For a few years now I’ve been riding bikes for fun and as a means to stay fit. It wasn’t something I took seriously until recently when I made the decision to quit netball and to start focussing on riding. I entered my first 50km mountain bike race last year in November and despite having a massive stack at the 20km mark and breaking my nose, I finished the race in 4th.
That race was the turning point for me to start taking my riding, on the road and the mountain bike, seriously. So far racing this year has been good to me. I won the Wombat Classic 50km Open Women, 2nd in Expert Women at the Australian XCO Championship, 3rd at Round 1 of the Vic Mountain bike Enduro Series and I won the Victorian XCO Championship in Open Women. It’s safe to say I’ve had a cracker of a start to 2016. Now I’m getting nudged to move up to Elite. Yikes!
Where I ride:
I live in Sunbury so most of the time I ride the Wombat trails at Woodend, the local trails at Hobbs Road in Gisborne and some local trails around Sunbury. I like to mix things up and don’t like continuously riding the same trails all the time so I do head to the You Yang’s occasionally. A lot of my training is also done on the roady which will take me around the Macedon ranges for some hill sessions and a sneaky coffee stop.
I’m not sure on my specific riding style. My style is developing and changing every month as I’m improving my skills. I think I’ve gone from being a ‘Diesel’ and powering up climbs in too high a gear, to a rider who’s climbs with a much higher cadence and smooth through technical sections.
Bike I used to ride
My previous bike was a Scott Scale 950 29er hard tail. It has served me well and has been a great entry level bike to ride.
I’m riding Focus because…
My local bike shop Sunbury Cycles has just added Focus to their range and I’ve been lucky enough to get an ambassador role through Focus Australia. I’ve been in need of a new mountain bike for a few months now so when I found out Sunbury Cycles was going to stock Focus, I jumped at the opportunity to own one. The quality and finish of their bikes are second to none so the decision was easy.
What I changed on the bike before I rode it…
I lowered my stem straight away and immediately changed the grips to BBB silicone grips. The grips that came on the bike felt too thin. As the bike is made in Europe, the front and back brakes come installed on the opposite sides. That’s too confusing for my noggin so I swapped them around asap. I’ve taken my Stans ZTR Race Gold wheels off my old bike and put them on the Focus as they’re 600gm lighter. There is nothing wrong with the DT Swiss M 1900 Spline One wheels that came standard, they’re super strong, but are a little on the heavy side.
My thoughts on…
Light, sleek, stable and super stealth. Going from a full alloy frame to a carbon frame has blown my mind. It’s ridiculously light, responsive, stiff and the ride feels so smooth. Getting up out of the saddle is also a whole new experience; the bike just wants to surge forward! It’s given me so much more confidence to attack technical sections with speed due to its lightness and stability. I’m loving the matte black carbon finish with accents of blue. It looks bad ass and is a real head turner with its stealth appearance.
Cockpit (handlebars, stem, grips, shifters) (room for Garmin?) etc.
Alloy Focus Concept EX 720mm flat handlebars and seat post are standard. Unfortunately for me the bars were too wide and didn’t have enough back sweep and rise so I have recently upgraded to FSA K-Force Carbon bars 685mm wide. I also upgraded the seat post to the Focus Concept CPX Plus carbon post for added comfort. The grips were the standard Focus lock-ons which I found were too hard and thin so I’ve swapped them for some BBB silicone grips. The bikes fitted out with Shimano XT Shifters which I think are tops. I will never use anything else due to their quality and feel. There’s plenty of room for your Gamin mount and lights if you’re night rider too. My Garmin mount sits perfectly on the stem.
Shimano XT brakes are consistent and reliable and perform at their best when you’re pushing the bike as hard as you can. I had Shimano XT on my previous bike which I loved and felt comfortable with so I was happy when I found out the Focus was fitted out with full Shimano XT components.
The Concept EX saddle is fairly comfortable but on longer rides I’m getting a little bit of discomfort as I’m used to riding with a specialized cut out saddle.
Wheels and tyres
DT Swiss M 1900 Spline One are a little on the heavy side so I’m currently not using them. I can do without the extra 600gm on the bike.
I’m a bit of a tyre snob. I took the Continental Race Kings off and replaced them with my fav Maxxis Ardent Race tyres. I basically swapped the wheels and tyres off my old bike and put them straight on the Focus. They’re lighter and were already converted to tubeless.
1 x 11
Swapped the Shimano XT 2x11 to 1 x 11 as I prefer it. I don’t have to think too hard about smashing through gears, with shifting being silky smooth. The only thing I changed was going to a Blackspire narrow wide chainring as they hang onto the chain better than the standard shimano chainring.
Fox 32 Float FIT4 fork with 100mm travel soaks up every bump and are super plush. They make the riding experience so enjoyable. Can’t believe how well they soak up the small bumps but then I still haven’t bottomed them out. I secretly think my partner wants to steal them as he likes them too!
Crazy light! Ridiculously light! 9.7kg ready to ride including 2 bottle cages, spare tube, pedals and GPS mount.
Any changes you think you will make to the bike in the future?
Possibly the saddle. I may convert back to my specialized cut out saddle but I’m yet to decide. I would also like remote fork lock out. Apart from that, nothing. I’m loving the bike and look forward to taking it out for every spin.
Who would you like to thank?
I would like to thank Eng at Sunbury Cycles for her ongoing support and generosity. Without Eng’s support I probably wouldn’t be riding at the level I’m at now and I definitely wouldn’t be riding this amazing machine. Focus Bikes Australia/Derby Cycles for giving me the opportunity to be an ambassador for Focus and hooking me up with the bike. VeloOne apparel who have hooked me up and make me look spiffy in their sick socks and super comfy kit. My partner John for being my mountain bike partner in crime and helping me get the confidence to enter the racing scene. And last but not least my coach Adam Kelsell, Adz keeps me focussed and on track with my training and is a huge support on race day. His coaching expertise is helping me reach my elite level goal.