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2012 Focus Raven 29 1.0 longterm review part 2

Posted by: Jens Raz |January 24, 2013 12:18 AM
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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 to share.

 

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 femurs.  (31.6/400mm).

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 hills.

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.

 

The 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 trail vibrations. 

The 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.

 

A 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 "Pledge”.

 

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 fit issues.

 

 Changes for 2013:

- 4 Models in lieu of 3

- QR15 front skewer for the top 2 models.

- New paint schemes

 

Happy Trails.

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Tom 10/10/2013 8:16 PM
Hi Jens, Ricardo, I'm looking at Raven Focus as well right now. I do sprint tri's which are not so technical and mostly about climbing speed vs control. What are your thoughts about Raven Focus vs some other options like Specialized HT options or others? Thx
Ricardo 10/03/2013 2:16 PM
Hi, very good review by the way, i just bought the same 2012 bike, and i thinking in make a change on the wheels to, is this bike work with the 9mm or qr15mm on the fork.
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