Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Focus VAM² SL 9.0 e-mountain bike is just 16.7kg

Posted by Matt | February 8, 2024 | 5 comments so far

Focus VAM 2 SL
That’s right. An e-MTB weighing not far off a regular MTB.

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…

Focus VAM 2 SL in the woods

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!

The VAM range actually covers four models, starting at £5,099 and presumably an extra kg or two in weight. All of them feature the same frame and motor/battery but there’s a few points I wanted to focus on (if you’ll pardon the pun).

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.

Focus VAM 2 SL on a berm

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.

Filed under 2024, News in February 2024


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 5 comments on ‘Focus VAM² SL 9.0 e-mountain bike is just 16.7kg’

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  1. StevenD says:

    Just competing with the Orbea Rise that came to market as a sub 20kg eMTB 3 years ago ? Despite your ‘that’s I have covered over 4500 trouble free miles on my Rise H15 in under 2 years and it has been a lot of fun enabling me to ride 30+ miles twice a week well into my 60s. I still rode 1000 miles on my Occam last year but each year those hills are getting harder. For me light weight eMTBs are enabling, still getting lots of fresh air, exercise and most importantly fun.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Steven, hope you’re keeping well. Haven’t heard from you for a while, guess post-work life is busy 🙂

      I see the benefits of e-MTB. In this case, my first thoughts are it’s £10K, the kit used to get that headline figure is high end and light weight itself (so maybe won’t last as long) and the battery can’t be removed. I’m not sure how that fits with EU right to repair plans (Focus are a German company).

      But as a bike, it looks great and I’m sure is great fun. Sooner or later I’m sure I will benefit from one myself and the obvious trend is weight is falling which is a good thing – the trails will benefit too.

  2. StevenD says:

    Hi Matt, yes thank you, very well, enjoying retirement and still riding a lot, wife and grandchildren keeping me busy. My Rise was £5000 and weighs c21kgs, also with internal battery (same with all Orbea eMTBs). They can be removed for repair (ie replaced), the main downside of internal is that you have to recharge on the bike, but that is not an issue for me. On light weight eMTBs; 60Nm is more than enough if you are a fitter ride, there really is no need for 85Nm in the hilly Chilterns, in fact I have never used the lowest gear even up the steepest offroad hills. Range is good, I have managed 80miles + 4000 feet on one ride. Being fit makes such a big difference to riding these eMTBs. The difference is, at 66 years old, I can go for a 50 mile MTB ride and still be able to mow the lawn afterwards. Having also ridden a ‘full fat’ eMTB in Morocco last year I can confirm that the handling of the lighter ones is so much better. My eMTB formula; go twice as far, twice as fast, using half the energy (based on my Garmin stats). This old boy is focusing on the twice as far.

  3. StevenD says:

    Additional; my Rise came with a mix of SLX and XT kit, I am still using the original chainring and cassette. I am just rotating 3 Deore chains every 300 miles (a tip I got from a Rise user group). The only thing I have had to replace (ie worn out) are frame bearings.

  4. Elliot says:

    Ha, I knew as soon as I wrote about ‘almost’ every brand going for short offset you’d have to find one that isn’t. Obviously whoever picks the parts at Focus didn’t get the memo. Actually geometry chart shows 44mm, as comes on other models. So I wonder if they got caught out by what was available. Boat sailed on fork offset years ago 🤣. Although as I say, not a big deal.

    I guess all else being equal lighter would be preferable. However, having had a quick go on MarkP’s Yeti it was so well balanced and powerful I didn’t notice the weight. Yeti didn’t compromise the suspension design to shave grams either.

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