by Rob Mitchell
June 20, 2016
Our lads Rob ‘Crayons’ and photographer Elliott got the chance to head out to Morzine (as you may have spotted elsewhere) to check in with the ladies and gents over at Focus Bikes. With two new bikes being muttered about around the release time, we were set to be bringing you just that, however Focus decided to make it a bit more interesting and throw some new (and pretty fancy) German engineering in there too.
Focus’ new linkage design.
Let’s start with this new engineering from Focus then, what’s it all about? Well, named F.O.L.D – standing for Focus Optimised Linkage Design – in essence, it is Focus’ new linkage design for their full suspension mountain bikes. Fully patented by Focus for their new range of bikes, they have been able to show us for the first time, a completely new linkage design. F.O.L.D incorporates two main parts and is the reason why Focus bikes from 2017, will now use an all new design and shock position.
The new linkage system is split by two main parts – the Guidelink (above), which is responsible for rear-end stiffness and the Mainlink which is the (as the name suggests) the main folding part of the linkage, as the shock compresses.
Having these two main parts, splits the movement of the system into two phases. The first of these phases (taking up around 30% of the movement) is set to increases plushness throughout the travel, minimising small bumps and increasing stiffness within the back end of the bike. The second phase (remaining 70% of movement) aims to increase sensitivity throughout a progressive shock movement.
By moving the shock position to the centre of the bike, Focus have been able to increase rear end stiffness, by removing all pivot points, linkages and bushings from the axle areas of the rear triangle. This has meant that bikes using this system, now have an incredibly low unsprung weight, delivering, as stated by Focus, high quality balanced riding. Centralised mass has also been addressed, by moving the weight of the shock and accompanying pivots to the middle of the bike, producing a (as Focus say) perfect handling bike.
Along with the main benefits of the new shock and linkage designs, Focus and the F.O.L.D system have been able to keep the wants and needs of riders to hand, producing a bike that can still accommodate little things such as your bottle cage, while also creating a safe position for the shock and linkages, to protect them from mud and grime (trust me when I say we saw lots of this in Morzine this week).
Now, onto the new bikes.
So as well as releasing F.O.L.D to the world, Focus have also given us two new bikes using this new technology – and this is what we have. First up is the O1E (the one, or 1) – Focus’ new XC race bike, running 100mm of travel at each end. Coming with 29in wheels, a headangle of 69.2°, 74.5° seatangle and 448mm chainstays, it’s easy to see exactly what kind of bike this is. Focus have built a bike around three main targets, keeping the bike light, stiff and efficient.
Focus have erm, well…focused on keeping the weight as low as possible on the O1E and by using the new suspension system and carbon trickery within it, that’s exactly what they’ve done. By manufacturing the Guidelink and Mainlink from carbon fibre, as well as full carbon triangles, they have been able to produce a frame which (in a medium) weighs only 1830g, without shock.
The slim and compact two piece linkage design, cast in carbon to keep the weight down. By keeping all the pivot points and bushing within the centre of the frame, balance and weight is kept (as Focus say) perfectly aligned.
In true Focus style, it has kept its recognisable tie-shape toptube design with the O1E, with the ports for internal cable routing on the left hand side of the headtube.
Although the O1E comes with dropper post routing, the Team specifications is supplied sans dropper – making life interesting when we were out on the rides after becoming so used to running dropper posts. Again however, full carbon seatpost and carbon rails help to keep the overall weight of the full build down.
According to Focus, the O1E Team will weight in at under 9KG, even with a dropper post fitted. It seems to us that this new German engineering could be working absolute wonders for the progression of Focus Bikes. If rumours turn out to be true, seeing this system on the Sam in the next year or so, could drop a considerable amount of weight, from a bike we already know can win Enduro races. Very interesting indeed.
The O1E will be available in three sizes, S, M & L and will also come in three diffferent specifications, Evo, Pro and Team. Here we have the Team specification, running the noticeable RockShox RS1. Speaking with Phillip (product manager for the O1E) we asked him why they chose the RS1 on the Team spec over a new SID, especially now with the newly updated carbon crown on the SID. Phillip told us that they wanted to keep the new SID just for the Raven hardtail XC race bike as they have had so much success with that over the last few years. He also told us that the RS1 was chosen as Focus feel it minimises the smaller bumps that can affect the ride of the bike. SIDs are still going to be available in the lower specification models of the O1E, however.
Moving on from the O1E, next up we have the appropriately named (after we found jars of the stuff all over the shop) Focus JAM. Designed to fill the gap between the SPINE and the SAM, the JAM is a 140mm travel trail bike, fitted up with the new F.O.L.D system.
Following on from the O1E, the JAM also uses Focus’ new F.O.L.D suspension system to achieve some impressive stats, numbers and well, a bike that is set to ride and handle pretty dam well. With a headangle of 66.8°, a 74.5° seat angle and chainstays which measure in at 425mm, the JAM is giving us all the right signals, to fit into a growing market of ‘enduro’ style bikes.
As previously explained, Focus have been able to save a considerable amount of weight within these two new bikes, by using their new suspension system. Creating a bike that has a rear triangle with no pivot points and bushings, means the back end of the bike can be made stiffer.
Tucked in behind the shock in the rear triangle, Focus’ own ‘Burrito Bridge’ provides all the stiffness that is needed, while also giving riders the option of installing a front derailleur, through some tidy little ports located on the drive side.
As always, the tie shaped top tube and left hand internal routing ports, give us no doubts that this is 100% a Focus. German engineering once again ticks all the boxes, creating a bike that looks very good indeed.
Fitting in with the standards most manufacturers are now following, the JAM comes boost at both ends, with a 148mm rear axle. The factory C SL, is supplied with fancy new SRAM Eagle technology, which when strapped to a bike that has a (size medium) frame weight of only 2060g, minus the shock, means climbing on this thing should be a breeze.
Available in six different specification levels, and coming in four sizes (S, M, L, XL), the JAM is well placed and priced, to fit into the current market of longer travel, good pedaling bikes.
Focus have gone with a subtle approach to the styling of the JAM, especially in this model spec and from where we are stood, they’ve done a pretty good job. The new F.O.L.D system sounds as though it’s going to be a good piece of progression for Focus. By patenting the design itself, its beginning to show how the new German engineering is working for them and just what they can achieve.
So those are the new bikes, and if we may, let’s just remind ourselves that it was only 6 years ago when Focus had just one hardtail mountain bike. With the addition of these two new bikes, the Focus line up spans a full range of applications and specs. We’ll be speaking with the product managers for the new bikes over the coming days, and getting all the technical details of the suspension system and new bikes, videoed and put into plain terms. Reaction to first rides, some further details and plenty of muddy riding photos to come during the week.