Focus Launch their ’23 e-MTB line-up with a massive overhaul of both the Sam2 and Jam2 platforms
BREAKING NEWS: Focus release entirely new MY23/24 e-MTB line-up featuring 3 new platforms and models tailor spec’d exclusively for the Aussie market!
Today Focus have unveiled a massive overhaul to their e-MTB family, with 3 completely new frame platforms, all of which come equipped with (what we believe to be the best performing motor in all of e-MTB) Bosch ‘Smart Drive’ system, as well as loads of other exciting new frame and tech features.
And somehow given all of that, each of these new bikes which will be landing in dealers across the country over the coming month are actually priced lower, more affordably, than we’ve ever seen before and that’s with the upgraded motors across the board!
But perhaps the best news of all for us Aussie mountain bikers is that ahead of this new season launch Focus global have recognised Australia is such a significant market for the brand and at the same time the landscape and trails down here are unique compared to the rest of the world, and so to give Aussie customers the best possible riding experience on their new bikes Focus have literally tailored the component spec’s of 5 different models exclusively for the local market to perfectly suit Aussie trails – how cool is that?!
Continuing to up the ante of e-MTB
When you look at the biggest brands in e-MTB Germany’s Focus Bikes is right up there at the very top. And their popularity amongst riders across the globe comes with good reason; Focus recognised that e-Bikes were going to take off long before most other brands and they began pouring resources into developing their original e-MTB line-up and now with well over a decade of leading the charge Focus have a distinct ‘foot up’ in terms of advancement on a lot of other brands in the ‘pedal assist MTB market’.
Stunning ride performance, mechanical reliability and value for money are the other 3 factors that we have come to associate with the brand and tend to love about all of the many Focus’ that our team have reviewed here at the mag over the years.
A fresh new direction for Focus in 2023
Recently Focus debuted their first entry into the ‘SL’ light weight e-Bike category with their Jam2 SL (check out our coverage of that bike here: revolutionmtb.com.au/exclusive-first-look-focus-jam2-sl/ ) which featured a highly distinctive and equally stunning frame silhouette. And we’d be lying to you if we didn’t go ahead and comment that we’re extremely stoked to see that Focus have carried that frame style across into their 3 latest models; the Jam2 6-Series (alloy), the Jam2 8-Series (carbon) as well as the all-new Sam2 6-Series fresh for 2023. This would have to be the most visually refined line-up we’ve ever seen from Focus, but of course as riders we all know what really matters is what lays beneath the surface and how they perform – right? Right! In this article we’re going to give you an overview of each of the 3 new models, and then also break down some of the individual spec options and pricing within each range which will be landing in Focus dealers across Australia over the coming months. And then to really up the ante we’re also going to tell you about how the 2023 Jam2 and Sam2 actually ride, given that late last year we actually had the opportunity to fly over to Spain and spend a few days test riding the bikes on some incredible Mediterranean mountainous trails.
The elephant in the room
You don’t have to be Stevie Wonder to notice that the previous generation Jam2 and Sam2 don’t look anything like the new models, and a lot of that comes down to the new suspension layup that Focus have utilised. Unique to Focus is a proprietary suspension design which they call F.O.L.D. (standing for ‘FOCUS OPTIMIZED LINKAGE DESIGN’) and where by in previous generations of the Jam2 and Sam2 the F.O.L.D. that those bikes used placed the rear shock in a somewhat vertical straight up and down position within the bikes front triangle, the suspension layup on these latest generation Jam2 and Sam2 models has changed significantly. In a quest to ‘dial’ each bikes kinematics and character to exactly where Focus wanted them (for the Jam2 the mission was to create a perfectly balanced ‘all-round’ trail bike, and with the Sam2 they aimed to create an all-out enduro style big mountain exhilaration bike) Focus came up with a completely new F.O.L.D. design which now places the shock up underneath the toptube within the bike’s front triangle. And the brand claim that this new suspension layup is a lot more ‘reactive’ throughout the bikes travel whilst putting less stress on the shock itself which in turn gives the rider a more comfortable ride with more control and more grip than in years past.
Also, to note, the new F.O.L.D. design makes it much easier to fit and access a full-size water bottle.
‘All Bosch, all yeah!’
Another notable change with the 3 new bikes is that Focus has opted to go exclusively with Bosch for the bike’s power units. In years past we’ve seen a mix of Bosch and Shimano motors spec’d to their bikes but for 23/24” all Jam2 and Sam2’s are coming with the ‘cream of the crop’ Bosch Performance Line CX ‘Smart System’ motors.
That motor is an absolute favourite of ours here at the mag due to it’s flawless reliably. It also packs plenty of grunt, with 85Nm of max torque and up to 340% matched rider power.
However, super excitingly we’ve noted that Focus are set to be bringing 2 models into Australia which will be spec’d with the extremely rare/exclusive Bosch Performance Line CX ‘RACE’ motor! In case you don’t know, the Bosch Performance Line CX ‘RACE’ is the lightest weight of all current Bosch drive units and it features a special ‘R’ mode which increases the motors response times for faster acceleration and it’s output increases to an absolutely staggering 400% of rider pedal power.
All new Jam2 and Sam2 bikes will come stock with a 750Wh Bosch battery, which is an increase from last years 625Wh batteries, and another cool new feature is that batteries are now removable through the bottom of each bike’s downtube without need for any tools – just unlock the buckle and open the cover and out the battery slides. This will be particularly handy for riders that prefer to charge their battery whilst it’s not inside the bike (for instance people that live in cold regions who need to charge their bike’s battery inside where it’s warm and not out in the garage, etc).
Clever little shared frame details
There are several features shared across all of the new models announced today. Firstly, all frame now use a universal derailleur hanger making it easy to find replacement hanger and this will also ‘future proof’ the bike as they’ll be able to run drivetrains from a certain brand which haven’t yet been released to market. Another clever detail that the bikes come with which we think it very cool and clever is that you can ‘turn’ the headset cups around in order to adjust the bike’s headtube and frame geo. These adjustable cups come stock with all models and specs. Each of the bikes also come fitted with custom frame protection rubber padding for areas that are exposed to a higher risk of damage such as the down tube and chainstay. And one last thing that we really rated when we recently reviewed a Focus Jam ‘non e-Bike’ (check the review out here if you’re interested: revolutionmtb.com.au/reviewed-focus-jam-6-9/) was the neat little custom storage back mounted up under the bikes toptube – those same bags have been incorporated into each of the new Jam2 and Sam2 bikes that we’re looking at here and we reckon that’s a brilliant addition.
The Jam2 6-Series and 8-Series
We’re told that the ‘Jam2’ has been the highest selling, and therefore most popular, mountain bike in Focus’ range for quite a few years. As part of Focus’ complete ground up redesign of the Jam2 range the brand has essentially created 2 different versions, the 6-Series which sports a fully aluminium frame and the 8-Series which boasts carbon front triangle coupled with an alloy rear end. Both ‘Series’ share the exact same frame geometry and measurements, and both are available in 4 frame sizes running from Small through to XL.
Travel up in the front of the bike has been increased this year to 160mm (up from 150mm in years previous) however the rear end remains at 150mm. We’re big fans of how Focus have semi-integrated the shock into the top tube, it helps to give the bike a nice ‘clean’ appearance and also provides greater standover height which is always a bonus if you’re the kind of rider who likes to throw their bike around and be playful out on the trails. All Jam2 models roll exclusively on 29” wheels and as we mentioned earlier the bikes also come stock with adjustable frame geo via the switchable headset cups.
The 6-Series bikes do feature something that the 8-Series does not, and that is a nicely integrated USB-C port located on the bikes top tube. This effectively allows the rider to power lights or charge your smartphone and GPS, all whilst riding.
One interesting thing to note, all Jam2 6-Series and 8-Series bikes come with 160mm forks, except for the Jam2 6.7 which is one of the Australian exclusive models and that bike comes with a 150mm fork. We’re not sure why Focus made this spec choice, perhaps to steepen the bike’s headtube angle a touch and there for make the bikes handling a little faster up front and perhaps more appealing to riders wanting something a little more ‘XC’ in nature? Either way, it’s an interesting point of difference from the rest of the range.
The Sam2 6-Series
There was no hiding the fact that previous generation Sam2 was intended as a big, burly mountain slaying machine (check out our review of that bike here: revolutionmtb.com.au/reviewed-focus-sam2-6-9/) and whilst the 2023 version does share the same amount of travel it’s overall appearance is much more akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. When we first caught eyes on the new Sam2 in the flesh from across the room it immediately grabbed our attention, it is one seriously rad looking bike! Sure, it’s frame lines do share a similar overall shape to its little sibling the all-Jam2, but you can certainly tell that the Sam2 has been spending some serious time working out in the gym building those muscles – this thing looks strong and ready for a pub fight!
Interestingly travel has been increased 10mm at the front bringing it up to 180mm, however the rear end remains at 170mm as it were in previous seasons. Also, compared to its predecessors, the seat tube got shorter while the bike frame provides more insertion depth for the seat post. This way, you can choose a bike size according to your riding preferences. If you favour a larger frame to have a longer bike for more stability, you can easily size up your FOCUS SAM2.
The kinematics of the Sam2 has been tailored for the roughest rides; smashing through rock gardens, hitting jumps, and sending gaps at full speed. The bike’s F.O.L.D. rear linkage offers plenty of support and progression through the shock’s stroke while still providing enough bottom-out resistance to absorb hits when it gets rowdy. And one thing we really like is that the bike has been designed to work best with a coil rear shock rather than an air unit. The spring rate of this e-MTB differs depending on your bike size, resulting in a perfectly balanced bike.
So, how do the new bike’s ride?
As we mention up in the intro, we were lucky enough to be invited by Focus to travel across to Spain and spend a few days riding these new bikes. We spent the entire first day riding the Jam2 8-Series carbon bike and the second day we venture higher into the mountains and got to experience the Sam2 unleashed in its element. Whilst we are going to hold back on sharing our trail notes about how the bikes ride until the upcoming edition of [R] + [E] magazine hits the stands on the 23rd of March, what we can tell you is in terms of handling both bikes we rode were a notable improvement over their predecessors (and as you might know we were already pretty impressed with how those old models handled) and the other thing that shone on both bikes was the performance of the new Bosch Performance Line CX motor! Be sure to grab a copy of our upcoming magazine to hear plenty more about our riding experience with the new bikes.
Keen to know more?
Head on down to your local Focus dealer or else simply jet over to Focus’s Au website where you’ll find a ton more info and insights about every model within the new 2023/24 line-up.www.focus-bikes.com/au_en/