We were fortunate to get a demo ride on two of the all new Focus Jam2 ("Jam Squared") ebikes this weekend. We took a few of our potential customers on a demo ride in Yellow Fork Canyon where we were able to compare the new Focus ebikes with the Bulls Six50+ E FS 3 and the Bulls E-Stream EVO E FS 3.
In a nutshell, I loved these new Focus ebikes! They were absolutely everything Focus built them up to be. Focus hasn't offered much in 2017 for mountain bikes but these more than make up for their absence.
Below I have reviewed three aspects of the new bikes that stood out to me: The Shimano E8000 drive, the suspension, and the geometry.
Shimano E8000 Drive
This wasn't my first time riding the new Shimano E8000 drive. I rode it last year at Eurobike but wasn't able to give it a real good test. I liked it then but really got to experience it on this ride. I'll do my best to give you my honest opinion.
I liked this drive a lot. It was smooth and responsive and had plenty of torque. I love the size and look of the motor and how well it is integrated into the design of the bike. The bikes we tested had the Di2 shifting and I was impressed with integration of the control and display.
You can link this system to the Shimano E-Tube app and vary the settings of the assist levels and controls as well as perform software updates on your own (I believe this means you don't need to bring it to us for an update). I would have adjusted the middle assist level to have slightly more assist and reversed the shifting levers to what I am used to. It's a nice feature to have some customization for your bike.
The drive system itself was slightly noisier than I remember but it wasn't loud at all. Full disclosure, I actually prefer hearing something from the motor but I want it to be very subtle. This definitely fit that description.
I didn't think it was quite as responsive as a Bosch drive but it was close. Honestly, if I had to choose between a Bosch CX drive with eMTB mode and the new Shimano E8000 it would be a difficult decision, with Bosch just edging out Shimano. However, I would be happy to own this bike and never regret not having a Bosch.
I'm not a suspension expert. For most of my life I really didn't pay that much attention to it. I'm not a fast or aggressive rider and didn't think it mattered for my style of riding. This suspension changed my mind, in a big way! It was AMAZING!
I descended our climb much faster and with more control than I have experienced before. The front suspension was exactly the same as on the two Bulls bikes we had with us, the RockShox Yari. It was the rear suspension that was special. It has a unique 5-link system that is compact and feels great. When you sit on the bike it feels super plush and almost too soft. Yet, as you ride it feels perfect with just the right amount of responsiveness and contrl. I never felt like my rear wheel was out of control. I don't think I ever felt so confident riding downhill.
I can't tell you the science behind why it feels the way it does (Dan, our store manager can) but I can tell you it was the most stable electric mountain bike I have ever ridden.
This bike felt right for me. The weight balance was superb. I was able to react quickly in technical areas as well as dive into the corners without feeling like the bike wanted to do it's own thing.
The integrated battery is well-placed and right-sized. I was initially concerned that the smaller battery wouldn't be sufficient for my ride but after 1-1/2 hours we had only used half the battery capacity. I appreciate the weight savings of a right-sized battery. It's also nice to know that if I want the extra range Focus offers a secondary battery that mounts to the top of the downtube for longer rides.
Our demo bikes were 29ers (I haven't ridden a 29er for a couple years). I prefer the 27.5 plus size tires and would go that direction for my own bike but these 29ers handled well. They wanted to move more than I like on the downhill but that may have simply been because I'm not used to the 29" x 2.35" tire size.
Overall, I feel confident saying these are the best electric mountain bikes I have ever ridden. There are a few that come close, like the Bulls Six50+ E FS 3, but the complete package and design of these new bikes from Focus is superb.
Focus is planning to have the bikes available for delivery in October 2017. We should get more detailed information within the next few weeks.
Retail prices on these bikes hasn't been finalized yet but Focus gave us some ballpark numbers. There will be four levels of the bike: Jam2, Jam2 Pro, Jam2 C Pro, and Jam2 C SL. We rode the Jam2 Pro. Ballpark prices will be $4999, $5999, $6999, and $9999, respectively. Great prices for the quality of these bikes.
How to Order
We are taking pre-orders now. You can call us (801-666-7644) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to place a deposit and reserve your bike. I know the first shipment is not going to be large so if you want to ride this Autumn before the snow flies then you will definitely want to place your order soon.