Today’s test was quite a thrill. This is the nicest E-bike I’ve ridden yet, and a little investigation tells me it was last year’s model. With the motor driving the chain, delivering power through the gear set, and some very fancy features, this bike rides great. I can only imagine that the electric-assist bikes this company has on the market for this year are even better. Of course, ’nice’ doesn’t come cheap, but we all knew that already.
Focus is a maker of bikes for serious riders. Their line up is impressive and well out-fitted. They offer bikes for all kinds of riders, fast and slow, as long as they desire quality. As I viewed their website, I could see that frame geometry specs are considered just as important as the pieces that make up the bikes. Most every E-bike customer has no clue about the geometry, they just want to know how it rides and how well the power system works. So let’s dive into that.
This bike has bottom bracket drive. That means the motor is mounted low in the frame and in the center. This gives a good front-to-rear balance that many E-bikes are lacking. It also lowers the center of gravity, another great feature to aide the handling and feel of safety. Add to that a very light overall weight compared to it’s contemporaries, and you have one fine riding bike.
The other plus with bottom bracket drive is that all the power is routed into the chain and through the gears. This allows the motor to be more efficient and work better in it’s torque range. I thought this might affect the smoothness of the shifting, but I didn’t find this to be the case. Some of their other models use the BionX rear hub motor. You might have read how much I love that drive system.
The way the Jarifa Speed shifts is exceptional. The ten-speed rear cassette is handled by a SRAM derailleur and a SRAM Double Tap Trigger shifter. What a nice feel it gives. The single thumb lever works the gear shift up and down. A single tap gives an up-shift, and a harder, deeper push effects a down-shift, with the ability to grab several gears at once. I instantly fell in love with this instinctive set-up. Add to that the carbon fiber that mounts it to the handlebar and you have one classy gear train.
The motor is controlled with an intelligent pedelec system. With three levels of assist to choose from, it offers a very smooth and safe power delivery. It also has a pedelec ‘off’ feature that I think is important and should be included on all pedelec E-bikes. Just to clarify, intelligent pedelec means that there is a load sensor in the drive train that senses how hard you are pedaling and adds power automatically to match your needs.
As this bike can really get going, a pair of hydraulic disc brakes are onboard to handle your stopping requirements. With great modulation and massive stopping power, you won’t need anything more in this department. Once again, quality pieces on a quality bike add up to a happy rider with a lighter wallet. To say I fully enjoyed my time on the Focus Jarifa Speed E-bike would be the definite truth.
More of what you get with your purchase include a full LED lighting package powered by the 18 Ah Lithium motor battery. Front and rear fenders will keep you clean during your ride. The chain guard will do the same. The kickstand has an auto-retract spring that works well. A neat little bell rounds out the list of bits and pieces you won’t have to get on your own.
The hydro-formed aluminum frame is strong and light. It also has a clean look that is more stylish than many of the other E-bikes on the market. The aggressive riding position and racing style seat are not my first choice for an E-bike, but I have to admit, I really got into it. I think most riders would opt for a higher stem and commuter type seat. Things like this are often changed by riders on all kinds of bikes, so feel free to swap some pieces to get yourself comfortable on the Jarifa.
A pair of near slick Schwalbe tires give a good ride. They have a fairly large cross-section, which is good because this E-bike has no suspension. The aluminum frame has some give, but rougher pavement can be a little jarring. Once again, not what I would choose, but I enjoyed the firm, solid ride. A lot of time in the saddle might change my mind, but today’s ride was fun and exciting.
The Focus I rode is the demo bike at the Revolution Bike Shop in Solana Beach. Dan Rock was knowledgeable and enthusiastic during our discussion on the Jarifa and bikes in general. I felt right at home there, and the generosity he (and the whole crew) showed me made for a pleasant afternoon. Not only that, but testing an E-bike on the coastline is the only way to go. They are a full-service shop and handle the whole Focus line-up. They don’t necessarily push E-bikes, but can order you any bike on the Focus website.
I first saw the Jarifa at a local group ride that included a great talk by Mia Birk from Portland. After the ride, I noticed a pair of these E-bikes getting loaded into a Focus company van by Dan Breyer, a customer service rep for Focus. I struck up a conservation with him and he pointed out some of the better features of the bike. I was intrigued with the fit and finish of the bike, and decided I wanted to find out more. I’m glad I did, because this bike has a lot to offer for any potential E-bike rider. I suggest that if you have been put off from E-bikes by the lower quality of the less expensive bikes, that you look into the Focus. You might just thank me.
No matter what, get on your bike and ride, Turbo.
“To attack the pedals may be strenuous over the short run, but is an expression of trust in one’s own powers, for with the bicycle everything depends on the self. Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers–those people ride a bike.”—Wolfgang Sachs, For Love of the Automobile.
Revolution Bike Shop