Carbon Devinci Atlas 29 First Ride

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Devinci Atlas 29” Carbon First Ride

                The guy’s at Devinci were good enough to give us a crack at their prototype Carbon Atlas 29”.  In standard BikeCo fashion we took what they dropped off, rode it, swapped it, rode it, tuned it, and rode it some more. 

devinci atlas carbon image

                The Atlas has 110mm of travel.  Devinci was the first to use Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot Technology.  The Split Pivot system is designed to combine efficiency climbing with compliance downhill.  The Carbon Atlas 29” features the shortest chain stay on the market.  The Atlas also features FRG Adjustable Geometry providing riders the ability to modify headtube angle utilizing a chip in the rear suspension arm.  Devinci’s Monocoque Carbon Gravity is truly top notch.  The proprietary setup of multiple layers of weave, high strength epoxy and Nano powder have proven tough across the world racing downhill on the Wilson chassis.

Thoughts on the Carbon Atlas 29”. 

I have tons of miles on single pivot, VPP, and DW link suspensions – this was my first experience on Dave Weagle’s Split Pivot system.  Different suspension systems highlight different riding position – whether you sit back over the rear tire or sit mid-cockpit typically will dictate the optimum suspension for your riding.  One isn’t right or wrong – that’s why different linkages exist.  I was very interested to get out and put miles on the chassis.  I find Weagle’s designs confident especially in technical fast sections.  Being able to comfortably sit behind the saddle compliments my riding style. 

I found the Split Pivot suspension very compliant.  It opened my eyes on quick “up and over” sections on a local trail.  On these crests I find many suspensions kick the rear wheel up.  The Atlas’ rear wheel stayed planted.   Having a compliant rear end keeps the rubber on the dirt which allows you to accelerate, brake or turn.  Wheel hop while pedaling creates a stutter in your cadence.  Wheel hop in a turn may change your ability to hold a line from traction loss.  The Atlas climbed predictably with excellent traction.   The bike kept tires planted without having inefficient bob.  The Atlas was one of the most efficient climbing platforms I have run.  Seated or standing the rear end stayed planted to the dirt.  I found with the short stay climbing technical features were best attacked with momentum or standing rather than seated slow rock climbing technique.  When seated with the front wheel up on a ledge or rock I felt the bike pulled backwards.  As a disclaimer I am not the greatest technical climber in the world – some of this was likely user error.  Descending the Split Pivot bike felt great.  I comfortably rode the bike off the back of the saddle with both tires firmly planted.  The Atlas remained confident through high speed descents, chunky sections and steep chutes. 

devinci atlas switchback san juan trail

Hard at work testing the Atlas in switchbacks on San Juan Trail

We tested the Atlas with several tire combos.  We test with tires on opposite ends of the traction spectrum to gauge how much “mechanical grip” a chassis provides.  If a bike feels similar in high speed esses with polar opposite tires the suspension system is planted.  The Atlas had excellent grip on a variety of tires.  The compliant rear maximizes grip available to the rider.  It took aggressive riding to break the rear end loose even on loose trails.  The Split Pivot suspension stayed planted even in situations with questionable riding techniques… I have the habit of using the rear brake while continuing to pedal hard in high speed sections.  BikeCo staff witnessed various suspensions “get confused” under me in that situation.  By reducing braking effects the split pivot design has less conflicting forces that the bike is trying to interpret. 

The Atlas was delivered with a 100mm fork.  The 100mm front end provided a very XC feel.   I could see on flat / slightly rolling trails the 100mm front end providing a nimble and enjoyable ride.  For my taste the 100mm setup was under forked especially in high speed chunky sections.  The steeper head tube angle with the 100mm fork made the rig a bit nervous at high speed.  So we pulled off the 100mm fork and on with our 140mm fork.   The 140mm fork relaxed the headtube angle.  It immediately felt more natural to me.  The 140mm fork paired nicely with the frame in the dirt.  The bike felt balanced blasting over terrain.  The bike wasn’t nervous at speed as with the 100mm setup.  Even on more XC trails the 140mm front Atlas was sure-footed.  I was afraid that the larger fork would cause the bike to “push” in fast esses – I was excited to find it did not.  The Devinci 140mm setup was more nimble than other long travel 29”s we have tested.  Instead of having the “push (when the front end feels like its pushing the tire rather than turning on it) & flop (when a bike’s steering has a hinged 2 stage feel)” many bikes suffer the Devinci’s steering remained neutral and intuitive.  The front end was a bit lighter climbing but didn’t aggressively wander.  On flats and descents the front end gave the bike a comfortable feel from slow to high speed.   For a pleasure riding bike for those who enjoy bigger or faster terrain I would suggest the 140mm fork nearly all the time.

atlas carbon san juan trail

Putting the Atlas through some fast slippery descents on San Juan.

I was interested how the 110mm frame would feel with such a large gap in fork application.  The bike surprised me by feeling neutral in both.  While I clearly have a favorite it is based on trail capacity, not on frame feel.  I hate the cliché that “it rides bigger than the travel” but the ultra compliant 110mm chassis rode trails with the same confidence as longer travel 29” frames.  The Monarch RT3 rear shock provided a nice compliment to the bike.  I utilized all of the compression settings climbing steeps, riding XC style flats, and descending large fast terrain.  The short chain stay provided a playful chassis.  The Atlas 29” is one of the easiest big wheel bikes to wheelie or manual.    It was an intuitive bike to flick and jump on the trail.  The split pivot rides very similar to DW bikes when put in the air.  The Atlas is the first 29” bike that didn’t feel excessively nose heavy in the air.  The bike liked to be pre-loaded evenly front and rear for takeoff.  (Being used to pulling the front end hard on takeoff I landed the Atlas in manuals the first few times-sketchy for me…) 

Like most 29” bikes cockpit setup is critical for optimum performance.  Our test trails are generally chunky, fast, with sections of technical steep.  We test bikes with fast handling, neutral, and slow cockpits.  Cockpits are defined as stem and handlebar combinations.  This bike in both 100mm & 140mm handled quickly.  I would be hard pressed to determine a trail network that would benefit from a fast handling cockpit on this bike.  The fast handling cockpit was nervous and twitchy on our test trails.  There was no turning your brain off with the fast cockpit.  The neutral cockpit tuned out most of the twitch.  It still felt quick climbing and XC while gaining substantially more downhill capacity.  The slow cockpit fit my riding style nicely.  The bike still felt like it rode on the tire rather than pushing through it.  The bike climbed nicely without wandering on trail.  Descending the Devinci Atlas 29 with the 140mm fork and slow cockpit was my favorite setup period.  Even with the fast XC tires the 140mm/slow setup was confident up and down the hill.  Maximizing the front end bite with a negative angle stem made an incredible difference on this platform.  NOTE: cockpit setup is a combination of components.  If you are unsure of the difference between fast, neutral, and slow components reach out to your resource to help you with proper setup.  Even the best frames when setup poorly will ride poorly.  Put a proper setup on a proper frame and your riding will go through the roof.

Atlas 29 Devinci Live Oak Trails

BikeCo staff discussing the riding properties of the Atlas 29″

Who should investigate this bike:  Riders looking for a playful 29 need to look at the Devinci Atlas.  The bike was easy to learn and fun to ride.  Riders who ride aft on the bike will benefit from Dave Weagle designed suspension.  The Atlas was quick on flats and climbs.  With the Split Pivot suspension and the larger trail capacity of 29” wheels the Atlas was able to drop trails confidently in the all mountain 26” realm.  For a single bike owner the Atlas provides a chassis that can go rip an afternoon ride in nearly any terrain.  If you were headed on a trip the Atlas provides the ability to modify the bike with tires, cockpit, and FRG chips.  This bike has a wider range of trail capacity than many of its contemporaries.  Do your research and speak with your resource about frames that will compliment your riding style and aspirations.  Get the right frame, the right setup, and the right tune to maximize your enjoyment.

See you on the trails –

atlas test bike in the dirt

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