This past weekend in Nové Město for the World Cup, the Focus XC Team had their pros riding some crudely camouflaged hardtails, simply wrapped in tape in key locations. We had a quick chat with the team mechanics, but they were pretty tight lipped about the new Raven MAX 29R frames that will be announced over the next weekend at the Albstadt WC race. We did notice some interesting details about the bikes though.
Click through for some more quick close-up spy shots, and what we can deduce from them….
The all carbon frame is an update of the current Raven 29R, and we could see by where the checkered flag tape was placed what the biggest change was going to be; clearly the seat cluster gets completely reworked. What isn’t covered is also important to note. The new frames get Focus’ R.A.T. quick release thru-axle system, which only requires a 1/4 turn to remove making for fast wheel changes. Also all driveside cable routing goes away, as does the round seattube at the bottom bracket. Lastly the rear end gets reshaped, resulting in an overall thinner solution with notably shallower chainstays about 10cm in front of the axle, presumably to add a little give.
A drastically flattened flex-zone is now formed in the seattube just above the BB to allow movement for vertical compliance. This move makes the bikes not very front derailleur-friendly, as such all of the team bikes were set up with 1x drivetrains. There is a Di2 routing port for a front derailleur on the team bikes, suggesting that an alternate derailleur mounting solution is likely. Focus carries over chain suck guards both in front of and behind the BB, and we expect that production bikes will get molded chainstay protectors (probably with the new Max model name) like the current generation. Up front we have another slammed stem without the top headset bearing cover for pro Markus Schulte-Luenzum of the Focus XC Team. Clearly with the high front end of 29ers, even with the modern tiny headtube, taller pro riders still struggle to get low-enough bar positions. Cable routing is again all internal, with all routing on the non-driveside through a large modular port. But there is plenty of room to most likely fit either mechanical or electronic shifting controls, plus a rear brake and even possibly a dropper post.
Out back at the seat cluster, we can see that the seatstays move forward around the seattube, only connecting to the front of the tube to allow flex like on the Trek IsoSpeed system. Feeling around the tape as much as we could without being chased away by the team mechanics, we couldn’t detect any actual pivot or bolted hardware like on Trek’s system, so it looks like it will rely on a flexible carbon connection. In any case it should allow the seattube to flex front-to-back for a measurable amount of compliance up at the saddle.
Stay tuned for updated info when we get more concrete details about the new Raven MAX.