FOCUS first peeled back the veil on their Project Y prototype E-MTB one year ago, and now it’s finally time for this super lightweight bike with a mid-drive motor and integrated battery to go into production. At 15.48 kg, the lithe FOCUS Raven² looks like the precursor to a new generation. We grabbed the chance to test its mettle.
Given the fairly stark demarcation across the e-bike market when it comes to motors, you could be forgiven for wondering if the big manufacturers had chosen to split the fleet amongst them like a cake. Bosch, Shimano, Brose and Yamaha appear almost omni-present, so getting a foot in the door certainly requires a tangible USP. Fortunately for the Munich-based start-up FAZUA, they aren’t short of selling points–a fact that drew the attention of FOCUS, who have become the first brand to opt for the lesser-known motor manufacturer for the Raven².
The FAZUA Evation motor on the FOCUS Raven²
It’s hard to talk about this rig without first mentioning just how little it weighs – the whole system for the FAZUA Evation motor tips the scales at 4.59 kg, more than 2 kg lighter than the Bosch CX motor. With the 250 Wh battery at 1.38 kg and the motor at just 1.91 kg, these team to create a removable one-piece unit. The gearbox in the bottom bracket shell (1.31 kg) is the only part that remains fixed to the frame. That’s where the next USP comes into play: the Raven² can effectively be ridden without its motor and battery, which sees its total weight plummet to 12.20 kg and the insertion of a cover to protect the battery slot from any debris, detritus or flicked-up mud.
The FAZUA Evation motor is definitely one for those riders hankering after a really natural-style ride that’s more reminiscent of a standard bike. Its power delivery is fairly gentle, and it completely decouples the motor at 25km/h from the gearbox in the bottom bracket. FOCUS have done a splendid job of integrating the FAZUA system into the downtube, and there’s a nominally sized bar-mounted control with LEDs revealing the current mode of pedal-assist and status of the battery.
Das FOCUS Raven² in detail
The motor isn’t the only element that’s been optimised to replicate a standard bike, as the rest of the Raven² borrows a number of design cues and inspiration from its unmotorised counterpart, which happens to be the racing bike of the FOCUS XC Team. Unsurprisingly those race-tuned angles all lead to a pretty performance-led position with a 69.8° head angle and 629 mm top tube (size L). Plus, its componentry also points towards XC credentials.
Unashamedly lightweight, the FOX 32 Step Cast forks have 100 mm of travel and the ability to lock-out to ensure ample traction. The cockpit consists of a 90 mm stem and 720 mm wide bars, which elevate its race-tuned potential and suit the bike’s intended playground. There’s nominal comfort delivered by the carbon seatpost – we’d still be keen to switch this for a dropper post in order to benefit from the undeniable boosts to comfort and confidence on descents. If in doubt, just look at the upward trend of pro XC riders opting for dropper posts.
There’s a Shimano XT groupset with a 34-tooth chainring and an 11–46 cassette with an easy-enough climbing gear. The Shimano XT brakes rely on rotors of 180 mm at the front and 160 mm at the back, which perform well providing the descent isn’t excessively long. The Raven² rolls on 2.2″ Continental Race King tires planted on 29″ DT Swiss wheels with a 25 mm interior width. Apart from the Raven² Pro that we tested, there’s also a slightly cheaper version that comes in at € 4,999.
Fork Fox 32 Float SC Performance 100 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT
Brakes Shimano XT M8000
Handlebar BBB aluminium flatbar 720 mm
Stem BBB aluminium 90 mm
Seatpost BBB carbon
Wheels DT Swiss M1650
Tires Continental RACE KING 2.2
Price € 5,999
The geometry of the Focus Raven²
|Seat tube||420 mm||460 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||592 mm||608 mm||629 mm|
|BB Drop||68 mm||68 mm||68 mm|
|Chainstays||454 mm||454 mm||454 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,100 mm||1,116 mm||1,139 mm|
|Reach||420 mm||435 mm||450 mm|
|Stack||620 mm||623 mm||644 mm|
The FOCUS Raven² on test
While the position on the FOCUS Raven² is pretty race-tuned, it’s not overly stretched-out and once you start turning the pedals, you’ll be putty in the hands of the speedometer and the Raven² is super responsive and speedy. In fact, it’s one of the quickest bikes out of the starting blocks and, unlike a regular E-MTB, it’s more reminiscent of a conventional XC hardtail – albeit one that’s enjoying a pretty gentle tailwind on a downward incline.
The FAZUA motor is no match for the power of a Bosch CX or a Shimano E8000 motor, although its natural-seeming power delivery really suits the FOCUS’ character. It responds well to the rider’s input and supports a wide cadence spectrum. Naturally, the more exertion you put into the pedals, the more support you’ll get back from the bike – you’ll have a hard time going slow on the FOCUS, take it from us.
On descents you’ll notice the additional weight of the motor, but the bike developers have done a stellar job at weight distribution to ensure that the Raven² acts like a conventional XC hardtail. As the motor and gearbox decouple at 25 km/h, there’s nothing to stop you continuing the pace and the sense of decoupling is a barely there flourish. There’s a control to switch the motor on and off, as well as thumb through the three levels of pedal-assist. You’re unlikely to break any long-distance records with the 250 Wh battery, but we comfortably ticked off a turbo-fuelled 40 km with 500 metres of climbing. Naturally in a lower level of pedal-assist we’d plan on riding even further.
But despite all the praise, the Raven² didn’t come out the test with a clean slate. Having to remove the battery to recharge it isn’t always ideal; an additional charging socket on the bike would be welcome as it got a bit awkward to lock the battery in place at times, and it isn’t easy to keep clean. Every now and then it struggled to shift gears fluidly, responding with a loud clunk on odd occasions. The pedal-assist tended to kick in with a moment’s hesitation, which – although admittedly reminiscent of a standard bike – detracts a little from its agility.
But considering just how much fun the FOCUS Raven² is to ride, it’s fairly easy to overlook these concerns! With baffling levels of nimbleness and the motorised ‘tailwind’, you can kid yourself that you’re fit to rival XC World Champ Nino Schurter and pitch for the podium. Rushing home from work for a blast in the woods before it gets dark will see the ultimate showdown where rider and machine converge into one single entity, reaching a state of elation never before experienced. In fact, we’d argue that the FOCUS Raven² is heralding the entrance of a whole new era for bikes.
So, who’s going to enjoy riding the FOCUS Raven²?
Who’s going to have the most fun riding the FOCUS Raven²? Who’s it designed for? As a consumer you don’t want to go into the Raven² without being versed on its intentions: it’s definitely at home on gravel fire roads and mellow trails. If you’re heading onto trickier terrain then it’s a bike that, much like its unmotorised brother, needs an experienced hand for masterful steering. As it’s such an unobtrusive E-MTB that rides much like a conventional bike, this is one that we reckon is predestined for mixed-bike group rides, either on days when you want to keep your heart rate down to a reasonable level, or perhaps rejoin riding buddies who are in better shape. The Raven² strikes us as a bit of a niche bike, although we’re stoked to see the outcome of a FAZUA motor used on a full-suspension trail bike.
The FOCUS Raven² is definitely one of the most stoke-inducing new launches of recent history, and it’s an exciting, unique bike in many respects. The low weight of its extractable battery that gives a natural sensation of riding looks set to usher in a new genre of E-MTBs, which will take the middle-ground between the established Bosch league and unmotorised bikes. With undeniably XC-tuned genes, the Raven²’s predilection for tearing up cross-country trails is one that any potential owner should share.
For more info head to: focus-bikes.com
Words: Moritz Dittmar Photos: Valentin Rühl