Maybe it’s about the bike (a review)

During the month of May, there are 3 Focus Izalco Max disc-brake equipped bikes at the Velo Studio for test rides. I have been lucky enough to ride one over the past week to get a thorough test.


 My first ride on the Izalco was the 5:45am club ride which is a 19.5 mile loop. The meat of this ride is a 12.8 mile Strava section (Bagel Loop) where the chatter stops, the hammer drops, and you hope to hold on. On this particular morning, I hadn’t put a Garmin mount on the Izalco so it was tucked away in my jersey. We started out in the usual fashion of low and slow with lots of morning conversation. My first impression was the smoothness and specifically the lack of vibration. This is a “race” bike I thought?

The large group of around 50 riders made a left hand turn onto Glenn Street where the pace usually begins to heat up. I was still chatting away when I heard, “the front group is away, this is the last chance.” Indeed a 150 meter gap had split open and with that I stood up and found out what the Izalco was made of. With an almost surreal effort I doubled my speed, passed the remainder of my group, and sprinted into the gap. I warped past a few stragglers being spit off the back and settled into the pack. The effort was so quick yet so effortless it was my first real wonderment at the bike beneath me.

It was clear the ride was going to be fast as the speeds kept increasing. We were entering August fitness territory and I kept expecting the legs to revolt. They certainly had the week before when I set my last personal record. But the Izalco just kept rolling ever keeping the pace, never putting me on the “rivet”. We turned on to the homestretch where the pace amps up to lead-out train speeds capped off with a final sprint. Unfortunately my position was 3 riders off and I didn’t contest the final sprint.

Back at the coffee shop my Strava was lit up. I just completed the Bagel Loop in 31.08, which was 1:48faster than my previous best time! This was good for 3rd place overall and I could have taken KOM if I was in position for the final sprint.  I wish I had the Garmin visible to see the live Strava segment during the ride. I had another 9 personal record Strava sections. Sure this was done on a fast group ride, but with the Izalco I was never in a deficit and feel I could have gone faster.

My lastest ride with the Izalco was a quick evening ride I do often when time and sunlight are limited. One long road section was under construction and ground down to underlying old pavement. During this process they take a large spiked drum and violently strip away the top road surface leaving a horrible pock marked disaster of tarmac. Any road bike will be jarred on this brutal surface and the Izalco was no exception. However it provided an odd sensation with the bike undulating over the rough bumping surface but the high frequency vibrations were all but gone.  I turned off this construction nightmare and onto a gravel road, which found as fantastic relief while the Izalco hummed along. This is bike that could easily take you over long gravel grinders, so long as the MTB singletrack trails are kept out. Once again, my Strava lit up from this small 19 mile ride with 10 of 11 segments scoring personal records.

Perhaps it is the bike. One recent review of the Izalco (non-disc version) stated “This bike is so good, it’s difficult to know where to start.” This is just what I feel too. There is a magic I can’t really describe or explain, yet the data is overwhelming. A dash of comfort, a pinch of stiffness, and a sprinkle of eagerness have been blended into an bike that made this reviewer a much faster rider with a much bigger smile at the end.

The Focus Izalco Max disc-brake equipped bikes (54cm, 56cm & 58cm) are available to demo through the end of May. Don’t miss your chance to check one out!