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Tech feature: 2011 Focus road and urban range

Focus's Izalco Pro flagship carbon road platform looks nearly identical to the current version but the company says new internal molds, updated fiber blends, and revised lay-up schedules have yielded lighter weights and more consistent tube finishes plus improvements in pedaling and front triangle stiffness.

Claimed frame weight for the new 'Hi-Mod' Izalco Team is now 960g for a painted and decaled 56cm sample – notably a bit heavier than some of the competition but then again, perhaps a reflection of the company's conservative views on weight vs. strength and durability and still over 100g lighter than the previous iteration, which will continue on as the 2011 Izalco Pro.

Updates include one-piece chain stay and dropout assemblies and revised internal cable routing. As before, all of the lines enter the frame through molded-in ports in the head tube and are guided through full-length carbon tubes that are integrated into the frame structure – and reportedly add torsional stiffness to the tubes. But the rear derailleur line now stays inside the frame all the way until the end of the chain stay and a new access port beneath the BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell for the front derailleur makes for easier servicing.

At least for now, the internal routing setup still isn't compatible with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 transmission, though, so those users will continue to have to run the wires on the tube surfaces.

As before, all Izalco frames will include a BB30-compatible bottom bracket, a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" front end, and a non-integrated 27.2mm seatpost for rider comfort.

Focus will offer multiple Izalco Team and Pro versions depending on region, with prices ranging from around US$3,100/€2,299 to US$7,700/€5,999, and drivetrain options that will include standard, compact and even triple cranksets on certain models. Focus is also planning to release a limited edition halo model called the Izalco Team Ultimate LTD with an array of high-end carbon bits from the likes of Schmolke, Tune and THM-Carbones. Total bike weight is just 5.0kg (11.0lb) but the corresponding price is a similarly staggering €9,999.

Focus's Cayo range of carbon road frames – the choice of the US-based Jelly Belly pro team – will carry on from before with rigidity figures approaching those of the more expensive Izalco but also a stiffer ride owing to the larger seat stays, conventional external cable routing, and slightly heavier frame weights of around 1,200g. Like the Izalco, though, Cayo frames will feature tapered head tubes and BB30-compatible bottom bracket shells plus a range of drivetrain options depending on model.

Prices will range from US$2,300/€1,499 to US$2,900/€1,999.

New alloy road and aero frames for 2011, too

More value-oriented buyers will find a new Culebro alloy road frame in dealer showrooms, built with TIG-welded triple-butted and aggressively shaped hydroformed aluminum tubing, BB30-compatible bottom bracket shells, and a tapered front end.

Claimed frame weight is a modest 1,550g but the single Ultegra-equipped model is also modestly priced at just US$2,100/€1,399 with DT Swiss RR1900 wheels and FSA finishing kit. A triple crankset is also an option for another €100.

Focus's Izalco Chrono is virtually identical to the original Walser design but modified to make it more compatible with standard parts.

Also all new for 2011 is the Culebra Tria, an aluminum aero range specifically targeted towards the burgeoning entry-to-mid-level triathlon market.

Both models share the same hydroformed alloy frame with deep tube sections throughout, a curved seat tube that closely follows the rear wheel, internal cable routing, a matching aero carbon seatpost, and full-blown aero bar setups from Vision.

Both also come with relatively modest aluminum clincher wheels but Focus's view is that many of these users will already own an additional set of wheels to use on race day or will use one of growing number of aero wheel rental services.

Retail prices are notably reasonably at €1,499 with Shimano 105 and €1,899 with Shimano Ultegra (the US market will only get the 105 version for US$1,900).

Mares 'cross range ready to hit the dirt

Focus was originally founded by 1992 UCI 'cross world champion Mike Kluge so its impressive-looking 2011 'cross lineup should come as no surprise with up to three carbon and three alloy models in the stable depending on region.

Last year's new-for-2010 Mares carbon 'cross framesets will carry over for 2011 with the same tapered front ends, impressively broad tubing (including an unusually beefy fork), top tube-routed cabling, BB30 bottom ends, and especially generous tire clearances front and rear as before.

The top-end Mares CX 1.0 (US$4,000/€2,999) will come with a suitably premium SRAM Force transmission, FSA Energy BB30 46/36T cranks, Avid Ultimate cantilevers, and Focus carbon clinchers. However, we expect the Shimano Ultegra-equipped 2.0 model (US$2,700) to have greater appeal to privateer racers on a more realistic budget – many of whom wouldn't want the carbon clinchers of the 1.0 model and will already have their own race tubies anyway.

Focus's second-tier Mares CX 2.0 looks to be a decent value for the privateer race at US$2,700 - especially if they've already got proper wheels to run on race day.

The alloy Mares AX frames will feature triple-butted and hydroformed aluminum frames mated to a tapered head tube, plus the same burly carbon fork as on the CX range. Threaded bottom bracket shells are used instead of BB30, though, and build kits range from Shimano Ultegra to Tiagra for more reasonable price points of US$1,200/€799 to US$2,000/€1,399.

New Planet collection for the urban crowd

Focus may be a little late to the stylish urban bike market (not to confused with more utilitarian commuters with which Focus is already very heavily invested) but its new Planet line looks remarkably well sorted regardless with its double-butted alloy frames, well chosen upright-yet-nimble geometries, battleship-like grey matte powdercoat finishes, and weather-tolerant disc brakes used throughout.

Highlighting the range is the Planet 8, which includes a maintenance-free Gates Carbon Belt Drive system linked to a Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal rear hub, keen sliding dropouts, full-length chainguard, fat Schwalbe Kojak slicks mounted on Focus's own Project lightweight aluminum clincher rims, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and a stylish box-crown aluminum fork for US$1,000/€1,000.

For riders that prefer a conventional drivetrain (and more gearing options) there's also the Planet 28, which uses the same frameset but a standard 3x9 Shimano SLX transmission and Truvativ Stylo 3.3 crank for US$1,400.

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