‘Designed For Down‘ is the phrase that Focus uses to describe what the new Sam² (read: Sam Squared) is made for, in as few words as possible. To put it in a nutshell, that’s probably coming pretty close. With 170mm of travel front and rear, it’s a big bike and it's burly too, with an aluminum frame, coil rear shock and a Fox 38 or RockShox Zeb fork. There's also updated geometry and kinematics on the new frame and the Sam² now rolls on 29” wheels front and rear.
Focus has switched to Bosch’s Performance Line CX Gen 4 motor with an internal 625Wh PowerTube battery pack from the previous expandable battery concept.
Unfortunately, Focus e-bikes are not available in North America at the moment.
Focus Sam² Details
• Intended use: enduro
• Wheel size: 29" or 29/27.5"+
• Rear wheel travel: 170 mm
• 65º head angle
• Frame material: 7005 aluminum
• Fox Van rear shock w/custom valve
• Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX Gen 4, 85Nm
• Battery: Bosch PowerTube, 625 Wh
• Sizes: S-XL
• Weight: 25.89 kg (w/o pedals, w/o tubes)
• Color: milk brown
• Price: €6,499
Focus uses 7005 hydroformed aluminum as its material of choice for the downhill-oriented Sam². The suspension design is based on a single pivot layout with its F.O.L.D. multiple linkage-driven rear shock system.
Designed for 29” wheels, the bike features an angled flip chip at the dropout for use with a smaller 27.5” wheel. A custom post mount for 203 mm rotors (also an option available for 27.5” wheels installed at the lower axle height) is mounted to the left seat stay. You can upgrade to a 220 mm disc with an adapter (the 6.8 spec runs 220mm rotors front and rear); going to 200mm in the rear is not an option.
A chain protector with ribs is fitted to minimize the noise from chain slap, and an integrated upper chain guide keeps the chain from falling off. The rear end features the 12 x 148mm Boost standard. The name of the frame's paint color? Milk brown.
The frame is approved for category 5 (downhill) standards. A fork bumper underneath the top tube keeps the handlebar from hitting your top tube or your cables from getting damaged by overrotation in case of a crash. And yes, there's plenty of room for a water bottle in the main triangle. Weight for the frame without motor and shock is around 4.7kg.
Focus uses a 1.5” steer tube top and bottom to feed the cables into the frame via the top cap. Focus spent a good deal of time figuring out the best cable management and came up with the new stem integration system, called C.I.S. (Cockpit Integration Solution) in the process. It took about 50 design versions to arrive at the final solution but by routing the cables, including the rear brake cable and wire from the Bosch display, through the front plate of the stem, over the bar and along the outsides of the steerer, it managed to route mechanical cables into the frame without a sharp bend.
The system requires custom spacers underneath the stem that hold guide ports for the cables on the outside, which lead into guide ports on an upper cup insert from the Acros headset. The stem can be dropped all the way flush to the headset’s upper cup and the specific spacers can then be replaced with regular round spacers once they're moved to the top of the stem. Webbing around the steerer protects it from any cable rub, although Focus says that after plenty of testing it has seen that it wouldn't even be necessary.
At least for the time being, the stem with an actual negative rise is only available in a 50mm length version. In case you want to run a shorter regular stem, Acros offers a headset top cap that leads the cables into the frame right and left of the stem. Focus also added some regular openings on the side of the downtube near the steerer tube to guide the cables into the down tube there as an option.Geometry & Sizing
Compared to their older model, the new Sam² has grown slightly in length, although Focus hasn't gone wild with the reach numbers, with 430mm for a size S, 450mm for M, 480mm for L and 510mm for the XL. The head angle sits at 65 degrees, the effective seat angle at 76 degrees (measured at the horizontal connection between the top of the steer tube’s center and center of the seatpost).
Although the ebike is primarily intended for 29” wheels, Focus has not forgotten about people that want to run a 27.5”+ rear wheel. Instead of calling it a mullet, Focus refers to it as a 'Drifter' setup. By integrating an angled flip chip at the rear dropouts, you get a few different options. Either just pop the smaller wheel into the high setting and drop the BB by a few mm and slacken the angles by 0.9 degrees, down to 64.1 for the head angle and 75.1 degrees for the seat angle, or swap the flip chip to the low setting and thereby dropping the axle to shorten the chainstays to 430mm and only slacken the angles by 0.2 degrees.
Lastly, Focus also makes it possible to run 27.5”+ tires front and rear, since the suspension fork is the correct model for both 29” and 27.5”+ tires; therefore you get another two options, one of them steepening the angles slightly.
Focus has equipped forks with short 44mm rake. The seat tube length is on the lower end, which allows quite a long insertion depth so you can run longer dropper posts, even if your legs aren’t the longest. Focus specs posts with 150 mm drop on frame sizes S and M, and 170 mm drops on size L and XL.Suspension Design
Focus utilizes a version of their F.O.L.D. (Focus Optimized Linkage Design) linkage system that is designed specifically to the needs of the downhill-oriented chassis.
If you’re looking at the suspension curve, the first third of the travel is following a degressive curve up to the recommended sag point at 30%. After that, it follows a highly progressive transition all the way to the end. That progression is needed for the bike to work well with the more linear nature of coil shocks. That being said, the Sam² is also claimed to work well with air shocks, without the need for any volume spacers. Their lower-end model, the 6.8 is equipped with an air shock, compared to the coil shock of the 6.9.
The Sam² uses a 230 x 65mm stroke shock, delivering a rather low average leverage ratio at 170mm of rear travel of 2.62 : 1.
Focus was trying to get the anti-squat at the sag point as close to 100% as possible, to keep the suspension as active as possible, even under chain tension. In order to get there, it tried to locate the main pivot as low as it could, which isn't that easy with an e-bike.Motor Details
For all details about Bosch’s Performance Line CX Gen 4 motor, click here
. Since the summer of 2020, software update 2.0 added another 10Nm of torque, bringing it to 85Nm total. Also, the eMTB mode has been enhanced with the Extended Boost feature, further enhancing your riding experience. You can read up about the updates here
Bosch’s Purion display is somewhat outdated, but Focus chose to spec it due to its better integration. Anyone who has ever seen most of the awkward attempts of placing a Kiox display on a bike will likely agree.
Two custom plastic covers protect the wiring on the motor, but there is no bash guard or similar underneath the housing, creating a slim silhouette and aiding its cooling, at the cost of a bit more protection.
The bike can be charged via an easily accessible port (protected by a rubber cap) on the top of the top tube, near the head tube. The Bosch PowerTube battery can also be removed from the frame by unlocking the frame lock with a key, which makes the battery drop about halfway out of the frame for the secondary latch on the battery to catch. Once this safety latch is pushed, the battery can be fully removed and also charged externally.Specifications
The range consists of two models, the Sam² 6.9 and 6.8, which share the same frame and Bosch equipment. The 6.9 comes with Fox’ new 38 Float Factory fork, Van Performance coil shock, Shimano XT 12-speed group and four-piston brakes, Schwalbe Magic Mary Soft 29 x 2.6” tires with Super Trail casing in the front and Super Gravity in the rear, for a total of €6.499 (€6.699 in F, ES, BLX). I weighed the 6.9 at 25.89kg for a size medium without pedals.
The 6.8 is equipped with a RockShox ZEB fork and Super Deluxe Select+ air rear shock, SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed shifting and Code R brakes, coming to €5.499 (€5.699 in F, ES, BLX).
Focus also recently introduced an updated version of the Jam² with 150 mm of travel and various motor configurations – including the one with their small internal 378Wh battery with 378Wh external extender battery.
There’s no hiding what the Sam² is all about. As far as pure downhill performance goes, the suspension does a mighty fine job of gobbling up bigger obstacles and keeps the fast rolling 29” wheels on track.
To be honest, when I first saw that the first third of the travel was setup to work at a degressive rate I feared the worst but was more than pleasantly surprised. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the best 170mm suspension setups that I’ve ever ridden out of the box. The ride quality that Focus squeezed out of their single pivot design is excellent and it goes to show that if your kinematics are setup smartly even a simple shock like the Fox Van Performance can perform.
The rear end is extremely sensitive to small hits but offers plenty of support during the mid-stroke, so it’s easy to push the bike off little rollers and it caters to a somewhat playful riding style if wanted. The ample progression is appreciated during flat landings or larger drops. I can’t remember ever bottoming out harshly or at least didn’t feel my ankles breaking, even though I even did come up a tad short on a somewhat bigger gap drop and was greeted with a bonking noise when hitting the lip, although it sounded more like the rim taking a beating than the shock bottoming out.
Either way, rocks, roots, drops and jumps are handled equally well by the rear end, with the rear end not hooking up on square-edged obstacles, while the bike still pushes off the lips of jumps in a highly controlled manner without dipping unnecessarily into the travel.
There’s not much to say about the Fox 38 Factory’s performance, other than being one of the best big single crown forks on the market at the moment and that it matches the Sam²’s sturdy nature perfectly with its steering precision and big-hit capabilities.
Picky as I am in terms of geometry and having stumbled onto the ‘longer is better‘ train a while ago, I couldn’t find anything on the size medium setup that bothered me much.
For my 5'6" (168cm) height and riding style, I did have to remove every spacer from underneath the stem after having gradually moved lower after a few runs to feel truly comfortable with the bike’s cornering. Speaking of stems, although I did not think much of the unique cable routing at first, the Sam²‘s setup is one of the cleanest e-bike cockpits I have ever seen, without having to invest into electronic shifting equipment and even including the rear brake cable.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy this feature, you’ll have to stick to the 50mm long version, which luckily will cater to most riders and gave the bike a balanced feel. On a side note, if you choose to run a regular 35mm version for example, you’ll most likely have to run a few spacers underneath since the top headset cup uses a wide 1.5” standard.
In my perfect world (which doesn’t mean that it’s perfect for everyone else), the head angle could have been a smidge slacker to add a bit more stability in just about all situations - not that the 65 degree head angle didn’t feel fine overall - and I wouldn’t have complained if the bike came with a mixed-wheel setup. Since Focus thought about giving you exactly those options, I’d say my checklist is fulfilled. I’d throw in a 27.5"+ rear wheel on the high setting with longer chainstays to keep the nice balance between front and rear center, thereby dropping the head angle to 64.1 degrees and inching slightly lower with the bottom bracket. Awesome.
I couldn’t wrap my head around why the heavy weight of about 25.9kg of the Sam² didn’t bother me as much as it should have. Sure, it was a bit more unforgiving on my hands when braking hard into tight turns, but not to the extent that I have felt from some other e-bikes in that weight range before. It felt nimble enough to throw it from one tight corner into the other and didn’t even feel piggish when trying to squeeze in some style on the jumps. Put into perspective, Focus could have saved some weight with lighter tires, when some other manufacturers are sort of cheating the scale while trading for problems with flats in the real world.
Since Focus has put such a big emphasis on going down, it’s easy to forget that you still have to get up the hill. Not to worry, the Sam² is also a highly skilled climber. A little uphill challenge with a rut leading into a steep climb, littered with roots and some tight direction changes showed that the sensitive nature of the rear suspension kept the rear wheel glued to the ground and promoted the bike’s forward drive. The 450mm chainstay length helped the front to stay planted.
Due to the rear end’s high sensitivity, you could watch the shock bob slightly with every stroke of the pedals, even on fire road climbs, but it really didn’t seem to distract or matter much while riding, unless you’re one of the people that loves to lock out the shock on every climb, although you’ll probably be looking for a different bike then altogether anyway. So no, I didn’t mind that the rear shock didn’t feature a platform lever.
As far as integration of the Bosch equipment goes, I was a bit concerned about hitting the motor without any solid guard protecting it, but since it’s sanctioned by Bosch, who am I to worry? However, if you care about scratches and scuff marks, this approach might not be for you. Plus, cleaning out the cooling fins after a muddy ride might take a while.
In terms of power and power transfer, Bosch’s Gen 4 certainly is one of the best options on the market at the moment, even having been boosted after its latest update, taking the maximum torque up to 85Nm. With the big battery, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test the Sam²’s downhill prowess.
You’ll have to live with the clacking noise from the internal gearing when it’s not under load while rolling over uneven ground, but it’s not enough of a reason to shy away from the motor. While the Purion display's ability to only show five bars of remaining charge is somewhat infuriating, its integration into the cockpit is still much better than the awkward Kiox display, although it would definitely be a nice feature to see the remaining battery level in percent and info about rider input, at least on the higher 6.9 model. It would be even nicer if both were possible at the same time.
To sum it all up, if I had to pick one area where the Sam² could be improved, it would be trying to shed some weight, even though it really didn’t impact the ride quality anywhere near as much as you’d think. What really counts is its overall handling and suspension performance, and you can’t fault either. Team rider Olly Wilkins calls the Sam² the liveliest monster truck he’s ever ridden, and it’s hard to disagree with that description.