Focus’ latest offspring goes by the name SAM and will be the weapon of choice for the newly founded Focus Trail Team, which will use it for several German races and some of the Enduro World Series races.
The cheapest model, the SAM 3.0, can be bought for just 2,599 euros and has the aura of a race bike even in the bike stand, where its slack 65° head angle, double chain guide and well-conceived cabling make it look seriously fast.
Sitting on the bike, the position is slightly stretched but still central. The low top tube provides ample freedom of movement. Uphill movement is rather leisurely despite the almost bob-free rear end and good pedaling position. The 14.9 kilos limit forward propulsion somewhat… but point the bike downwards and there is no stopping the SAM!
The Magura shock, which has a linear feel at the beginning of its travel, handles all hits with consummate ease ‒ and there is a smooth transition to the progressive part of the travel, which prevents the shock from bottoming out and keeps the rear wheel glued to the ground. The inexpensive Fox 34 Float Evolution fork was surprisingly responsive at the beginning of the travel, and the damping worked well.
The harder and faster things get, the happier the SAM seems to become. The long wheelbase lets it roll as if it’s on rails, flattening everything out without being sluggish. On narrow, winding trails the SAM needs a little more coaxing to hit the best line with precision.
At full speed it’s hard to take your hands off the bars, and we sorely missed a remotely operated dropper post. Fortunately, this can be added without a lot of additional expense. The rest of the spec is solid and gave us no cause for concern.
The SAM 3.0 brings a race day win a big step closer. No other bike on test was as fast. A few small changes to the kit and you can sign up for the next race, safe in the knowledge that it’s not the bike’s fault if things don’t work out!
Go back to the article: “Grouptest Trailbikes: Eight Entry-level Trailbikes”
You can read an in-depth feature about the group test and our conclusions in the actual ENDURO issue #009! As usual it’s free & only digital for iPad, Android-Tablets and Online-Viewer: Issue #009.
Text & Pictures: Christoph Bayer
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