Focus 2016 Sam C Team

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Focus 2016 Sam C Team


A triumphant follow up to the original SAM we loved so much, the new SAM C Team is a superb Enduro machine. It might not be pushing the envelope in terms of frame features or suspension technologies, but that hardly matters when a bike rides so well. Indeed, it’s a perfect exemplar of why nailing the fundamentals of geometry and suspension kinematics should be the first priority. Light and agile, smooth and confident, the SAM is a class act on the Enduro scene.



Technical changes of the components and errors excepted.

Frame SAM160, full carbon
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 160 mm, 15 mm QR
Brakes SRAM Guide RSC, 200 mm/180 mm
Cassette SRAM XG-1195
Rear derailleur SRAM XX1, 11-speed
Shifter SRAM XX1, 11-speed, trigger
Crankset SRAM XX1, PF30
Gear ratio front: 32, rear 10-42
Rear shock RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 HV, DebonAir, 216/63, custom tune, 160 mm travel
Handlebar Concept EX, low riser
Stem Concept EX
Saddle fi'zi:k Tundra M5
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31,6 mm, 420 mm, 120 mm adjust
Wheelset DT Swiss EX 1501 Spline One, 584-25
Tires Continental Mountain King 2.4/ Trail King 2.4

The SAM is built for the kind of riding where you’re expected to hit unfamiliar terrain at warp-speeds, where you might find yourself in a white knuckled rock garden one second, and then having to muscle through tight switchbacks the next. It’s a big ask, but that SAM has it covered.

Long up front, short out back. Perfect really.
Long up front, short out back. Perfect really.

With slack angles and roomy length offset by the short rear end, the SAM nails that stability/agility blend that’s the holy grail of Enduro bikes nowadays. Magic numbers, putting you in a confident position to bomb into dicey looking chutes, but not bogging you down when the trails turn twisty.

There’s a lot of urgency to the way this bike rides, even on flatter trails, it keeps shooting forward in a way that few Enduro bikes do. It sprints out of corners beautifully, feeling even lighter than it’s already impressive 12.8kg weight figure.

The gearing range with a 32-tooth ring suited our trails well.
The gearing range with a 32-tooth ring suited our trails well.

The liveliness of the bike is its standout attribute for us. It skims and floats over the chunder, but not in a skittish or unstable way. Rather it just holds excellent speed, and the buttery smoothness of the suspension seems to prevent the rocks from tugging at the tyres and holding you back. We really came to love the way the SAM could pump speed out of trails, letting your work the bike, pumping into terrain that would see you simply holding on for dear life on board a lesser bike.

We certainly used all the travel, but we never felt the shock slam into the end of its stroke.
We certainly used all the travel, but we never felt the shock slam into the end of its stroke.

When you get a bit wild, the progression in the SAM’s suspension is a life saver, and while we certainly used all the bike’s travel, we never had any awareness of bottoming out – it nestles up smoothly to those last millimetres of travel, rather than smashing through to bottom out.

Cornering grip is superb too. The same liveliness we’ve noted above keeps the tyres tracking the dirt in loose corners beautifully, and the bitey Continental Kaiser front tyre will dig deep. Long, seated, foot-out corners are a specialty of this bike too – it’s got that ‘moto’ cornering balance dialled!

The low pivot point doesn’t have a lot of anti-squat, but with the shock in its middle compression setting, the climbing performance is still excellent.

The SAM isn’t a ‘steady’ ascender like most Enduro bikes, it’s a genuinely enthusiastic and very capable climber. The low weigh is part of the equation, but the suspension nails a good balance of stability and traction when you flip the shock into its middle compression setting. The bike doesn’t use any proprietary travel adjustments or shock technologies, it gets the job done simply with a good balance of weight, central riding position and great suspension kinematics.