How is it possible that the spec of the cheapest bike in our test leaves almost no room for criticism? For the JAM² 6.9 NINE, FOCUS chose a clever mix of components rather than shiny bling, proving that they care more about trail performance than looks. How does their approach work out in practice?
Before we get into the review, we would like to tell you about our latest print edition. The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2021 is our fourth annual edition and the ultimate guide in your search for the perfect eMTB. Spread over 260 pages of high-quality print, we offer you a comprehensive buyer’s guide, reviews and details of 35 bikes and a group test of the 8 most exciting motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review
FOCUS have shrunk and simplified the JAM² model range. Except for the JAM² 9.9 DRIFTER, all other models rely on an alloy frame designed around Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor. At € 5,499, the FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE is the high-end version with a Bosch motor, yet still the cheapest bike in the entire test field – which means that it has had to prove itself both in our big group test and budget group test. For the FOCUS JAM², the German brand has integrated the 625 Wh battery into the down tube just as neatly as the speed sensor into the dropout and the charging socket into the top tube. One special feature is the C.I.S. stem developed in-house by FOCUS, which routes the cables internally from the cockpit directly into the frame and ensures a tidy cockpit, especially from the rider’s perspective. On the other hand, the 85 Nm motor integrated into the frame of the 25.58 kg bike is clearly visible and thus exposed, with no skid plate or motor cover protecting it from impacts. While on the trail you wouldn’t think that JAM² is the second heaviest bike in test, weight is a major issue for the FOCUS. With its low maximum permissible weight of 120 kg, a fully geared rider weighing more than 94 kg (and adding 26 kg for the bike itself) is officially too heavy for the JAM².
The spec of the FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE makes some of the most expensive bikes in this test look dated!
Despite the aggressive pricing, FOCUS don’t compromise on-trail performance – the spec speaks clearly. This includes 150 mm FOX suspension combining a 36 Rhythm fork and DPS shock. While these offer fewer adjustment options than most suspension setups in our test, the traction on the trail is more than decent. Talking of which, the 29 x 2.6″ Schwalbe Magic Mary tires with their robust Super Gravity casing generate excellent grip and allow for low tire pressures in combination with the DT Swiss alloy rims. As with many other bikes on test, the KindShock Rage seat post draws serious criticism: the remote is hard to operate and positioned too far away from the grip. Shimano XT four-piston brakes with 200 mm rotors provide reliable deceleration and a 12-speed Shimano drivetrain with mixed XT and SLX components takes care of shifting. The XT shifter/rear derailleur are combined with an SLX cassette, shifting gears just as smoothly as the high-end drivetrains in this test!
FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE
Motor Bosch Performance Line CX 85 Nm
Battery Bosch PowerTube 625 Wh
Display Bosch Purion
Fork FOX 36 Rhythm 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPS 150 mm
Seatpost KS Rage-i 150–170 mm
Brakes Shimano XT M8120 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem FOCUS C.I.S. 45 mm
Handlebar Race Face Chester 35 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss H1900 29"
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Gravity Soft 2.6"
Size S M L XL
Weight 25.58 kg
Perm. total weight 120 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 94 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
Via a flip chip in the dropout, the geometry of the JAM² 6.9 NINE can be adjusted to suit the respective wheel size. Above all, the changes affect the chainstay length and bottom bracket height. While our test bike with 29” rear-wheel is relatively average geometry-wise, the seat angle is rather slack. We recommend pushing the saddle all the way forward, as this will ensure a comfortable riding position both uphill and on the flats. If you spend long days in the saddle you’ll appreciate the sensitive suspension and voluminous tires of the JAM² 6.9 NINE.
|Seat tube||400 mm||420 mm||450 mm||490 mm|
|Top tube||573 mm||600 mm||630 mm||661 mm|
|Head tube||110 mm||115 mm||130 mm||150 mm|
|Chainstays||427 mm||427 mm||427 mm||427 mm|
|BB Drop||10 mm||10 mm||10 mm||10 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,163 mm||1,190 mm||1,221 mm||1,254 mm|
|Reach||420 mm||445 mm||470 mm||495 mm|
|Stack||607 mm||612 mm||625 mm||644 mm|
Does half as expensive necessarily mean half as good? The FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE on the trail
Uphill, the comfortable pedalling position and plush suspension have their drawbacks. As the dropper extends, tall riders, in particular, will find themselves sitting far back over the rear wheel, which causes the shock to sink into its travel on steep climbs and the front wheel to lift too easily. To prevent this from happening, you have to actively weight the front end. If you fail to do so, the front wheel loses traction and slides uphill sideways as you turn the handlebars – we definitely recommend activating the climb switch on the shock. This prevents the shock from sinking into its travel and the rear end from bobbing under pedalling while still allowing for sufficient traction to overcome obstacles. This done, the FOCUS is easier to manoeuvre and lots of fun to ride, especially on moderate trails with tight switchbacks.
EA good eMTB doesn’t have to cost € 10,000. The FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE is proof!
Tuning tips: dropper post remote (e.g. Shimano SL-MT800-IL to match the brake levers) | riders with long legs should push the saddle all the way forward
Downhill, the FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE is a smooth ride for pros and newbies alike. The high front combined with the excellent traction inspires tons of confidence and delivers uncompromised riding fun. The balanced geometry and even weight distribution make the JAM² carve through open corners like no other bike in this test.
When riding through berms on flat trails, the bike lacks support and fails to generate speed and flow. The FOCUS prefers to stay on the ground and requires great physical effort to pull off ledges. The JAM² feels at home on winding, technical natural trails. Here it literally sucks itself into the ground and inspires confidence even on slippery roots while negotiating steps, drops and impacts without blowing through its travel. Downhill, inexperienced riders will benefit from the good-natured character of the FOCUS. Only at high speeds does the suspension show limitations compared to the much more expensive high-end bikes in the test field.
The FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE offers an excellent price/performance ratio and strikes with its good-natured, predictable character on the trail. This instils you with confidence and provides predictable and easy handling at low to medium speeds, making the FOCUS is the optimal choice for beginners and advanced eMTBers alike. While the smart features used to integrate the Bosch motor are great, the low maximum payload isn’t, particularly for heavier riders.
- great value for money
- confidence inspiring
- predictable handling
- neat cable management
- dropper post/remote
- lowest permissible maximum weight in the entire test field
You can find out more about at focus-bikes.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review
All bikes in test: Cannondale Moterra Neo Carbon 1 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 (Click for review) | CENTURION No Pogo F3600i (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC SLT Nyon (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 160 C:62 SLT Kiox (Click for review) | Ducati TK-01 RR (Click for review) | FLYER Uproc6 9.50 (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE | GIANT Trance X E+ 1 (Click for review) | Haibike AllMtn 7 (Click for review) | KTM Macina Kapoho Prestige (Click for review) | Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Team (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 29 Trail 8 (Click for review) | ROTWILD R.X375 ULTRA (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom eRIDE 910 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon PMAX (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | STEVENS E-Inception AM 9.7 GTF (Click for review) | Thömus Lightrider E2 Pro (Click for review) | Trek Rail 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Whyte E-150 RS 29ER V1 (Click for review)
Relaxed and comfortable riding on surfaced roads, both uphill and downhill.↩
Easy climbs up trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate incline.↩
Active and playful descents on easy trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate slope.↩
Single-track climbs on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and occasionally extreme inclines.↩
Singletrack descents on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and small jumps as well as some very steep descents.↩
High speed descents on sometimes very rough trails with large jumps and obstacles that you can’t roll over.↩
The rating used for riding characteristics refers to the bikes in the group test and the current state of development of eMTBs. The best bikes managed to blend supposedly opposite riding characteristics, feeling both lively and stable at the same time. The handling describes the balance of the bike on downhill sections. The information regarding motor-power refers to the ride-feeling in the overall context of the bike and not exclusively to the motor – that’s why the same motor can present different values.↩
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of E-MOUNTAINBIKE, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.
Words: Felix Stix Photos: Various