Obviously, there is more to the story than that. First, 16.7kg of e-MTB will set you back about £9,699 so there is that.
The Focus VAM2 SL uses a Fazua Ride 60 motor which is rated at 60Nm or 450W on boost, with the accompanying battery rated at 430Wh. The battery is permanently fixed inside the frame and can’t be removed so there is also, that.
And arguably, the light weight of the top model relies to an extent on lightweight kit to get the weight down, so there is that too. It’s a low headline weight figure but in the real world…
Well I guess in the real world I need to say that I am not an e-MTB fan at this point.
It’s not that I can’t see any point, it’s just… not yet. And hopefully not for a good while. But this model caught my eye because it’s an example of a new breed of e-MTB that is based around regular MTB-plus-a-bit-of-help, rather than a different ride experience entirely.
In my view its much more the sort of thing people who have been riding for years would gravitate to, rather than something that might attract a different sort of rider to the trails. No judgement there by the way, just opinion!
First, the geometry numbers for the 125mm Focus VAM2 are pretty close all round to my Bird Aether 9 so that is a good starting point in my book, giving it a good chance of handling like a decent downcountry machine. Interestingly, the top three models all have a 51mm offset, which might be a surprise to Elliot.
But, the rear suspension system is quite different to the Bird. It is basically a single pivot design with slender, flexible seat stays to engineer in a replacement for a missing set of pivots. Not having ridden one, I can’t say how successful this is, but I’ve always enjoyed single pivot designs.
Second, this is a seriously well finished design (no coincidence that PON holdings have Santa Cruz in their stable). The carbon frame is smooth and nicely radiused with all the cables routed internally. What I like is how everything is neatly integrated, such as the lower mount for the rocker linkage and the charging port for the electronics.
It’s not immediately obvious this is an e-MTB either – the motor is tiny with none of the bottom bracket heft you see on full-fat e-MTBs. The frame comes with protective film for the frame and a tiny lower pivot mudguard to stop small stones getting in and breaking anything.
My biggest issue really is that battery. It’s non-removable which seems plain wrong for longevity and recycling. This reinforces the biggest thing I have against e-MTB (and e-Bikes) full stop. Most bikes built in the last century remain pretty much rideable (assuming your maintenance fervour is even slightly stronger than JamesS or David!). But with e-Bikes, what can we expect?
In a few years – say 20?? – will the software even work? And if you need a battery replaced, will you be able to get one? I highly doubt it. So I think often we are looking at future ornaments rather than bikes that can be used pretty much forever.
It feels as if e-Bikes can both save the planet (they are far more eco than cars for example), and also clog up the planet like all the rest of our modern tech. What I’d like to see is a future where you could remove the motor, bolt in an empty BB shell and let a future owner use the bike analogue style long after the electronics have died. But removing the battery is key or you simply have a heavy bike.
So e-MTBs – not my thing really. But is this a good looking e-MTB? Yes, yes it is.