When Focus first released the Focus Paralane as an ‘endurance’ road bike, I was lucky enough to travel to Majorca for a weekend of trying out both the Paralane and the Jam2 (electric full suspension mountain bike).
Obviously I had a great time, especially as I’d never really had an opportunity of trying out a top-end electric mountain. One of the days gave me the chance of putting the new Paralane through its paces and, although at the time, I preferred a more aggressive road bike, I found the Paralane enjoyable to ride and surprisingly responsive, so much so, that when the time came to buy my wife a new bike, the Paralane was my first choice. Ideal for both road and light trail use - perfect for our family bike outings.
Fast forward to this year with Focus releasing the Paralane2 and the opportunity to take one out on a demo ride. Admittedly the demo ride took place at the Rother Valley Country Park and not Majorca, but the day chosen offered a gloriously sunny, April evening. The surroundings, being familiar, allowed me to venture out on my own, choosing a mix of road and off-road riding (albeit pretty tame for a mountain bike, but challenging enough for a road bike).
The Paralane2 comes in various forms and the one I was lucky enough to take out was the 9.8. It benefits from a carbon SL frame and carbon fork, spec’d with Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss RR521 wheelset. Focus have equipped this bike with an FSA Carbon arm 52-36 chainset with an 11-34 rear cassette, so even without power assistance, the gear range is wide enough to take on varying terrain and challenging hills
The bike came ready for the road with semi-slick 28mm tyres, but I felt confident enough to take the bike on light trails and gravel tracks, once I let out a little air from the tyres.
Like many good e-bikes, it’s hard to tell at first glance, that it is actually an e-bike. The bottom bracket area conceals the motor beautifully and the battery is enclosed in the down-tube. Cabling and hoses are neatly routed internally, adding to the bikes clean lines and smart looks.
I fitted my SPD pedals, adjusted the saddle height and took the bike around the car park a few times to ensure gears and brakes behaved - they did. I was a newbie to Di2 but quickly fell in love. Once I felt comfortable that all was well, with bike and rider I joined the group of Focus e-mountain bike demo riders who were heading for the Rother Valley mountain bike trails. I had no intention of taking the Paralane down the red or black routes though.
We climbed steadily to the start of one of the red routes. At first, I put in a little too much effort, not allowing the motor to do any real work - I soon realised and chose an appropriate gear. I’m not as fit as I once was and this dragging trail would have put me into the red at the speed we were going, but with the motor helping out, I peaked out without peaking out.
I said my farewells to the adrenaline junkies and continued along the trail to find my way back to the local roads. I wanted to try out some of the local hills and descents that I was familiar with. My old cycling club is based in the area and the lanes make for good riding with little traffic. There are hills, nothing Alpine, but challenging, all the same, and some pretty fast descents. Even though the bike was new to me, it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable. Hills I might have considered getting out of the saddle for were tackled seated. On the climbs, I pressed on and found the motor gave me a helping hand, no more. On the descents, the motor offers no assistance as it is restricted to 16mph. Having said that a little extra weight doesn’t get in the way when heading downhill, though sometimes, weight wrongly balanced can upset your flow, especially into and out of corners, at speed. Not so with the Paralane, the only restriction was my unfamiliarity with the bike, but in time we’d work it out and I’d soon have it maxed out on the bends.
After a short time on the local road, I headed back into Rother Valley Country Park to find some gravel and such like. At first, I found the bike skipping and bouncing a little too much for my liking, but once I’d let the tyres down a little, it started to behave a little better. A better choice of road/gravel cross tyre may have suited this type of riding better (it will take up to 35mm according to Focus), but the Paralane2 managed admirably to the point that I still felt I had more bike than ability. The gear range and power assistance enabled me to take on loose, climbs with relative ease, keeping a nice, steady cadence.
The ride only lasted for 1-1.5 hours so I was in no danger of running out of battery, so when things looked particularly challenging, I used the top power setting to give me a little surge of encouragement.
To sum up. The Paralane2 looks like a quality road bike (because it is), it handles like a quality road bike (because it is) and it’s fun to ride, like a quality road bike - because that is what it is; a quality, high spec’d road bike with added ooomph. And let’s be honest there comes a time when we all need a little added ooomph.