Focus says it’s created its latest SAM² -bike to maximise fun on the descents, with the pedalling assistance used as a tool to get you back to the top for more gravity-fuelled action.
That’s not to say it’s a downhill bike with a motor, but it does have the credentials for some pretty burly riding.
Focus SAM² 6.9 frame and geometry
The SAM² uses the same FOLD (Focus Optimized Linkage Design) suspension platform found across the brand’s range – a single-pivot setup with linkage-driven shock.
Here, it has a regressive leverage rate for the first 30 per cent of the travel, meaning it’s most supple around the sag point. After that, it ramps up progressively to increase mid- and end-stroke support.
Sizing is where you find the biggest updates to the frame. While the old SAM² maxed out at a 455mm reach, the same measurement on the new model spans from 430mm (small) to 510mm (XL) – numbers in line with the latest gravity-biased MTBs.
The bike will take 29in or 650b wheels, thanks to a flip-chip that adjusts the geometry to work with a high or low axle position. This changes the chainstay length too, from 430mm to 450mm.
With a 29in rear wheel, the ‘high’ setting with longer rear centre has to be used. If you fit a 650b wheel you can go ‘low’, with shorter stays and geometry in line with the 29in setup, or ‘high’, with a longer rear centre, 10mm lower bottom bracket and 0.9-degree slacker head angle.
As standard, the head angle is 65 degrees. The 76-degree effective seat tube angle shows Focus hasn’t overlooked getting the rider into a comfy position on the climbs.
Seat tubes are short enough that you can run a long dropper post, or size up if you’re looking for a more stretched-out ride.
|Seat angle (degrees)||76||76||76||76|
|Head angle (degrees)||65||65||65||65|
|Top tube (cm)||58.7||60.8||64.2||67.6|
|Head tube (cm)||11||11.5||13||15|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||2||2||2||2|
Focus SAM² 6.9 kit
This top-model SAM² 6.9 features some wise spec choices. Highlights include the burly 170mm-travel Fox 38 Factory fork and Vanilla Performance coil shock.
The latter forgoes some of the adjustability of the more expensive Fox DHX2 coil, so getting the correct spring rate is even more important.
Shimano XT four-pot brakes provide strong stopping power, and gear shifts are taken care of by an XT shifter and mech mated with its SLX 12-speed cassette.
The bike rolls on 2.6in Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres, with a tougher Super Gravity casing on the rear and a Super Trail up front, both in the grippy ADDIX Soft compound.
Focus’s CIS (Cockpit Integration System) stem gives a clean look, with cables entering at the bottom of the faceplate and running through the headset and into the frame.
Focus SAM² 6.9 first ride impressions
This bike is built for the downhills, but it does have a motor and battery to get you back to the top again, so let’s get that business out of the way first.
The moderately steep seat tube angle puts you in a comfortable seated position whether the ground is flat or pointing up. Together with the 450mm chainstays, it puts you in a good position to find grip on the climbs and offers a pretty central weight distribution between the wheels.
The Bosch motor and 625Wh battery have plenty of power, with the latter easily lasting long enough for you to get your fill of gravity riding.
Hitting the descents, there’s no hiding this bike’s nearly 26kg/57lb weight. Combined with its long travel, it makes the SAM2 a monster truck that’ll basically charge through anything.
The rear end is good at smoothing out trail chatter and provides enough progression that, even with the coil shock, I didn’t experience any harsh bottom-outs.
While it’s softest around the sag point, I noticed some wallow in the mid-stroke when landing drops or hitting high-speed compressions. On the flipside, this gives the bike ample grip on the trail and isolates you from bumps nicely.
The bike’s extra weight meant it took a few runs for us to trust the tyres to deliver enough grip and traction, but it didn’t take long to feel confident on it.
There’s no doubting that the SAM² works best when ridden with gusto, and it takes a reasonable amount of effort to muscle it around. It helps when you have speed on your side to assist with carrying some of its heft.
On tight, technical trails its relatively conservative (for a long-travel bike) 65-degree head angle helps keep the handling snappy, but that isn’t this bike’s strongest suit.
Open the taps, and the SAM² comes alive, swallowing everything the trail can throw at you. Early braking is important, though, because its weight and supple suspension disguise its speed well. I had a couple of moments where I headed off into the undergrowth because I came into tight turns too hot.
Focus SAM² 6.9 early verdict
The SAM² is a lot of fun, but a lot of bike too, and may be less versatile than some of its rivals.
|Price||AUD $10999.00EUR €6499.00GBP £5999.00|
|Weight||25.95kg (M) – withput pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||Shimano Deore XT M8120, 203mm rotors|
|Cranks||Samox EC40 (1x12)|
|Fork||Fox 38 Float Factory, 170mm (6.7in) travel|
|Frame||Hydroformed 7005 aluminium alloy, 170mm (6.7in) travel|
|Handlebar||Race Face Chester 35, 780mm|
|Motor||Bosch Performance Line CX motor with 625Wh PowerTube battery|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Deore XT|
|Rear Shocks||Fox Van Performance|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer RL Factory|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore XT|
|Stem||Focus CIS, 50mm|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail ADDIX Soft (f) and Super Gravity ADDIX Soft (r) 29x2.6in|
|Wheels||Race Face AR30 Offset rims on Novatec hubs|