First Impression: Focus Raven 3.0 29er

By Adam Newman

Focus is a German brand that has been making a large push into the U.S. market in the past few years with its range of aluminum and carbon road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes. In fact, the company’s first bikes were a range of mountain bikes in the early ‘90s after being founded by Three-time cyclocross World Champion Mike Kluge.

New for 2012 is the carbon fiber Raven 29er line. Utilizing all the latest “standards”, the Raven’s carbon frame sports an oversized headtube, PF30 bottom bracket shell, internal cables (including the brakes), a post-mount rear caliper inside the rear triangle, and some crazy, swoopy shapes.

Despite the high-zoot frame, the 3.0 is the most… affordable of the three build kits, retails for $3400, and the stock complete bike clocks in at a surprising 27 pounds. I swapped in a set of Stan’s NoTubes Arch EX wheels (look for the review in issue #165) and it dropped a full two pounds of rotating weight. I was pretty bummed the stock wheels can’t be set up tubeless out of the box—they require a DT Swiss conversion kit. Does anyone still run tubes anymore? Rounding out the parts kit is a FOX Evolution fork with 100mm of travel, a Shimano SLX and XT drivetrain, FSA Comet triple crankset, and Magura MT2 brakes.

Despite the super-flat seatstays and advanced carbon shaping, there is little compliance built into this race-ready frame. It is easily one of the stiffest mountain bikes I’ve ever ridden. The large 31.6 aluminum seatpost doesn’t help, but it does offer dropper post compatibility, complete with a cable guide inside the frame for the controls.

The geometry also seems well-suited for fast, smooth, wide-open trails, with a 69.5-degree headtube angle and 17.6-inch chainstays. It’s seems most at home when you’re putting the power down yourself rather than letting gravity pull you through the techy stuff.

Look for a full review later this year after I put a lot more miles on this German wünder-bike. Order a subscription now and you’ll be sure not to miss it.