2022 Focus Jam Carbon 8.9

2022 Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 filthy first ride review

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It may look like a diet e-bike from certain angles but rest assured the new Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 is very much a pilot powered pedal-bike. Benji took it out for a long dirty week and came back smiling.

Brand: Focus
Product: Jam Carbon 8.9
From: focus-bikes.com
Price: £4,799
Tested: by Benji for 1 filthy week

Focus Jam Carbon 8.9
The 2022 Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 before things got dirty

Three things I’d change

  • The CIS stem needs to be offered in shorter sizes ASAP please Focus. Or ditched altogether.
  • Rear shock needs a larger volume spacer for harder/faster riding.
  • Flip-chip is pointless.

Three things I loved

  • Grippy AF.
  • Responsive handling.
  • 4-pot XT brakes when they work are amazeballs.
Yep, it has a fitted wardrobe

The Focus Jam is a 150mm travel trail bike with 29er wheels. Focus are doing their damnedest to bring back the ‘all mountain’ moniker from the noughties but I fear it’s a losing battle. To be fair, I always liked the all mountain category name back-int-the-day but these days decent amounts of travel works just fine on a trail bike. So I’m calling this a trail bike.

We like the latest FOLD suspension arrangement

The fact that the front triangle is made from carbon is not the most interesting thing about the new Jam. Yes, yes, the down tube fitted wardrobe is all well and good (and I do love them) but those are getting found on aluminium bikes these days. The most interesting thing about the new Focus Jam is its revised rear suspension kinematic: FOLD Gen 2. Will this new FOLD linkage array up the progression and support that the previous Jam models lacked slightly?

You’ll need this lever if you’re not a fan of active suspension

Another easily-missed aspect of this new FOLD design is that the rear shock is mounted on bearings, not trad shock bushings. This is designed to radically decrease stiction and maximise suppleness. The combination of this new bearing mount and the need to fit in the frame storage is one of the reasons behind the super-wide flat front part of the top tube. Seriously, you rest a mug of tea on there.

Bottle bosses FTW

There is a flip-chip built into shock yoke mount but in all honestly it’s never really going to be changed. 0.5° of geometry is something even geo-tweaking obsessives like myself are ever going to bother to do. It’s going to live permanently in Low setting. If I want a slightly steeper seat angle I’ll bang the saddle forward on its rails.

E-bike vibes from the driver’s seat

Speaking of geometry. The Focus Jam may not set progressive people’s pulses racing but a 65° head angle and 76° seat angle are hardly hardships. The reach numbers are healthy (480mm on a Large) plus the standover and seatpost insertion depths are pleasing, so there is the potential to upsize if you wanted a roomier reach bike.

Ribbed, for your silent pleasure

Up front, the head tube lengths are par for the course in being not as long as I’d like but they aren’t disastrously short (120mm on a Large). The speccing of 35mm rise handlebars puts grips in a fairly good place.

Out back, the chain stays have had 5mm hacked from them (435mm now). The wheelie and manual brigade can rejoice. The lanky climbers can bemoan. The truth is somewhere in the middle and a whole lot depends on how the back wheel tracks the ground. More on this later.

Seat stay bridge

The 30mm BB drop is a good all-round choice. Obviously, what a bike’s actual dynamic BB ride height depends on loads of factors (rear suspension progression, shock set up, front-back balance and so on) and it was very interesting to find out just how low the Focus Jam rode when hustling along trails. We’ll get to that later too.

Right then. On to the elephant in the room. The CIS stem/headset system that eats up all your cables int its little mouth and excretes them where they need to go. It’s clearly a bad idea and one that reeks of road cycling. Praise be for small mercies, and the small mercy here is that the stem is 50mm long. Okay so a 150mm travel bike should probably have 35mm or 40mm long stem on it but hey. 50mm is doable. You can always source a high upsweep handlebar and roll it back a tad to get your hands back in the 35-40mm zone.

Pivot placement is everything

I will concede this: the Focus Jam Carbon is* a very quiet bike. Whether the CIS stem is where the silence begins is debatable but Focus have done a good job of routing any cabling/hosing and keeping it rattle free. The chainstay protection and dinky E13 chain guide are also worthy of a shout-out. Good stuff.

*well, it was quiet until the headset began creaking like a haunted barn door on the last couple of rides. Hopefully a thorough clean-out and re-grease can sort.

The ICS (Internal Compartment System) frame storage isn’t the most capacious out there but it works and is even rather pleasing to use with its push-button release. The internal tool storage bag is well made and while I got the knack for removing/inserting the bag pretty quickly, it would be wrestle if there was a chunky mini pump to get in/out. Even if it’s not as good as some other brand’s storage holes, I’m glad that it’s there.

The internally routed elephant in the room

What else is there to say about the Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 frame? The swing arm is 7007 aluminium. The BB is Pressfit PF92 (I know I’m supposed to boo at this point but I’ve only had boringly fine experiences with Pressfit, sorry!).

Oh, the Blue Green colourway is very nice.

Time for a quick glance through the Focus Jam Carbon 8.9’s spec. I found very little to complain about.

Fox 36 Float Performance forks are always so nice to ride. Supple without diving. Plenty of support when you want it. Full travel achievable without having to ride off a house. Plenty stiff enough for a trail bike with a sub-80kg rider on board. The GRIP damper says 3-position but you can fudge it in to in-between settings (ie. almost, almost locked out for road slogs). Newer 36 forks also seem to have faster rebound range than they used to (maybe it’s just me?) and as such are more suited to more riders.

Chain guide calms the noise too

The Fox Float X rear shock (210 x 55mm) obviously works in tandem with the FOLD Gen 2 linkages. Suffice to say, it has a nicely broad rebound range, positively indexed adjusters but perhaps needs a bit of home-tuning to get it to work how you might prefer it to. There’s only so much one shock tune can accommodate when dealing with riders of vastly differing weights and riding style. Thankfully, this is why God invented volume spacers.

The Shimano XT drivetrain was… er, I didn’t even think about it once. So that’s pretty good then.

The Shimano XT 4-piston brakes were similarly brilliant. They didn’t even do the wandering bite-point thing. Just masses of firm feel. All my other (test) bikes’ brakes feel decidedly ropey now.

The Post Moderne dropper was on the firm side of action but showed admirable resistance to wobble. The own-brand grips were pleasingly chunky. The Race Face Chest handlebar has a decent 35mm rise and 780mm width. And despite being 35mm diameter they did not exhibit any of the usual harsh spangs (technical term) that oversized bars usually do on rough terrain.

Fox 36 and XT 4-pots were both great

The DT Swiss M1900 wheels were fine. I can’t say I like the silence of them. I like the sound of freewheeling thanks. And despite not normally being bothered by less-than-instant engagement, I did find the freehub took a few too many degrees of crank rotation before deciding to react to my inputs.

The tyres. Well, the tyres are Maxxis Minions. What more do you need to know? Oh okay then, the DHR II is a flawless rear rear in this 2.4in WT 3C MaxxTerra guise. Perfection. The DHF is showing its age a bit compared to its newer sibling, the Maxxis Assegai, and tyres like the Schwalbe Magic Mary. The 3C MaxxGrip DHF is not subtle but it works. It’s audibly draggier and noticeably harder on tarmac than newer rival rubber compounds. It’s the AK47 of the tyre world. When things turn hairy on the trail, the DHF has got your back and all is forgiven.

As usual, I only weighed the bike once it was time to write up this review. I was surprised to see my scales display 15.9kg (35lb). The bike rode lighter than that. Yes, even though it was extremely supple off-the-top. Hang on. This brings me to talking about how the Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 actually rode…

Mini baguette anyone?

First ride review

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Focus Jam 8.9 spec

  • Frame: Carbon front triangle, 7005 Aluminum rear triangle, 150mm
  • Fork: Fox 36 Float Performance GRIP 150mm, 44mm offset
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance, 210 x 55 mm, bearing mount
  • Shifter: Shimano Deore XT M8100, 12-speed
  • Rear mech: Shimano Deore XT M8100, 12-speed
  • Cassette: Shimano SLX M7100, 12-speed, 10-51T
  • Chainset: Shimano Deore XT M8120, 12-speed, 32T
  • BB: Pressfit PF92
  • Handlebar: RaceFace Chester 35, aluminium, 780mm, 35mm ris
  • Stem: Focus C.I.S. integrated, 50mm, 0°, 35 mm
  • Headset: Acros ZS56 / ZS56, Focus C.I.S. Integrated
  • Saddle: Proxim W350
  • Seatpost: Post Moderne 170mm dropper, 31.6mm
  • Brakes: Shimano XT M8120, 4 piston, 200/200mm rotors
  • Wheels: DT Swiss M1900
  • Front tyre: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 WT 3C MaxxGrip EXO TR
  • Rear tyre: Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ TR
  • Weight: 15.9kg (35lb) actual
  • Price: £4,799

Focus Jam Carbon 8.8

2022 Focus Jam Carbon 8.8 £3,699

There is also a Focus Jam Carbon 8.8 in the range. Priced at €3,399, its spec is below. Yes it is a bit lighter than the 8.9 (lighter fork, shock, tyres..?)

  • Frame: Carbon front triangle, 7005 Aluminum rear triangle, 150mm
  • Fork: Rock Shox Revelation RC 15
  • Shock: Rock Shox Deluxe Select+, 210 x 55 mm, bearing mount
  • Shifter: SRAM SX Eagle, 12-speed SRAM SX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Rear mech: SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-1230 Eagle, 12-speed, 11-50T
  • Chainset: Truvativ Descendant 6K 32T
  • BB: Pressfit PF92
  • Handlebar: Aluminium, 800mm, 35mm rise
  • Stem: Focus C.I.S. integrated, 50 mm, 0°, 35 mm
  • Headset: Acros ZS56 / ZS56, Focus C.I.S. Integrated
  • Saddle: Focus Trail SL
  • Seatpost: Post Moderne 170mm dropper, 31.6mm
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide T, 200/200mm rotors
  • Wheelset: Rodi TRYP30 Focus rims on Novatec D041 hubs
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF
  • Weight: 15.30kg (33.7lb) claimed

Anything not covered in this review?

Feel free to ask us in the comment section below.

Review Info

Brand: Focus
Product: Jam 8.9
From: Focus Bikes
Price: €4499
Tested: by Benji for one very filthy weekend
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Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • 2022 Focus Jam Carbon 8.9 filthy first ride review
  • Nigel Leech
    Full Member

    I enjoyed that write up and shall also be doing my damndest to get “creaking like a haunted barn door” into common parlance! 😀

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    The Focus bikes . com link takes you to POC consort MTB Dungarees, not to focus bikes.

    Bike wise, glad someone agrees with me on internally mounted cables. Prefer everything as much as poss to be easier to get at.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    The whole idea of that stem really annoys me, not being able to change stem or spacers or headset without disconnecting all the cables and brakes is a total dealbreaker – was bad enough on their e-bikes, but now they’ve decided to blight their whole range with it

    billoddie
    Full Member

    That stem and the idea behind it needs to be shot into space/thrown into the neartest large body of water.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    That stem and the idea behind it needs to be shot into space/thrown into the neartest large body of water.

    +1

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    The sooner mtbs come out of this blasted ” internal cable routing” phase the better.
    I’m really struggling to understand which oaf at Focus asked himself how he could make his bikes better and came up with that shit.

    Probably the same imbecile that invented the swat holder tbf 🙄

    Ooh yes, please. Id like a stupid little fiddly compartment that doesn’t come close to holding all my riding kit and makes the bike itself heavier and/ or weaker.

    Great

    oggy
    Free Member

    The whole idea of that stem really annoys me, not being able to change stem or spacers or headset without disconnecting all the cables and brakes is a total dealbreaker – was bad enough on their e-bikes, but now they’ve decided to blight their whole range with it

    If my ebike is anything to go on, they will throw on the cheapest headset possible on everything but the top of the range bike so it’ll need hanging after 2 wet rides.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    The whole idea of that stem really annoys me, not being able to change stem or spacers or headset without disconnecting all the cables and brakes is a total dealbreaker – was bad enough on their e-bikes, but now they’ve decided to blight their whole range with it

    They’re normally split spacers on integrated stem bikes so you can add/remove them very easily.

    On my orbea, with integrated cables, the cables route behind a bolt on plate under the stem which means you can change the stem without disconnecting cables, but they’ve not done that on this bike – which seems shame as it makes it more complex to work on.

    tomparkin
    Full Member

    That stem’s an odd one isn’t it?

    I can imagine it being a deal-breaking detail for a lot of people, especially if those people do most of their own maintenance work. And yet it seems a relatively minor aesthetic improvement on the side-view (front is weird-looking, there’s no escaping it) compared to the more usual “feed the cables into holes in the frame” sort of arrangement.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    They’ve also managed to make their top end carbon trailbike weigh 35lbs, and stuck a Pressfit BB on it too, but the stem is so bad tha tpeople have barely noticed those things

    Matt Weston
    Free Member

    If I was paying nearly five grand for a bike, I certainly wouldn’t want one with a cupboard in it!

    Mind you, it’s a problem I’m unlikely to have!

    tomparkin
    Full Member

    Small mercies and all that, eh? 😂

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

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