Focus Jam2 E-MTB BikeRadar review 7 Feb 2018

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Focus Jam2 E-MTB BikeRadar review 7 Feb 2018

Superbly suspended and well-shaped e-ripper

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The Focus JAM2 is uses a Shimano Steps motor, but there’s a whole lot more going on besides that to make the Factory a flat-out fun but super-user-friendly trail blaster.

Like the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp, the JAM2 hides its battery very neatly and quietly inside its oversize down tube rather than leaving it on top. Capacity is small when compared to cells on other e-MTBs, at 380Wh, but I never ran out during testing and it can be recharged in situ via a magnetic connector.

If you want extra range, you can slide a second battery onto the ‘TEC’ rail on the down tube, taking capacity to 756Wh. Alternatively, you can fit a bottle cage.

The Shimano Steps motor is buried in the belly and takes up very little space behind the cranks, so the chainstays can be kept relatively short (for an e-bike), at 455mm.

While the Focus’s reach and wheelbase are average in the grand scheme of things, at 445mm and 1,225mm respectively on my large sample, it’s longer than the other bikes that were also on test (Haibike SDURO AllMtn 7.0, KTM Macina Lycan 273, Scott E-Genius 720 Plus and Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp).

The 66.5-degree head angle adds stability when things get rowdy too. Focus’s excellent new FOLD linkage sits the shock low and central, and there’s plenty of room around the plus tyre in the Boost back end. It’s a very light bike, but only comes in medium and large sizes.

The JAM2 hides its battery neatly inside its down tube
The JAM2 hides its battery neatly inside its down tube

Focus JAM2 Factory kit

The most important component on any e-bike is the motor and Shimano’s Steps system is excellent for several reasons.

It uses a proper crankset and chainring rather than skinny shopping-bike arms and a tiny, noisy, chain-straining primary drive cog. The ‘zero loss’ system means that if you switch the power assistance off or the battery runs out you don’t have to strain the motor round as well as heaving the weight of the bike along.

A Di2 trigger shifter is used to control the three power modes, and the neat, adjustable-menu display is well protected and unobtrusive behind the bar, alongside the stem. The couple of ignition glitches I had were sorted easily with a quick restart too.

The overall ride experience of the JAM2 Factory is excellent
The overall ride experience of the JAM2 Factory is excellent

SRAM NX gears give excellent shifting support, while a RockShox Yari RC fork and Deluxe shock provide dutifully durable damping control. DT Swiss’s XM 1501 wheels are light, accurate, tough and still have a great ride feel. The Schwalbe tyres are okay for general trail use too, but be prepared to fit something tougher once you work out just how hard you can ride the JAM2.

The Magura MT5 four-pot brakes feel spongy and the bar could be a bit wider, the stem shorter and the dropper have a longer stroke, but those aren’t deal breakers, and neither is the relatively high cost.

Focus JAM2 Factory ride impression

The overall ride experience of the JAM2 Factory is excellent, and pressing the blue backlit power button that sits on the top tube is a proper ‘Tesla’ moment.

The Di2 selector is wonderfully positive and intuitive to use compared to big plastic buttons on a bar-top box, and the display is clean and clear so you can monitor speed, motor-assist levels and other data easily.

Power pick-up in ‘Trail’ mode is keen without dumping you on your back or spitting traction. Low overall and wheel weight means there’s more than enough torque to make the ‘Boost’ setting mostly unnecessary unless you really want to ride climbs like they’re downhills.

The motor engages seamlessly through a wide cadence and torque range too, so you’re getting better-judged assistance more of the time in any speed or steepness situation, and there’s no obvious overrun to factor in on technical climbs.

Lightweight plus wheels and tyres also add more traction to an already impressively fluid ground connection without dulling acceleration and responsiveness. It’s a lot quieter than the Bosch bikes on test too. In other words, the Focus rides like a normal bike would if you had amazing legs.

The overall ride experience of the JAM2 Factory is excellent
The overall ride experience of the JAM2 Factory is excellent

While the ‘trail shaped’ cockpit means you have to push your knee and shoulders into the first few corners harder than normal to tame the forward inertia of the extra e-mass, weight balance is great otherwise. The FOLD suspension, with its cunning rollover linkage and designed-in compliance, gives outrageous traction while still sucking up savage hits far better than you’d expect for 140mm of travel.

I didn’t miss the lack of compression damping control on the Deluxe shock either, although I did add some volume spacers once I started getting daft.

The stout fork and powerful brakes do a good job of controlling speed and direction, although they start to struggle compared to Fox e-forks and SRAM/Shimano brakes when you’re battering down DH runs.

At that point you’ll want tougher, grippier tyres too, but to be fair to Focus, the JAM2 was designed as a trail bike not an enduro weapon, and for that role the lighter spec makes sense.

The Focus rides like a normal bike would if you had amazing legs…
The Focus rides like a normal bike would if you had amazing legs…

Focus JAM2 Factory specifications

  • Frame: Triple-butted 6066 aluminium, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Motor: 250W Shimano STePS E800 w/ Focus TEC battery and Shimano Di2 display
  • Fork: RockShox Yari RC Boost, 150mm (5.9in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe
  • Drivetrain: SRAM NX w/ Shimano STePS cranks (1×11)
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline ONE Boost wheels
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo SnakeSkin 27.5×2.8i
  • Brakes: Magura MT5, 200mm rotors
  • Bar: JD MTB-11AFS Concept, 760mm
  • Stem: Concept, 70mm
  • Seatpost: Concept Drop 120mm dropper
  • Saddle: fi’zi:k Tundra M5
  • Weight: 20.95kg (46.19lb)

 

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