The Focus Jam 6.9 is incredibly clean and it’ll stay that way for a long time because there are no cables scuffing the frame or fork crown
Focus has sweetened up its range of Jams for 2021. It has ditched the 27.5in option, tweaked the suspension kinematics and upper the travel to 150mm in a bid to compete with the best full suspension mountain bikes of the moment. All bikes in the three-strong range use the same hydroformed aluminium frameset, which has a couple of cool features and one really divisive one…
Focus Jam 6.9 review
The cool stuff includes space inside the front triangle for a full-size water bottle and a small tool pouch that attaches to mounts at the top of the down tube, where the pouch has space for a tube and tools.
With its full internal cable routing (and without the pouch) the Jam is one of the cleanest bikes on test, but those sleek lines come at a cost, which brings us to its divisive feature. All of the cables, bar the front brake, route through the front of the stem and into the head tube. It looks great from the side, but this set-up also causes quite a few issues when you want to make changes.
The CIS (Cockpit Integration Solution) stem is only available in a single 50mm length, so if you want to run a shorter alternative, you have to fit an Acros headset cover, which has holes in it for the cables. To do so you then have to re-bleed the rear brake and re-route the gear and dropper cables. Even just putting the stem down isn’t straightforward because you can’t run the square/oval shaped spacers on the top, you have to use normal circular headset spacers.
Focus has mounted the rear shock under the top tube on the new Jam 6.9, so you can actually reach the controls more easily. It’s also changed he kinematics of its F.O.L.D. suspension, to make it more progressive. However, despite running just over 25% sag there’s not a lot of mid-stroke support. It also ramps up pretty abruptly, so running the shock firmer means you’re not going to get the full 150mm travel that easily.
We played around with different settings but we could never get the bike to feel balanced. We measured the rear travel at 150mm, so it’s on the money. Travel is the same up front, but the Fox 36 Performance series fork has way more support, which actually pushes your weight back, making the rear feel even softer.
In fact, most of the time we ran the Fox Float DPS Performance shock in the middle-compression setting where any pedaling was involved. And even when descending it was too easy to knock the lever with, say, your knee, from the open setting to the mid-position.
Due to the convoluted cable routing the dropper post action on the Jam 6.9 is really stiff which is why we suggest doing what James did with his longtermer – upgrade the remote to one with a lighter action. To be fair, the top-end Jam 6.0 Ltd gets a wireless RockShox Reverb AXS and we think the frame was designed with that in mind, but it still needs to work with a cable operated dropper.
With its MaxxGrip front tyre the Jam 6.9 really drags its feet on the climbs and it’s also a heavy bike. Quite a bit of this weight is in the wheels, so whoever got the Jam on the climbs was usually huffing and puffing by the top. With the shock in the open setting the rear suspension is also wallowy, so sprinting hard out of turns seemed to suck up a load of energy. Once up to speed the bike cruises along, it just takes more effort to get it there.
On the flip side the soft front tyre and weight really let us rip on the descents. Despite the suspension not feeling particularly balanced, the bike does have a neutral riding position and a long reach, so we felt pretty confident hammering the rough chop.
It’s not as manoeuvrable as the Nukeproof Reactor Pro 290 Alloy, but it does feel reasonably agile changing lines through twisty singletrack. Gravity is your real friend though. At least on the way down.
Props to Focus for doing something different with the Jam 6.9. Sure, swapping the stem is a chore but you’re only going to do it once. The rear suspension needs more support, but with the controls now closer to hand, it’s easy to lock it out. It's a bit of a fudge, but it works. And while it’s a heavy bike, that's easily remedied with some lighter parts fitted, and you should have some extra money to play with, since this is the cheapest shop-bought bike on test.