“It’s all come through, it’s a little bit longer in the top tube and head tube, and a little bit shorter in how it feels and rides,” Powers explained.
You could geek out and compare to the 2014 and 2015 geometries (see the photo gallery) and think Powers made an error in saying the top tube is longer, as both 56cm (L) models from 2014 and 2015 actually list a 55.5cm top tube. However, the 2015 models have a .5 degree steeper seat tube, meaning that the top tube (or front center) essentially got longer, assuming you position your saddle relative to the bottom bracket. How much longer? The wheelbase grew by .9cm on a 56cm bike, while the chainstay length remained the same.
Compared to the 2014 and earlier geometry, the new 2015 Mares moves more towards the mean of modern cyclocross bikes in most areas. The ultra-short head tubes of the previous frames (12.5cm on a size L/56cm) are now 1.5cm longer, and the wheelbase and front-center measurements grew. The only change that surprised us was the increase in bottom bracket height, as Focus is going in the opposite direction to recent changes by brands like Ridley, Giant and Raleigh to lower their bottom bracket heights to accommodate the faster, less technical racing that’s more common nowadays, especially in the States. For example, while Giant recently lowered their bottom bracket heights by 1cm, Focus actually raised theirs by .5cm for 2015.
Powers likes the higher bottom bracket, especially for his European races. “A lot of deep, heavy races, you can appreciate like the deep ruts, things like that, being able to continue to pedal in off camber section, being able to continue to pedal in deep mud, and then obviously having the front end be up a little more, there’s a little less stress on the back…”
While going up in bottom bracket height may seem odd in this day and age of fast, pack-friendly racing, especially in the States, where the most cyclocross bikes are sold, astute bike geeks will realize that at 7cm, Focus was at the low end of the spectrum of bottom bracket drop with its 2014 bikes. Moving up to 6.5cm drop puts it at what we call the higher end of the new “normal range,” but is still lower than Giant, Boardman, and larger sizes of the Raleigh RXC carbon and RX aluminum models.
Since they raised the bottom bracket, it’s also a good thing that Focus increased its head tube length at the same tie, as head tubes are effectively shortened by a higher bottom bracket height. [Confused about bottom bracket drop and height? Make sure you don't miss Part II of our cyclocross geometry primer in the upcoming Issue 25.]
There are some additional, more subtle changes to the new bike as well, including a new easy-access port for the internally-routed cables (or wires) at the bottom of the down tube, and the addition of a wire port and small horizontal shelf behind the bottom bracket—the previous model was more sculpted to avoid any potential mud-catching, horizontal surfaces.
Like the previous Mares model, the frame has a tapered steerer (1-1/8? to 1-1/4?) and 42.5cm chainstays, but shifts to a PF30 bottom bracket from the BB30 used on the earlier Mares.
With the higher bottom bracket, Powers will actually have to jump a bit higher when he remounts his bike, but the world class bunny hopper doesn’t have to hop quite as high when he stays on the bike and hops the barriers. Focus also hopes the the increased pedal clearance should give him a better chance to keep pedaling through challenging courses and avoid running and remounts.
Stay tuned as we plan to give you a full review of the new model.
2015 Focus Mares CX Photo Gallery:
Video Preview of 2015 Focus Mares CX, with Jeremy Powers and Mike Kluge:
More info: focus-bikes.com (not yet updated with 2015 bikes)
Missed some of the latest cyclocross and gravel gear from Sea Otter? Check out all of our tech goodies from Sea Otter 2014.