The Focus SAM 1.0
If you are sat flicking through a mag or scrolling the web on the hunt for a new steed then Focus are probably not a brand that springs to mind. The German brand have a range of bikes in all disciplines but the SAM is the first to employ a new suspension design and gravity orientated geometry.
Words and Photos Steve Jones
For every person that marvels at the beauty of carbon bicycles it seems the same number worry about crash damage. It also appears there are many riders less concerned about the ride dynamic than the looks of a bicycle and certainly a whole lot more through either practicality or availability, purchase on sight without trying first.
The inboard rear brake keeps the lines clean
The Focus Sam 1.0 tackles some of these points and delivers a bike of high quality componentry for the right money, another key factor in many people’s decision making. It comes with all the X’s – X0 and XX1combined with the supple gripping ride delivered by the Monarch/Pike damping combination. It has the Reverb Stealth, obviously, an FSA bar, Fizik seat, Schwalbe tyres and topping the list will be those Reynolds carbon wheels.
A good chunk of weight is saved with the Reynolds AM Carbon rims.
It’s the wheels that take this 160mm weapon close to the 30lb mark yet its the angles that take it to a more notable edge including the 65 degree head angle and 1208mm wheelbase which makes it so good for great descending. We wonder about its all day capabilities with the big Hans Dampf tyres.
Very neat internal cabling only let down with a couple of easily remedied long hoses
We didn’t sit around wondering for too long. Let’s start with some of the minus points on our first encounter. The cabling is a touch too long up front which is more annoying than anything and the carbon cranks and wheels start to lose their polish pretty quickly. Aesthetics maybe but surely of concern to those who make big decisions on looks? Overall however you have to say it’s a very neat bike. It’s that aluminum frame with well ported internal cabling that has not had the same cable bending problems of one of other bikes the Scott Genius proving that even such detail is difficult to nail. The frame hardware appears to be just that and the clean lines mean the spring rain and mud hasn’t got stuck in places in shouldn’t.
The heart of the bike then, its chassis seems to be simple, efficient and hardwearing compared to so many bikes that are complicated and get scruffy after a few runs. Can it add a ride dynamic to match such simplicity? Even though it has carbon wheels the Focus is no match for that other bike we just mentioned, the Scott Genius (but that’s been through many changes) and it seems that particular carbon frame and aluminum wheels has more lift and zip to the Focus with carbon wheels and ali’ frame with the same tyres fitted. As stock the two Hans Dampfs are a lot harder work than one with a Rock Razor on the rear but even then there is a snap to the carbon frame that ali lacks.
Dependable suspension set in a well thought out aluminium frame.
Yet this aluminium framed bike has superb damping and aided by the less harsh ride from the frame material gives it a great descending ride matched with silence form the drivetrain. The rear is superb at tackling hits and tracking and even though we prefer the non travel adjust Pike up front its all good. Our only gripe is the bar height is too low and even with the spacers and riser stem fitted is about an inch lower than it should be which puts an unnecessary and unbalancing weight shift onto the front.
Hey we are quibbling here, a bike with a high-end groupset at a great price with a powerful ride characteristic with what appears to be a super durable chassis.