Focus Sam2 6.9 Review - [R]evolution Magazine
From the moment you first set eyes on the Sam2 6.9, it is clear that
Focus set out to create a big burly mountain-eating rig! And so not
surprisingly this bike just happens to be the most aggressive e-MTB Focus has ever made, showcasing modern downhill-oriented geometry, loads of squishy suspension, plenty of power and a big battery to boot!
First up can we get an overview of the Sam2’s other key attributes? Sure, the Sam2 slots into Focus’ e-MTB line up as their all-out aggressive, long travel enduro/freeride style e-Bike. The bike we tested was the 6.9 which boasts high-end Fox Factory 38 forks, Fox Coil in the rear, with the front and back end pumping out 170mm of travel respectively. This whip comes stock with Focus Bikes unique ‘FOLD’ suspension linkage, all alloy frame, Race face bars, Focus Bike's own cable integrated stem, Shimano XT Drive Chain, XT 4 piston brakes, 29-inch Race Face AR30 hoops front and rear with Novatech hubs, Fox Dropper and a KS Lever thrown in for good measure. The key piece to this puzzle is the all-new Bosch Performance CX generation 4 motor with a lockable 625-watt battery. There’s so much to talk about the new Bosch motor that we’ve actually put together a separate article centred around how it performs which you’ll find elsewhere within this edition of the mag.
As you guys can see from the photos and the spec level this bit of eye candy looked the absolute goods, so it’s no secret that once we had this sucker built, we were pretty amped to hit the trails. Sounds impressive. Okay so how about the bike’s geo package? Funny enough when we first read the spec and geo sheet for the new Sam2 we wondered if perhaps Focus were being a little conservative with its angles. For instance, a 76-degree seat tube angle and a 65-degree head angle isn’t following today’s trends where most brands are chasing each other down a rabbit hole of being forever lower and slacker with their frame layouts, however, as we will explain in a lot more details further into this review we reckon Focus have actually hit the nail on the head and made some smart decisions with the angles that they gone with for their newest ‘enduro’ e-MTB. Another thing we should mention is that Focus have designed the Sam2 to able to run a 27.5” rear wheel (mullet set-up). You simply need to find a 27.5” wheel and spin the flip chip located down near the rear axle, which Focus refer to as a ‘Drifter’ chip. This slackens the head angle from 65 degrees to 64.1 degrees and lowers the bottom bracket. We rode a large which runs 480mm reach. The bike does have a relatively short seat-tube with a low stand-over height making the cockpit roomy with the ability to transfer your weight around the bike easily.
Now as we all know Focus Bikes are known for boasting that quintessential German design style and engineering excellence. In your opinion does the new Sam2 live up to that mantra? Look, as a bike company, these guys as mentioned above have really developed a reputation for quality and performance but also value for money, Focus Bikes are no budget bike by any stretch, they are right up there with the attention to detail and the ride quality of many of your boutique whips on the market. They provide a broad range of push bikes, from, XC, road, touring MTB etc. They also offer a wide range of carbon and alloy models to boot, so depending on what you like in a bike Focus have most of those bases covered.
One of the most unique features about this bike is its ‘FOLD’ rear suspension design. Tell us a bit about the theory behind the FOLD concept and how you found it actually feels/handles out there on the trail? The two-piece ‘FOLD’ suspension design is pretty much a single pivot with a linkage which joins the swingarm to mainframe. The linkage itself sits on top of the shock pivot and basically, under load or impacts it rolls over the top of the pivot to actuate the shock. The shock is also vertically mounted with the lower mount nestled low in the downtube on top of the motor. The linkage itself is all bearings, it’s neat, small, and it isn’t just for looks, the position of the shock leaves the centre of gravity nice and low.
RIDDeN & RATeD
The compact pivot point reduces flex and wear and tear which makes the performance of this rear end direct, supple and reliable. There is plenty of room for a water bottle and/or tool roll and the way the linkage is designed makes the bikes bearing a lot less susceptible to grit and grim getting into your linkage bearings. The majority of e-MTB on the market these days come stock with air rear shocks however this bike comes out swinging with a big Fox coil shock. Did you find the attributes of a coil shock leant itself well to the e-Bike and the style of riding that the Sam2 has been designed for? As you all know air and coil shocks both have their pros and cons, there is a bit more adjustability on the fly with an air shock and they tend to be a bit lighter. With that said we do like the additional mid stroke support and progressive feel of a coil, they do offer this bike in a couple of build options with air or coil and it’s a little like tomato or tomato. Personally, the test team liked the fact this bike came with a coil, with most of the team coming from a more gravity feed background we found the coil awesome. I found the rear end of the bike tracked the ground super well under pretty much all trail conditions and this inspired confi dent riding and we really noticed how much the suspension platform generated traction to both wheels. In layman’s terms the suspension kinematics of this bike suit a coil or an air shock, so depending on what you prefer Focus have you covered. You spent quite a lot of time test riding the previous generation Sam2 for the mag a couple of years ago, how much different does this latest version ride compared to its predecessor and how much have Focus advanced in the eMTB space throughout the years? You’re right, we were lucky enough to get one of the earlier models of this bike a couple of years back and suffice to say we were impressed back then, although the silhouette of the new bike does still look remarkably similar to its predecessor, there have been a number of clever little design tweaks and changes that Focus have tailored into their latest offering. Back when Focus first started entered the e-MTB space one of the things that set the original Jam2 and Sam2 apart what other brands were doing was that Focus decided they wanted to keep the overall weight of the bikes as light as possible and one of the ways they tried to do that was by effectively offering the bikes with half size batteries, around 300Wh rather than 500Wh which was the industry standard at the time. Wind the clock forward several years to right now and a lot has changed, including battery sizes that come stock in Focus e-MTBs. Then new Sam2 comes out swinging with 625Wh juice in its tank. Tell us a bit about the ‘range’ of the new big battery and how you found it to live with? I think Focus have found a real sweet spot with the 625Wh battery size. It offers riders the perfect balance between having enough juice in the tank to head out for all-day adventures without having to worry about running out of power, but at the same time they’ve till managed to keep the bike’s weight down to a reasonable fi gure so that handling isn’t sacrifi ced. Clearly there’s a lot that you like about the new Sam2, was there anything that you didn’t like so much? Yeah, to be honest this bike proved itself to be a really nice all-around package. That said, when pretty much everything on a bike is perfect it does often tend to shine the spotlight on parts that are anything less than perfect and there were a couple things that I’ll briefly mention. Firstly, handlebar mounted display screen is a little big/bulky which makes it quite susceptible to being damaged.
TECH Specs Sam2 (6.9 model)
FRAME 7005 hydroformed aluminium,
3D forging, internal cable routing.
SIZE OPTIONS S, M, L, XL
WHEELSIZE 29” front and rear as stock.
Mullet rear compatible.
TRAVEL 170 front and rear
MOTOR Bosch Performance CX Gen 4
BATTERY 625Wh battery
COMPONENTS Fox 38 FIT2 Factory fork,
Fox Van Performance Coil rear shock,
Shimano XT full drivetrain 12 speed,
Shimano XT brakes203mm rotors,
Samox EC40 cranks, Race Face Chester
780mm bar and Focus CIS 50mm stem,
RaceFace rims laced to Novatec hubs,
Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.6’s.
I would love to see Focus relocated the info display, ideally even integrated down into the bikes toptube. That way it would be a little more user friendly, and it would no doubt at the bike’s already lovely frame lines. The other minor issue were the stock tyres. Sure, tyres come down to personal preference and it has a lot to do with where you ride but when we switched the stock Schwalbe rubber out for a set of Maxxis control tyres instantly the handling of this bike improved by a long shot. Overall, what type of rider is the Sam2 6.9 going to suit the best? Sand what did you think of its overall performance? That is a bit of a diffi cult question in the sense that being an eBike anyone can really enjoy riding this thing. A better question is who this rig is really designed for? Well, if you’re the type of rider who loves your eBiking but you like to explore the more aggressive trails on offer then the Sam2 is for you. However, just because may not ride in the same sphere as some of your pro athletes’ is doesn’t exclude you from enjoying the ride quality of this eBike. What we’re saying is if you want to push the limits then this bike is up to the task. We punched a heap of XC laps, DH runs, and we’ve ridden this rig in a variety of locations including Canberra, Bright, Cooma and the Blue Mountains. We’ve railed berms, turns, rocks, roots, bumps and booters and we have been left rather impressed again with the ride quality of this Focus. And what not to like?! The new Sam2 packs a punch; it looks good, it’s spec’ed really well, it comes with probably the best motor currently on the market couple with great sized battery. Furthermore, it’s platform was super supple, and overall, the handling of the bike is stable at speed and planted in the rough stuff, yet it’s still nice and playful when you want to rip corners or send some big jumps. It scores a big thumbs up from us!
Words - Scotty Prendergast
Photos - Matt Staggs