Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 Focus Planet 1.0 Alfine

I normally do not buy complete bikes off-the-shelf. It is probably because a complete bike never have everything I like. And if it has everything I like, it would probably be too expensive. I saw the Focus Planet at a local bike shop that I visit during my lunch hour. This is a rather unique bike shop run by a senior gentleman who can be rather cranky at times. He sells a vast range of bikes, parts and accessories that ranges from $2 lights to very expensive carbon fiber bikes. Like most bike shops, it is messy with parts strewn over the floor, bikes hung here and there and well, you get the picture. So, it was with a big surprise that I found the Focus Planet hanging on the wall. 


The first thing that I noticed was that it was belt-driven using Gates carbon belt drive and it was mated to a Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal gear hub. I always believed the 2 most important components on a bike are the frame and the drive train. Closer inspection showed that the frame was German engineered. The matt black paint job with blue criss-cross lines made the bike looked subtle but modern. It was love at first sight. 


Specification

FrameTrekking 2.1 Focus Belt, alloy triple butted
ForkPlanet alloy, 9 mm QR
BrakesShimano BR-M396, 160 mm/160 mm
ShifterShimano Alfine 8-speed
CranksetTruvativ Firex, Gates Carbon Drive CDC Chainring
Gear ratioFront: 46, rear: 22
HandlebarConcept EX, 640 mm
StemConcept EX, 90 mm
SaddleConcept Cross
SeatpostConcept EX, 31,6 mm, 350 mm
HubsFront: Concept, 9mm, rear: Shimano Alfine 8-speed
RimsConcept SR 300
TiresContinental Urban Focus, 622-35


Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub are amazing. The gear changes are so smooth, its unbelievable. You can even change gears while stationary unlike derailleurs. Well, you can do that on a derailleur system too but the noise of gears and chain mashing against one another is not something I like. The rear drop-outs are the sliding type with double bolts to ensure nothing moves even under high load. Adjustments is also easy. Coupled to a carbon belt drive, the rear transmission is so quiet, nobody can hear you coming from behind. The only drawback of the Alfine is the weight of the hub compared to regular derailleurs. But, there is always a price to pay. The 11-speed Alfine rear hub is reported to be lighter. That might be a future upgrade.


The Gates carbon belt drive system is another amazing piece of technology. The belt is guaranteed to run thousand of kilometers without having to worry about stretching. And it is oil-free meaning no black stains on the pants. It is a bit tricky to get the correct tension but once tuned, you need not have to worry about it anymore.



The 22 'teeth' rear sprocket. I was thinking that 22T may be too many teeth but when coupled to the 46T front chainwheel, it provides effortless pedaling and when speed becomes a necessity, be assured the bike will be rather rapid (relative to the power input).


The frame is well engineered. As usual, each bike company will have their own version of frame geometry but nothing beats climbing on and riding the bike to find out whether it works for you. This frame definitely works for me.


The psychedelic graphics add some flair to the frame which would otherwise be quite boring. This is a great bike to ride when you want comfort and speed. There was nothing much I needed to do on the bike except for the change of handlebar and stem to suit my riding style. Even the pictures were taken off Focus website! How's that for continuing the 'I did not have to do much' statement.


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