FOCUS JAM² 29 PRO
Words by Chili Dog; Photos: Samson Hatae & Drew Rohde
Since we started messing around with e-bikes, we’ve been dreaming of ways to drop weight. We kept coming back to the concept of a modular battery system. Something that would allow the bike to have a slim profile and just enough juice for your more regular rides, but had a quick and easy way to attach an external battery for bigger adventures in the mountains. We were very excited when we learned the crew at Focus Bikes was thinking the same thing. The Jam² has a thin, downtube with a small internal battery, but features a rail bolted to the top of the downtube that securely holds a larger battery. After spotting one of the first Focus Jams at Sea Otter earlier this year, we knew we had to get one.
Focus’s Jam² breaks a few norms in the e-bike realm. Most notably, you’ll see the absence of plus tires. It’s one of the few full suspension eMTB’s we’ve thrown a leg over that retains standard size tires and 29” wheels, albeit, we weren’t exactly thrilled with the Continental Trail King SL 2.4 tires. The bike is also compatible with 27.5 Plus tires, and we did experiment with a set of Enve’s new M735E wheels and some 27.5 tires on the Jam2.
One of our favorite features of the Focus Jam2 is their T.E.C. or Tailored Energy Concept. It’s a brilliant compromise in range and weight. Instead of lugging around a massive battery pack for your weekly ten mile ride, you can strip the bike down to just the small internal battery and save the weight for the big epics.
The downtube houses a smaller 378Wh battery . For comparison, the very capable Pivot Shuttle has a 500Wh battery. That represents a significant weight savings over a bike that lugs around that battery capacity full time. The system can be doubled with an external battery pack mounted on a rail system for a massive total of 756Wh of pedal pushing power. If you’re not planning on using the external battery, you can attach a water bottle cage to the frame instead.
All those watts get put to the ground through a Shimano Steps E8000 motor with 70Nm of torque, a 250-Watt output and the familiar Shimano display. Focus puts a twist on the system however, adding a large power button to the top tube. It’s definitely easier to push than the small button on the Shimano display, and makes us feel like we’re in a luxury car instead of on a bike.
Focus employs a suspension design called F.O.L.D. (Focus Optimized Linkage Design). A compact linkage design that sits above the shock. Focus claims the design strikes an ideal balance between pedaling efficiency and bump absorption. The rear 140mm of travel is controlled by a Rock Shox Deluxe RT shock, while the front is suspended by a 140mm Rock Shox Revelation RC.
A Shimano Deore XT Di2 1×11 drivetrain handles the gear changes, while XT brakes do the stopping. We’ve ridden electronic Di2 drivetrains on plenty of bikes but when it’s on an e-bike it really takes the experience to the next level. With flawless, crisp shifts every single time, it’s easier than ever to put down the power through technical sections or out of corners. The BBB, aluminum flat bars and DT-Swiss H1700 wheels offer cost savings, but we weren’t blown away by the performance on trail. After fighting flex issues with the front end of the bike, we swapped out the bar and stem in search of a stiffer option for technical terrain. The improvement was noted but this bike still has some flex that makes the front end squirm under aggressive riders.