The brand new Focus SAM is probably the most aggressive bike in the entire test. For 4999 €, you get absolute high-end equipment with a Rockshox Pike RC Dual Position Air fork(160 mm / 120 mm), SRAM XX1, and Reynolds MTN AM Carbon wheels. With its aluminum frame, the SAM weighs in at 12.9 kg.
Right from the beginning, we noticed that the bike wants to go whole hog. Made without compromises, it was designed for racing and offers very modern geometry. This means 27.5” wheels, a relatively long top tube (595 mm), a relatively slack head angle (65.8°) and, at 75°, a very steep seat angle. On paper, the designers have drawn from the best downhill qualities and mixed them with excellent climbing characteristics.
With a slightly stretched but still central position on the bike, combined with the 780mm wide cockpit, the feeling of having everything under control is ever present. Due to the slack head angle, the front needs to be held on track at slow speeds and on climbs. This is where lowering the fork helps to achieve a more comfortable position for uphills. Thanks to the steep seat angle, the pedaling ergonomics are excellent, transferring power effortlessly to the pedals. The bike ascends to the peak with minimal pedal feedback!
Full throttle on the trail: The SAM feels very much at home in demanding and fast sections, rolling as if on rails. The relatively early but smooth end-stroke progression offers the impression that the forgiving rear suspension still has much more in reserve. In addition, this prevents the rear suspension from bottoming out, allowing more control of the rear wheel and faster rolling through rough terrain. The Focus is best handled in corners by leaning the bike into the curve, playing a little with the gravitational forces instead of ‘actually’ steering.
On the whole, Focus have managed to create an extremely potent enduro racing bike with the SAM – offered at a very fair price, with top-notch equipment and looks. However, you should know that this bike is no good for softies. It constantly seeks speed and feels unchallenged on lowland trails due to its aggressive geometry. Need for speed, hell yes!
Go back to the article: “Tested: Six Fast Enduro Racing Bikes”