What do you think this 2018 Focus Electric Bike Updates from Interbike (BOLD², JAM², TEC Pack, AIRFLOW, PROJECT Y, Fazua) video?
For 2018, focus is bringing in some very exciting Shimano powered electric bikes called the BOLD and JAM. Rather than using the proprietary Shimano battery pack, Focus has been allowed to develop their own smaller 378 watt hour in-tube design that has an optional external pack to double range. I spoke with the original founder of Focus Bicycles, Mike Kluge, about what makes these models different. The combination of electronic pedal assist support with electronic shifting all wired into the same battery and display makes this a clean and well-integrated solution, even the derailleur drivetrain system is from Shimano here. I noticed that the bottom bracket spindle was positioned far back to allow for shorter effective chain stay lengths and a snappier ride. The bottom bracket width and Q-Factor is also more traditional than some other e-bike systems at 175 mm. The big news about the squared models is that they are meant to approximate the geometry and experience of the non-squared Bold and Jam, basically just increasing your performance and range in two steps so you can explore new areas. The first pack offers 378 watt hours and is meant to stay in the downtube more permanently while the second optional TEC Pack clips onto the downtube and doubles capacity. This second pack costs $800 and connects with an Energy Bus magnetic dongle. Only one battery source is used at any given time, they do not balance the way that Bosch does with their double-battery electric bikes. The Jam2 has a rear suspension which uses what they call “Fold Kinimatics” to have a guide link that folds together which has compression in the beginning and progression in the last 70% which offers performance support for climbing without bob and steadier handling. For 2018 in the USA, the Bold will only come in 27.5” wheel size whereas the Jam will come with 27.5” or 29” tires. Another unique feature on the frames is the AIRFLOW system which allows air to pass by the downtube battery and to the motor. It does allow for drainage as well if water gets in.
Once we had completely covered the mountain bikes for 2018, I metup with Alex inside the Interbike conference area to learn about Project Y, which does not have a launch date. The goal with Project Y was to make the bike feel more like a normal lightweight experience for sporty riders. Being able to go a bit further, keeping up with friends, not struggling so much with hills etc. The prototype is built around a Focus Powerline road bike. Inside the downtube, a battery with motor that can both be removed in one step. They cut the Carbon downtube and had to do some testing to make sure this would work (they sent an engineer to Asia for a few months to verify that this would work). The motor system offers a more natural feeling of support up to 400 watts topping out at 15.5 mph in Europe and 20 mph in the USA. The prototype Project Y electric bike weighs just 12.3 kg (roughly 27 lbs). The removable motor and battery tube weighs just 3.8 kg (roughly 8.4 lbs) and you can use a plastic cover for this section and ride it just like a regular non-electric bike. So, it’s like you get an e-bike and a regular bicycle all in one. The bike offers the same stiffness of the non-electric Powerline model but with an addition 400 grams (about 0.88 lbs) of weight if it is the electric version (without the battery and motor inserted into the downtube). The company that actually makes the motor and battery is called Fazua which is based in Munich, Germany.
Focus was started in the Germany, near the Black Forrest, where there are great mountain trails for riding. Mike Kluge explained that in 1992 he decided to produce his own bicycles because he was unhappy what was on offer from other companies. He tries to combine road, road racing, cyclocross, and mountain biking into each of his bikes. Specifically, he calls out the narrow bottom bracket and high-spin (which I didn’t completely understand, maybe more aerodynamic?) which helped him win races. I asked Mike and Alex when Focus electric bikes were introduced and was told that this happened around 2010 or 2011. Focus is always striving for innovation and had introduced hydraulic rim brakes and hydraulic rim brakes as well as shifter paddles pretty early on. They are also building bikes like this out of the Raven Race mountain model. There is no drag if you decide to pedal beyond the supported top speeds of 25 km/h in Europe and 32 km/h (20 mph) in the USA. This was surprising to me because I would love to see the faster road bikes setup as speed pedelecs. At this time, the battery pack size is 250 watt hours. Alex explained that he has tested tis bike further than 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a single charge. Keep in mind, this is a pedal assist only electric bike.
You can see some of my previous Vintage Electric ebike reviews atelectricbikereview.com/brand/focus/ and learn more about the company at their official website: www.focus-bikes.com/
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