Review: Focus Jarifa I29 Pro

July 28, 2017

Nicole Mallet uses a Focus e-bike to help her rehabilitate from an injury sustained during enduro racing. Will she become an e-convert?

Brand: Focus
Product: Jarifa I29 Pro
Price: £3,299
Tested: by Nicole Mallett for 5 months

Nicole Mallet, keen enduro racer, smashed her leg up in a nasty crash last year. As part of her recovery effort, she’s been testing the Focus Jarifa I29 Pro. You can read about her crash here, and her recovery here. Read on for her review of the Focus Jarifa I 29 Pro…

If you’d asked me about e-bikes a year ago, I probably would have had the same answer as most people: “…pftttt cheater bikes! Why would you have one?” It wasn’t until Hannah at Singletrack told me I could review one that I really thought about riding one, and what a great help this would turn out to be for my rehab from injury.

Battery is relatively subtle.

What a bike and what an amazing rehab tool, it’s got me back out on the trails months ahead of what I would have managed without it, and even when I’m fixed properly, I don’t think I’ll be hanging up the e-bike for good. A word of advice… If you try one, you will end up NEEDING one! I may sound corny, but I’ve got my life back being able to get back out doing what I love with my friends. Without this I fear I may have become a really grumpy couch potato!!

Remote fork lockout.

The JARIFA I29 is, as per the focus website, intended for easier trails and long trips; this could be interpreted many ways depending on your riding style and skills. Is an easy trail a ride down the canal, or a red at a trail centre? I have been along the canal and around the red trails at Llandegla, Grizedale and Whinlatter and it’s taken them all within its stride.

100mm Recon Fork.
100mm rotors.

Out of the box it comes well equipped with mid-level components, including Shimano BRM615 brakes, Concept dropper, DT Swiss wheels, Rockshox recon 100mm forks with remote lock out and SRAM go 1×11, and not forgetting the Impulse Evo motor.

Sound mid-level components
Dropper post included.

The tyres, they aren’t as purposeful as I’d normally use, which made me feel a little vulnerable at times on wet rocky trails and made me hold back a little, but considering the surgeon had said I really shouldn’t be riding yet this is probably a good thing!

Could be more grippy.

The general spec of the bike is good and the 1 x 11 setup is great coupled with the motor, you could almost ride up a vertical wall in the Ultra setting. The Shimano brakes are very positive with the 180mm rotors. The 29in wheels roll well and good geometry makes the bike feel capable and planted.

Fork lockout – if you want it.

As a canal bike or gravel bike the forks are fine, but if you wanted to press on a little harder they were left wanting, with poor compression control and a lack of travel. However, like I said earlier, the intended ‘easier’ trails may be slightly less technical than I took the Jarifa to play out on! A remote lockout is also featured but I did not really feel the need to use it.

Look again, it IS an a-bike.

Its sleek design has the 612wh battery discreetly tucked away in the down tube, keeping the lines clean, with only the bar mounted screen giving its secret away at first glance on a trail. The battery is removable for charging, but I kept it on the bike as I have 240v sockets near where I lock the bikes. The charging is so simple, and all through a magnetic charging link. Even the cover for the charge port is held on by magnets, my first thought on this…it’ll never stand up to trails, it will get wet inside and I’m bound to lose the magnetic cover. I was wrong – I didn’t lose it, and it kept the water out.

Bluetooth and app to stop you running to empty.

In the first week of having the Jarifa, I thought I’d see how long the battery would last with me using it every day for dog walks in the highest assist mode. I got a whopping 67km, all of these rides being on muddy tow paths and fields. When it did go flat though, I felt like I was pedaling on Velcro… that’s where the mobile app comes in useful, with Bluetooth connection between mobile and e-bike, it will warn you if you cannot achieve the planned route or should be heading back.

Clear screen, plenty of info.

Being an e-bike, it’s obviously heavier than a traditional hard tail, coming in at just under 23kg. The weight is distributed well with the integrated battery and with the drive being on the cranks it’s kept low and central. It’s never an issue on the climbs and with it being low and central it doesn’t affect the downs either, obviously it’s heavier to throw around, but this is soon forgotten when you’re blasting down the trails and remembering why you love mountain biking so much.

Additional waterproofing needed.

The Jarifa has been without doubt the most used bike my our stable in recent months, and became the ultimate dog walking tool. Having a young Border Collie that requires around five miles of walking each day the Jarifa is the obvious choice. The bike has four settings: Eco, Sport, Power and Ultra, needless to say we only ever use Ultra with the dog. Living in rural farmland the bridleways and fields that we exercise the dog on are deep with mud and slop, and I like to play the 27.5kmph game. At 28 the electric motor cuts out and the bike becomes a heavy cumbersome beast, but at 27.5kmph you can drift slide and grin your way through what would otherwise be a quad burning, sense of humour destroying, slog. (I’ll get back to these quad burning rides when I’m able to compete in cyclo cross again…. Or maybe they have an e-bike category?)

Requires TLC as much as any other bike.

All that fun in the mud and slop did however take its toll, and water ingress through to the motor stopped play during two trail centre rides, making for a slow ride back to the car. On investigation we found that water had got in to the power connections between the down tube and motor as there’s no seal, leaving a good few mm of space in an area of bike that’s going to take all brunt of riding in the rain. We dropped the motor and cleaned the contacts which solved the problem, but it’s not a trailside repair! Focus could solve this probelm on future productions by adding a watertight seal, as for us Brits we spend most of our time riding in the rain, it’s a rare occurance we get months of dust!

Obviously the e-bike got a lot of attention on the trails with friends, and everyone wanted to try it. Two of whom have now bought e-bikes since using mine, for very different reasons: one to keep up with her other half and go on longer rides with him, and another for use during enduro race practice, to take keep their legs fresh for race day! So it just shows, e-bikes aren’t just for the older genertion, or the injured. It’s also made me fitter since getting back on my trail bike as I try to keep up with my friends and their new found love of e-bikes!

Viva la revolution.

Is this the future?


Review Info

Brand: Focus
Product: Jarifa I29 Pro
Price: £3,299
Tested: by Nicole Mallett for 5 months

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