Saturday, January 30, 2021

Focus Paralane: Frame

It is new bike day! Always exciting to build up a new bike from scratch, as there is always so much to learn. This time, it is a lightweight, faster version of the Fabike C3 all-weather commuting bike.

The Fabike C3 is a great bike, however as with all bikes, it has its limitations. Previously, I did not want to use a chain on an all-weather bike, as the chain will rust and require maintenance. That was why I got a belt drive bike with Alfine 11 Di2 internal hub.

However, I recently learnt that the KMC EPT chain is virtually rust-proof, being able to resist rust even when ridden frequently in the wet, without any cleaning. This opens up the possibility to use a conventional chain drive on my all-weather bike, and still retain the low maintenance characteristic.

I tested the chain drive system on the Fabike C3, and I really liked it, as it is definitely faster and lighter than using belt drive and internal hub. I could keep using this setup on the Fabike C3 frameset, but a new frame would enable a more lightweight and cleaner looking setup.

What I was looking for is basically a carbon road bike frame, but with built-in mudguard mounts. Mudguards are indispensable when riding in the wet, as it keeps the rider and the bike so much cleaner. I didn't want to use mudguards that are fitted separately to the frame, as they don't look so nice, and tends to rattle.

High end carbon road bike frames with mudguard mounts are hard to find! I shortlisted two of them, namely the Giant Defy and the Focus Paralane. After checking out both of them at the shops, I decided to get the Focus Paralane, as the frameset is much lighter. One of my requirement is to have a lightweight carbon frame, as the Fabike C3 frameset was relatively heavy for a carbon frame.

Finally, I got the Focus Paralane frameset from Bikes and Bites, which is the same place where I got my Cervelo Aspero frameset. Although they don't bring in new Focus bikes anymore, they still had the older 2018 Focus Paralane model in stock, in my size.

Focus Paralane frame! Actual colour is Racing Green, but it looks black here due to the indoor lighting.

My other choice of colour was bright orange, which I felt was a bit too bright for me.

In the end I chose the Racing Green frameset, although it is yet another green bike, after the Cervelo Aspero and the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day.

Size 51, with a tall stack of 561 mm and reach of 370 mm.

Frame is made by this OEM

The head tube is very tall, as you can see here. German engineered as Focus is a brand from Germany.

Two cable holes at the front, for the rear brake hose and the rear brake cable or wire.

Looking inside the head tube. A rubber tube is already inside the frame, which I think is for the rear brake hose to run through, to avoid rattling inside the frame.

Cable port on the down tube, covered by an aluminium plate, but I probably will not need it.

View of the bottom bracket. Only a small opening for organizing the parts inside.

Bottom of the frame looks complicated, if you are using normal inner cables for the rear and front derailleurs.

There is this white tube on the non-drive side chain stay. Not sure what it is, but I could not pull it out as it seems to be fixed somewhere inside the frame.

Front derailleur mount is bonded to the frame, so it cannot be removed.

Hole for the front derailleur Di2 wire is located at the back of the seat tube, while there is also a hole for the inner cable to pass through the frame between the chain stays, if you use a mechanical front derailleur. Both have been plugged with rubber covers as they will not be used.

Seat post clamp is a standard type that goes around the outside of the round seat tube. This would prove to be problematic later on.

Flat Mount rear brake caliper mount, which is the standard nowadays for road hydraulic brakes.

The frame thickness is 20 mm.

From this table, a bolt length of 33 mm is needed for a frame thickness of 20 mm.

Using the plastic tool to double confirm the bolt length. The tip of the bolt should rest in between the two steps on the yellow tool as shown.

Rapid Axle Technology (RAT), which is a cool thru axle design that requires only a quarter turn to tighten or loosen. More details later.

One of the requirements for the frame is to have integrated mudguard mounting points. Let's take a close look at the design.

Threaded insert behind the bottom bracket, for mounting the mudguards.

This is a threaded insert as well, at the rear axle area.

The mudguards are actually included with this frameset, as the mudguard stays are special. The ends are straight, and stick into the frame through a hole, as illustrated by the gold coloured Allen Key above. Then, the mudguard stays are secured to the frame with set screws, that tighten against the side of the mudguard stays. This is supposedly to give a cleaner look, which I agree. However, I planned to change to my own SKS mudguards, and the threaded inserts from the side conveniently allows this to be done. More details in later posts.

Frame weighs 1005 grams, inclusive of thru axle nut, seat post clamp, rear dropout, and bottle cage bolts.

Although the frame is not as lightweight as the Canyon Endurace CF SLX (807 grams), it is still significantly lighter than the Fabike C3 frame (1296 grams). Just by swapping from the Fabike C3 to this Focus Paralane frame, almost 300 grams can be saved. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to get a new frame, instead of using the Fabike C3 frame, since I no longer needed a belt drive compatible frame.

Bottom bracket frame width of 87 mm is slightly wider than the nominal width of 86.5 mm.

This frame requires a press fit bottom bracket, which is clearly not my preference, but I don't really have a choice these days. Given that carbon road bike frames with mudguard mounts are already so rare, I cannot be too picky.

Finally, I measured the hole sizes for all the cable entry and exit holes. This is because the frameset did not come with the rubber grommets, so I need to find my own.

Exit hole at drive side chain stay is oval shaped, measuring about 7.5 mm at the narrower side...

...and about 9 mm at the longer side.

Entry hole at the head tube is round, measuring about 8 mm in diameter.

This post is long, as there are so many pictures of the frame that I need to show. Each frame has its quirks, and this is no exception. Much more info to be shared for this Focus Paralane bike over the next few posts!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Fnhon Gust: Folded Size Comparison (16 vs 20 inch)

This will be the final post on the Fnhon Gust 16 inch folding bike, and I shall compare it to a 20 inch folding bike. Both are folding bikes, which are designed for portability. However, a 16 inch folding bike is expected to be smaller in size, due to its smaller wheels and more compact frame. Let's see if this is true!

Previously I have done folded size comparisons, between the Java Neo 2 and Dahon MuEX, and also between the Tyrell IVE/Dahon MuEX/Brompton. These comparisons are very useful, if folded size is important for you.

This comparison will be between the Fnhon Gust and the Fnhon DB11. The Fnhon DB11 has a similar size to the Dahon MuEX, which is pretty much the standard for 20 inch folding bikes.

Fnhon Gust folded, looks compact! Highest point is the saddle.

Dura-Ace drivetrain can be seen here

Overall folded length is about 680 mm. Shorter than the 800 mm of 20 inch folding bikes.

Folded width, at its widest point is about 370 mm.

Height at its highest point is about 610 mm.

The Fnhon Gust thus has a folded size of approximately 680 x 370 x 610 mm (L x W x H). This is more compact compared to 20 inch folding bikes, as you will see below.

There is no place to install the frame magnets

Just for info, the frame magnets weigh about 59 grams.

A long velcro strap is used instead to hold the frame together when folded.

Top view of the folded bike. A folding or removable pedal would reduce the folded width significantly.

Gold frame latch on display here! Take care not to scratch it as it is very exposed in this position.

Next, I will place the Fnhon Gust beside the Fnhon DB11 for comparison.

Fnhon Gust at the front, Fnhon DB11 at the back.

The length of the Fnhon Gust is about 120 mm shorter, at 680 mm vs 800 mm.

Folded width is roughly the same, mainly determined by the pedal that you use.

View from the back.

The 20 inch Fnhon DB11 is taller, as the highest point is the handlepost, not the saddle.

Both saddles are at the same height when folded, as the seatpost is the same length. In summary, the 16 inch Fnhon Gust is shorter than the 20 inch Fnhon DB11 in both length and height, with similar width. It is still not as compact as a Brompton, which is still the champion for smallest folded size.

In my opinion, the Fnhon Gust is a very nice bike for casual riding, and also very portable for easy transportation. The weight of 8.4 kg without pedals is also lightweight, making it easy to carry around. Best of all, this bike is not expensive, especially if you put mid-range components instead of high end components.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Fnhon Gust: Assembly Completed

Here is how the Fnhon Gust looks, after assembly is complete. It is a smart looking frame, with good proportions all round. For the details of all the components, check out the Fnhon Gust page.

Drive side view

View from non-drive side

View of the handlebar, with the Sora brake levers that matches well with the frame.

V brakes installed at the front fork, along with some gold accents on the frame.

Dura-Ace 9000 crankset with Stone 52T narrow wide chain ring.

Dura-Ace 11 speed drivetrain

Dura-Ace 9000 rear derailleur and cassette

11 speed drivetrain on the all black 16 inch 349 wheelset

More gold lettering at the back of the seat tube

Litepro seat post with PRO saddle

V brakes installed under the chain stay, replacing the caliper brakes.

Small clearance between the crankarm and the V brakes, and also the chain stay.

No more chain interference with the caliper brakes, even when at the lowest gear.

Pedals installed on the bike for test riding

Here are the final specifications for this Fnhon Gust. Despite the heavy steel frame and fork, it still manages to weigh just 8.4 kg without pedals, which is pretty impressive.

Just 8.4 kg without pedals.

As expected, a few challenges were encountered along the way, as building this bike is new to me. From this experience, knowledge was gained and I learnt a lot about this Fnhon Gust frameset.