Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Electrically assisted bikes, trikes, etc.
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Cugel
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Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 22 Nov 2018, 5:14pm

The ladywife has been looking at electric road bikes in anticipation of our move to West Wales, which is composed entirely of 1 in 5 hills. Well, it feels like it. She wants a bike for going about rather than a shopper or a commuter. The newish road bikes of the lighter variety that look and feel like ordinary road bikes, until you switch the motor on, are what appeals to her. The choice in the lighter type seem to be: Ribble; Orbea; Cube; Focus. Perhaps also that Bianchi but probably not.

The Focus Parlane2 looks to be a good compromise between build quality, e-bike functionality/power and price. More expensive than the Ribbles or Orbeas but around the same weight and a better spec, particularly for the motor and battery. Does anyone have one or experience of riding one in anger?

Any information gratefully received.

Cugel

Oldjohnw
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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Oldjohnw » 22 Nov 2018, 6:04pm

Does she have an existing bike which she likes? Bikes can be very successfully motorised.
John

Cycling and recycling

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Cugel
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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 23 Nov 2018, 6:38pm

Oldjohnw wrote:Does she have an existing bike which she likes? Bikes can be very successfully motorised.

The ladywife has two bikes: a fine steel framed Audax bike in exotic Columbus tubing; a Boardman MTB that is without suspension at front or back. She likes both but wouldn't want to convert them as most conversions to electric make the nice bike somewhat ugly. And anyway, she prefers to keep them as they are since she doesn't want all her cycling to be electrified.

The Focus Parlane appeals because it has good integration of the motor & battery, which can also be very easily removed to turn the bike into (more or less) a standard road bike. It also comes with good components, even (especially) wheels. Yet the bits one likes to swap to those that suit oneself (seat, seat post, stem, bars and pedals) are all open-standard.

We've been saving for the house move but haven't had to spend nearly as much as we thought to get the house we wanted to move to. I've been eBaying woodworking machinery which (because it's high quality stuff) has largely gone for what I paid for it 10-14 years ago. The resultant wodge means the ladywife can have a new bike of exactly the quality she wants. A carbon framed Shimano 105 Focus Parlane2 looks like it - expensive but still half the price of their top model, which has Dura Ace and slightly better wheels. (Law of diminishing returns invoked).

Tomorrow we go to fondle one. There will then be weeks of thinking about it.

We've fondled a Ribble - it seems too racy and a not quite the specification in various areas, not least the motor and battery.

Orbea might do it but those too have some of the drawbacks of the Ribble.

The Focus Parlane looks to have the most design input and thought put into it, which seems as a result to make it very flexible. It can be racy, tourist, gravelly, Audaxy and perhaps a few other things. But we'll see. I would like to hear of experiences of riding one from anyone who has.

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 23 Nov 2018, 7:22pm

I found a German road test of it. Google translate?
Some liked it.
https://m.roadbike.de/news/neue-rennrae ... 9050.9.htm


For myself (IMHO) it looks very overgeared for 1:5 hills but maybe thats ok with the leccy business (of which I have no experience).

And it has no mudguards! About which I do have lots of West Wales experience!
I regard them as essential, so hopefully it has clearance and some sort of mounting possibilities.

Croeso i Gymru.
Welcome to Wales.

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 23 Nov 2018, 10:41pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:I found a German road test of it. Google translate?
Some liked it.
https://m.roadbike.de/news/neue-rennrae ... 9050.9.htm


For myself (IMHO) it looks very overgeared for 1:5 hills but maybe thats ok with the leccy business (of which I have no experience).

And it has no mudguards! About which I do have lots of West Wales experience!
I regard them as essential, so hopefully it has clearance and some sort of mounting possibilities.

Croeso i Gymru.
Welcome to Wales.


The Focus Parlane2s seem to have a 1:1 bottom gear (34 sprocket, 34 ring) but (as is usual these days) they have a 50/11 top gear, which is too high for all but professional racing types. We'll probably get a 14 sprocket as the smallest on it, in due course. The 1:1 bottom gear, as perhaps you're suggesting (?) is probably not needed if you have a 250 watt motor aboard. On the other hand, why use the motor at full blast if you want to get fitter by going up hills?

The ladywife would like such a bike so that we can go out together and she can go at least as fast up the many Welsh hills as I can. We want to ride together. Of course, with an electric motor she could go faster; but hopefully we'll stay riding together. On the flat, we may well cruise about at 15mph (just inside the limit of when the motor cannot be used) but I hope that she'll get fitter with more miles and so we'll be of similar "natural pace" on the flat too, perhaps above 15mph, with no motor assistance.

After all, she is four and a half stone lighter and many years younger than moi! But she's a swimmer not a cyclist, by current habit.

The Parlane2 officially has clearance for 35mm tyres (a bit more in practice); and mudguard & rack fitting points. The European versions may even come with mudguards fitted, although they aren't mentioned in the British websites selling the bikes. Up-market mudguards seem appropriate anyway, rather than the basic things that tend to come with a full bike bought as-is. We'll be changing the saddle, seat post and stem too, probably.

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 24 Nov 2018, 10:35am

I use as low a gear as I can easily achieve, i.e. just simple changing of rings and sprockets not whole drive chains on all my bikes. Say 24 front x 32/34.
On a 26" wheel on 1in 5 it's ok even with a bit of shopping load.

34x 34 would be uncomfortably high for me, I prefer to stay in the saddle.

But no real experience of leccy, I have ridden one but only very briefly.
But at a weight 13kg or more if the battery goes, then she'll be pushing, I think.

Mudguards are great for protecting both rider and bike.
The roads are often pretty wet in the West even when it's not actually raining especially in winter.
Dirty too sometimes.
Wider tyres are a help on narrow lanes!

It looks like one very fast bike to me, I fear I shall have to merely wave cheerily as you both streak by!

Enjoy, it's a great place to be out, and there's much to explore and discover.

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 24 Nov 2018, 2:15pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:I use as low a gear as I can easily achieve, i.e. just simple changing of rings and sprockets not whole drive chains on all my bikes. Say 24 front x 32/34.
On a 26" wheel on 1in 5 it's ok even with a bit of shopping load.

34x 34 would be uncomfortably high for me, I prefer to stay in the saddle.

But no real experience of leccy, I have ridden one but only very briefly.
But at a weight 13kg or more if the battery goes, then she'll be pushing, I think.

Mudguards are great for protecting both rider and bike.
The roads are often pretty wet in the West even when it's not actually raining especially in winter.
Dirty too sometimes.
Wider tyres are a help on narrow lanes!

It looks like one very fast bike to me, I fear I shall have to merely wave cheerily as you both streak by!

Enjoy, it's a great place to be out, and there's much to explore and discover.


We went to see one this morning. The ladywife was reet taken with it and ended up buying one, not least as Wheelbase (where we went to see it) have a 20% reduction on everything at the moment - the dreaded Black Friday. So, £900 "saved" off the carbon framed 105 version.

We looked at their other electric road bikes but the Focus seemed the best design - light, quiet, reconfigurable and a motor that disengages when not powering the bike, so no drag. And it's removable in just a couple of minutes.

It is very well engineered and finished by look and feel. Various reviews we've found suggest it's a wunnerful thang but a bit hard on the body as very stiff. However, a Specialized Cobble Gobbler seat post that we already have will fit in it; and a Redshift boingy-boingy stem will go at the front end. We also have some 32mm tyres of the slick-in-the-middle and knobblies-on-the-sides variety that can be tried.

Mudguard will go on it too.

We did spend 15 straight months living in West Wales, near Newcastle Emlyn, to make sure we really did want to move there. (We do). During that period I must have done a good 5000 miles cycling on the vast network of yellow and brown roads in the area, learning many of them with my wetware GPS. I learnt only too well just how steep everything is (everything). Also the road conditions, which are mosty far, far better than Lancashire, West Yorkshire and South Cumbria, even on the tiny back roads. Of course, there is a lot of farm mud in West Wales.... but there is here in NW England too, much of it in the pothole lakes, some of which have to be sailed across on a ferry. (A bit of poetic license there). :-)

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 24 Nov 2018, 6:15pm

Round your (new) way known as a Coracle.
Float safe.

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Cugel
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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 24 Nov 2018, 9:14pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:Round your (new) way known as a Coracle.
Float safe.

We lodge near Cenarth, which is coracle-mad, as you may know. They have a festival at which coraclers coracle about a bit. Sometimes there are proper ones made of withes and a pickled cow hide. Modern ones are often made of fibre glass and other inauthentic materials, at which the small, ancient an be-capped coraclers in the proper ones cast disparaging glances.

Personally I prefer a Canadian canoe made of kevlar. The ladywife is talking of getting a trolling board, which is a sort of surfboard with a seat and a box, configured to go a-paddle in the coastal areas where one may fish for Pollock or even a rare mackerel. Some can have an electric motor mounted ...... She is determined to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency. The polytunnel in the new garden is in for a good seeing-to too!

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby willcee » 26 Nov 2018, 7:42pm

I have a mate who has an Orbea Gain and loves it,Tiagra 10 cable discs, he also has a Giant E Road 2 105 10sp with hyd braking, he loves the Orbea, only using the Giant when he wants a faster outing.. as its poss to upgrade the Yamaha a tad..the Orbea system is also that which Ribble and many others use, as they sell it to manufacturers,it is tbomk the most subtle hub motor and software which controls it on the market and has a lot of converts, that said it would not be my choice or that of my friend the owner to do a day of steep climbing the torque just isn't there, not at this time even though they sell it in the USA [higher speed limit] is there any way of hopping the power up to a more sensible and usable level.. my choice would be the Giant, OK admittedly its heavy and not to everyones eye, but it rides well, its powerful and tunable and steers like a race bike, weight on any E bike while noticable when hefting or moving it around is totally forgotten about when aboard..that and the biggest tyre section you can muster, why, because they like tyres and if or when you hit a pothole , you won't bunny hop on any e bike. and there's more weight involved... if your faced with hills torque is what you need.. will

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 27 Nov 2018, 12:48pm

The Orbea/Ribble design with a motor in the rear hub is quite neat. The bikes are a touch lighter than any other current electric road bikes (the sort with drop handlebars) that I can find. They didn't appeal for a few probably small reasons:

* A hub motor means it's hard to change the wheels for something else without getting a pair with a new motor in the rear hub. Expensive.

* The battery isn't that easy to get in and out. In fact, some of the blurb says that the attentions of a mechanic are needed. (Probably means it's just a fiddle-faddle to do).

* The Ribble has a proprietary seat post shape so you can't put in a better seat post such at the one we want with some extra compliance built in.

* As you mention, the torque is a bit low - at least for the ladywife on 1 in 5 Welsh drags out of the valley bottoms up to the plateau in one go. :-)

The Focus Parlane doesn't have the above drawbacks but does have some others (if they bother your intended mode of using an electric bike):

* The wheels are easily changed for others .... except thay must meet a "new standard" of a 148mm axle at the rear and a 110mm axle at the front. Only DT Swiss support this at the moment, as far as I know.

* The bike is a bit heavier (13.7kg) than a similar Orbea or Ribble .... but the motor/battery unit can be dropped out of the frame very quickly, leaving a 10.2kg bike, which is near-normal for a non electric bike.

* The chainset is a dedicated design for the gearbox in the BB ... but the rings are standard so at least they can be swapped to some degree.

Some will prefer the Orbea/Ribble design as the drawbacks that bother me won't bother them. Some will find the Focus drawbacks problematic, even though I don't.

But the proof is in the pud. Hopefully the ladywife will get her shiny new stead next weekend and we can go out together for "tests". I'll report back here in due course.

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 27 Nov 2018, 12:55pm

Yes report back please.
I for one would be interested, not that I am into leccy bikes- yet!
But the time may come when I can no longer afford a car and can no longer cycle up 1:5 hills with shopping. (still Tesco deliver :wink:)

But you obviously did some homework and "real world" test report from hilly terrain of a fast leccy bike would be interesting.

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 8 Dec 2018, 11:46am

PDQ Mobile wrote:Yes report back please.
I for one would be interested, not that I am into leccy bikes- yet!
But the time may come when I can no longer afford a car and can no longer cycle up 1:5 hills with shopping. (still Tesco deliver :wink:)

But you obviously did some homework and "real world" test report from hilly terrain of a fast leccy bike would be interesting.


The ladywife obtained her Focus Parlane2 9.6 the day before yesterday and, following a few tweaks in the way of added mirror, bell, lights, bottle cages and so on, she sallied-forth yesterday for a quick test ride. The grinning babbler who returned signaled a successful purchase, with much effusive praise for the hill-climbing and agin'-the-wind performances, even on just power level 1 of 3.

Naturally I felt obliged to run a small test myself, consisting of a 15 miler with plenty of hills and evil-lane, done in a 20mph wind with 35mph gusts. But more of that later.

The bike itself is a classy item in very glossy fire engine red with black bits. The frame is a sculpture, with many bulges and changes of profile along the various "tubes". The paint job is such that it de-emphasises the fat downtube wherein resides the battery & motor, which unit comes out of the down tube with a press of the large button atop that tube. The resultant gap can be covered with a blanking plate so the bike can be used without the 3.5 kilos of battery/motor, feeling then just like my winter bike (11.4kg) although the Parlane is half a kilo lighter than that without the battery-motor unit in it.

The space occupied by the battery-motor also allows easy access to the internalized cables, which are all pinned to the inside of the down tube and will be far easier to change than are those internal cables that are buried within inaccessible tubes. There's no cable rattle when riding, which is something I was dreading. (I can't stand the racket when riding next to someone on a cable-rattling bike).

The wheels are very nice DT Swiss with RAT 370 hubs and DT Swiss aluminium disc rims made for "gravel" bikes. They have a slightly wider internal and external dimension so the Continental Ultrasport II 28mm tyres actually measure 31mm in cross-section. The rims are deepish but not excessively so and don't seem to over-react to strong side winds. The OLN dimensions are a bit queer (110mm front and 148mm rear) with only DT Swiss making appropriate hubs to those standards, as far as I can see.

It comes fitted with a very high quality set of aluminium mudguards attached to the frame by the usual stays, bridge and BB-point but with wrap-over stays rather than the one/two-per-side variety. These are very stiff and unrattley, with plenty of width and space under them for even bigger tyres than the 31mm Continentals supplied with the bike. The frame/fork mounting points are plugged with small rubber grommets if the guards are removed.

The Shimano 105 gear and disc brake stuff works very well - no different in function than any other Shimano groupset really. The chainset is an FSA thing meant for electric bikes but with a 110mm bcd - although the "braze-on" front derailleur hanger (actually a molded part of the frame) won't allow the front mech to descend any lower than the height ideal for a 50T ring. One strange thing is that the chainset, like a cassette, has pawls in it so when you turn it backwards, the cranks and internal gears for the motor turn but not the arms and rings of the chainset.

The frame design is for a more upright and stable ride - a wheelbase well over a metre and a tall head tube so the bars can (with a flipped stem) be got to more or less the same height as the saddle. The trail gives a very stable ride although it's a touch more twitchy than the ultra-stable Trek Domane frameset. It has a carbon seat post and a fairly comfortable Prologo saddle with alloy bars and stem. It's probably the 31mm tyres at 60psi but the ride is surprising comfortable yet very good at transferring the pedal power to the road. Although 14Kg feels a little ponderous to accelerate there's no sense of flex or squirm even with my hardest thrusts.

Overall the manufacturing and build quality seem very high. There is going to be a bit of a learning curve concerning the BB (a press fit buried under the strange chainset and attached to the motor gearbox in the BB) as well as the queer hub standard but otherwise this seems the ideal bike for allowing a less-able cyclist to keep up on the hills with more able cyclists; but also a good bike sans motor & battery to ride as an Audax or clubrun bike (not for racing (to tall) or touring (no provision for panniers et al).

More in a later post about the ride and the effects of the motor.

Cugel

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 8 Dec 2018, 12:16pm

Sound very nice but to rehash an old quote;
"Never mind the quality, feel the width"; (of the wheels perhaps).

What I would like to know is does it go like greased Weasel business- up Foel and down Mynydd?
Or up Mynedd and down Foel perhaps?

Mynd y llawr
y Pen y Bont Fawr

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Re: Focus Parlane2 anyone?

Postby Cugel » 8 Dec 2018, 3:40pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:Sound very nice but to rehash an old quote;
"Never mind the quality, feel the width"; (of the wheels perhaps).

What I would like to know is does it go like greased Weasel business- up Foel and down Mynydd?
Or up Mynedd and down Foel perhaps?

Mynd y llawr
y Pen y Bont Fawr


Tomorrow we go up to the 300M of Jubilee Tower (the hard side) and down again (the easy & also very fast side). There will be smaller climbs and descents, many on cow-cacky lanes with horrible surfaces and bendy steeps. I expect to be left for dead on the ascent of Jubilee but will be disappointed if I can't go past the ladywife at 43mph on the way down again, as she is a descending wuss. And her motor won't work above 25kph. :-)

On the short test ride I did yesterday on her electrik whizzer, it was pleasant to go up the long and varying drags with power setting 2 of 3, which almost made the slope disappear ... although you still have to work yourself. It really does feel like you have stronger legs or a lesser slope to go up. with no indication that there's a motor doing anything like pulling or pushing you. It's difficult to hear it, even, despite the hearing aids on full gain (which allows me to hear even the slightest whirr of the gear train).

Going down is very, very satisfying, especially on the bendy steeps, as the centre of gravity is low, the steering is very stable yet responsive and the fat tyres at lowish pressures stick remarkably. The disc brakes also add a bit of confidence. But apart from that lowish centre of gravity feel and having very slightly "faster" steering, the bike feels no different from my Domane winter bike.

Neither of us have tried power setting 3 of 3. The ladywife will certainly switch it on tomorrow up Jubilee, though. I go up the steepest sections of that at 5-7mph. I suspect she''ll be doing twice that.

Cugel