Focus Sam 1.0
When incorrect cable length is on the top of your ‘negative’ list you can be sure somebody is doing something right. Fickleness of grammar aside the, fact is they could be doing more than just ‘right’, the Focus Sam 1.0 could well be the bike that skyrockets Focus bikes right into the mindset of riders around the world…
From Dirt Issue 148 – June 2014
Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Steve Jones.
On occasions some of us are suckers for image, and hiding behind some of those curvaceous plastic works and sweet shop colours some howlingly bad suspension designs, very often noisier than a trouser pocket full of coins in a twin tub. The Sam is none of these things, the only curve is on the chainstay, tarmac black and dancing through trouble to its own tune, the shiniest part being the shaft of the RockShox Monarch Plus shock holding the bike and rider in shape in most types of terrain. This is a very, very good bike.
One company owner told me recently that Focus was the brand that he feared most. I don’t find that surprising given the first impressions on performance that is on par with the best out there. In size large the numbers are impressive. At 65º the head angle is one of the slackest in the business for this travel, but the wheelbase and bottom bracket drop allows for it.
In terms of marks against well there’s the cable lengths which need chopping down a touch, the carbon wheelset worries me, not in performance in any way but in nasty Ligurian fields of rock, the carbon bar is a slightly strange shape, but you can adapt pretty quickly and… well that’s about it. My first riding impressions are hugely positive, maybe not as lively as another of the bikes in this issue, the Scott Genius LT Tuned, but then it has been subjected to heavily modded damping to give it more lift, and the Focus Sam 1.0 has better poise to the ride and is nearly two grand cheaper.
A shade under 30lb it’s excellent on the numbers for a 160mm travel bike and at £4299 for a build kit that includes SRAM XX1 drivetrain, X0 Trail brakes, RockShox Reverb Stealth post, the imperious Monarch/Pike combo’ and a thirteen hundred pound carbon wheelset for Christ’s sake should put it somewhere near the very top of many people’s wish list.
The Sam is certainly the gem of the Focus fleet by a million miles, it’s a bike that I feel will live with the YT Industries Capra and Kona Process, and certainly every other 160mm bike. Time to put it head to head. Keep an eye out for a full review in Issue 150.