Focus Jam2 7.0 trail e-bike review

Focus has designed its new Jam2 e-bikes to help you find your ‘happy place’ but how happy was Guy Kesteven when he rode it on the awesome trails of the Tweed valley launch?

Focus Jam2 7.0 review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

The Jam2 has proved its mettle infamously tough Tweed Valley trails, but it actually feels more at home on easier terrain. Its spec and ride are more forgiving for beginners too, meaning it really will put a smile on your face. Experienced riders might find it lacks a small amount of responsiveness and progressiveness though

Pros

  • +

    Super strong, stiff, well-armored frame

  • +

    Smooth, max grip suspension

  • +

    Balanced all-round handling

  • +

    Custom 720Wh battery

  • +

    Tough, heavy duty fork and componentry

  • +

    Wireless gears, big brakes

  • +

    Reasonable dynamic ride height

  • +

    USB-C charge port

Cons

  • -

    Simple suspension dampers

  • -

    Slightly tall, steep, long-stemmed and unsupportive for shredders

  • -

    Stem is awkward to swap

  • -

    Looks expensive before you price up wheels and battery

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The new Focus Jam2 is designed for maximum fun rather than flat-out speed, while it feels less radical than the longer travel SAM2 it’s actually a better balanced and easier bike to ride for most people. It’s also got some really neat detailing and we think Focus has also invested wisely in terms of some spec, although that might not be obvious to everyone looking for the best electric mountain bike.

Design and aesthetics

The six (Bosch motor) and seven (Shimano motor) series Jams use a full alloy frame with a custom slimmer-shaped 720Wh battery sliding into a closed tube down tube for stiffness. The single-piece back end is braced above the tire for extra rigidity too. A horizontal shock version of its well-proven FOLD linkage-driven single pivot system gives more seatpost and shorts clearance as well as room for a bottle and neat bolt-on storage pouch. There’s plenty of room for chunky 29 x 2.6in rubber and the main pivot is double sealed for filth fighting. Other details include a molded chainstay protector, rubber fork bumpers to stop bar damage on the top tube, proper armor around the EP8 motor compared to the worrying exposure on the Focus Sam2, SRAM's Universal Derailleur Hanger, and a kickstand mount on the offside dropout for those who don’t want to drop their bike into the dirt and have to heave it up again. The power button sits on the top tube with a covered USB-C charger port behind it for recharging your GPS or even lights on the fly. The headtube is a super oversized 1.8in set up to make room for internal routing through the Focus CIS stem.

Travel is 150mm front and rear and geometry is balanced with a 65-degree head angle, a 76-degree seat angle, 480mm reach, 448mm rear end, and a 1261mm wheelbase. It sits pretty high with a bottom bracket drop of 25mm though and switching the flip-chip on the shock lifts it slightly higher and steepens the angles by 0.5-degree. The rider's weight limit is 30kg heavier than the average 150kg.

Components and build 

That high weight limit also applies to the components too, which is why you get the astonishingly bombproof DT Swiss Hybrid E-bike wheels eating up a chunk of the budget. The Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail Soft tires are as tough as most full gravity tires and weigh the same too. 38mm legged Rockshox Zeb forks and 35mm diameter alloy Race Face Chester freeride/DH bars make the most of the massive head tube stiffness. Even the Focus branded seatpost is a heavy-duty version and considering the non-motorised alloy Jam is over 16kg, it’s surprising the Jam2 is ‘only’ just over 25kg even with a 720Wh battery. Focus has fitted 220mm rotors for the SRAM Code brakes to be sure you’ll stop though.

Things get more controversial with kit priorities when it comes to suspension complexity and the cable-free SRAM wireless AXS gearing. The superlative shift quality definitely helps reduce the chance of chain damage when coping with the extra torque of the powerful Shimano motor but it means you only get the basic Charger R damper in the fork and the Fox piggyback rear shock is the simpler Performance version, rather than the more premium Performance Elite. That also makes it look very expensive compared to other brands like Whyte and Nukeproof until you factor in costs like the wheels and bigger battery.

Riding the Focus Jam2 7.0 up a steep climb

Good pedal clearance helps make it a capable climber on technical ascents (Image credit: Focus)

Performance

Even with the extra weight of the e-bike pressing into the preload, the suspension can feel quite tight off the top at first, especially if the fork is fresh rather than bedded in. That makes pedaling crisp and efficient on fire road transfers, but once you’re hitting the fun stuff the FOLD linkage starts things moving through the mid-stroke very easily. 

Combined with low pressure in the big Schwalbe rear tires, ground connection and grip is excellent on choppy/rooty/rocky sections. The low and slightly rearward pivot point means chain pull doesn’t get in the way of that responsiveness either so you can make use of the generous pedal clearance on rough, steppy climbs. While shock pressures are high, it feels the opposite on the trail too with an active and comfortable character that passes very little shock into your feet unless you get a real square-edge slap. Whether it’s the frame, this particular motor or the ride, we also had much less ‘clutch clatter’ when freewheeling from the EP8 than normal.

Riders who hit stuff really hard or who want more support for railing berms or turns will potentially want the largest volume spacer in the shock to stop it pushing too deep. Its eagerness to get into the travel offsets the high ride height in terms of going over the front though and it stayed calm - if not conspicuously confident - on triple-black-arrow descents. 

The trail-ready geometry keeps the steering alive and keen enough to navigate tighter, switchback trails relatively easily at slow speeds, meaning you won't have to go the long way round on everything or kick the back end out manually. The 50mm stem means less flop and wanders on super steep climbs or when the surging Shimano Boost setting is trying to rear the front up. 

Riding the Focus Jam2 7.0 on a rocky wooded trail

While it can take on technical trails, the Jam2 feels best on fun flowy trails (Image credit: Focus)

Things get harder at higher speeds and/or when direction changes are more frequent or dramatic though. With the big battery extending all the way up to the fork crown height and a steady - rather than instant flick - stem length you have to make more of a conscious effort to throw the Jam2 off line and into the turn before it tries to straight-line and high-side you. 

While there’s space in the reach to switch to a shorter stem, it means unplugging the rear brake and pulling it out of the internally routed CIS unit and feeding it through a ported headset cap instead. Interestingly while Focus talks about a ‘Drift’ mullet option using a 27.5in rear wheel on the Sam2, it’s not part of the Jam2 story so far. A smaller rear wheel would be a relatively easy fix if you wanted a slacker head angle and lower ride height though and the easy mid-stroke would help reduce the increased ‘catch’ issues that fitting a smaller rear wheel tends to create. That easy compression already stops it from feeling too high though, and it’s got a natural easy flow that keys into most red and blue trail rhythms well. The stiffness created by the heavy-duty cockpit, DT-Swiss wheels and Zeb fork give it naturally heavy artillery authority when the geology makes you feel like a hostage too.

Verdict

The Jam2 proved it had the stiffness, suspension smoothness, stopping power and trail angles to handle the steepest, tightest trails of the infamous Tweed Valley Golfie at the bike's launch, although it actually felt most suited to the more mellow, flowing routes of Glentress trail center. 

Here, big berms helped tip it into turns that the longer stem and higher center of gravity didn’t naturally want to commit to, but which made the uphill switchbacks easier to navigate. The easy suspension mid-stroke and big volume tires also sucked up the battering brake bumps that could otherwise make the frame stiffness and simpler dampers painful. Tons of grip, big brake rotors, big battery, powerful motor, extra strong frame, wheels and other components all give an extra margin of error that’s, dare we say it, more useful to the majority of the e-biking population than micro-suspension responses and fully progressive geometry that more experienced riders might find wanting. The same applies to choosing the magical ‘show and tell’ wonderment of wireless gears in favor of extra dials and suspension adjustment that the average rider won't make the most of.

Or to put it in the language of Focus, the Jam2 is genuinely geared towards more riders finding their ‘happy place’ and keeping them there all day whatever the terrain rather than helping extreme riders find their ragged edge euphoria. 

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 8-18 degrees
  • Surface: Hard packed trail center, hand-carved black rated Enduro race tracks

Tech Specs: Focus Jam2 7.0

  • Price: $N/A / £7299
  • Model: Focus Jam2 7.0
  • Discipline: Trail/Enduro
  • Head angle: 65-degrees
  • Frame material: D7005 alloy
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 25.26kg
  • Wheel size: 29 x 2..6in 
  • Suspension: RockShox Zeb Select+ 150mm travel, 44mm offset/Fox Float X Performance 150mm travel
  • Motor: Shimano EP8
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX AXS Eagle 10-52T 12 speed wireless gearing and shifter
  • Cranks: e*thirteen e*spec Plus 36T chainset
  • Brakes: SRAM CODE RSC brakes with 220mm rotors
  • Cockpit: Race Face Chester 780mm bar and Focus CIS 50mm stem
  • Wheelset: DT-Swiss HX1700
  • Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail Soft 29x2.6in front and Big Betty Super Trail Soft 29x2.6in rear tires
  • Seatpost: Focus Post Moderne dropper post
  • Saddle: Proxim W350 saddle

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg