The Devinci Atlas 29er has been in our test queue for about a year, an admittedly long time, but always a bonus for really getting to know a bike.
The Atlas is a 110mm travel trail bike with a Dave Weagle designed Split Pivot rear suspension. We’ve been testing the 2012 alloy RC model, but they now also offer carbon fiber options. Spec has changed for 2013, but the 6066-T6 aluminum frames remain the same, and that’s really what’s at the heart of this bike’s performance. And perform it does.
The Atlas combines incredibly short chainstays with one of the best rear suspensions we’ve ridden to create a supremely capable trail bike. Oh, and adjustable geometry to suit trail conditions. While 11omm may seem short by today’s all-mountain standards, it feels like much more, and it’s all placed on a bike with tight, whippable handling that’s just plain fun to ride.
Here’s how they did it…
FRAME DETAILS & ACTUAL WEIGHT
The Atlas looks fairly lean and compact from a distance. This is due, in part, to the relatively steep 71-ish degree head angle and 16.9″ (428-430mm) chainstays. The RC’s low profile Kenda Small Block Eight tires don’t hurt, either.
Get closer, though, and you start to see just how burly it really is. Virtually every tube is hydroformed extensively to create a very stiff, strong frame. Cables run inside the triangle with full length housing for both derailleurs. The only thing missing is guides for a dropper post.
Rear derailleur cable wiggles between the crankset and lower pivot, then ducks into the chainstay. It pops out the back end, pretty much directly in line with the derailleur’s intake. While we were initially a bit skeptical of the cable run behind the chainrings, it’s stayed put and never created any clearance issues.
The Split Pivot design places the rear pivot concentric with the axle. The Atlas comes with a 12×142 thru axle using their own axle that bolts into place. The pivots and frame sections are all oversized…the bike looks stout!
To get the rear wheel out, there’s a hole in the non-driveside bolt to accept a small allen wrench, then you turn it. Not as quick and easy as Maxle or DT Swiss’ thru axle, but it looks cleaner. Or, you could carry a 21mm wrench with you. Or, you could buy a 2013 model that comes with the Maxle.
Behind the end caps are large sealed cartridge bearings, which are placed in every pivot point throughout the bike. Enlarge the image above this one and you’ll see the “nut” that the axle ends thread into. Swap these out with optional parts from Devinci and you can run a 10×135 rear thru axle.
A short rocker arm connects the independent seatstays to the shock. On their alloy full suspension bikes, the stays’ pivot points sandwich the rocker arm (versus the carbon bikes which use one-sided pivot connections).
The seatstays connect via a small, u-shaped bridge that drops below the pivots. This is part of how they achieve such short chainstays since there’s no continuous axle connecting them behind the seat tube. A notch in the seat tube provides clearance for the bridge. Fortunately, there’s still decent tire clearance, though we suspect true 2.35’s might be about as much as you’d want to cram in there.
The real trick feature here are the chips that change the pivot position, moving the rear wheel’s placement without affecting travel. The effect is subtly tweaked geometry that really affects the bike’s fun factor. Here’s how the two positions compare:
The changes are minor, but they have a noticeable impact. It’s shown above in the LO position, and that’s where we spent most of our time. Even on the mostly XC trails here in Greensboro, it proved to be more fun and just as fast. In the mountains, the LO position was more stable but didn’t make it wander on the climbs.
The only downside to this design is that it’s not a very quick change, nor is it fun. We did it trailside once, which turned into a 15 minute ordeal. Getting the chips, axle inserts and bearings lined up on both sides simultaneously proved to be much harder than you’d think.
The massive welds, large pivot bolts and beefy bottom bracket section reinforce the notion this bike is made to handle anything. It uses a wide PFBB92.
Up front, the headtube is svelte but accommodates a standard tapered-to-1.5″ steerer.
Size Large without pedals came in at 27lb 15oz. Surprisingly, this is only a few ounces heavier than the carbon version. Spec on this bike is Fox Float fork and RP23 rear shock, Easton alloy wheels with Kenda SB8 tires w/ tubes, Truvativ post and stem with Devinci’s “flat top” alloy handlebar, SRAM X9 drivetrain and brakes.
The last bit worth mentioning is that all of Devinci’s alloy dual suspension bikes are made in their own factory in Chicoutimi, Quebec, and carry a lifetime warranty.
The heart of this bike is a stiff frame with the DW Split Pivot suspension. By placing the rearmost pivot around the rear axle, any pedaling and braking forces are kept separate from the suspension’s movement. This means they don’t need to use any platform in the shock that inhibits small bump sensitivity. The result is a bike that tracks insanely well on rough climbs whether seated or standing. There’s no noticeable pedal bob when seated and hammering, either.
When things turn down, the suspension simply amazes. Even with a 100mm fork mated to the 110mm rear, the bike felt bottomless. We could bomb through root and rock gardens in complete control. We could take 2-3 foot drops without bottoming out. Devinci offers a couple Atlas models with 140mm forks on the front and we have no doubt the rear end can keep up.
For 2013, they switched to Monarch shocks because, they say, Fox’s new CTD shocks had too much platform for their design and limited the suspension’s sensitivity.
Devinci makes a big deal about the frame’s stiffness, and it didn’t disappoint. There’s no noticeable flex when hammering, railing corners or diving into a sharp turn. Steering is precise.
We did have a few issues during the review, but nothing that speaks to the bike itself. A wipeout bent the derailleur hanger, but it’s replaceable. And we managed to bend it back into shape. The other was with the brakes – one of the levers had a manufacturing defect that left us with only a front brake for a big day at Carven’s Cove in VA. SRAM sent a replacement and all was well.
At 6’2″/180lbs, the Large fit me, but I think the XL would suit me a bit better. This may have contributed to the “flickable” feel of the bike, but I suspect the tight wheelbase and chainstays had more to do with the quick handling. There’s only a 1.5cm difference in wheelbase between L and XL, and a 2cm difference in ETT between each frame size.
Overall, the Atlas is a phenomenal mountain bike. It’s fast and efficient enough and could certainly be built light enough to be a racer. It can also handle a big day in the mountains without breaking a sweat. We had several people ride it, from 6’4″/210lb Trucker to 6’0″/170lb Jay to 5’11″/150lb Matt and everyone liked it. Honestly, it’s one of the best rear suspensions I’ve ridden, and it’s on a bike that’s designed really, really well. Except the lack of dropper post guides and pain-in-the-arse chip swaps, there’s really nothing not to like about the Atlas 29er. It’s a true do-it-all mountain bike that does it all quite well.
See current spec, models and pricing at Devinci.com.