Focus Paralane 2017 with NINJA BB

Road bikes have become even more streamlined into various disciplines, with subcategories coming out of at a cadence that even Contador would find hard to match. Whatever your desired sort of ride, there’s surely a bike out there to suit you. But while that sounds like brilliant news, it’s a confounding mess trying to work out what to spend your money on. After all, a more specialist bike is only really good for its speciality, and therefore offers limited flexibility should your route fling up some surprises. There’s hope though: the latest generation of endurance disc bikes appear to have it all, capable of Gran Fondos, gravel adventures, forests, tarmac and overcoming the filthiest conditions. Are they the one-stop-shop bike without any risk to performance? It almost sounds too good to be true.

The current crop of endurance bikes have a bad rep: they lack a certain sex appeal. Quite honestly – even though we’re unlikely to admit it – these more upright and comfort-focused endurance bikes just don’t look fast enough, and we’re drawn in more by ‘real’ racing bikes ridden by pros.The Cloppenburg-based company chose Berlin’s Friedrichshain for the exclusive launch of the brand new Paralane. And very much in tune with bike’s hype of ‘there’s no bad weather,’ there was a 100 km ride ahead of us in bad weather that wanted to play ball.

So what’s different about Paralane?

Put the new Focus Paralane side by side with their Izalco Max Disc and the differences are evident: shorter reach and higher stack, meaning that the standover height diminishes too. The sloped top tube and other clever details aren’t just for performance gains, but they also lend the Paralane its faster-looking aesthetic, differentiating it from a regular endurance bike. Focus were keen to avoid falling into the trap of a long head tube (often combined with a tower of spacers), which gives off a pretty pensioner-esque look.

So instead of just lengthening the head tube, they’re also added 15 mm to the fork length, which means that the steerer can be kept short and there’s even additional tire clearance (up to 35 mm).

Then the bottom bracket drop was lowered to 75 mm, which impacts the stack and lowers the bike’s centre of gravity, which makes the bike more stable – especially when considered alongside the 1,000 m wheelbase, the slack 72° head angle and the long 46 mm fork rake. In layman’s terms, the Paralane now looks much more performance-focused, although its stack is still very much aligned with regular endurance bikes.

Unlike other brands, Focus have deliberately avoided vibration-eliminating inserts as well as other mechanical technologies with the same aim. But why’s that? Well, the Focus technicians believe that a specific carbon layup as well as a meticulously designed frame and tube profile will provide all the comfort you’ll need on a ride. The Cloppenburg-based company calls this Comfort Improving Areas, or C.I.A. for short. The following 3D illustration depicts the technology.

The cross-section of the seatstays and chainstays were vital, and Focus designed these to flatten off in an almost elliptical shape towards the dropouts to increase comfort. The seat tube also has a comfort-enhancing design, with a flatter, butted shape towards the bottom bracket zone.

In the pursuit of reducing vertical acting forces, the chainstays and seatstays are curved into the centre of the rear triangle.

In the pursuit of reducing vertical acting forces, the chainstays and seatstays are curved into the centre of the rear triangle.

With its minimal diameter of just 25.4 mm, the Concept CPX Plus seatpost is primed for comfort.