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Focus Izalco Max 2024

Focus Izalco Max 2024

25.10.23 13:59 153Text: NoPain (translated by AI)Photos: FocusNot for the faint-hearted: The fifth generation of the German racing bike is more aggressive, more agile, and more aerodynamic than ever. Our experiences in the picturesque Vosges of France.25.10.23 13:59 294

Focus Izalco Max 2024

25.10.23 13:59 294 NoPain (translated by AI) Focus
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Not for the faint-hearted: The fifth generation of the German racing bike is more aggressive, more agile, and more aerodynamic than ever. Our experiences in the picturesque Vosges of France.25.10.23 13:59 294

The road bike world presents itself today as varied and exciting as never before. From Aero to Lightweight to Endurance racers, from Cyclocross to Gravel to Adventure models – the choice seems to be almost limitless. However, in this wide spectrum, both beginners and experienced riders often lose track, even within the portfolio of a single manufacturer. Nowadays, some offer up to six different road bike models, in which time-tested classics and innovative new developments opaquely merge, while their intended uses overlap.

Instead of getting lost in the flood of options, Focus has carefully revised its road bike program for 2024 and proudly presents the 4th generation of their Izalco Max (RACE) – a no-compromise road bike that aims to excite racers, amateurs, and weekend warriors alike.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Let's now take a brief look at the other road bike representatives from Focus. The Atlas (GRAVEL) remains in the range and continues to cater to gravel bikers and adventurers with its comfortable, slightly upright seating position, wide tires, and mounts for mudguards and racks.
Last but not least, another new development from Stuttgart is waiting in the wings for the coming year, which will position itself between 'Race' and 'Gravel'. More details will be revealed at the end of this year.

But back to the new Izalco Max. NoPain was there for Bikeboard at the press launch in the French Vosges and had the opportunity to extensively test ride the UCI-approved road bike.

 Speed. 

What the Izalco Max stands for
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Izalco Max Gen3 (2019) vs. Izalco Max Gen4 (2024)

Without question, the development goal for the new Izalco Max was 'to build the fastest racing bike Focus has ever had in its range.' Although this was quickly defined and unanimously decided upon, the implementation turned out to be far less swift. Because for that, the Aero-Performance racing bike had to become more aerodynamic and stiffer, without gaining weight or losing too much comfort. Furthermore, it needed a more radical geometry for sportier handling. Oh, and it should still be fun to ride.

The Composition of the Fast Aero-Performance Racing Bike (Gen4 vs. Gen 3)

Detailansicht

To put it upfront: The goal was ultimately achieved through an unrelenting pursuit of 'marginal gains'.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Frame Design: Aerodynamics vs. Weight

The weight of a frame depends on many factors: aerodynamics, stiffness, structure, and carbon fibers, to name just a few. If you change one of these factors, the weight will most likely also change - either for better or for worse.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024

So-called "Truncated NACA Shapes", or Kamm-Tail profiles, have always been considered the optimal compromise between good aerodynamics, high tube stiffness, and low weight. As usual, Focus developed several "Izalco Max NACA Shape" variants using CFD software and compared the promising prototypes in a wind tunnel. The winner of this internal comparison was used as the basis for the new Izalco Max frame.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

The Knighthood in the Wind Tunnel

In the concluding wind tunnel test of the finished bike, the in-house NACA frame shape was confirmed: By saving 6.6 watts at 45 km/h, the new Izalco Max is faster by 1 minute and 47 seconds over a distance of 45 km compared to its predecessor. In addition, the susceptibility to crosswinds could be significantly reduced.

And the resulting frame weight of 865 g for the 9 series and 1,050 g for the 8 series, each in frame size M with an additional 400 g for the fork, was also impressive.

 Fast(er) 

6.6 watts at 45 km/h means a time saving of 1:47 minutes over 45 kilometers compared to its predecessor.
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Comfort

As already mentioned, a lot of adjustments have been made to stiffness and comfort to find the perfect balance. Expressed in numbers, Focus reports a 15% increase in stiffness at the bottom bracket (Speed), an 8% increase at the head tube (Handling), and an 11% improvement in the stiffness-to-weight ratio. The same applies to the lateral stiffness of the fork, which has been increased by 16%, allowing the bike to handle higher braking forces even better.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

In contrast, the current Izalco lost 48% in terms of comfort at the frame and 29% at the fork. Although these percentages sound relatively high, the racer still feels sufficiently comfortable in practice and by no means "too hard".

But how is that possible? On the one hand, the seating comfort could be greatly improved by the shorter seat tube. The longer protruding seat post and the setback design create more flex, which persistently dampens particularly hard shocks; in addition, Focus gave both the frame and the fork maximum tire clearance for 30-millimeter-wide tires.

The DT Swiss ERC wheels with 45 mm rim height, U-shape design, and 22 mm internal width also contribute to this. They allow lower pressures for more comfort and also perform really well from an aerodynamic point of view. In the wind tunnel, the ERC (Endurance) wheels on the Izalco Max with identical 28C tires were even faster than the DT Swiss ARC (Aero).

Note: Tires and wheels are TLR but are delivered with tubes.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Integration

Despite the strong focus on aerodynamics & Co., everyday practicality could not be neglected. Therefore, the C.I.S. road bike stem was further developed, which leads the cables on the underside nearly invisibly into the frame, yet can be exchanged at any time without a nervous breakdown. On the other hand, the complete handlebar stem unit can also be removed completely if the Izalco Max is to be stored in the bike bag.

"Hasslefree" despite the clean look and all aerodynamic advantages, the C.I.S. road bike stem also has an integrated bike computer mount for Wahoo and Garmin. You can even attach a light or an action camera to the mount.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

New Geometry

To more clearly differentiate the Izalco from the rest of the portfolio (and a still secret, upcoming new edition), Focus gave the model a steeper head tube angle and a higher bottom bracket. These changes should lead to more agile handling and improved acceleration overall.

A small, but fine detail on the side: Of course, each frame size received an adapted layup, so that the frame in all frame sizes has approximately identical stiffness values and riding characteristics.

  • Geometry differences Gen4 vs. Gen3: gray = New; blue = Predecessor
    Geometry differences Gen4 vs. Gen3: gray = New; blue = Predecessor
    Geometry differences Gen4 vs. Gen3: gray = New; blue = Predecessor

Geometry

XXS (47) XS (50) S (52) M (54) L (56) XL (58) XXL (61)
Wheel size 700C 700C 700C 700C 700C 700C 700C
Seat tube length (mm) 455 475 495 515 535 555 585
Top tube length (mm) 504 517 530 543 568 582 607
Head tube angle (°) 70° 72° 72° 72.5° 72.5° 73° 73°
Seat tube angle (°) 75° 74.5° 74° 73.5° 73.5° 73° 73°
Chainstay length (mm) 410 410 410 410 410 410 410
Bottom bracket drop (mm) 72 72 72 72 72 72 72
Head tube length (mm) 90 100 115 135 155 175 195
Fork length (mm) 371.5 371.5 371.5 371.5 371.5 371.5 371.5
Fork rake (mm) 46 46 46 46 46 46 46
Wheelbase (mm) 975 976 975 979 1,004 1,008 1,033
Stack (mm) 500 513 531 552 571 592 611
Reach (mm) 370 375 378 380 399 401 420
Standover height (mm) 743 757 773 795 815 834 855
Stem length (mm) 80 90 100 110 110 120 120
Crank length (mm) 165 165 170 172.5 172.5 175 175
Handlebar width (mm) 400 400 400 420 420 420 440
Max. seatpost insertion (mm) 200 220 240 260 280 300 320
STR Ratio* 1.35 1.37 1.40 1.45 1.43 1.48 1.45

* The Stack-To-Reach calculation accounts for stem height in Stack and stem length in Reach.

The new Izalco Max is available in seven frame sizes. Combined with the aerodynamic C.I.S. racing bike stem, which is available in six lengths from 70 to 120 mm, there should really be a suitable riding position for everyone.

Fortunately, the developers have made sure that the customer can easily switch to a shorter or longer stem and add or remove stem spacers after purchase without having to open the brake lines. Super!

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Izalco Max 9.9

Frame Aero-Max-Carbon Technology (865 g) Sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9200, 12s
Front 52/36, rear 11-30
Bottom bracket Shimano Pressfit Road BB86
Stem Focus C.I.S. Technology Handlebar Easton EC70 Carbon Aero
Wheels DT Swiss ERC1400 Dicut Carbon Tires Vittoria Corsa Next, TR, 700X28C
Weight 7.2 kg Price 8.999,- Euro
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Izalco Max 9.8

Frame Aero-Max-Carbon Technology (865 g) Sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150, 12s
Front 52/36, rear 11-30
Bottom bracket Shimano Pressfit Road BB86
Stem Focus C.I.S. Technology Handlebar Easton EC70 Carbon Aero
Wheels DT Swiss ERC1600 Dicut Carbon Tires Vittoria Corsa Next, TR, 700X28C
Weight 7.9 kg Price 6,799 Euro
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

Izalco Max Series 9 - LineUp 2024

All frames of the Series 9 have a higher-quality carbon layup and therefore weigh only 865 grams in size Medium, with an additional 400 g for the fork.

They are, of course, UCI approved and explicitly cleared for smart trainers.

  • Izalco Max 9.9
7.2 kg
8,999 EurosIzalco Max 9.9
7.2 kg
8,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 9.9
    7.2 kg
    8,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 9.9
    7.2 kg
    8,999 Euros
  • Izalco Max 9.8
7.9 kg
6,799 EurosIzalco Max 9.8
7.9 kg
6,799 Euros
    Izalco Max 9.8
    7.9 kg
    6,799 Euros
    Izalco Max 9.8
    7.9 kg
    6,799 Euros
  • Izalco Max 9.7
8.15 kg
6,199 EuroIzalco Max 9.7
8.15 kg
6,199 Euro
    Izalco Max 9.7
    8.15 kg
    6,199 Euro
    Izalco Max 9.7
    8.15 kg
    6,199 Euro

Izalco Max Series 8 - LineUp 2024

In addition to the lightweight frames of the Series 9, which weigh 865 g, there will also be another Series 8 with three models. The frames of the Series 8 are somewhat heavier at 1,060 g, as they have a more cost-effective fiber mix, but are also significantly more affordable.

Despite the differences in frame structure, both series share the same geometry, offer agile handling, have a clean and aerodynamic cockpit, and are also on the same level in terms of stiffness. They are also UCI approved and explicitly cleared for use with smart trainers.

  • Izalco Max 8.9
Shimano 105 Di2
8.2 kg
4,799 EurosIzalco Max 8.9
Shimano 105 Di2
8.2 kg
4,799 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.9
    Shimano 105 Di2
    8.2 kg
    4,799 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.9
    Shimano 105 Di2
    8.2 kg
    4,799 Euros
  • Izalco Max 8.8
Shimano 105
8.3 kg
3,999 EurosIzalco Max 8.8
Shimano 105
8.3 kg
3,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.8
    Shimano 105
    8.3 kg
    3,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.8
    Shimano 105
    8.3 kg
    3,999 Euros
  • Izalco Max 8.7
Shimano 105
9.0 kg
2,999 EurosIzalco Max 8.7
Shimano 105
9.0 kg
2,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.7
    Shimano 105
    9.0 kg
    2,999 Euros
    Izalco Max 8.7
    Shimano 105
    9.0 kg
    2,999 Euros
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024

The Izalco 9.8 in the All-Out Review

Although the model name and designation have remained unchanged and it is still an aero road bike with Kammtail profiles and lowered seat stays, the new Izalco Max is clearly distinguishable from its predecessor at first glance.

The bike appears more harmonious due to the wider fork blades and the sturdier frame, while its noble paintwork and subtle lettering give it an exclusive touch. But many small details have also been improved: The newly developed C.I.S. road bike stem not only cleanly leads the cables into the head tube but also integrates seamlessly with its contemporary, distinctive shape into the overall appearance. The seat post clamp has also been integrated more attractively and proves to be exemplary and absolutely slip-proof in its handling. The Easton EC70 Carbon Aero handlebar remains unchanged and continues to impress with its ergonomic shape and the variety of grip positions.

  • Old: Generation 3Old: Generation 3
    Old: Generation 3
    Old: Generation 3
  • New: Generation 4New: Generation 4
    New: Generation 4
    New: Generation 4

Although the basic riding position has hardly changed - in the medium frame size, the reach was shortened by 10 mm while the stem was lengthened by 10 mm - significant differences from the third generation were noticeable from the first few meters. A multitude of minimal geometric changes made the aerodynamic racing bike posture even sharper. The steeper head angle, the raised bottom bracket, and various other adjustments led to a wheelbase shortened by 20 millimeters (!), resulting in a noticeably more agile handling.

In terms of riding dynamics, the handling was precise, quick, and still secure, the cornering characteristics were outstanding, and the bike remained stable on course even at higher speeds. The only drawback of this more progressive geometry I could find was the limited foot clearance at full turning of the front wheel.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024
  • Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024Focus Izalco Max 2024

Also, the significant increase in stiffness did not necessarily have a negative impact, and the Izalco Max 9.8 always felt 'sufficiently comfortable' and by no means 'too hard'. Given the communicated reduction in comfort (according to test bench -48% at the frame and -29% at the fork), I was wondering how that was even possible.

After the long test ride in the Vosges, I am convinced that the more than sufficient comfort was due to the combination of the more flexing seat post, the DT Swiss ERC wheels with 22 mm internal width, and the 28 mm wide, supple Vittoria tires, which were also not even ridden tubeless.

Despite the optimal equipment, it must be noted that the new Izalco Max feels noticeably stiffer, harder, and more direct compared to its predecessor - a fact that ambitious amateur cyclists and racers should hardly find bothersome. Everyone else should turn their attention to December when another new road bike from Focus will be released.

  • Focus Izalco Max 2024