Focus has revamped their Jam trail bike with more travel and more aggressive geometry. Focus has also released the Thron, a 130mm stablemate which shares most of the same design features but is aimed at mellow terrain, touring and more novice riders. This has allowed Focus to aim the Jam towards rowdier riding, with an increase in travel from 140mm to 150mm, significantly more reach and a slacker head angle than its predecessor. Focus is keen to stress in its marketing blurb that this is not an enduro bike, with a heavy emphasis on fun factor and what you might call all-mountain terrain. I'm inclined to agree.
Focus Jam details
• Intended use: mountain biking
• Wheel Size: 29"
• Travel: 150mm front and rear
• Aluminum-only frame
• Sizes S to XL
• 435mm chainstay
• 65-65.5-degree head angle
• Weight as tested: 16.2Kg / 35.7lbs
• £2,499 - £4,199 / 2,399€ - 4,099€
One of the biggest talking points is the cable routing, which runs through the stem, down through the spacers, the headset and into the mainframe. The brake hose and gear cable (on models which have one) pop out behind the main pivot before running through the swingarm. There are no cable ports at the front of the frame or lugs for external cable routing, so cables have to be run through the headset. This is worth noting because Focus only offers the cable integration stem in this 50mm length and 35mm clamp diameter. So if you want to fit a different stem you'll need a special headset top cap from Acros
with holes for cables to enter. Focus tells me their customers rarely swap stems, but I'd have liked to try a 40mm stem.
To stop the cables getting damaged when the bars spin in a crash, the headset limits the steering angle to about 80-degrees from straight ahead. That's plenty for even the tightest switchbacks but, sadly, not for bar-spins.
Another feature is the tool bag for storing tubes, tools and snacks, which is secured onto the downtube in front of the water bottle on a pair of bottle-cage-style bolts. It contains a strap to stop tools rattling around if it's only half-full. In order to make room for this plus a full-size water bottle, the downtube is strongly S-shaped and the top-tube mounted shock is recessed in the belly of the flattened top tube, which is concave in cross-section.
Focus has also got on board with the trend for "ribbed" chainstay protectors, which is no bad thing as it keeps the chain noise down and it seems to be made solidly. And while I have zero aesthetic taste, I think the brushed aluminium frame finish looks great.Suspension Design
With the new Jam, Focus has moved from a vertically-mounted shock to a horizontal shock design. They stick with a linkage driven single pivot layout, which Focus calls Focus Optimised Linkage Design (FOLD).
But while the old vertical-shock system was digressive up to the sag point then progressive to the end of the travel, the new design is progressive throughout. At the launch of the old Jam, Focus told me its leverage curve offered slower rebound speeds as the shock got close to top-out (lower leverage ratios do reduce rebound speed at the axle, all things being equal), to help the bike stay within its travel and avoid topping-out on rough ground. The disadvantage of this approach was that the lower initial leverage ratio made the suspension stiffer off the top, both in terms of the spring and damping forces, which isn't ideal for traction especially with air shocks. With the new design, Focus has fallen into line with most manufacturers by making the linkage progressive throughout. This minimizes initial stiffness, and the stiffness increases (relative to the shock) throughout the stroke. There's now 23.4% progression throughout the travel, which is on the more progressive side.
The main pivot sits quite low in the frame which results in relatively low anti-squat levels. There's about 77% anti-squat at sag in a 32:16 tooth gear. The 6.0 model I tested has a 30-tooth ring which increases anti-squat values slightly, but it's still on the lower side of the spectrum. That means the bike bobs and slouches into its travel more than most when pedaling. Geometry
Like seemingly every other bike these days, the Jam has a flip chip to adjust the geometry. This changes the BB height by 6mm and the head and seat angles by 0.5-degrees. The effective seat angle (measured to the top of the seat post at a height of 750mm from the BB) is 76 degrees in the low setting and 76.5 degrees in high, while the head angle is 65/65.5 degrees. Predictably, the reach has grown relative to the old Jam, and there are bigger gaps between the sizes too - the reach has grown by 10mm in the small, rising to 45mm for the XL. The chainstay length is fairly short at 435mm, hinting at the Jam's playful, rather than race-focused, intentions. One figure not quoted in the above table is the BB height, which I measure at 340mm in the low setting.Models and Pricing
Confusingly, the base model Jam is called the 6.8, the 6.9 is a little pricier, but the 6.0 (which I've been riding) is the top-end model. Focus isn't selling these bikes in North America. UK and European pricing is as follows:
Jam 6.0: DE & AT = 3,999 €/ Rest of Europe: 4,099 € / UK: £4,199
Jam 6.9: DE & AT = 2,999 € / Rest of Europe: 3,099 € / UK: £2,999
Jam 6.8: DE & AT = 2,399 € / Rest of Europe: 2,499 € / UK: £2,499Ride Impressions
I've only had the Jam for a week but I've got a few solid rides on it. The RockShox suspension makes setup quick and easy so I could get on with riding without much fuss. At 85Kg, I settled on 230psi in the shock, giving me 27% sag (measured seated) with the rebound six clicks from closed. I ended up with 105psi in the fork, rebound eight clicks from closed, HSC in the middle (two clicks) and LSC 12 clicks.
I'm glad to see burly parts on the 6.0 model, like the Lyrik fork and Code R brakes, even though it might have been tempting for Focus to spec a Pike fork and G2 trail brakes (for example) to save a few grams. The importance of weight is overstated, but it's worth mentioning my XL test bike weighs 16.2Kg (35.7 lbs), which is pretty heavy for a trail bike with EXO/EXO+ tires.
In the low setting, the 76-degree effective seat angle is comfortable enough for most terrain, but I'd definitely prefer it steeper as it can be a bit of a strain to keep the front wheel grounded on the steepest climbs. Obviously, going to the high setting will help a little, but even 76.5 degrees feels a little off the back to me now that I'm used to angles in the high seventies. I realize that this bike is not designed for winching up and down the steepest hills around, but I never find steeper seat angles hold me back even on the flats. Combine this with suspension which bobs noticeably under power and the Jam isn't overly impressive on the climbs. I regularly relied on the lockout lever to hold it up at the back. The low anti-squat suspension is a benefit when pedaling over bumpy terrain, where it's smooth and predictable, but in my experience higher anti-squat only becomes a problem when it reaches extremely high levels.
When descending, the low setting is definitely the one to choose, but even then the 65-degree head angle combined with the 50mm stem make the steering feel a tad more upright and nervous than I'd like for trickier trails, especially under heavy braking where the bike is less keen to tip into the turns than it might with a shorter stem. Normally I'd stick a 40mm stem on there to make sure, but here that would require a new headset and a brake bleed. Of course, 50mm stems suit some people but I like to roll my bars forward to get my wrists in a comfortable position and this effectively lengthens the stem a bit more. And while 50mm stems work when combined with really slack head angles, like on the Yeti SB165
, I don't think the Jam is slack enough for it to tip into turns like I want it to with this stem length. I'd also prefer a slacker head angle and/or a shorter stem when riding steep and rough descents, so my weight was naturally further behind the axle. In the high setting, I also felt the grips were a little too low relative to my feet, so this made the low setting the only real choice for me.
While the Jam would be a home run compared to trail bikes of a few years ago, when compared to the very latest bikes it's not the best when things get steep, whether uphill or down. And like most bikes with a flip-chip, I want the head angle from the slack setting (or slacker) and
the seat angle from the steep setting (or steeper), not one or the other. Again, it's not billed as an enduro bike, but given its mediocre performance on the climbs I was hoping for more on the descents. It's on more flowing trails where the Jam shines. Here the suspension has plenty of support to push against, making it feel responsive and predictable. The short chainstay makes it easy to manual and move around on the trail if that's our bag, so while it might not be my cup of tea I have no doubt people are going to have a lot of fun on this bike.