Another leader in German performance has joined the Fly Rides family. Focus electric bikes have entered the scene, and we are digging these bikes. I first got to try out a Focus Jam2 Plus Pro at the Boogaloo Class 1 e-bike race series and they rode straight into my e-bike lovin’ heart. Traditional mountain bikers and electric bike enthusiasts alike should seriously consider these bikes. The lightweight chassis with remarkable handling will appeal to mountain bikers who have only ridden acoustic previously, and the dual battery capability will appeal to e-bike riders looking to jam all day on their Focus bike. Let’s take a look at the whole line in our Focus e-MTB electric bike review.
One of the first things that was so appealing to me was the low profile design of the motor and battery. Focus has taken advantage of the low q-factor and size of the Shimano Steps E8000 motor. This powerful machine is the first Shimano motor to really impress me. It offers 70 nm of torque and 250 watts of nominal power. The power provided is consistent at high and low gears. While it isn’t as quiet as a Brose motor, it pairs nicely with a Shimano drivetrain. This is especially true on the bikes with Di2 electronic shifting.
The F.O.L.D. (Focus Optimized Linkage Design) suspension design is solid. Basically, the F.O.L.D. system works in two different phases. If you’re using 25-30% of travel in the rear shock, you’re only using two pivot points which helps to negate unnecessary pedal bob and any loss of power. When you need extra support for rougher terrain, the second phase kicks in which offers pretty nice feedback on most of the bikes while keeping the rider in control. I found the F.O.L.D. system offered incredible control, especially into berms and while trying to keep yourself on the ground. I rode the Jam2 Plus LTD on a solid amount of single track, and never felt that the Deluxe rear shock was in danger of bottoming out, largely thanks to guide link/main link system. They work together to provide comfortable rigidity.
To keep it simple, the JAM2 series is pretty much an all mountain build, and the SAM2 is their enduro. The JAM series rides with a 66.5 degree head tube angle, 74.5 degree seat tube angle, and an all around solid mountain bike build. The SAM has a 65 degree head tube angle, and 75 degree seat tube angle for a slightly more aggressive setup.
Overall, the design is appealing and effective. The integrated battery keeps the low profile nature of the bike intact. These bikes are some of the most natural feeling electric bikes I’ve tested.
Focus electric mountain bikes don’t really have an entry level option. These builds are smart and unique, which is why your paying a premium even for the lower-end options the Focus JAM2 Plus LTD and the Focus JAM2 29 LTD. These bikes are set up with a RockShox Recon RL with 140mm travel, 10-speed Shimano Deore XT 786, and a Sunrace 10s cassette with 11-40 teeth.
The step up from this option are the Focus JAM2 Plus Pro and the Focus JAM2 29 Pro. You’ll upgrade to a RockShox Revelation RC with 140mm of travel, Di2 electronic shifting on a Shimano Deore XT 8050 derailleur, RockShox Reverb dropper, and DT Swiss H1700 wheels. This is the model that I absolutely fell in love with. More on that later.
From there, you’ve got two carbon options. The less expensive is the JAM2 C Plus. That will come with a Fox Rhythm 34 fork, Shimano Deore XT 11-speed drivetrain with 11-46 teeth in the cassette, KS Lev dropper. It’s a solid set up. This is not a full carbon bike as the rear triangle is aluminum, but you can still expect to shed about 5 pounds. Your cream-of-the-crop JAM2 bike is the Focus JAM2 C Plus Pro. It is essentially the carbon of the Plus Pro, as the name suggests.
For your Focus enduro option, they’ve provided the SAM2. They’ve boiled down their popular SAM2 line to just one option this year. This saves some confusion and has helped decrease cost on the Focus enduro option this year. Your head tube angle is 65 degrees and seat tube angle is 75 degrees–great geometry for enduro riders.
Fox provides suspension with their Fox 36 Performance with 170mm of travel up front and Fox DPS shock in the rear. One thing that surprised me a bit on this bike is the use of a SRAM NX derailleur. I would’ve probably opted for something a little higher quality considering the price point, but, on the other hand, I’ve praised the SRAM NX on lower end bikes for smooth shifting. Maybe I’m just being a brand snob. Anyway, that NX derailleur will get you 11-speeds and has 11-42 teeth cassette.
I haven’t had the opportunity to ride this bike, so any opinions on how it might ride are all theoretical. It interests me to see how this bike rides with the rear shock inverted. It seems like it might just be to account for the slacker seat tube angle and hopefully doesn’t affect the great ride that the JAM bikes offer.
How They Ride
As I mentioned above, most of my experience was on the JAM2 Plus Pro. I’ve also put in a considerable amount of miles on the LTD. In terms of pedal assistance, there is no doubt you are working hard in Eco mode. The Shimano STEPS e8000 is powerful, but I felt I needed to be in Trail mode up any inclines more than about 12%. That said, the minimal nature of the motor makes the ride on this bike feel so natural. Boost mode (the highest level) provides great torque for every piece of trail I took on. I never took along the T.E.C. (Tailored Energy Concept) extra battery, so I’d be interested to see how it affects the balance on the bike. I can’t imagine the extra weight would affect the balance much. Most other bike companies who mount batteries on the downtube don’t experience much of a change.
The JAM2 bikes grip trails remarkably well. Even the niner wheeled bikes ate up berms, rock gardens, and roots while staying glued to the ground. This is in large part to the guide link/main link setup. I’d even be willing to get rid of the plus sized tires in favor of something a bit quicker.
The Di2 shifting is flawless when paired with the Shimano STEPS motor. Well worth the extra money just to have that. I also really like have a 42 tooth cassette in the mix. You’ll definitely want this option if you are only using one battery so that you can stay at lower levels of assistance.
Focus offers a small but flawless lineup of electric bikes with their JAM2 and SAM2 lines. We’ll be detailing each model in subsequent reviews, but know that you can truly expect great things from any of these bikes. The price point might be more than a beginning rider wants to spend, so I’d recommend these bike for experienced mountain bikers.