Focus Jam 2 6.8 Plus (2019): boy, this was fun!
We already know that in the future, electric bikes will not look like, well… electric bikes. Today’s monsters become slowly but surely more suav, better sculpted and more humane, which makes them more appealing to the public. Jam 2 is one of those examples, where design teams spent extra effort to give it a more bike like appearance, but not to deceive the viewer, rather to please the aesthetic gods. Anyways, looking around, this is no easy task, and some sacrifices are necessary to make an e-bike look like this. On the other hand, it is interesting to notice how each bike builder starts to define its own specific design characteristics, and the ones at Focus went with the idea of making an electric bike to look more like a non-electric, with a stylish design, but not ignoring performance. Let’s check together, what can the 2019 Jam 2 offer.
Who is it meant for? What kind of tracks?
The Jam fits perfectly my theory for electric bikes, they can be anyway they want to, as long as they are full suspension with minimum 140mm travel. The bike we have here, has 150mm travel, so it is targeted towards everyone that wants to ride mountain trails with comfort and maximum confidence. It is clear we are talking about a very capable e-bike, one with a 66.5 degree headtube, so more enduro oriented, with a 74.5 degree seat tube that gives you a good climbing position, a short 55mm stem which helps you lift the front end with ease and a 760mm handlebar which gives you good control over your steering. Unfortunately, the handlebar has a 0mm rise, basically it has none, so the ones that hop a lot on the track might be a bit unhappy about this. Otherwise, the bike is very maneuverable on any type of terrain and rides over obstacles with ease. It is also important to mention, this was the most playful e-bike that we had this year, with a 470mm chainstay and a dreamy weight for an electric, a little over 21.5kg.
What does it offer?
For 4999 EUR, a lot! Not all components are high end, but it manages to shine with some of them. The groupset and the motor are top, the Shimano XT E8000 motor and XT groupset is a happy combo. The SLX cassette has the big 46T cog, however the jump to the next one is 9T, meaning the second biggest is 37T. This means that sometimes when you climb you will not be able to find the right pace, but you can compensate by changing the assist level or increase your cadence. But still, when it comes to climbs you can tackle anything with ease, specially the most abrupt. It is a well known fact that the Shimano motor has that Boost mode, that cannot compare to the competition (Bosch and Yamaha), even if it has somewhat less Nm. The bikes weight helps here also, offering not just great maneuverability but also great acceleration capabilities. A 70Nm torque that you can feel and becomes addictive really fast!
You should however be careful, the battery on the Jam is of 380Wh. This means that on boost mode, with a rider weight of 70 kg, you can only go for a 20 km with 500m worth of climb ride. Otherwise, on Eco or Trail mode (given the low weight of the bike, the Eco mode is very much usable), you can double the autonomy. If however you cannot or do not want to sweat too much, the guys at Focus have a magic trick: a secondary battery of another 380Wh that can be mounted on the downtube that doubles the autonomy. This means you can use Boost mode for 40 km with 1000 m of climbs or go Eco for 80 km with 2000 m of climbs, sounds good, right?
Focus mounted the magnet of the disc rotor, with something similar to centerlock lockrings. The sensor is built inside the chainstay, so nobody or nothing can hurt it, an important detail. Also, there is a big blue button on the top tube that starts the motor that has a cool blue glow when it is on. You have to keep it pressed for 3 seconds so everything turns on.
Also as a novelty, we need to mention the Shimano M520 brakes, non-series, but with 4 pistons calipers and 200mm rotors, both front and rear. Nothing to say here, except the fact that the bad weather when we tested the bike couldn’t offer a conclusive result regarding their performance, but shortly, they handled themselves well when needed.
Regarding the suspension, it is comprised of the OEM Fox 34 Rhythm Boost fork and the Fox Float Performance rear shock, both with great results on the track, considering the minus 2 degrees Celsius. In warmer weather they probably work even better, which is perfect.
The tires, Maxxis Rekon 2.8 have good rolling resistance, are relatively light, but when it comes to difficult sections or wet ground, you’d better have good technique because they don’t grip so good. An upgrade to grippier tires could cost you some extra weight, so I would stick to the ones already on the bike.
In this moment, I believe Focus is part of a select group of bike manufacturers that found the winning formula for looks, performance and low weight. Bikes with similar weight from other builders are significantly more expensive, so you need to consider this also, even if Jam 2 cannot be considered a cheap e-bike. That fact that it is extremely playful on the track, will draw in a certain e-MTB consumer segment, probably those with more experience and biger will to have loads of fun and will present less interest to those that grip the handlebar tight and point their bike downhill.
Price: 4.699 EUR
Electric motor: 250W Shimano E8000, central
Battery: Integrated Shimano E8010 500Wh (estimated: 35 km with 1000 climbs on Trail mode)
Weight: 21.74 kg in size S