Cyclocross (Cx) bikes are designed to carve up tight, technical race courses and deal with any number of obstacles including stairs, sand traps, thick grass, rocks and most certainly mud. All of these features not only make Cx bikes great for racing but also the perfect commuter bike capable of negotiating any trip to work, in whatever conditions.
The review of the Focus Mares CX 2.0 disc bike came from two points of view, the racer and the commuter.
See also: What is Cyclocross?
Focus has certainly committed a lot of time and resources into developing their Cx bikes. The current Focus line-up has four carbon options and four aluminium options all sharing similar ergonomics and geometry.
The carbon options for the Mares Cx range include; 0.0 Team Disc, 1.0 Disc, 2.0 Disc (test bike) and the 3.0.
All of these bikes have the same carbon frame and fork, the only major difference being the drivetrain and wheelset. The 0.0 Team Disc is for the serious Cx rider complete with 1x drive train and upgraded DT Swiss RC38 Disc wheels and obviously delivers the price tag to match. Apart from the 1x drive train, the 2.0 shares many of the same features as the 0.0 Team edition.
To get an idea of how the 2.0 would handle a Cx race I took it across some pretty tame trails to begin with, and eventually made my way onto some rock gardens and much steeper terrain. The carbon frame and fork make for a very light bike which felt similar to a road bike until I started throwing it around corners. The fatter tires are so forgiving it allows for almost any line to be taken through a corner without an issue. The tires run at a much lower pressure than normal road tires, which only adds to the plushness and forgiving nature of the ride. It handles exceptionally well and the front end is light enough to easily lift clear over barriers and small obstacles.
SRAM shifting is unmistakable and suits the aggressive nature of Cx racing. The solid thud when shifting through the gears feels right as you shoot across rocks and up steep punchy ascents. The 2.0 was equipped with SRAM Rival and had a 46/36 front set-up but given I was never in the 36 front chain ring, I would love to give the 1x drivetrain a go.
The disc brakes perform as expected and despite the bike getting dirtier and dirtier as the week rolled on, the brakes performed flawlessly. The flattened top tube didn't get much of a workout given I wasn't scaling any barriers or stairs but if you decided to race, obviously that will aid comfort on any running sections of the course.
See also: Cx Tips and Tricks
In addition to the performance features of the 2.0, the general features of any Cx bike make them perfect for any daily commute. In this case the thicker tires, lower gear ratio and disc brakes will make commuting a breeze.
The 46/36 front set up with an 11-28 cassette on the back means regardless of the profile you will never run out of gears. The thicker nobbled tires take away the potential dangers of tram tracks, cobbles and any other fall hazards. They also give you the chance to take your commute off road and have some serious fun!
The 2.0 comes equipped with 'Rapid Axle Technology' allowing for a faster wheel change than traditional quick-release levers. Although having ridden across some rough roads, you would have to do something spectacular to damage the Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo Focus Edition tyres.
If you are looking to get into Cx racing then the Mares Cx 2.0 Disc is a great place to start. Or if you are in line for a badass commuter to give you serious street cred, than look no further.
See also: The door to Cx with Penny Hosken