Just in time for the most miserable bit of the year, Focus has launched the new Focus Jam² ebike with the tagline “Happy Place”. Antony takes a first look at the top-of-the-range Jam² 7.0 and tries to identify where that place might be.
Focus is a German brand who wasted no time getting on board with ebikes. The Jam² has been in its lineup for several years now. Like an eMTB Doctor Who, it has shifted through various different incarnations. It’s been a 27.5 trail ebike, a 27.5+/29 machine, then a low-fat 29er with carbon frame and a slimmed-down battery. For 2022 it’s a 150mm travel, 29er ebike with a big battery and Shimano EP8 motor.
Focus Jam2 models
The version tested here, the Focus Jam² 7.0, will set you back £7,499. For slightly less opulent budgets, there are two models below it. The Jam² 7.9 is £5,999 and the Jam² 7.8 is £5,099.
The 2022 Jam² also arrives with a splurge of slick marketing, centred around a latter-day Reginald Perrin named Dave. Unlike Reggie though, Dave’s fantasies of escaping from the daily grind don’t centre around ripping his clothes off and running into the sea. Instead he’s fist bumping Ollie Wilkins as he takes to his local trails and discovers mountain biking. It’s a nice contrast to the usual schreddit that accompanies a bike launch. It is also perhaps an indication that Focus expects the bike to appeal to casual dabblers.
All three Jam2 models have alloy frame with 150mm travel front and rear. The F.O.L.D. suspension design features a linkage designed to give an unashamedly active ride feel.
The rear shock is an ebike specific Fox Float X Performance. This is paired up with a RockShox Zeb 29 fork with a Charger R damper, again in ebike specific flavour. The Zeb has a burlier chassis than previous single crown RockShox forks (38mm as opposed to the 35mm legs). Jam² models lower down the range have Fox 36 and RockShox 35 forks. There’s a rubber bumper under the downtube that’ll catch the fork crown and stops the handlebars from thwacking the top tube.
The 2022 Jam2 bikes are longer and slacker, although not outlandishly so (see geometry chart below). There’s a flip-chip in the rear shock mount that (in Low mode) slackens things off, lowers the BB and brings the reach in a tad. Useful for fine-tuning the feel and fit of the bike.
The power assist is from a Shimano EP8 motor, powered by a custom 720Wh battery inside the downtube. This is really designed to be charged in situ although, if you absolutely need to, you can get it out by undoing a bolt and moving the motor out of the way. The charging port sits in front of the motor. It has a magnetic cover bearing the legend “KEEP DRY AND CLEAN”. Slightly optimistic given its location but easy enough to keep an eye on. There’s a simple two-button controller near the grip for the motor and Shimano’s unobtrusive EM800 display beside the stem.
Drivetrain is a mix of 165mm e*thirteen cranks in (complete with rubber protective boots), a SRAM GX Eagle 36T chainring and wide range 52T cassette. In a techy touch, there’s a SRAM GX AXS wireless shifter and derailleur.
The kit features a Focus C.I.S. stem, which is intended to offer neater internal cabling, while also looking like a cute tiny robot eating spaghetti. Race Face bars and grips and a Shimano dropper post lever complete the controls. SRAM’s excellent Code RSC brakes are paired with suitably whopping 220mm rotors.
The DT Swiss HX1700 wheelset combined with 2.6in Schwalbe Magic Mary and Big Betty tyres means there’s no skimping in the wheel department. The frame also has a bunch of neat details. There’s a ribbed rubber chainstay protecto. Plus the tiniest framebag I’ve ever seen, but it could probably just about hold enough tools to rescue a ride should you want to go packless. The positioning also means you can use a full size 750ml water bottle (albeit one with a side entry cage).
One of the perks of writing for a bike website just over the hill from me, I was able to jump on the Focus Jam² and ride it straight home. At this point I hadn’t downloaded any of the press pack and had no idea that the bike was designed around a large play-all-day battery. The bike felt responsive, fun and like I could ride it everywhere in Eco mode.
After a few more rides I started to figure out how Focus have made a burly trail ebike packed with lithium ion cells ride like a much lighter setup. First of all, the sizing of the bike is pretty restrained. It’s not some SuperEnduro weapon with monster reach. Its short chainstays also keep it surprisingly nimble and allow you to lift the front without much grunt.
Even with the top tube mounted shock, the Focus Jam² also has a low centre of gravity thanks to the positioning of the battery and motor, The generous standover of the frame is most welcome in general too. The chunky wheels and soft compound tyres help give everything a nice planted feel. I’ve used a Schwalbe Magic Mary as a front tyre on-and-off for years but it’s still up there with the very best of them, especially in this version. The bike gives you plenty of confidence to hit slippery off-camber bits of trail with gusto.
The suspension design is also at the responsive end of the spectrum. The suspension doesn’t just eat up the bumps, it gives a decent amount of feedback. It responds well to my attempts to preload and pop over stuff. It feels slightly less comfortable with really big hits (some experimentation with volume spacers is no doubt required) but for general trail riding it makes the bike a much more fun proposition than some ebikes I’ve ridden. When climbing it’s very active indeed and this seems to translate into traction and forward motion, rather than excessive bobbing around like a cork in a pond.
Connecting the bike to the Shimano E-tube app revealed that it’s set with relatively high levels of assist. Eco mode is more like the next setting up (Trail). It’s a fair enough tweak from Focus given that the range of the bike is going to be much higher than a bike with a smaller battery.
I found the 150mm dropper post slightly on the short side at 5’10”. A 170mm option would make the most of the frame’s low standover, although I’m probably at the upper limit of the medium size.
The rest of the bike performed perfectly. The SRAM Code RSC brakes deserve a special mention for being very controllable as well as ultra-powerful. The GX AXS shifting was precise too although a bit noisier than I expected, with a metallic ping to accompany the little servo noise of every gear change.
Overall first thoughts on Focus Jam2
Our test bike arrived just as the winter weather across the UK went into overdrive with snowstorms. And rain and winds that have devastated whole trail networks. It’s a measure of how much I’ve enjoyed riding the Focus Jam² 7.0 that no matter what the trail conditions, it’s been fun to get out on it.
If I’m being really picky I’d ditch the AXS gear – the price of the Focus Jam² 7.0 is already well into the “‘ow much?!” territory. The bike is also slightly biased towards shorter riders and I would size up if I was looking to get more time on a Jam2.
At a claimed 25.5kg, the Focus Jam2 7.0 still a big heavy machine, and riders of slighter build will definitely notice this. But as a clever bit of bike design, which makes a chunky 29er trail ebike ride like something with a much lighter build and battery, it’s very impressive indeed.
Frame // Aluminium, 150mm F.O.L.D suspension
Fork // RockShox Zeb 29er, Charger R, 150mm travel
Shock // Fox Float X Performance
Motor // Shimano EP8
Battery // Focus Integrated, 720Wh
Shifter // SRAM GX AXS, 12-speed
Cassette // SRAM XG-1275
Cranks // e.thirteen e*spec Plus
Brakes // SRAM Code RSC, 220mm rotor
Handlebars // RaceFace Chester 35, 780mm
Stem // Focus C.I.S integrated, 50mm
Grips // RaceFace Getta Grip
Seatpost // Focus Post Modern dropper, 150mm (M)
Saddle // Fizik Proxim W350
Wheels // DT Swiss HX1700
Tyres // Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail Soft 29×2.6in front, Schwalbe Big Betty Super Trail Soft 29×2.6in rear
|Tested:||by Antony for Three weeks|