The Focus JAM2 SL is the German brand’s lightweight electric mountain bike with 29in wheels front and rear, and 150mm of travel. It’s fitted with Fazua’s 60Nm torque Ride 60 electric bike motor, powered by a 430Wh battery stashed within the down tube. The frame is made from carbon fibre and shares its looks with the Focus JAM. The JAM2 SL, however, has two geometry-adjusting flip chips and an angle-adjusting headset. This mid-range JAM2 SL 9.9 is fitted with Fox dampers front and rear, a Shimano XT M8100 drivetrain and DT Swiss HX 1700 LS wheels, offering impressive value for money.
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 frame, suspension and motor
Some may dislike the cable routing (via the stem and headset), while others might appreciate the tidier front end. Built from Focus’s MAX layup carbon fibre – featuring more high-modulus fibres than the standard carbon material – the JAM2 SL’s frame is designed to be as light as possible without sacrificing strength and durability. The shock mount is semi-integrated into the underside of the top tube, while the down tube has a battery door on its underside for quick and easy off-bike battery charging. Cables are routed internally via the stem into ports in the headset, dubbed the ‘Cockpit Integration Solution (C.I.S.)’ by Focus. Bottle cage mounts feature inside the front triangle and the chainstay is clad with a soft chain-slap protector. It uses SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger.
The JAM2’s 150mm-travel Horst-link rear suspension is called ‘Focus Optimised Linkage Design (F.O.L.D.)’. This, the brand says, has been tuned to separate the impact of braking forces on the suspension’s action. Each of its pivots runs on double sealed cartridge bearings.
Motor and battery
The battery can be removed using a single 6mm Allen key for charging, or the bike ridden without it. Fazua’s Ride 60 motor, with up to 60Nm of torque and 450W of peak power, drives the JAM2 SL. It has three stock modes – Breeze, River and Rocket – with a boost function that temporarily generates more power. It can be connected to Fazua’s smartphone app for increased functionality and customisation of the three pre-set ride modes. It has Fazua’s top-tube integrated LED hub and ring control bar-mounted remote. It’s powered by a removable 430Wh battery, and is compatible with Fazua’s 210Wh range extender.
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 geometry
Although not skinny, the tubes aren’t massive and the black paint disguises any extra bulk related to the motor or battery. Thanks to two flip chips – one at the Horst-link pivot and the second between the seatstay and rocker link – and an angle adjusting headset, the JAM2 SL’s geometry is highly adjustable. The Horst-link chip adjusts chainstay length from 440mm to 447mm. The seatstay adjustment can be used to raise or lower bottom bracket height by 10mm or with the chainstay adjuster to maintain identical BB heights. You can rotate the headset cups through 180 degrees to adjust the head angle from 65.5 to 64.5 degrees. This, in theory, can be combined with the bottom bracket height adjustment to increase adjustment further.
Alex preferred the chainstay in its longer 447mm position. In the long, low and slack settings, I measured the head angle at 63.5 degrees and bottom bracket height at 338mm. Elsewhere, the JAM2 SL’s figures are modern. Across the four-size range, it has a 76.5-degree seat tube angle and reach figures that span from 430mm to 515mm. Stack figures sit between 614mm and 650mm.
Seatstay geometry adjustment is designed to be used in conjunction with the chainstay adjuster, but can also be employed separately to further modify the bike’s shape. Although not officially sanctioned by Focus, the adjustment on offer means the JAM2 SL could accommodate a 27.5in rear wheel by compensating for the geometry changes of a smaller-diameter hoop. Its figures straddle the trail bike and enduro bike categories, arguably making the JAM2 SL ready to adapt to most riding styles.
|Head angle slack / Chainstay long||S||M||L||XL|
|Seat angle (degrees)||76.5||76.5||76.5||76.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||64.5||64.5||64.5||64.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||390||440||480||480|
|Top tube (mm)||578||607||637||672|
|Head tube (mm)||100||100||120||140|
|Fork offset (mm)||44||44||44||44|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||25||25||25||30|
Focus Jam2 SL 9.9 specifications
Fox’s Performance Elite 36 fork is well up to the job and performed impressively. Up front is Fox’s Performance Elite 36 fork with GRIP2 damper, paired with a Float X Performance rear shock. Shimano’s XT M8100 drivetrain features, along with four-piston M8120 brakes with 203mm IceTech rotors.
We couldn’t set our brake levers to our desired position and fit the Ring Controller close enough to the grips to operate with our thumb without moving our hands. DT Swiss’ HX 1700 LS lightweight ebike-specific wheels are wrapped in Schwalbe rubber. At the front is a GroundControl casing Addix Soft Magic Mary, paired with a Nobby Nic SuperTrail Addix Speed Grip rear. A host of Focus-branded kit features on the bike, including the handlebar, stem and seatpost. Without pedals, this size-large JAM2 SL 9.9 weighs 19.18kg.
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 ride impressions
The adjustable geometry means it can span the trail and enduro bike segments with total aplomb. I tested the Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 in Scotland’s Tweed Valley, home to the UK’s round of the enduro world cup and famous Glentress trail centre. The type of riding ranged from steep, enduro-specific trails through to mellow flowing trail-centre runs, and off-the-beaten-track jaunts into the Scottish Lowlands.
The Float X Performance shock performs brilliantly. I installed two additional volume-reducer spacers in the fork, taking the total to four. I set all the external rebound and compression adjusters to fully open. The fork’s air spring was initially set to 108psi, giving 18 per cent sag. During testing, I found this felt quite harsh, so I decreased it in increments to 93psi. Set in this way, it had 25.5 per cent sag. I left the shock’s yellow volume-reducer spacer installed and fully opened the external rebound adjustment. I initially set the shock to 185psi, giving 30 per cent sag; the exact amount Focus recommends. During testing, this felt too soft and unbalanced with the front, so I increased pressure to 195psi. This gave 22 per cent sag. After playing with the extensive geometry adjustments, I set the bike to its longest chainstay position (447mm), lowest bottom bracket position (338mm) and slackest head angle (63.5 degrees).
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 climbing performance
A steep seat tube angle helps improve climbing performance. Thanks to a relatively steep seat tube angle, your hips are placed comfortably above the bottom bracket, helping improve pedalling efficiency and comfort. This limits front-wheel lift on particularly steep sections of trail, where smaller, less destabilising weight shifts are needed to keep the front wheel on the ground and back wheel gripping. Generous chainstays add to this. The 447mm figure positions your weight towards the centre of the bike by better balancing the front and rear centre proportions. This contributes to its impressive stability going uphill. Rider weight is distributed evenly between your hands and backside too, but the tall front end gives it a distinctly winch and plummet enduro bike feel. The top tube feels neither too short nor too long, however.
Shimano’s XT M8100 drivetrain features. All-in, this makes for a comfortable ascending position that suits a relaxed pace. Going faster or harder is possible, but you’ll need to intentionally lower yourself to the bars; the riding position it puts you in isn’t hugely aggressive. Despite the rear tyre’s lacklustre tread pattern and firm, uncompromising rubber compound, the JAM2 SL delivers impressive grip at the rear. Its suspension contributes, fluttering in and out of its beginning stroke, absorbing trail chatter and keeping the rear wheel stuck to the floor to augment grip.
Motor performance and battery life
The Fazua mode and battery indicator uses five colour-changing LEDs.Fazua’s Ride 60 motor is one of the more impressive offerings on the market. It’s seriously quiet. The whirr it emits barely exceeds the crunch of your tyres, especially in the seriously economical Breeze mode. On a single charge, using exclusively Breeze, I managed to exceed 2,500m of ascent with the 430Wh battery. Each of the 20 per cent battery increments offered between 500m and 600m of ascent. In terms of power, Breeze is less powerful than Specialized’s Turbo SL 1.2’s Eco mode, and quite a bit less powerful than Forestal’s EonDrive’s eco setting, which is the punchiest of the three.
The Fazua motor is both frugal and powerful. It’s all change in the higher power settings, however. Fazua’s more powerful modes are close to full-power ebike territory in feel and speed, but it retains commendable economy. The ring remote’s functionality is ergonomically sound in theory, and intuitive to use in practice. However, the trigger’s springs don’t have enough force stopping it from returning to its neutral position, making it feel cheap. When riding in dark forests, the top tube battery and mode indicator LEDs dazzle. The stationary off-timer is also too quick, which can be frustrating. Battery life, noise and power, however, more than make up for its shortcomings. In my eyes, the Fazua is the lightweight ebike motor to beat.
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 descending performance
Whether riding tight or open trails, the JAM2 SL was a real standout performer. Downhill, the JAM2 SL is impressively stable. Its bars and bottom bracket remain level with the horizon across successive, harsh undulations. Resisting this see-sawing is a key ingredient for a more controlled ride. It means you can channel your energy into riding faster or hitting sections with more control and confidence, rather than compensating for flawed geometry and an unruly chassis. This feel is generated by the enduro-bike-inspired long chainstays and proportionally balanced front centre, generous reach and slack head tube angle.
A slack head angle means the bike is at home on enduro trails. The figures combine to give a harmonious relationship between hands and feet, with a natural-feeling ride. Add a relatively tall stack and low bottom bracket, and even more confidence is unlocked. You can positively drive grip through the front wheel on steep terrain or reach higher speeds on flatter trails because grip is predictable and easy to control. The long, stable chassis doesn’t equate to a lack of agility. Although deliberate weight shifts are needed to cut through tight trails, the amount of rider input required isn’t excessive or tiring, keeping the Focus feeling relatively nimble.
Smooth and controlled is the order of the day with the JAM2 SL. The supple suspension combines with a smooth and damped-feeling frame to deliver plenty of traction and comfort. Compensating impressively for the lack of traction from the stock rear tyre, the rear shock combines an active beginning stroke – that devours the terrain’s imperfections – with plenty of mid-stroke support. This stops it eating its travel too quickly.
Its battery life is monstrous, especially in the Eco mode. An abundance of grip mates well with the mid-stroke support. This preserves the bike’s dynamic geometry, adding to its overall stability and grip. Speed is easy to generate through compressions or around high-load banked turns, because the bike can be worked into the terrain with little consequence of it bottoming out prematurely. There’s plenty of bottom-out resistance, even when using more sag. Adding a volume-reducer spacer would improve this, but the quick and sometimes harsh ramp-up associated with reducing the spring’s volume isn’t for everyone. Its low bottom bracket feels great in the turns. Leaning the bike over is smooth and intuitive, where smaller but positive weight shifts bank it over.
The stock lightweight, low-traction tyres are inappropriate for the type of riding the JAM2 SL is capable of. Suspension and geometry combine to give a balanced feel once the bike is leant over. Riding long turns is relatively input-free, and easily repeatable with clockwork-like predictability. Hooking sharper, tighter turns only requires small weight shifts and a flick of the hips; the rear end responds well to aggressive movements without feeling too skittish. However, the seat tube’s height and dropper post’s travel make the saddle height feel overly tall. A longer-travel, smaller-stack seatpost would help here, but reducing the height of the frame’s seat tube isn’t possible.
The stock front tyre was under-gunned for the type of riding the bike is capable of. There’s a perfect bike and trail for lightweight, hard-compound tyres, but the Focus JAM2 SL and the tracks it confidently tames aren’t it. While the front Magic Mary’s tread pattern is a favourite, the SuperGround casing is not suitable for the Focus’s weight or intended riding style. The tyre pressures required to retain some carcass support seriously reduced grip, and an immense amount of harshness was transferred into the bike. The rear Nobby Nic’s SuperTrail casing improves on this, but the SpeedGrip compound and closely packed tread are more suited to downcountry than trail-focused electric mountain bikes, lacking both grip and carcass support on gnarlier or damp terrain.
For this type of bike, a Super Gravity casing rear tyre is an absolute minimum. We had to upgrade our JAM2 SL test bike’s tyres to unlock its performance potential. The stock tyres compromise the JAM2 SL’s performance significantly. But you needn’t look far to find suitable rubber. I upgraded the front tyre to a Magic Mary SuperTrail Addix Soft and the rear to a Big Betty SuperGravity Addix Soft. Fitted with more appropriate mountain bike tyres, the true performance of the JAM2 SL’s geometry was unleashed, because they offered more grip and damping, and better carcass stability at lower pressures. Although relatively costly (roughly £150 all in), this upgrade is one I couldn’t recommend enough for the JAM2 SL.
How does the Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 compare to the Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL II?
This S-Works model costs £13,000. Both bikes share a carbon frame construction, the same front and rear travel figure, and immensely adjustable geometry helping them span the trail and enduro bike segments. Their price tags – £7,499 for the Focus and £13,000 for the Levo SL II – and corresponding componentry are rather disparate, however. But that doesn’t give either a particular advantage; the Levo SL’s components, such as SRAM’s Eagle Transmission, justify the cost, but neither do they blow the Focus’s components into obsolescence. The Focus’s rather canny spec means this JAM SL 9.9 represents – in the word of electric bikes at least – reasonable value for money, especially when lined up next to the Specialized.
This might edge it ahead for some customers, while others might prefer the all-guns blazing S-Works Levo SL II. Their motors are a tale of two halves, however. The Fazua is not only more powerful than the Specialized’s Turbo SL 1.2 at the top end, it’s also more frugal in each of its modes. Although its range is helped by the bigger battery (430Wh versus 320Wh), there’s no denying its economy. The Fazua motor is quieter than the Turbo SL 1.2. Pitted head-to-head, with more power, a longer range and quieter operating, the dial edges in favour of the Focus. Add in almost identical geometry adjustment, better value for money and an impressive spec and the Focus takes the lead for me.
Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 bottom line
Despite the longer than average chainstays, it was easy to pick up the front wheel. The Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 is a surprise performer, confidently spanning the trail and enduro bike segments thanks to its highly adaptable geometry. This makes it suited to a seriously wide range of riders, from enduro shredders to backcountry explorers. This geometry combines with its suspension to create a performance sweet spot, offering stability, balance, comfort and poise on every type of terrain I could point it towards. Add the impressively frugal yet deceptively powerful Fazua Ride 60 motor and 430Wh battery, and I bet the JAM2 SL will keep going long after you’ve had enough.
The JAM2’s balanced geometry helps it shift at pace around turns. Although a lot of money, the £7,499 price tag represents good value when you study the Focus’s spec. Yes, you’ll need to upgrade the tyres, but there are few SL ebikes that don’t have that exact problem, and once you’ve done so, that’ll be it. If I was in the market for an SL ebike, this is the model I would be buying.