Focus is a German bike manufacturer under the banner of Derby cycles, an umbrella company which also includes top brands like Cervelo in its stable. Focus has often slipped from under the radar for me personally, even though I watch them being ridden by the French chocolate soldiers of AG2R in the World Tour often enough...I hadn't, til recently, checked them out thoroughly.
It is for this reason I had much pleasure in unwrapping the latest Cayo Evo 1.0, with ample opportunity to give it a run and discover what all the fuss is about.
The Cayo features very few round tubes! A quick glance at the frame and fork reveals wonderfully curved and delicate profiles right down to the dropouts. The use of the PF30 BB shell means the chain stays can be vertically very tall at the bottom bracket junction before thinning out towards the rear axle. This bike feels very solid under pedalling with no noticeable flex around this area.
For all you acronym lovers the seat stays feature LRCS or "Lateral Reinforced Comfort Stays". This describes the filled in stay above the brake mount but also hints at the presence of an interesting carbon lay-up. What is immediately obvious is the flattening of the stays- designed, no doubt, to improve vibration damping and hence rider comfort.
The head tube is tapered 1.25" - 1 1/8" and is relatively short. Rider position means the Cayo sits on the "race" side of the fondo fence. Frame quality overall appears to be very good for the price point.;
One thing I will say is that the yellow certainly stands out. This may polarise opinion, but all I can say is thank heavens it's not black, red and white. Also regarding looks: My 11 year old daughter was quick to count and then point out disbelievingly that the word "Focus" appears 14 times on the frame! Brand awareness is great, but perhaps a little too far?
The Cayo has an outstanding ride and feel on the road. For a second tier race platform this ain't no sit up and beg comfort bike! The frame produces some great sensations: It feels calm and vibration free on the rougher roads, sucking up chatter with aplomb -"compliant" is definitely a word I would use to describe the ride. Bigger knocks will unsettle the bike slightly but overall I felt it well-balanced and stable. After a solid three hour ride I didn't really have any upper body fatigue, which speaks loudly of this bikes ability to soak up the road noise.
The greatest surprise though is even with all the built in comfort the bike never feels dead or dull. Even on such a compliant frame it felt as though it was ready to go at a moment's notice - there is certainly a whippiness and spark present in its dynamics; there is life beating in that bright yellow carbon heart!
Tucking into the drops at speed and hooking a sharp roundabout I was able to lean in very low with great agility and confidence. The Cayo never felt like it was troubled by the sudden aggressive change of direction. It is a tight bike, but also a comfortable friend.
The stiff pedalling platform and resultant power delivery makes it a good platform for seated climbing as well. This would make a superb all-day steed perfect for long competitive gran fondo style rides and races.
Component choices make the Cayo a great buy with the EVO 1.0 (top of the range Cayo) being kitted out with Ultegra 11 speed Ultegra Di2 components. This groupset has moved the bar heavenwards in shifting and braking performance recently - So much so, that I wonder will I ever need Dura Ace again? Shifting is so beautifully precise and with the battery mounted internally, (in the seat post), it is the epitome of the tidy setup. The bike is available in both full size (53/39) and compact (50/34) chainsets with cassettes to match. Braking also is spot-on and probably as good as it gets before we all start riding with hydraulic discs in the years to come.
The Fulcrum 6.5 wheels run incredibly smoothly for a fairly entry level set of hoops and feel solid and track true at all times. The drawback is weight. These are great quality training wheels, but at close to 2kg the Cayo 1.0 deserves, actually commands, a lighter set of wheels. This bike would be a potential rocket ship with something a little more sporty. Fortunately the bike is worthy of any upgrades you might make in this department.
Other components: I like the rounded profile of the short drops on the bars and appreciate a flattened top for long days in the saddle. The cockpit is made up from in-house concept EX parts, apart from the Fizik saddle, which are all pretty standard offerings.
The Focus line-up begins at the top with the Izalco. This is the weapon used by the World Tour riders and is designed as a cutting edge, no mucking around, road race platform and has component levels to match. The Cayo sits at the next level down and is probably more focussed on the serious to semi-serious club racer or Gran Fondo competitor.
Make no mistake; this is a performance bike - But it is definitely a more forgiving ride than the Izalco and probably a more perfect match to the majority of competitive amateur cyclists out there.
The Cayo EVO 1.0 is an absolute bargain, not only in terms of components for the money and frame quality but also of the performance, ride quality and general capabilities the complete bike possesses.