Long Term Review: Devinci Atlas 29er Mountain Bike

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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!

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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).

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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:

Head Angle Seat Angle BB Height
HI 71.2º 72.8º  333mm
LO 70.6º 72.2º  326mm

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

Up front, the headtube is svelte but accommodates a standard tapered-to-1.5″ steerer.

Devinci Atlas 29er full suspension mountain bike review

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.

RIDE REVIEW

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.

Comments

härbert - 03/15/13 - 3:52pm

@ Tyler (Editor)

with some brake on the rear end…
did you noticed a better bump performance compared to other bikes because of the pivot in the axle?

Tyler (Editor) - 03/15/13 - 3:54pm

Harbert – it seemed like the rear wheel maintained solid contact over big and little bumps, climbing and descending, and at full speed or creeping down technical stuff with brakes applied. So, yes, is the short answer.

brd - 03/15/13 - 4:19pm

pivot at the rear axle is just to keep the brake forces separate, it’s in fact a single pivot with a pivot placed in a great spot with good leverage ratio and curve ;)

JJF - 03/17/13 - 10:24am

How would you say the Atlas compared to the Tallboy? Living in the Caribbean and not being able to test ride either bikes id appreciate your opinion.

Steve - 03/31/13 - 2:46am

Can you please tell me what setup Matt rode on the Atlas? With test riders varying from 5’11″ to 6’4″ I’d imagine the stems were swapped out between riders. We’re there any other tweaks made to accommodate the riders of different sizes?

I ask because I’m exactly Matt’s height and weight and I found the Large Atlas Carbon with stock 100mm stem to have far too long of a reach for me. It was completely unrideable. Devinci says that setup is intended for a person between 6’02″ and 6’04″. I’m not sure if I want to tweak the Large down to fit me or go with a medium, for which I am at the top end of the spec.

Any information you can share about Matt’s setup would be greatly appreciated.

Rivers - 04/10/13 - 12:06pm

I rode the 2013 at the demo in Cumberland and I was amazed at how fun this bike was. I was coming off my V1 Banshee Rune and did not miss the extra travel at all…and man it just begged to go faster. I wrote about my experience on my blog.. http://www.themountainbikelife.com/2013/04/a-weekend-full-of-surprises.html

Matt - 04/28/13 - 8:08pm

Hey Steve – I’m riding the Medium at 5’10″ and 165 lbs. and it doesn’t feel small at all. The way they hydroform these tubes you actually can’t drop the seat very low without cutting it and I’m surprised how big the medium feels. Just a surprise because I think someone much smaller than about 5’8″ would definitely need the Small. I put a half inch riser handlebar on it and an adjustable seat post clamp and it’s been awesome. Some local rides include smooth and flat fire road rides out to the goods and cranking in the big ring feels great. I used to race both mtn. and road bikes and can deal with a slightly smaller fit, but this actually feels great. My inseam is about 32″ for what that’s worth. I generally have longer arms and am long-waisted. Mine may not be exactly stock as it came from one of the reps but it has a 100 mm stem on it. I’d say a 130 or 140 might be a bit better at your height, but it’s no where near so crowded as to be uncomfortable. Good Luck!

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