Focus's Jam2 29 Ltd is an electric mountain bike with 140mm of travel on both ends, a Shimano Steps mid-drive motor, and a unique dual-battery set up. Perhaps most importantly, it feels and rides like a modern mountain bike.
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Focus Jam2 29 Ltd highlights
- Focus aluminum frame, FOLD suspension, 140mm travel
- Shimano Steps E8000 electric motor, 250 watts
- Focus TEC down tube battery, 378Wh
- RockShox Recon RL fork, 140mm
- Race Face AR30 rims, Continental Trail King 29 x 2.4in tires
- Actual weight: 22.2kg / 49lbs with single down tube battery
Base level part compromises
Up front, the RockShox Recon RL fork was a mixed bag. Weirdly enough, the stroke felt better than the last few higher-end Revelation forks I've ridden. But its 32mm stanchions were easily overworked when dealing with the 140mm of travel and big, heavy 29in wheels and tires.
And those tires, ughh. I've had numerous issues with Continental tires in the past and sadly the issues continued with the stock Trail Kings. The 2.4in width was nice, but the rubber compound felt hard and plasticky. Cornering traction on my loose-over-hardpack terrain was weak. And the sidewalls were thin, which lead to pinch punctures.
Not all of the price-conscious parts were difficult to live with. The Shimano Deore/XT drivetrain worked as expected and the no-name JD low dropper post hasn't missed a beat.
The Race Face AR30 rims have a good 30mm internal width and their softer ride quality worked well with the heavy, ground-hugging Jam2.
That motor though
Parts are replaceable and upgradable, the frame, battery and motor, however, are not. With that in mind, Focus has done an excellent job where it matters.
Shimano's Steps E8000 motor has 250 watts delivered through three assist modes: Eco, Trail, and Boost.
Like other e-bikes, on real singletrack I found the highest mode to be too much, too torquey and hard to handle. If riding up the fall line was needed, Boost mode was certainly helpful, but almost everywhere else, it was overkill.
Trail mode was where I spent most of my time. It's a good mix of power and easily controlled assistance.
Eco mode was also very useable. Compared to a normal bike, the Jam2 in the lowest power setting felt like a very good day on a normal bike, those days when you're rested and incredibly fit and everything feels easy.
To try to make the best compromise of range and weight, Focus has interestingly offered two batteries on the Jam2. The standard one is in the down tube, the second optional battery can be attached where a water bottle would be.
Instead of the more typical 500Wh battery found on most e-bikes, each Focus battery has 378Wh. That means if a short ride is planned, the spare battery can be left behind and weight saved. Or if an epic journey is on the table, two batteries, and an extra 356Wh are available for extended range.
On the two rides I've done, the range for the down-tube battery has been on the money so far, delivering close to the screen's estimate. It's fun thinking about where to go with the extended range of the dual battery set up.
Focus Jam2 29 Ltd ride impressions
E-bikes' awkward teenage years are coming to a close. Within the last two years, legit mountain bikes with proper geometry and suspension have sprung up. And that's a very good thing.
The Jam2 is certainly in the field. Its geometry is close to its non-motorized sibling, the Jam, with only a bit shorter reach and a tad longer chainstays, necessitated by the Shimano motor.
On the ascents, the Fold rear suspension was eager and willing with little bob or squat. The front end felt a bit tall, but moving some stem spacers around cured the ill handling.
The long 470mm chainstays made the bike feel big and rangy. Its wheelbase is 40-50mm longer than the regular Jam, and therefore made a couple tight switchbacks an interesting affair.
Those stable-at-speed chainstays also made wheelies, jumping and manuals difficult. But honestly, I'm not sure how much the entry-level e-MTB buyer is looking for those traits.
That extended wheelbase had its benefits on wide open, straight trails and on road sections. I was surprised to find the max speed on the computer reading 82 kmh (51mph).
Obviously, downhills on dirt and in the woods weren't as fast. They were fun though. The riding position of the Jam2 mimicked a regular, shred-happy mountain bike, not a super-low, long, slack monster, but it felt natural slicing through the forest. However, the budget suspension, overall bike weight and long length prevented getting fully rowdy.
As did the class 1 speed limit of 30.5 kmh (19mph). It's a problem all e-MTBs suffer from. When ripping downhill over 30.5kmh, the lack of assist and the extra weight are extremely noticeable. Cranking hard to get more speed feels like pedaling with the brakes on.
Granted, I am spoiled with high-end suspension, but the Recon fork and Deluxe shock lacked the smooth, controlled stroke that bikes nowadays typically have. I'll continue to experiment with air pressures and tuning.
Focus Jam2 29 Ltd early verdict
Focus has done an excellent job solving the weight vs range problem of modern e-bikes. And I appreciate they haven't strayed from a dialed, ready-to-rip platform.
The Shimano electric motor and integration are excellent, some of the cleanest I've seen which goes a long way visually.
For seasoned mountain bikers who are looking for a lighter, more precise electric-assisted ride, one of Focus higher-end Jam2 models should be on the shortlist.