When it comes to making inroads with serious road cyclists, most ebikes still face an uphill battle, primarily due to their weight and geometry. But a new bike from Focus is looking to change all of that by delivering a unique design that promises to close the gap between traditional bikes and their electrical counterparts.
Like most ebikes, the Focus Project Y features an electric drive and a battery pack to power it. But unlike most other models, that drive and battery are a single integrated unit that plugs directly into an onboard gearbox rather than separate components. This battery/motor combo mounts onto the bike’s downtube and when engaged, this system can provide pedal assist speeds of up to 15.5 miles per hour.
In another departure from most other ebikes, the pedal assist only engages when it is most needed, such as when climbing a hill or accelerating from a stop. This makes it more challenging to determine the Project Y’s range as it will be greatly impacted by the number of starts and stops, as well as the length and grade of climbs. But since the drive only kicks in when the rider requires a boost, the battery could last much longer, too.
In an effort to make the Project Y as light as possible, Focus used a smaller battery and electric drive. The power pack offers 250 watt-hours of juice while the motor puts out 400 watts of power, both of which are less than most competing ebike models. The Project Y ebike’s slimmer components, however, bring the weight of the bike down to just 27.5 pounds with the battery/drive in place and less than 22 pounds when it is removed. Those numbers aren’t too much heavier than many standard road bikes on the market and are considerably less than most other ebikes.
In terms of more traditional bike components, the Project Y is equipped with a full carbon frame, Shimano disc brakes, rapid axle technology on the forks, and a thru axle design for improved durability. The bike also includes internal cable routing that contributes to a clean look and 35-millimeter tires for a smoother, more comfortable ride.
For now, the Focus Project Y is a prototype and a work in progress. The company is working with avid cyclists to improve and refine its design with the hope of releasing a consumer model in the near future. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re definitely intrigued.