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Focus THRON2 6.9 e-MTB review – a utility bike that still knows how to party on the trails

Focus' super versatile, big battery, off-road tourer still knows how to have a laugh on the singletrack

Focus THRON2 6.9 e-MTB
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Focus’s THRON2 is a smooth, surefooted, well specced, big battery, Bosch tech boosted all rounder that can handle commuting, touring and trail. It’s a heavy brute though and low BB has pros and cons.

Pros

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    Excellent electrics

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    Smooth, progressive suspension

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    Low slung stability

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    Highly durable gear and wheel spec

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    Integrated stem neatness

Cons

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    Heavy and potentially harsh

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    Pedal bounce and ground strike downsides

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    Integrated stem awkwardness

Focus have three e-MTBs in their current line up, the 170mm travel SAM2 enduro/park bike, 150mm travel JAM2 trail bike and this 130mm travel THRON. This new bike mixes the latest Bosch Smarts, big battery, tough components, angles and sorted mid-travel suspension with a full set of utility, comfort and security fixtures (there are fully rack, fender and light loaded EQP versions). The top spec 6.9 is surprisingly keen for proper trail riding and hides its high weight well too, but the stiff front end can be punishing and the low bottom bracket has pros and cons.

Does this Focus e-MTB have what it takes to make it into our best electric mountain bike list? Keep reading to find out more.

Focus THRON Battery

Big 750Wh battery is removable, lockable and sits low enough to give room for a bottle and accessory mount  (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design

The larger 720Wh battery THRON2 6.9 and 6.8 share their basic layout with the JAM2 7 series trail bikes. This includes a top tube anchored shock that’s driven by a multi-part rolling linkage fixed to the single piece triangular swingarm. This pivots level with but behind the chainring top at the rear of the big polygonal motor block. The steeply sloping downtube drops the base of the big removable and lockable 720Wh battery down level with the motor. There’s still space for a bottle and an accessory mount on the top side too. The co-joined top tube is slightly kinked at its broader ‘cobra’ head and the oversized head tube gives room for all the cables and hoses that are routed down through the CIS stem. There’s a USB-C recharging point behind the stem, a hard flap protected charging point on the seat tube below the shock and the rear end gets mudguard and kickstand mounts as well as bolted fixtures for a custom 16kg weight limit rear rack. 

Focus haven’t dumbed down the geometry for town use though. The 66 degree head angle, 75 degree and 470mm reach on a large are well balanced for all round riding and the 455mm chain stay length is acceptable given the generous 29 x 2.6in rear tyre space. The only aggressive outlier is the 330mm bottom bracket height which has positive and negative implications we’ll go into later. It’s also worth noting that the big battery THRON2 6.9 and 6.8 bikes only comes in three sizes starting at medium and going up to extra large. You can get small, 415mm reach, 400mm seat tube bikes but they have a 625Wh battery that sits higher in the frame and the shock mounted vertically. 

Specifications

THRON rear end

THRON2 back end has room for big tires as well as custom rack and kickstand mounts (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Going for the top of the line 6.9 gets you a Fox fork rather than the Suntour of the 6.8, but the 130mm of travel mean it’s only the relatively skinny legged 34. You get a matching Fox rear shock (rather than RockShox or Suntour) too. A mixed Shimano XT, SLX transmission works with the latest Bosch Performance CX Smart motor via a Samox chainset. You also get the new Bosch Smart System Kiox 300 head unit and remote control which is a massive step up in communication and control. 

The DT Swiss H1900 Hybrid wheels are e-bike specific and legendarily tough. The Schwalbe 29er tires are top quality, high volume 2.6in spec with a ‘Soft’ compound, all-rounder Hans Dampf (it translates to ‘jack of all trades’ in German) front tread and a faster rolling, Speed Grip compound Nobby Nic (I’ll let you Google that one yourself) at the rear. The front tire is a relatively light Super Ground ‘downcountry’ spec, but the Super Trail at the rear is a couple of hundred grams tougher.

The brakes are only Shimano Deore level MT520’s (which is correct for the detailed spec, but the headline resume says Shimano XT), but you get 200mm rotors either end. 

Touch points are well chosen for less experienced riders and/or longer distances with Ergon flanged ergo grips and a shorter, broader Proxim saddle on top of the dropper post.

The 800mm wide bar gives serious leverage at the expense of round town traffic/tight gap clearance while the 50mm long CIS stem swallows brake, gear and motor control lines into a ‘mouth’ on it’s face plate and then down through the headset into the frame. That gives a clean look south of the stem but does create serious complications if you need to service/replace the Aheadset. We’ve also heard about wear of control line and steerer issues on Focus and other similar bikes. Focus only make the stem in a 50mm length too, so if you want a different length you’re looking at a new Aheadset top cap for external stem routing.

Focus THRON fork

DT Swiss Hybrid e-MTB wheels are legendarily tough, but the Fox 34 fork is working hard on a 27kg bike  (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

The good news is that I certainly didn’t feel a need to change the stem as it matched well with the reach, head angle and overall vibe of the bike. That held true despite the THRON2 rapidly resetting my expectations of what a machine with kickstand and rack mounts plus orthopaedic grips would be capable of. 

While it’s not radical, the geometry centers you well on the bike for it’s intended ‘cruise’ purpose whether you’re seated or stood. It doesn’t push you forwards over the front tire which can get wearing on tamer trails but it doesn’t sit you so tall that you feel like you’re going to loop out on steep climbs or suffocate on long ones. There’s enough reach to naturally move around with the rhythm of the trail too and as said previously the fork offset, head angle and stem length play really nicely together. The bar width is potentially excessive for this side of enduro use but then it’s cheaper to trim down than trade up.

The reason a bike that’s beyond 27kg with pedals on doesn’t need a massive crow bar to lever it into and out of corners is that Focus have lowered and centralized that mass really well. By sliding the battery down ahead of the motor and steepening the angle it sits in the frame, they’ve shifted the center of gravity down and backwards closer to your feet. That makes the bike feel impressively planted and connected on sweeping, stutter bump turns, but also makes it feel a lot lighter dynamically. This avoids the tendency of top heavy bikes to want to tramline stubbornly onward or stand up rather than drop in when braking, particularly on twisty, snaking trails where you’re flipping from one lean angle to the next, or anywhere else you have to make more rapid direction changes. I mean it still feels like an e-bike and you’re shoulders and arms are going to size up if you regularly run that big battery down on technical terrain, but it’s far from the barge we were expecting.

The suspension on the THRON2 is really well suited to the bike as well. Having put way more pressure than normal into JAM2 shocks recently and still blown through the travel, the well judged progression of the THRON2's FOX Float rear shock was a pleasant surprise. It certainly enjoys flowing smoothly either side of the sag point for a comfortably connected ride, but it keeps that last 20mm of travel for when you really need it. When that does happen it’s an assuredly parental collection of control not a sudden panic or a punishing spike either. More reasonable shock pressures also makes us less concerned about heavier riders rolling round with a pneumatic bomb between their knees. Keeping travel in check means the low bottom bracket that helps the handling doesn’t smash pedals on the floor as often as it could either. That’s not saying it doesn’t regularly ground out until you learn to measure your pedaling against the trail (the extra half kick ‘overrun’ surge of the Bosch motor is very useful here) but it could be worse. 

The big volume tires with the soft compound tread up front add cushioning and reasonable grip and the DT Swiss wheels are a reassuringly robust linebacker on rocky terrain. The Fox 34 Rhythm fork uses a more solid, heavier build than the fancier 34 models, so it doesn’t feel as out of place as the skinny legs look against the massive frame. While you can smell them getting hot sooner than most, the Deore brakes never actually faltered from slowing us down. The simpler design also dodges the random bite point/bleed issues that have cursed more expensive Shimano brakes for the past decade too. However, if you’re regularly diving into steeper, hard braking terrain we’d definitely recommend the JAM2 with it’s 36 fork and more powerful brake spec.

Bosch Kiox 300 head unit

Bosch have seriously leveled up with their Kiox 300 head unit and Smart System electronics (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

That would mean no Bosch Smart System though, which would be a big miss for those who like maximum control over their mission. The multi-button remote is easy to press buttons on by accident sometimes, but it makes it easy to navigate the masses of clear and useful information on the Kiox 300 head unit. That now includes surprisingly good off piste mapping and an ‘electronic key’ security function when paired to your smart phone. That’s far easier and less glitchy than most systems too and the fact you can charge your phone from the bike is another bonus. As it doesn’t impact handling (until you have to lift the THRON2), the extra battery capacity is a win in terms of epic ride missions and less range anxiety in general. Being able to take the battery out easily for charging, but lock it in place when you leave the bike is a really useful feature and there was no rattle from the mount either. The much improved ‘walk mode’ is great whether you’re trying to drag it up a slippery slope in the woods that the Nobby Nic has spun on, or lugging over steps into your home loaded with luggage. Because while it might hide it far better than I expected on the trail, don’t forget that this is a fully functioning ‘lifestyle’ bike as well. 

Bikes that exceed expectations are always going to put a positive spin on proceedings and there are some aspects of the THRON2 that aren’t as awesome. Even by e-bike standards it’s a hefty beast – even the 170mm travel, coil-shock equipped, DH tire Focus SAM2 is lighter – so manhandling it around without momentum is hard work. You’re going to need that built in-app navigation to steer clear of any locked gates or hike a bike sections too. While the suspension is smooth, the stiffness of the frame and the 35mm bars makes for a punishing feel at the grips on harder, rougher terrain. Not everyone got on with the flanged grip shape either, although that’s an easy switch. The reasonably stable pedaling feel in the saddle doesn’t survive getting out of the saddle and stomping either. That means you’ll need to use the blue flick lever on the Fox shock to engage firmer modes if you’re trying to hustle it up steep/smooth hills. To be honest though if that’s how you’re wanting to ride, there are much better bikes to choose. They just won’t have the built in capacity to go full utility on days you’re riding to work not playing in the woods.

Verdict

The ‘mountain tour/utility MTB’ category is far more popular in Europe than the UK and America. Mainly because we’d rather pretend we kick ass every ride than admit a kickstand is actually really useful on a bike that’s a beast to heave off the floor. The THRON2 definitely has a limit (mostly in terms of braking, fork stiffness and tire survivability) to how hard you can push it on steeper, more testing terrain, while the blunt frame and bars can also be bruising on rougher trail surfaces.

It’s way more fun on blue/red grade trails  than I was expecting though, with really well judged rear suspension and enabling, engaging handling. The Bosch Smart System set up continues to impress more every time I get to ride it too, especially with the improvements added in the latest update. In other words the THRON2 is definitely a properly balanced, long range XC/trail e-bike with bonus ‘lifestyle’ versatility and value rather than a town bike playing dress up in the dirt.

Tech Specs: Focus THRON2 6.9

  • Discipline: Trail e-MTB
  • Price: £5599 / €6299
  • Head angle: 66 degrees
  • Frame material: 7005 series hydroformed aluminium
  • Sizes: M, L (tested), XL
  • Weight: 26.77kg
  • Wheel size: 29x2.in
  • Suspension: (front/rear): FOX 34 Float Rhythm 29, E-Bike, Grip 130mm travel, 46mm offset fork/ FOX Float DPS 130mm travel rear shock
  • Motor: Bosch Performance CX Smart, 85 Nm, 250 W with Kiox 300 Smart System display
  • Battery: 750Wh
  • Components: Shimano XT rear derailleur and shifter, Shimano SLX 11-51T 12 speed cassette and chain. Samox EC40 ISIS 34T chainset. Shimano MT520 brakes with 200/180mm rotors. Schwalbe Hans Dampf, SuperGround Soft 29 x 2.6in front and Schwalbe Nobby Nic SuperTrail SpeedGrip 29 x 2.6in rear tires on DT SWISS H1900 wheels. Aluminium 800 x 35mm bar, backsweep: 9-degree bar and FOCUS C.I.S. integrated 50 x 35mm stem, Post Moderne dropper post, Proxim X400 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