We’re the first magazine to get the exclusive scoop on the Focus Project Y, a stealthy electric road bike which we took out for testing in the Dolomites as part of our Design & Innovation Awards.

For more information about electric road bikes head to our review on the Orbea Gain. Right here you can find our answer to the question: are we ready for the electric-road-bike-revolution? Moreover here are our 5 most important things we’ve learnt about electric road bikes.

Focus Project Y
Focus Project Y | 13.70 kg | €– (Prototype)

Superhero at the press of a button?

“Am I at my physical peak or is this hill I’m riding on actually flat?” we ask ourselves. During the first few metres aboard we’re already on pace for a new KOM. With up to 250 watts (W) of extra power available, the Focus Project Y leaps forward in the highest assist mode and makes light work of every gradient you encounter. Making any cyclist feel like a superhero – the black Focus Project Y prototype is cycling’s answer to the Batmobile.

Despite its comparatively hefty 13.7 kg weight a fit rider will easily be 35% faster up a hill on the Focus Project Y when competing against a conventional un-powered bike. During our testing in the challenging Kronplatz region of the Dolomites our uphill time on the test loop reduced from eleven and a half minutes to seven minutes, leaving our Strava leaderboard competition in the dust by a whole 30 seconds. Fear not Strava fans: there’s an e-bike category. All the same it’s totally feasible to give your ride partners a few minutes head start and still catch up, allowing you enough time for an espresso and a quick chat with the bar owner – now that’s what we call effective time management!

Focus Project Y

Speaking of which, riding in a group the Focus Project Y doesn’t just even out different rider abilities; it leaves you with enough energy to talk, as well as saving friendships, relationships and business meetings on the bike by levelling the playing field. Just be careful not to annoy your non-powered colleagues …

The Focus Project Y Concept

The Focus Project Y is built around a frame-mounted motor from the German start-up company Fazua, providing up to 250 W of power. In contrast to motors from Bosch and Shimano, the Fazua unit is lighter, more compact and – most importantly – completely decoupled from the drivetrain when not providing assistance. The motor, along with the 250 watt-hour (Wh) battery, sits in the down tube of the carbon frame and drives the cranks through a simple gearbox. The disadvantage of driving the cranks is that all the power subsequently runs through the drivetrain, meaning higher forces and wear on components. Gear changes are louder when under load, but smoother when compared with electric mountain bikes using a Bosch or Shimano motor. If you want to ride without any assistance at all, it’s possible to remove the 3.3 kg battery and motor unit. An as of yet rudimentary control system on the handlebars lets you choose the assist mode and displays the remaining battery.

Focus Project Y
We’re not fans of the clunky display.
Focus Project Y
Project Y – that’s the name for Focus’s prototype models. We’ve seen innovative concepts in the past under this moniker.
Focus Project Y
If you want to ride without assistance, just remove the motor unit and fit the (not yet available) fairing – you’ll also save 3.3kg.
Focus Project Y
Battery and motor unit are integrated into the down tube, but can be removed for charging at the press of a button.

Out on the road, the Focus Project Y impressed us with its excellent handling. The additional weight of the motor and battery is centrally positioned and doesn’t upset the balance of the bike. Indeed, its 13.7 kg weight plants it on the road and, especially on the descents, lets it feel calm and secure. Even above the 25 km/h assistance limit the bike still rides very well on the flats. The weight is noticeable, but the motor decouples completely and pedalling is easier than with a hub motor.

Focus Project Y Focus Project Y
Focus Project Y

Corners require a little more effort to keep the extra heft of the bike on track, that said the bike has predictable and precise handling. This is helped by the stiff carbon frame and the firm front end – though it would be nice to have a little more comfort here. The geometry and riding position is that of a modern endurance bike. It seems the Focus Project Y geometry is based on the Focus Paralane. Visually Focus have done a great job and the battery integration is particularly successful. However, on our test-bike the battery locking system was a bit fiddly. In addition, the control unit on the handlebars looks unrefined and doesn’t fit the rest of the package – you could almost think somebody had found it in the spare-parts box … remember though, it’s still a prototype!

Der Fazua Evation-Motor

The motor performed excellently with well-judged assistance levels and smooth power delivery. We have a few criticisms however. In general, the assistance provided is sensitive, especially when compared with the Orbea Gain. Optimal cadence lies in the 50-90 rpm range, though we found the sweet spot to lie between 70 and 80 rpm. Even in a high gear, the motor provides a decent amount of thrust up hills – Fazua say this is because the motor runs at high speeds.

Focus Project Y
Focus Project Y Focus Project Y

While the hub motor of the Orbea runs almost independently of cadence and continues to push forward after you stop pedalling, the Fazua turns off its assistance a little too abruptly, especially when climbing. Because of the increased weight of the bike, it slows down too quickly, or at least quicker than we’re used to. Fazua could take a page out of the automobile industry’s book here, and implement a coasting type control, which gradually ramps down the assistance provided by the motor. The same goes for the 25 km/h assistance limit. While the motor shuts down smoothly, it’s more noticeable than with the Orbea’s hub motor. If you’re sitting around the 25 km/h mark while riding you’ll notice it the most, with the unit continually switching between assistance on or off. It’s easiest to compare this to the way an automatic gearbox works in a car. If the car changes into a higher gear at 60 km/h, and the driver continues driving around this speed, the gearbox will only change back down, for example, at 55 km/h, to avoid changing gears constantly. A similar system employed here would improve the feeling of the motor unit. One final criticism of the Fazua control software: if you come to a stop with pressure on the pedals, the motor has a tendency to keep on pushing which can lead to moments of panic, or even worse.

Focus Project Y

  The Focus Project Y is ready for the most diverse uses – from commuting to group rides – and won us over with its excellent performance.

So, how much will you annoy your non-motorised colleagues? The acoustics and noise of the motor system are part and parcel – at least for all those who are still capable of hearing the high-pitched tones. The Fazua Evation is louder than the hub motor of the Orbea and there’s a high-pitched whine from the voltage regulator that’s more noticeable when riding alongside the Focus Project Y. A further peculiarity is the crank freewheel which decouples the motor from the drivetrain. This doubles up with the normal freewheel on the hub, but has a slightly lower breakaway torque, meaning you’ll hear the crank ratchet for a few seconds before the hub freewheel kicks in.

We have a few requests for the production version. Seeing as you’re already on an electric road bike, a proper display showing how fast you’re going and how many watts you’re producing would make sense. For night rides, dimmable LEDs would be nice too.


The Focus Project Y is a fascinating and innovative machine, raising questions and getting the industry thinking about the future of electric road bikes. The concept is applicable to a wide range of uses – from commuting to group rides – in a package that already has excellent performance and handling. All that said, it bears remembering that all this is still a prototype. Our criticisms should be seen more as suggestions for the production model. We can hardly wait to ride this Batmobile when it’s ready!


– Integration of battery and motor in a carbon frame
– Well balanced handling
– Removeable battery and motor unit


– Clunky display
– Noisy motor
– Limited comfort from the aluminium components

For more information head to focus-bikes.com

For more information about electric road bikes head to our review on the Orbea Gain. Right here you can find our answer to the question: are we ready for the electric-road-bike-revolution? Moreover here are our 5 most important things we’ve learnt about electric road bikes.

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Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt