In search of comfort: Focus Paralane

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iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

I’ve been searching for a replacement of my 2018 BMC Teammachine SLR01 disc. When I got the BMC I actually ordered the Roadmachine and not the Teammachine, but when I got to the bike store they had wrong bike. After looking at some geometry charts in the store, the two bikes were fairly close in stack/reach figures, so I walked out with the Teammachine anyway at a nice discount. Probably not the smartest idea, but I loved the look of the bike.

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After 2 seasons on that bike, even with 2 professional bike fits, a 90mm stem (shortest available) and 20mm spacers under the stem, I felt that the bike was too long and too low for me. The bike itself was great and was much more bike than I'd ever need, but I would often have upper back and shoulder pain during long rides. So I began my search for a new bike with the some strict criteria:
  1. Geometry & Comfort: being comfortable for me is way more important than outright speed. I need something less aggressive than my BMC and didn’t beat me up after a long day. I do not consider the ride quality of the BMC to be harsh, but it does transmit the road imperfections up to the rider even with 28mm tires. That’s probably an advantage for most of you, but I hope a smoother ride and more upright rider position would help with the pain I’ve been experiencing.
  2. Weight: This is of course the weightweenies forum so I wanted something which could be built up to be sub 7kg ready to ride. The BMC was 6.8kg with pedals so that’s my target weight. I’m surrounded by mountains and since I’m climbing at a snails pace (<15km/h), aerodynamics means nothing to me, but weight is still important. Also, I enjoy the climbing much more than the descending.
  3. Disc brakes: I’m often riding long alpine descents on carbon clinchers. Plus I just purchased a new set of carbon disc brake wheel set this past summer and I want to use them on the new bike.
  4. Tire Clearance: 32mm minimum and and more is better. If I could use the bike for some gravel riding, that’d be a major plus.
Even though endurance bikes have fallen out of fashion as of late I was able to come up with a long list of contenders.
  • Specialized Roubaix and Trek Domane: geometry should work well, but I’m not fond of the extra weight and complexity of the suspension systems.
  • BMC Roadmachine, Cervelo Caledonia/R3, Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse, Basso Diamante SV: geometries are still aggressive for ‘endurance’ models.
  • Merida Scultura Endurance: the 1150g frame was too heavy for my liking and would hinder my ability to reach my target weight
  • Rose Reveal: good weight, but the geometry doesn’t work since I’m between sizes.
  • AX Lightness Evo Disc: good geometry and weight, but outside my budget.
  • Open MIN.D: geometry and weight are good, but put off by the ISP and price.
So that landed me on the Focus Paralane. I admit that it’s not the sexiest bike out there and certainly lacks the ‘wow’ factor that come along with the latest lightweight, aero race bikes. Most cyclists, myself included, would consider it as a downgrade from the BMC, but it ticked all the right boxes for what I need.

Unfortunately Focus decided to discontinue the lightweight 9-series Carbon SL frame for 2021, so I had to look for a store that still had a remaining 2019 or 2020 model in stock. I emailed pretty much all the bike stores in Europe that Focus had sold the bike to and after a month of searching I found one in Germany that still had a 2020 Paralane 9.8 in my size 51. It was red and already Ultegra Di2. Bonus!

I plan to transfer over some parts (wheels, saddle, bars) from my BMC to the Focus and according to my spreadsheet it should be around 6.9kg. More to come...

Picture from the bike store before the bike was packed up and sent to me. According to the store owner, it was 8.3kg with the flat pedals.

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by Weenie


jeanjacques
Posts: 337
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am
Location: France

by jeanjacques

Congrats ! It's certainly an underrated frame :wink:

As a second bike, I built mine with left over parts, 6,8kg as pictured with pedals (DA 9100). I removed the black/white paint for a slight weight loss, around 100g (frame+fork) after a light clear coat. Now the M frame is 920g and fork 360g.

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DHG01
Posts: 213
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

I once went out on a gravel ride with a Paralane. It was a nicely speced one; etap and Fulcrum carbon clincher. I was very much impressed by the compliance that came through the front fork.
My usual gravel bike is a CX01, which shares geometry with the Teammachine. I remember feeling the Paralane having a more upright position.

So I would say it could well fit into what you are after.

Mr.Gib
Posts: 4060
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:12 pm
Location: eh?

by Mr.Gib

The Paralane is indeed a very good all purpose bike. I have built a couple of them (my wife rides one) and the quality appears quite good. My wife uses hers for fender bike duties and has a gravel wheelset that she swaps in for off-road riding. 35 - 38mm tires should fit.

Regarding your fit, don't give up on being able to adapt to a more aggressive position. Unless you have a spinal injury that prevents you from raising your head, you should be able to handle more (some?) drop simply though flexibility work, and maybe some physio if your glutes and hamstrings are really a mess.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

jeanjacques wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:59 pm
As a second bike, I built mine with left over parts, 6,8kg as pictured with pedals (DA 9100). I removed the black/white paint for a slight weight loss, around 100g (frame+fork) after a light clear coat. Now the M frame is 920g and fork 360g.
That's a very nice bike for "left over" parts! I will not be able to slam my stem like you, but I do hope to reach the same weight.

Is that the Hylix seat post? I've ordered one of those also.

Did you change the seat post clamp?

Also, it looks like you ditched the RAT thru axles with standard ones. I've ordered a set of those as well.
DHG01 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:16 pm
My usual gravel bike is a CX01, which shares geometry with the Teammachine. I remember feeling the Paralane having a more upright position. So I would say it could well fit into what you are after.
That's good to hear as it's exactly what I'm looking for.
Mr.Gib wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:43 am
Regarding your fit, don't give up on being able to adapt to a more aggressive position. Unless you have a spinal injury that prevents you from raising your head, you should be able to handle more (some?) drop simply though flexibility work, and maybe some physio if your glutes and hamstrings are really a mess.
Thank you for the encouragement. I have tried physiotherapy, stretching routines, and core work, but it's a losing battle since I spend 8 hours a day sitting at a desk. With my stretching routine, I did notice improvement with my flexibility and I am now able to easily touch my toes. Unfortunately, my shoulder/upper back pain is still there. The pain subsides If I take a few weeks off the bike, but it comes roaring back when I start riding again.

jeanjacques
Posts: 337
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am
Location: France

by jeanjacques

iamraymond wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:45 am
That's a very nice bike for "left over" parts! I will not be able to slam my stem like you, but I do hope to reach the same weight.
Is that the Hylix seat post? I've ordered one of those also.
Did you change the seat post clamp?
Also, it looks like you ditched the RAT thru axles with standard ones. I've ordered a set of those as well.
Thanks ! I'm 1m85 and my goal was to replicate my road bike (Izalco Max rim L size) position with around 1cm taller handlebar. Benefits are also more exposed seatpost and a longer stem (120mm).

Yes, it's the Hylix, the Paralane seat tube seems to be tight so I had to lightly sanded the seatpost and made a thin clearcoat, I also cut it at 300mm for a final weight of 115g.

I bought this frame second hand but the seatpost collar seems to be the original one with Focus's logo. 15g with ti screw.

Kind of a long story these axles... I finnaly have a Hardlite rear and a Robert Axle front, had to take out the dremel to fit them, I had to remove some material from the frame. 72g both.

If you want to change any cable, don't forget to put a thread in place because it's a nightmare to do it without anything.

iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

jeanjacques wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:04 pm
Yes, it's the Hylix, the Paralane seat tube seems to be tight so I had to lightly sanded the seatpost and made a thin clearcoat, I also cut it at 300mm for a final weight of 115g.

I bought this frame second hand but the seatpost collar seems to be the original one with Focus's logo. 15g with ti screw.

Kind of a long story these axles... I finnaly have a Hardlite rear and a Robert Axle front, had to take out the dremel to fit them, I had to remove some material from the frame. 72g both.

If you want to change any cable, don't forget to put a thread in place because it's a nightmare to do it without anything.
Good to know about the seat post. Mine should arrive soon and I'll keep in mind that it might need to be sanded down.

I’ve read some bad reviews of the RAT Thru Axles that come with Focus and Cervelo bikes. They are quite heavy and can be difficult to remove/install over time. Also, I want to put my bike on the trainer which is impossible with the RAT system since the threaded insert is closed. Like you, I ordered the Hardlite Rear thru axle (from eBay), but for the front I ordered a ShiftUp Front thru axle (from r2bike). I should be able to lose 50g right away and not have to bother with the RAT system.

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jbaillie
Posts: 668
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:17 pm

by jbaillie

jeanjacques wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:59 pm
Congrats ! It's certainly an underrated frame :wink:
I'll say - @jeanjacques does your bike have its own thread?

Jalopy
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:46 pm

by Jalopy

iamraymond wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:56 pm
I’ve been searching for a replacement of my 2018 BMC Teammachine SLR01 disc.
I'm actually about to get the same bmc, size as you have with the same paintjob. Excited abou how my build will turn out by summer. :)

iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

Jalopy wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 7:20 pm
I'm actually about to get the same bmc, size as you have with the same paintjob. Excited abou how my build will turn out by summer. :)
I'm sure you'll love it. It's a great bike. Mine is actually the 2018 model with the blue highlights on the frame. I just covered it up with some black vinyl for a stealthier look.

iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

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She is here!

Fortunately the package arrived before Germany went into their second lockdown. Straight out of the box it was a porky 8.28kg with pedals! Much of the weight was in the stock wheels and tires.

Jalopy
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:46 pm

by Jalopy

iamraymond wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:02 pm

I'm sure you'll love it. It's a great bike. Mine is actually the 2018 model with the blue highlights on the frame. I just covered it up with some black vinyl for a stealthier look.
Thanks! It's the exact model you have. I'm pretty happy with the color scheme and looks like a great base for upgrades.

Your new focus looks beautiful. With this reach - stack and setback, comfort will probably be night and day compared to the bmc. Looks like a great choice

iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

I swapped my over S-Works Romin Evo saddle, 170mm crankset, left sided 4iiii power meter, and the Cannonade Escape Hanger 38cm handlebars from the BMC. I also replaced the BBB stem with a 90mm Kalloy Uno.

Since the Paralane came with a 160mm rear rotor, I removed the rear caliper bracket so I could use my old wheelset which has a 140mm rear rotor. I also installed the Hardlite Rear thru axle and Shift Up front thru axles to replace the RAT system.

With all those parts replaced, the bike came in at 6.9kg with DA pedals and a bottle cage.

Here's a picture from my first ride
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iamraymond
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:59 am

by iamraymond

One thing I knew I would miss about the BMC is the clean cockpit with it’s ICS that completely hides the hydraulic hoses and di2 wires under the stem and into the frame. When the Paralane arrived, the wiring/cabling under the cockpit looked like a rats nest and I had to clean up.

Before:
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After hammering out the BB, I used a 1200mm EW-SD50 wire to connect the internal Junction B to the right shifter. Then I reused the EW-JC130 Y-Junction that came with the bike to connect A) the right shifter to B) the EW-RS910 junction in the handlebar-end and C) to the left shifter using a EW-JC200 connector + 400mm EW-SD50 wire.

My handlebars don’t have any internal cable routing so I drilled two holes beneath the drops to feed the wires to the shifters. I struggled to get the di2 wires through the bars internally because the bladder was left inside the bars when they were molded. The internal wiring tool was useless here. Eventually I got the wires through by using a vacuum to pull a piece of string through the bars.

Once the di2 wires were routed, I shortened the hydraulic hoses a bit and took the opportunity to heat shrink the 1200mm di2 wire to the rear brake hose for a clean look. I must have spent an hour fiddling with the length and positioning of the hydraulic hoses to get them just right before cutting them. Overall, I’m super satisfied with the results.

While the bottom bracket was removed I added a EW-WU111 Di2 Bluetooth module between the internal Junction box and the battery in the seatpost. Then I replaced the original bottom bracket with a Dura ace one saving 19g.

@jeanjacques I know now why you warned about the cable routing. The BB area is full of tight bends and internal ‘walls’ (I’m assuming for extra support/strength) so getting any wires through would be a nightmare. Using a piece of string made replacing the wires fairly straightforward. Thanks for the heads up.

I finished off the cockpit with some Supacaz Super Sticky Kush bar tape in Galaxy Red. Not the the lightest out there (70g for the tape + 14g for the one plug) but I do like the look and feel.

After:
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by Weenie


jeanjacques
Posts: 337
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am
Location: France

by jeanjacques

You can't clean it and leave the tape cut straight like this, it's ruining your work ;)

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