According to FOCUS, the IZALCO MAX 9.8 2019 is more than just a fast bike. The engineers of the popular German manufacturer have packed their new racer with numerous innovative features. But how does the FOCUS fare against the best rigs of the racing world?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best race bike of 2019 – testing 11 exclusive race bikes

FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 | 7.55 kg | € 7,999

When FOCUS first launched their IZALCO MAX 2019 back in November 2018, we had the chance to put the German aero-racer through its paces in an exclusive test. In this year’s group-test, the stylish FOCUS with Martini Racing look stands out from the crowd. The high level of integration and top-quality workmanship make it a winner in its own right. The front-end of the bike alone is a topic for conversation – the two-piece cockpit and in-house stem combined with Easton’s EC90 handlebars provide a clever balance between integration and flexibility for individualisation.

With the IZALCO MAX, you’re safe even if you don’t keep in the slipstream

FOCUS lengthened the fork and uses a short 125 mm head tube to compensate. This makes for a rather unconventional look but should improve the aerodynamics and handling of the bike. Specced with a SRAM RED eTap 2×11 drivetrain, 160 mm discs front and rear, DT Swiss ARC 1450 DICUT DB wheelset and FOCUS Aero carbon seat post, the IZALCO MAX 9.8 weighs 7.55 kg in size L. As one of the few bikes below the ten grand mark, the IZALCO costs € 7,999. FOCUS offers this model exclusively in this finish.

The FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 in detail

Drivetrain SRAM RED eTap 2 x 11
Gearing 52/36T und 11–28T
Brakes SRAM RED eTap hydraulic 160/160 mm
Seatpost FOCUS Aero Carbon D-Shape Setback 15 mm
Stem FOCUS IZALCO MAX Custom 100 mm
Handlebars Easton EC90 Aero 420 mm
Wheels DT Swiss ARC 1450 DICUT DB 48
Tires Continental GP 4000 SII 25C

Front row!
The seat tube is positioned forward to allow for a seat post with 15 mm offset. This is a clever trick to increase the rear-end compliance without pushing the riding position too far forward.
Covered
IOn the FOCUS 8 series, the cables aren’t routed through the cockpit but through the frame. On our test bike, the black cover is pointless.
Harmonious
This specially-developed stem with a negative angle of -15° fits the overall picture of the bike nicely.
Quicker pit-stop
Thanks to the Rapid Axle Technology (R.A.T.) you can remove/install the wheels at the speed of light. Great solution!

The geometry of the FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8

Size XXS XS S M L XL XXL
Seat tube 430 mm 470 mm 490 mm 510 mm 530 mm 550 mm 590 mm
Top tube 504 mm 517 mm 534 mm 551 mm 564 mm 582 mm 602 mm
Head tube 80 mm 80 mm 100 mm 115 mm 125 mm 150 mm 185 mm
Head angle 69.5° 70.5° 71.5° 72.0° 72.0° 72.5° 72.5°
Seat angle 74.0° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstay 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm
Wheelbase 975 mm 975 mm 985 mm 997 mm 1,010 mm 1,024 mm 1,044 mm
Reach 360 mm 368 mm 378 mm 390 mm 400 mm 410 mm 420 mm
Stack 502 mm 505 mm 528 mm 544 mm 554 mm 579 mm 613 mm

The FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 in test

Setting off, the FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 feels extremely light-footed and efficient. Not only does it carry the speed on flats very well but also invites you to accelerate out of every corner. When riding at high speeds, the aero credentials of the FOCUS make themselves known, which comes as surprise considering the rather conventional tube-shapes. This bike simply keeps on going!

Tuning tip
Longer stem
More comfortable tires
Helmet Oakley ARO3 | Glasses Oakley Flight Jacket | Jersey VOID Armour LS Jersey | Bibs VOID Armour Bib Shorts | Socks VOID Sock 16 | Shoes Fizik Aria R3

The FOCUS’ liveliness also convinced us on the uphill. The handling is nimble and direct and allows you to throw the IZALCO from one corner into another without breaking a sweat, though we did find the front-end a smidge too lively for the more composed rear-end. The result is rather nervous straight line handling which requires an experienced hand when going all out. Beginners should take some time to familiarize themselves with the lively character of the front-end in order to feel comfortable at high speeds.

The relatively compact riding position allows for good power transmission and the sloped top tube allows for a longer seat post extension. Compared to the stiff front-end, the rear-end provides a higher degree of compliance and more comfort. On long rides, continuous steering adjustments and the stiff frame can be tiring, but the IZALCO MAX can take up to 30 mm tires, which provide more reserves in the sporty all road-segment and improve the overall comfort.

Conclusion

The FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 is a powerful sprinting-machine packed with innovative details and a fresh look. It’s a lively and agile option for both ambitious and experienced hobby racers who want to step on the gas even when riding on rough tarmac. Beginners, on the other hand, should take some time to get familiar with the lively front-end before pushing the FOCUS to its limits.

Tops

  • Efficiency
  • Speed
  • Cool look

Flops

  • Front-end is too sketchy
  • Low level of comfort

Fore more info head to: focus-bikes.com

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best race bike of 2019 – testing 11 exclusive race bikes

All bikes in test: Argonaut Road Bike | Basso Diamante SV 2019 | Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc | BMC Timemachine Road 01 TWO | Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 | Cervélo S5 | EXEPT Allroad Classic | MERIDA REACTO DISC TEAM-E | Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc SL6 Disc | Trek Madone SLR 9 Disc


This article is from GRAN FONDO issue #011

GRAN FONDO Cycling Magazine is published in a digital app format in both English and German. Download the app for iOS or Android to read all articles on your tablet or smartphone. 100% free!

Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Valentin Rühl