The Focus Jam gets fruitier by the year, now with plusher suspension and a real DH bias.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Focus Jam 8.9


  • Plush suspension and good flex response from the frame provide plenty of traction. Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain performed without fault. Tyre combo is designed for aggressive trail riding in the very worst conditions. Internal frame storage is a bonus.


  • Would benefit from a higher rise bar or 160mm fork. Swapping the CIS stem is a total pain. Headset bearing seized up after a couple of particularly wet rides. Not the most responsive to pedalling efforts. PF92 Bottom Bracket.


Focus Jam 8.9 review


Price as reviewed:


Focus launched its redesigned trail bike last year with an alloy frame and an impressive price tag for a brand sold through a dealer network. Now the Jam gets a tasty new carbon frame option with internal storage and buttery suspension. Can it toast the best full-suspension bikes on the market?

Focus Jam 6.9

“Sweat the details” – opening the lid on the Jam and actually riding the bike is just as important as reading the numbers

  • Focus Jam is a 29er trail bike with 150mm travel front and rear
  • New carbon front triangle gets I.C.S integrated down tube storage
  • Flip-chip geometry adjustment on the shock mount gives high and low settings
  • Entry-level model shares the same frame and costs £3,699

Launched in February 2022, the Jam 8.9 is the latest addition to the Focus All Mountain/Trail family. Sporting 150mm travel and 29in wheels it shares the same attitude and a lot of the specification with the Jam 6.9 that featured in our Trail Bike of the Year test. The biggest difference then is the addition of a carbon front end that saves approximately 250g in weight, but more importantly for this test, it has allowed Focus to add internal storage to the down tube.

Focus Jam 6.9

New FOLD suspension is more progressive, but also more sensitive


Dubbed the internal compartment solution or I.C.S for short, Focus keeps the traditional water bottle mounts at the bottom of the down tube while fitting the flush I.C.S door closer to the head tube. Pop the storage compartment open by pushing the button on the door, which reveals the fastener for the door and the storage pouch that hangs from it. Hanging the storage pouch from the faster should prevent it from sliding down and getting wedged at the bottom of the down tube, but the faster also eats into the overall size of the opening, so you can’t cram anything like as much stuff into the Jam as you can with Specialized’s SWAT system. The pouch has space for an inner tube, multi-tool or small snack but not much else.

Focus Jam 6.9

Down tube gets integrated compartment solution (ICS), with enough space inside for a tube, tool and packet of polos

The Jam 8.9 is still very much a bike of two halves. It’s a single pivot design with a linkage actuated shock and shares the exact same alloy rear end and F.O.L.D suspension as the 6.9. As such, it also has a flip-chip on the lower shock mount for adjusting the geometry. At first glance, the markings on the flip-chip are a little confusing and switching between the settings is more difficult than it should be as the nut that secures the shock bolt isn’t captured in the frame. Thankfully, it’s a one and done process.

Focus Jam 6.9

Flip chip won’t see much action once you’ve set it in the low position.


One major upgrade over the Jam 6.9 is the addition of the new Fox Float X shock. With a bigger volume air can and a completely redesigned air piston, it’s way less rampy than the Fox DPS unit, and works much better with the progresive rate of the F.O.L.D linkage. Getting a good initial set-up is still critical though. Too soft and the bike feels mushy to pedal and sluggish to react. Too firm and you’ll never achieve the last 10mm of shock stroke. Get it just right however, and the rear suspension on the Jam rewards you with a smooth, controlled ride that helps maintain maximum speed even on the roughest trails.

Focus Jam 6.9

A damper upgrade would really ramp up the Jam’s performance on steeper trails

If anything, it’s the 150mm travel Fox 36 Float Performance fork that’s the limiting factor here. It’s not that it’s harsh, in fact, it’s anything but, it just lacks the support you get from the GRIP 2 Performance Elite version. And given that the Focus is the cheapest bike on test by quite some margin, you could easily drop a new damper in for £400 without blowing the budget.  We’d also recommend swapping the air cartridge and increasing fork travel to 160mm because even with the stem at maximum height, and running the fork firmer, we found that the front end still felt a little low on the Focus.

Focus Jam 6.9

CIS stem found few fans among our test team.


Which leads us nicely on to the Focus C.I.S stem. It has the cables routed through the face plate for a very clean look when the bike is viewed side on. The problem, actually one of the problems is that it makes it a total pain to swap the stem. The main issue though, is that it adds too tight of a radius to the gear and dropper cables which leads to an overly heavy shift action and a lot of lever pressure to actuate the dropper post. Thankfully, you can ditch the stem but you’ll need to source an Acros upper bearing cover with holes in so you can re-route the cables directly into the head tube, which also means bleeding the rear brake.

Focus Jam 6.9

Like an insect vomiting spaghetti?

With an XT drivetrain (SLX cassette) and XT four-piston brakes there’s no denying that the Focus is well turned out. Interestingly the XT brakes were super consistent apart from on one particularly high-speed bermed trail. Here, we notice the bite point of the rear brake change once or twice, then it would be fine everywhere else. We chalked this up to the ultra-stiff spider of the Ice Tech rotor resetting the pistons when slamming turns. You can try this for yourself. Simply hold the frame and wiggling the rear wheel hard like hitting a turn and see if the bite point changes. Shimano’s cheaper rotors have more flex so they are less prone to resetting the pistons in the calliper.

Focus Jam 6.9

Flying on the magic carpet, the Jam is almost as smooth when its wheels are in contact with the dirt


At 15.89kg with our Maxxis control tyres fitted the Jam 8.9 is almost 1.5kg heavier than the Specialized Stumpy Evo. It doesn’t feel overbuilt though, so there’s still traction to be found even when the bike is lent over. In fact, we really like what Focus has done with the rear suspension on the Jam 8.9. It’s reactive without feeling wallowly and it has good support for hard charging but never feels too progresive or hits an artificial wall in the travel. Sure, it doesn’t sit and spin with the same efficiency and ease as the Trek or Specialized, but you can wind the Focus up really quickly and it seems to retain that initial surge of speed all the way down the trail.

Focus Jam 6.9

The Focus is a smooth operator

Grinding up the steepest climbs does cause the rear suspension to squat a little more, which could also be due to the relatively short 435mm chainstays. But then again, there’s a lock out lever on the Fox Float X shock for long arduous climbs. And it’s when you’re sitting spinning up a climb that your attention switches to the cables running into the stem and you have to ask, why bother?

Focus Jam 6.9

Focus Jam 6.9

While it’s easy to knock single-pivot suspension designs for their lack of performance under braking, it was actually on rough braking bumps that Jam 9.8 really excelled. In fact, it’s eagerness to rip up the descents means it would benefit from a 160mm travel fork, or at the very least, the Fox 36 Performance Elite with the upgraded Grip2 damper to offer more support at the front end.

Focus Jam 6.9

The Jam might be on the heavy side, but it’s still agile and poppy

There’s no escaping the extra drag of the sticky Maxxis MaxxGrip front tyre though. So if your riding is more trail that enduro, swapping to a MaxxTerra front tyre and reducing the chainring size from 32t to 30t should give the Focus Jam 8.9 a more sprightly response when you get on the gas. You’ll just have to forgo some of the bike’s raw speed when the trails turn steep and nasty.


Focus has nailed the geometry, sizing and rear suspension on the Jam 8.9. It’s a fast, fun bike, it just needs some trailing aspects of the specification bringing up to speed. We’d ditch the C.I.S stem, as this would improve the function of the dropper post and give a lighter shift action. We’d also increase fork travel to 160mm and upgrade to the GRIP2 damper for more support. A 170mm dropper would be a welcome addition too and if you’re not hammering wet rocky terrain day in, day out, a MaxxTerra front tyre instead of the MaxxGrip would save your legs on longer rides.


Frame:Carbon/7005 aluminium, 150mm travel (150mm measured)
Shock :Fox Float X Performance, 210x55mm
Fork:Fox 36 Float Performance Grip, 150mm travel
Wheels: DT Swiss 370 110/148mm hubs, DT Swiss M1900 rims, Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II 29x2.5/2.5in tyres
Drivetrain :Shimano XT 32t 170mm chainset, XT derailleur and shifter, SLX 10-51t cassette 
Brakes :Shimano XT M7200 4-piston, 203/203mm
Components:Race Face Chester 780mm bar, Focus CIS 50mm stem, Post Moderne PM171 post, Proxim W350 saddle
Sizes :S, M, L XL
Weight :15.64kg (34.48lb)
Geometry:Measured in Low position
Size ridden :L
Rider height :5ft 11in
Head angle:64.7º
Seat angle :70.6º
Effective SA:76.4º(@740mm)
BB height:339mm
Front centre :813mm
Down tube :752mm
Seat tube :460mm
Top tube: 620mm
Reach :482mm