Long-term look at
the Focus Raven 29er 1.0
Written by: Jens Raz
I first reviewed the Focus Raven 29er a couple of months ago
in which I was impressed not only with the overall build kit selection, but
more importantly also the ride itself. (For the initial review please click here.)
I have now been riding the Focus Raven 29er for close to 6
months and just over 1,900 miles and still enjoy the bike very much. Now that I have some serious saddle time on
the Raven, I have some more thoughts on the bike, build quality, and experiences
Because this bike has been my personal "do-it all” bike, I
have made a few modifications to fit my own needs/desires and body
position. While the Raven is already
light in stock form 22.13lbs, the following changes dropped the weight down to
a respectable 21.03 pounds
1. The "non stock” Thompson seat post was
changed out to a Fizik Cyrano Carbon post with ample set-back for my long
2. The stock 28 tooth inner chain ring was
changed to a 27 tooth to help with some of the extremely loose and steep local
3. The stock FSA "SL-K” bars were changed to
a flat Easton "EC70” bar (700mm) as I like a little less sweep.
4. The stock Crank Brother’s "Cobalt 3”
wheel-set were swapped for a set of Stan’s "Race Gold”/”ZTR Crest”
(1345grams/1575 grams) wheels. During
the short time I used the CB wheels, they proved to be a good wheelset,.
However since I am accustomed to the Stan’s wheels I thought it would be better
for me to use them as a comparison. The
Stan’s wheelset is incredibly light, easy to inflate w/o a compressor and tough
as nails (no pun intended).
5. The stock grips were tossed for a pair
of Ergon "GA1 Evo” (115 grams) to help my sensitive palms.
6. A "K-Edge” chain-catcher modified to fit
by Gordon Yeager at Velohanger in Solana Beach (see picture) was added. While I did not have an issue dropping a
chain, I felt the precaution was warranted for a carbon frame.
7. Added a few zip ties on the chainstay by
the front chain-ring. This was also a
precaution against chain-suck. (see pictures). Thank you Guy!
During the last six months, I have pushed the Raven through
its paces with a 12 hour race, multiple marathons, other endurance events, innumerable
technical and all mountain rides along the southern California coast as well as
inland areas. While the Focus truly
shines both on climbs as well as fast and flowy trails, it is surprisingly
capable on more technical terrain. Thanks to the Terralogic fork and tubeless tire set up, it could do far
more than what can be expected from a 21lb hardtail. This includes rides in
Southern California at Noble Canyon and Idyllwild where full suspensions bikes
are more prevalent.
carbon frame is exceptionally stiff, especially in the BB30 bottom bracket
area. This is very noticeable when accelerating and climbing out of the saddle. It feels almost like a road bike. For comfort, the seatstays are flat and with
the longer seat post it offers enough flex to reduce some of the light
geometry (see photo) is perfect for switchbacks and puts to shame the old adage
that 29ers are slow to steer. While the
bike handles most switchbacks without a problem, the large wheels became
noticeable during some extremely tight switchbacks. In fact, on all but one of the many different
trails I rode during the last six months I did not feel at a disadvantage over
a smaller wheeled bike, and on that one trail, the Ramona Trail in Idyllwild
California, the top and lower portion is just littered with unusually tight
switchbacks that are often both rocky and off-camber. Put simply, the geometry of the bike made it
easy to handle.
big concern with carbon are rock chips. SoCal trails are notoriously rocky and some
have exacted their revenge on the clear coat, mostly around the bottom bracket
area. The rear triangle also shows some
scuffs due to a couple of low-side crashes. However no out of the ordinary wear and tear
has been noted. Thankfully the bike
comes with a seat-tube protector that has been worth its weight in gold. Otherwise
the finish has been excellent thanks to a weekly bath and wipe down with
My only gripe has been the front brake (Magura MT8’s) and
the stock seatpost. The brakes
pleasantly surprised me when they worked. However, after only about 650 miles my front brakes started loosing
pressure and required bleeding with increasing frequency until they started
failing with almost no warning. They are
currently on their way to Magura for inspection. Hopefully this is an isolated issue with the
particular brake, because I am very keen on their modulation and bite. Also, the seatpost for my size was too short
as noted on my initial review. A silly
oversight considering that tall people need more extension.
While I am 6’3 , I would traditionally ride a "XL” sized
bike. The large frame from Focus fits me quite well (see sizing below). Initially I was worried about this, however
with the aforementioned longer seatpost with more setback, I have not found any
Changes for 2013:
- 4 Models in lieu of 3
- QR15 front skewer for the top 2 models.
- New paint schemes