Chris Jones racing to the win on his Focus Mares at BASP #4 in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. © Cyclocross Magazine
by Jamie Mack
“My Focus Mares is the sexiest looking bike on the circuit,” said Chris Jones. That’s saying a lot when the “circuit” is the Elite men’s field of some of the biggest, toughest ‘cross races in the US. But when the bike is from a company founded by ‘cross legend Mike Kluge and is the same frame ridden by Hanka Kupfernagel, it certainly has the pedigree behind it. Based on his results so far this year, there seems to be some function behind the flash that has made such an impression on Jones.
The frame is all carbon, complemented by a carbon fork. Obvious cyclocross-specific thought went into the frame design as the top tube features clean top-routed cables and is shaped to ease the pain of shouldering the bike. The flattened top tube also increases stiffness, allowing more efficient power transfer. Other aspects of the frame, like the stocky head tube junction and bulked up fork, are further evidence that racers were in mind during the frame’s design. The seat tube is burly enough that the tube is indented to accommodate the positioning of the front derailleur.
Jones is particularly impressed with the design, remarking that, “the flat underside of the top tube provides a comfortable place to shoulder the bike while running.” With any frame, but particularly an aluminum frame in a time when carbon is becoming more common, weight is an issue. Jones knows that the weight of his ride will not hold him back; he told Cyclocross Magazine that the complete Mares weighs in at just under 16 pounds, which is light by most standards.
The build that Jones has assembled to make the most of the frame is pure, top level stuff. From the shifters to the rear derailleur, the transmission is composed of SRAM parts. The bike sports a full Red group with one exception: the front derailleur. Like other ‘cross pros, Jones opted for a Force front derailleur, taking a weight penalty in favor of a cage with greater strength and stiffness.
Jones relies on TRP Euro-X Mags to slow his roll. © Cyclocross Magazine
Stopping the bike are the well-respected TRP Euro X brakes. Jones is running the top of the line Magnesiums. As the review in Issue 7 of CXM confirmed, these are an excellent brake that work well in the often extreme conditions of cross. The TRP’s on Jones’ bike are equipped with pads from Williams Cycling, paired to work well with the Mares’ Williams wheelset.
The Williams Wheels 38 carbon tubulars provide Jones with an excellent platform to move through the race courses. Light enough to fit right in on a pro ride, with enough rim depth to cut through sand and mud, the wheels are an important part of Jones’ race arsenal.
The rest of the components on Jones’ Focus are solid choices from venerable companies. The cockpit is composed of a stem from Thomson holding FSA Energy Atomic bars. The seatpost is the classic setback piece from Thomson as well. Pedals, the final connection between rider and bike, are from Crank Brothers with Jones having a choice between Candy’s and Eggbeaters. Jones’ perch is the popular Aliante from fi’zi:k.
One of the most important parts of any ‘cross bike is the tires. Jones’ has the flexibility of choosing his own tires, the only part of his ride that is not sponsor-supplied. The personal choice does come at a higher price, but it allows Jones to choose whatever best fits the course on race day. From what we’ve seen, Jones is partial to Challenge tires, as those are what wrapped his wheels when CXM got access to the bike. Various courses have seen Jones running Grifo XS treads for dry conditions and Challenge Fangos for sloppy terrain.
The Focus Mares was developed in Germany with input from Hank Kupfernagel. © Cyclocross Magazine
Jones’ ride seems to be on par with his own ability as one of the best ‘crossers in the country. With the results that Jones has seen this year, including being a regular among the top-10 at national races and a podium at Cross Vegas, it’s obvious that the Focus Mares offers more than just a sexy exterior and that Jones’ connection with the bike is more than just the eye appeal.
Frame: Focus Mares Team
Fork: Focus Cyclocross Carbon
Headset: FSA Orbit CX integrated
Stem: Thomson, 110mm, +/- 10
Handlebars: FSA Energy Anatomic, 42cm
Front brake: TRP EuroX Carbon w/ Williams pads (Jones has now switched to TRP EuroX Magnesium)
Rear brake: TRP EuroX Carbon w/ Williams pads (Jones has now switched to TRP EuroX Magnesium)
Brake levers: SRAM Red
Front derailleur: SRAM Force
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM OG-1070, 12-27T
Chain: SRAM PC-1090
Crankset: SRAM Red
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red
Pedals: Crankbrothers Candy/Eggbeaters
Wheelset: Williams Cycling Wheelsystem 38
Front tire: Challenge Grifo or Grifo XS tubular, 32mm
Rear tire: Challenge Grifo or Grifo XS tubular, 32mm
Saddle: fi’zi:k Aliante
Seat post: Thomson Setback