – lighter, in fact, than any of Focus's road frames.

Not surprisingly, many of the road-going Izalco's features are translated over, including the 'elbowed' dropout design and slim seat stays for a softer ride, BB30-compatible bottom bracket shells, a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube, and internal cable routing run through molded-in carbon fiber reinforcing tubes.

Topping the range is the US$8,900 Raven 1.0 with SRAM XX, a RockShox SID XX fork, and DT Swiss carbon wheels with lesser variants running all the way down to the 6.0 with a Shimano SLX/XT build kit, Avid Elixir 3 brakes and Focus-branded wheels.

Alloy fans can instead look to the Black Forest range with triple butted and hydroformed aluminum frames, smooth-finish TIG welds, and tapered head tubes. Surprisingly, the build kits aren't stingy, either, with the top-end 1.0 coming with a SRAM X.9/X0 mix and a RockShox SID RLT fork and even the 4.0 coming well equipped with Shimano SLX/XT and a RockShox Recon fork.

Finally, Focus has finally decided to enter the 29er market, too, albeit with a modest toe in the water instead of a full-on cannonball. Focus will offer three Red Skin hardtails, all built around aluminum frames with triple butted and hydroformed tubing, tapered head tubes, and smoothly finished welds.

Longer-travel options for the hard-hitting crowd

US buyers will quickly recognize Focus's 130mm-travel Thunder and 150mm-travel Project as using the same low-slung Knuckle Box linkage design as on DiamondBack bikes – which will come as no surprise as both labels are owned by parent company Derby Cycle.

Thunder frames are built with double-butted and hydroformed aluminum tubing, tapered head tubes and 'Easy Access' main pivot bearings with telescoping seatposts and 15mm thru-axle forks featured throughout the range. In contrast, Project frames are designed to handle more abuse with beefier double-butted tubing and larger tube cross-sections, a more heavily bolstered seat tube, and HammerSchmidt-compatible ISCG tabs.

Need a boost?

Focus' German home market is rife with a remarkably diverse collection of electric-assist bicycles, nearly all of which are logically directed at commuters and casual cyclists. But also included in the 'e-bike' range is the intriguing Jafira Offroad – yes, a mountain bike, and yes, Focus does intend for it to see trail time.

Focus swaps out the 300W Panasonic drive system it normally uses on its e-bikes for a more torque-laden Bionx hub-based system that can churn out up to 250W depending on how hard you're pedaling. Rounding out the build is a Shimano SLX/XT 3x9 build kit, Avid Elixir 3 hydraulic disc brakes, and a RockShox Recon RL fork.

Not surprisingly, the Jafira Offroad isn't light nor is it remotely inexpensive at US$4,000. But it is certainly an interesting idea – and one that we're dying to try out ourselves.