Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the Bootleg Canyon demo loop. Keep in mind that a short ride is not a review, but merely gives us, (and you out there), some idea of what we’re looking at here.
Devinci Atlas FS 29″er: by Guitar Ted
Last year we found the Devinci Atlas which was, (and as far as we know- still is), the shortest chain stay length full suspension 29″er out there at 16.9″/430mm. It still has Dave Weagle’s “Split Pivot” design rear suspension, and still features 110mm of rear travel. What is different this year is a carbon frame offering, (not tested), and this model, with a 140mm front fork. Yes- 140mm front, 110mm rear. I was assured at the demo tent that I wouldn’t notice the ‘short changed” rear end in terms of travel, but I would feel the shorter rear end. With the suspension set up at the demo tent, I took off around Bootleg Canyons’ longest demo loop.
It is very obvious that your weight sits right over the rear axle on this bicycle. After a few pedal strokes, I could feel the accelerations pushing the handlebar outwards and upwards. The longer fork slightly slackens the head angle a bit from the Atlas Carbon bike, but it didn’t seem to negatively affect the steering, other than making the front wheel a bit more difficult to weight. The Atlas did have a shorter stem than many demo bikes I have tried at Outdoor Demo, and this may have helped steering quickness, but negatively affected weight balance.
The weight balance and slack front/short rear end seemed to conspire to make me loop out of a few corners. I probably would need a few more rides to figure out what the Atlas needed to get it to corner better, but as for now, it wasn’t intuitive out of the gate for me. Where I thought the shorter rear end shined was on the sweeper corners where putting the gas down on corner exit made the Atlas pop out and accelerate very quickly. That was a fun feeling.
The rear suspension was very active. Hard accelerations didn’t seem to affect the travel feel, or to negatively affect pedaling in the saddle. Where I did have some issues though were when I was climbing something steep, and when the trail made sharp transitions from down to up again.
Climbing would call out that slacker head tube angle with a wandering front wheel. Likely the weight distribution contributed to that feel as well. Also, Bootleg Canyon’s demo loop has several sharp transitions from steeply down to steeply up again. In these instances, the Atlas would bottom out and rebound a bit out of control. This I will let go for now as a suspension set up issue, but having my weight directly over the rear axle probably doesn’t help in this instance. I would have liked to have tried some different tuning options to see if I could perhaps have made that better, but there simply was no time for this.
Final Impression: I left the Atlas back at the demo tent with a slightly conflicted outcome. I loved the shorter chain stay on sweeping corners, and many of the climbs. I even caught some decent air on the Atlas since I could get my weight appropriated easier for a launch than I can on longer chain stay 29″ers, (and I am definitely NOT an air-time kind of guy. ), so this impressed me. However, I didn’t like the climbing attributes on steeper climbs or the out of control feeling on the sharper transitions, which may or may not be rectifiable with some suspension fiddling.
The out of balance travel front to rear didn’t ever become noticeable either, which was somewhat of a surprise for me. Overall, the Atlas seems capable, stiff, and would probably fit a rider profile that includes making way for air time and stunting. The shorter rear end seems to make for getting the wheels moving in lateral directions and off the ground a bit easier. If this profile fits you, this is definitely a bike to look into.