Bursting onto the international scene in 2009 with Team Milram, the Focus Izalco has carried riders from many top pro teams including Acqua & Sapone, Jelly Belly, Netap, Katusha and AGR2-La Mondiale. Over the past few years the Izalco has won so many “Bike of the Year” awards that it’s got everyone talking, and the new SL 3.0 EPS model is no different.
When I first saw the SL 3.0 it struck me that it looked just like the 2012 model. Take a look at the two bikes below, the first is the 2012 Izalco Team 2.0. The second is the new 2013 Izalco Team SL 3.0. Both are Izalcos, but can you spot all 15 differences between the two bikes?
Some of the differences are obvious, others not so.
|Izalco Team 2.0 – 2012||Izalco Team SL 3.0 – 2013|
|Colour||Black/Red (Gloss and matt)||Black/White (Acidgreen)|
|Wheelset||Mavic Ksyrium SL||Fulcrum Racing Zero|
|Rear & front derailleur||Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 Di2||Campagnolo Record EPS|
|Crankset||Shimano Dura-Ace 7900||Campagnolo Record|
|Brakes||Shimano Dura-Ace 7900||Campagnolo Record Skeleton|
|Saddle||Prologo C-One 50||Prologo Zero II TR|
|Not so obvious differences|
|Frame||Focus Izalco Team||Izalco Team SL Carbon|
|Handlebar||FSA Wing Pro Road||FSA Wing Comp|
|Gear ratio||Race: front 53/39, rear 12-25||Race: front 53/39, rear 12-27|
|Number of Gears||20||22|
|Seat Clamp||Two bolt||One bolt|
|Fork||3T Rigida Team T4 carbon||3T Rigida Team T4 carbon|
|Stem||FSA OS-99 CSI Black||FSA OS-99 CSI Black|
|Seatpost||FSA K-Force Black||FSA K-Force Black|
|Tyres||Continental GP4000S||Continental GP4000S|
|Frame Dropout||Full Carbon||Full Carbon|
The Izalco is the result of German engineering and continuous improvement. The biggest improvement to the new SL is the new carbon lay-up, the all-carbon BB shell (now PF30) and all-carbon headset cups. Graeme Moffett of Derby Cycle (the company behind the Focus brand) says “the new frame is manufactured using a silicon mould instead of the normal bag mould, to achieve greater compression of the carbon resulting in reduced wall thickness but greater strength”. The new design reduces the frame weight by some 200 grams (on average 960 grams depending upon frame size) and this is evident with the Izalco EPS model weighing 6.93kg out of the box. The frame is designed with internal cable channels and is groupset agnostic – meaning any groupset whether electronic or not can be easily accommodated by this clever design. The internal cabling makes the bike more aesthetically appealing, but more importantly, the internal channels add strength to the frame. Visually, the SL retains the distinctive thin seat stays, broad flat down tube and elongated “liquid” shaped top tube.
One of the secrets of success for the Izalco has been its overall package and price. While the frame might be the biggest influencer of how the bike rides, it can be let down by inadequate wheels or lower level components. The FSA stem, handlebars and seat post are quality components and the performance of Fulcrum Zero wheels matches the frame perfectly.
I couldn’t wait to test ride the bike to see if it rode differently to the 2012 model. Even before I had clipped in, the new SL 3.0 felt familiar and it only took a few hundred metres before I felt completely comfortable with it. The bike is a dream to ride, the handling is what you’d expect of a world-class bike. High speed cornering is stable, predictable and one of the most enjoyable aspects of this bike. The frame together with the fork provide absolute confidence, you simply lift your inside knee and you’ll find the bike is already going where you want it to. There is no jumping or skipping of the back wheel, while the stiffness of the frame provides nimble responsiveness. At low speeds the bike performs just as well due to the relatively short wheel base and the distinctive frame angles that the German engineers at Focus have perfected.
In a straight line the bike feels fast and smooth like it’s gliding over the surface of the road. The highly compliant seat stays, together with the 3T Rigida fork, cut the sharp vibrations and provide a smooth ride regardless of road surface. Accelerating hard out of the saddle the bike is super responsive, there is no spongy feeling. The Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels perform amazingly well and only a set of carbon wheels would produce a firmer ride.
The groupset on the SL 3.0 is Campagnolo’s new electronic Record EPS and just like Di2, EPS is awesome. Gear changes are crisp and faultless and trimming of the front derailleur is a thing of the past. Compared to the 2012 model running Shimano 7900 Di2, the gear lever feedback is a more definitive “click” making it similar to the feel of traditional cable. The gear changes appeared slightly slower than the Di2, however the precision gives immediate confidence even under full power. The gear lever position near the hoods had me moving my hands a little from time to time and proved a little distracting but this is largely due to where I rest my hands on the bars (personal preference). What I really missed on the EPS were the satellite buttons I’m used to with Di2! The ability to change gear from the top of the bars without moving your hands to the hoods is a significant advantage of Di2 over EPS.
If you are looking for a world-class bike with Campagnolo EPS then this bike should be on your list. And considering the price, this bike has to be near the top!
After writing this review I realised there were five more differences between the models pictured above (not including the pedals and Garmin components). Can you guess what they are?
– Lachlan Mackay
This article was previously published on www.tbsm.com.au