Mountain peaks tend to be peaceful places where time stops. They’re places of reflection and a somewhat gluttonous indulgence in panoramas. But for riders, they are very rarely the destination – and they are usually the place where time only just gets started. Just take the FOCUS JAM, which values mountain peaks as the precursor to a massive endorphin rush and a broad grin. It’s time to pump it up, baby!

There’s been a fairly gaping hole in the line-up from FOCUS in the past, and we’ve all bemoaned the absence of a red-blooded trail bike to dart its way up climbs and plummet assuredly down descents. Fortunately, this summer’s launch of the all-new JAM promised to be the missing piece of the puzzle, and its entrance heralded the beginning of a new generation of FOCUS bikes. The new JAM’s biggest draw is its patented F.O.L.D. rear suspension design, designed by FOCUS at their HQ in Germany. The design consists of a one-piece rear triangle with two linkages; it’s special because FOCUS has rendered it truly capable of dialing optimal progression and lateral stiffness.

Focus Jam C SL | 140 / 140 mm | € 6.999
Focus Jam C SL | 140 / 140 mm | € 6,999
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The top-end JAM C SL is decked out with tried-and-tested components, seeing its gorgeous carbon frame kitted with an equally indulgent and generously geared SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes for precise stopping power. Wheel choice is solid with the lightweight and reliable DT Swiss XM 1501, although the Continental Mountain King tires suffer a lack of grip, particularly in wet conditions. These would be worth an upgrade, along with the Concept CX bars, whose excessive backsweep isn’t much of a crowd-pleaser, and are probably as divisive as the botched outfits in Technotronic’s very dated “Pump Up the Jam” video.

 Pump up the jam
Pump it up
While your feet are stomping
And the jam is pumping
Look ahead, the crowd is jumpin’

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Like the mass hysteria once caused by this track, the FOCUS JAM makes you want to get loose. It’s like a chemical reaction that occurs once you’re on the bike and cooing over its super-sorted geometry, long frame (435 mm reach for the size M), mellow 66.8° head angle, short 435 mm chainstays, and its potent rear end with the RockShox Monarch RT rear shock. It’s super-sensitive, stays high in its travel, and is exceptionally progressive, which makes bottoming out a non-starter. Up front, there’s a RockShox PIKE with 140 mm of travel in the SL model; although the fork does its best to rival the rear, it ends up being more than a little outshone. We’d have appreciated a touch more travel, and reckon that the Factory model with 150 mm would be a better choice for the JAM to lend even more balance to its suspension. When it comes to handling, the JAM eradicates any doubts as it carves its way along the trails, responding well to steering and tracking your line choices. It keeps its cool over burl and isn’t afraid to let rip. The stock tires, however, are a limiting factor with their lack of grip and puncture resistance. The JAM is asking to be pumped with energy, and it responds with sterling speed and capability everywhere from climbs to big holes and hits.

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 Pump it up a little more
Get the party goin’ on the dance floor
See, ‘cause that’s where the party’s at
and you’ll find out if you do that

Specifications Focus JAM

Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3 140 mm
Rear shock: RockShox Monarch RT 140 mm
Brakes: SRAM Guide Ultimate
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Concept 60 mm
Bars: Concept Flat
Wheels: DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline One
Tires: Continental Mountain King
Price: € 6,999

Geometry of the Focus JAM C

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The Focus JAM in detail

F.O.L.D. The F.O.L.D. rear suspension design has two linkages whose design has allowed FOCUS to nail both its progression and lateral stiffness. More benefits: central weight distribution and minimal unsprung mass at the rear.
F.O.L.D.
The F.O.L.D. rear suspension design has two linkages whose design has allowed FOCUS to nail both its progression and lateral stiffness. More benefits: central weight distribution and minimal unsprung mass at the rear.
Striking There’s a uniform look across the whole of the line-up that all stems from its striking toptube.
Striking
There’s a uniform look across the whole of the line-up that all stems from its striking toptube.
Potential for tuning Unlike the Factory model, the RockShox PIKE on the JAM C SL comes with just 140 mm travel. It’s worth noting that its downhill performance would be drastically improved if FOCUS had gone for the 150 mm PIKE.
Potential for tuning
Unlike the Factory model, the RockShox PIKE on the JAM C SL comes with just 140 mm travel. It’s worth noting that its downhill performance would be drastically improved if FOCUS had gone for the 150 mm PIKE.
Massive The JAM darts up climbs thanks to the combo of the SRAM Eagle drivetrain’s massive gear range and the JAM’s sorted geometry.
Massive
The JAM darts up climbs thanks to the combo of the SRAM Eagle drivetrain’s massive gear range and the JAM’s sorted geometry.

Conclusion

The FOCUS JAM knows how to rock a party just as well as the catchy Technotronic tune. It’s a lively and agile ride – neither a wallflower nor a stuttering wreck, and the JAM perks up with coolness and capability as soon as you push some speed. It keeps stable at high speeds and climbs with panache. There are some minor flaws in its spec, but nothing that a couple of upgrades won’t solve.

Strengths

  • Very agile handling
  • gorgeous design
  • super-fun to ride

Weaknesses

  • Tires limit the bike
  • Would benefit from 150 mm front suspension

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

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Christoph Bayer