Focus Atlas 6.8 review – BikeRadar.com
Here in the UK, the bikes are also something of a post-Brexit unicorn– where other brand names have increased prices, the Atlas shows up with a variety that looks smart value for money.
As such, I would argue this is now one of the very best value gravel bikes on the marketplace if youre searching for a bike that really can do it all.
The Atlas is a brand new range of flexible alloy gravel bikes from Focus that could fairly be turned to whatever from daily gravel shredding to totally filled touring.
Focus Atlas gravel bike variety overview
I have actually been checking the Focus Atlas 6.8, which is constructed with a mix of Shimano GRX parts. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Even on the roadway, the tyres feel excellent. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Focus Atlas 6.8: ₤ 1,899/ EUR1.999/ AU$ 3,099.
The Focus Atlas 6.8 is built around a mix of Shimano GRX RX600 and RX800-level groupset components. For the roadies among you, these are the equivalent of Shimano 105 and Ultegra-level parts respectively.
The wheelset sees Novatec 25 centers laced to Alexrims Boondocks tubeless-ready alloy rims. These are fitted with 45mm-wide WTB Riddler tires.
The cockpit parts and seatpost are alloy own-brand Focus set. The develop is concluded with a WTB SL8 saddle.
Focus Atlas 6.8 trip impressions.
The tires arent terrific in sticky mud, however thats true of many tyres of this design. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Focus Atlas 6.7: ₤ 1,699/ EUR1,599/ AU$ 2,499.
Focus Atlas 6.7 EQP: ₤ 1,499/ EUR1,799/ AU$ N/A
Looking at the bikes geometry, whatever Ive pointed out so far accumulates.
To begin, the head angle is (in the context of mainstream gravel bikes) an especially slack 70.5 degrees across all sizes.
Combined with the Atlas 6.8s stock 45mm-wide WTB Riddler tires and the 50mm balanced out fork, this offers the bike a trail figure of 74mm. Trail (likewise called caster) is the horizontal distance between where a fictional line drawn through the steering axis meets the ground, and the point where tyre touches the ground.
I have actually been testing the Atlas 6.8.
The Atlas variety includes four bikes, all of which share the same alloy frame and carbon fork.
Three are geared up as normal gravel bikes– consisting of the Atlas 6.8, which I have been evaluating– and the Focus Atlas 6.7 EQP complete the range.
The EQP model has a foot securely planted in the visiting bike camp, with a rear pannier rack, full-cover mudguards, a kickstand and eager beaver lighting fitted as stock. It also provides an idea as to how versatile this frameset is.
As pointed out, I have actually been checking the Atlas 6.8, which is available in at ₤ 1,899. The Atlas will not be available in the US.
The total flight of the Focus is regulated and especially confident off-road, especially in steep or rough surface.
When blasting across rough fire roadways, the front end remains calm, and only requires a light touch to keep things under control.
This stability likewise implies the bike is almost jarringly simple to ride no handed– I can not remember another gravel bike I have tested that is so carefree to ride sans-phalanges.
The bike also tracks perfectly through corners, both on-road and off. It feels sure-footed, responsive and stable, and responds quickly to mid-line modifications.
Focus Atlas 6.9: ₤ N/A/ EUR2,499 AU$ 3,799.
Focus Atlas 6.8 construct.
The tyres actually help here. The WTB Riddler is a terrific tire and shifts really nicely from the blocky centre section to the aggressive lugs on the outer edge of the tyre.
For gravel tyres, they also feel especially good when riding on tarmac– they quickly felt familiar and confidence-inspiring with no uncomfortable squirming or slipping as you lean over.
They arent the finest in sticky mud, however thats real of the majority of do-it-all gravel tires. If you live in a damp climate, a switch to something with a wider-spaced tread is advised.
The Atlas feels fantastic at high speeds, both on- and off-road. Felix/ Smith Immediate Media.
65 to 80mm is thought about to be a high path figure, so this is at the upper end of the spectrum. For context, with 40mm tires, an equivalent size Canyon Grail has 65.6 mm of path. You can read our current Canyon Grail 6 review.
A high path figure is credited with providing a bike a strong and foreseeable feel at high speeds, while likewise showing a level of self-correcting steering.
( Bicycle Insights has a terrific explainer on the subject while our back-to-back screening explains how fork balanced out can affect mtb handling.).
I will add that I have actually never ever ridden any bike that in fact feels unmanageable, but reactive or significantly stable bikes stand apart, and the Atlas absolutely falls under the previous camp.
Long mountain bike-inspired geometry.
Its possible to fit mudguards to the bike, in addition to a rear pannier rack and cargo cages at the front. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
I dont think this will be an issue for most riders.
Youre very unlikely to want to slap a set of 75mm-deep aero whoosh wheels onto this bike. The mountain bicycle wheelset market is also loaded filled with light-weight and affordable options, a lot of which will better-suit the extra width of gravel tires.
Nevertheless, if you currently have a set of chic gravel wheels or an extra 650b wheelset, this might be a bit of a disappointment due to the fact that it is not possible to transform basic hubs to Boost without it being a little a bodge.
Is this a sign of things to come? Will other manufacturers embrace Boost, further narrowing the gap in between road and mountain bikes? I believe so, however please do not shoot the messenger.
The stock wheelset warrants no grievances in any case. The Alexrims Boondocks rims are much deeper than average at 32mm-ish deep, and are constructed with a sensible high spoke count. I have no doubt theyll stand up to years of abuse.
Bikepacking and visiting friendly features.
I like this wee bag however it needs a strip of foam to stop things rattling inside it. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
In terms of specification, cost and even looks, the Canyon Grail is the Focus Atlass closest rival from a mainstream manufacturer. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
All cables on the bike are internally routed through a hole on the top cover of the headset.
This looks clean but, more significantly, it will make fitting bikepacking bags way easier with no cables to foul your cycling satchels. There are likewise provisions to run a dropper post.
There is a set of triple bolt installs on each fork leg. These are rated to carry as much as 3kg each. If you require more baggage bring capability, the fork is likewise rated to have a standard front pannier rack fitted.
Along with front and rear luggage installs, there is likewise the brand-new de-facto top-tube feed bag installs simply behind the head tube.
If your ego or tastes in bicycle visual appeals cant handle the idea of running a 70mm stem on a drop-bar bike, the majority of riders will have the ability to size down and fit a longer stem for a more traditional fit, but I would advise you to reassess prior to doing so.
The stack is likewise relatively generous (415mm on a size large), so most riders will have the ability to get an unwinded and upright riding position for enjoyable pootling.
Comfy, however still stout.
A lot of makers have a bike similar to the Atlas in the range, but in regards to specs, price and even aesthetic appeals, I believe its closest competitor is the Canyon Grail.
The spec of the Atlas 6.8 is nearly similar to the 2021 Canyon Grail 7, though you get a name-brand DT Swiss wheelset on the Canyon.
This is where the rates of the Atlas stands apart– post-Brexit rate increases have pushed the cost of the Canyon up to ₤ 2,099, whereas the Focus Atlas 6.8 is ₤ 1,899.
Looking at other brand names, the Diverge Comp E5 (₤ 2,200) is probably the closest fit in specification from Specialized.
That specific bike also includes the (outstanding) FutureShock suspension system, so the Elite E5 (₤ 1,899) is the closest direct contrast. This sees a downgrade to a mix of GRX 400-level parts, so once again the Focus comes ahead.
Taking a look at Cannondale, the Topstone 1 uses a similar spec for ₤ 1,800, but sees a downgrade to an FSA Omega crankset. It also loses on a few of the overall adaptability, with far fewer travel luggage mounting points, however that wont be a dealbreaker for numerous riders.
Obviously, the best bike for you will depend upon precisely what youre after, however the point here is that the Atlas shows up as a brand-new gravel bike that is excellent value for cash in todays market.
Regardless of the fat 45mm-wide tyres, the front end feels a little dull on larger hits.
The stout fork legs are built to bring baggage and, compared to a more svelte fork, dont offer much in the method of give. The deeper-than-average alloy wheelset might also add to this harsh sensation.
I might have dropped a few PSI from my front tyre and, provided the bikes spacious tire clearance, you might also fit a bigger tire if youre a particularly delicate flower and require the squashiest front end possible. Focus prices quote a maximum tire clearance of 45mm with 700c wheels, however I measure 15mm of extra clearance on either side of the tyre at the fork.
If youre dead-set on taking a gravel bike on MTB-appropriate surface, you can also size down to 650b wheels, though Focus hasnt said how much this will increase clearance by.
On the other hand, the stiff forks (and the long reach) add to a steady feel under heavy braking and its really tough to require the bike into even a deliberate endo.
Increase for gravel is now a thing.
Focus Atlas 6.8 evaluation conclusion.
Ive really enjoyed testing the Focus Atlas. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Focus produces a matching set of mudguards and a pannier rack for the bike. If you do not like the appearance of Focuss set, you should not have any problem finding and fitting a standard alternative.
There is even the option to fit a kickstand with a replacement dropout if you desire to go full useful. We love kickstands here at BikeRadar and it would be worth considering fitting one to any exploring bike.
The bike uses Boost spacing front and rear. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
The stack gives a pleasant and fairly upright trip position. Jack Luke/ Immediate Media.
GRX is merely wonderful. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Take a look at that charming little stem! Jack Luke/ Immediate Media.
Whether youre smashing about singletrack or cruising along bike courses, its likewise just great fun to ride.
My test bike included a cool matching bag from Focus. This will be available as an aftermarket device, but be alerted that anything put in the bag rattles on the plastic stiffening strip and bolts on the bottom.
A small strip of packing foam would stop this, however its irritating it occurs in the very first place and appears like an apparent oversight.
I can not level complaint at the bikes Shimano GRX groupset, it uses ample tailoring range for even greatly loaded touring, matched with an adequate top-end for fast roadway riding.
I wont state excessive on GRX because our really own Matthew Loveridge will be delivering a full long-lasting evaluation on this soon. Stay tuned.
The handlebars are a downplayed emphasize of the bikes spec. They are suitably large (42cm on a size large) without being exceedingly so; the flare in the drops is subtle, which makes them more enjoyable when riding on the roadway; the flattened tops arent excessively broad, and the ramps are roomy sufficient to provide numerous usable hand positions.
On the other hand, Im not a substantial fan of the WTB SL8 saddle. I found it to be a little bit soft and narrow for my fussy butts, but thats down to personal preference.
In its defence, I have done a few trips without padded bib shorts on this bike when Ive simply been noodling about on it and the soft top was valued.
Focus Atlas vs. Canyon Grail (and others).
To accommodate wide tires without turning to exceedingly long chainstays or a dropped yoke, Focus has actually adopted Boost axle spacing on the Atlas.
Though its essentially the de facto requirement on mountain bikes, Boost is rarely seen on production gravel bikes.
As a suggestion, the most common road/gravel thru-axle standard is 142 x 12mm at the rear paired with 100 x 12mm in advance, whereas Boost spacing is 148 x 12mm rear and 110 x 15mm front.
Focus changes things up a bit with a 12 x 110mm front axle but, in any case, its possible to transform a standard 15 x 110mm axle to 12mm with an adaptor.
As far as I am conscious, there are no Boost gravel wheelsets on the marketplace, so this limitations you to utilizing mountain bicycle wheelsets on this bike (or developing road/gravel rims with mountain bicycle hubs).
In summary, compared to the competition from mainstream brand names, the Focus Atlas 6.8 represents outstanding value for money and a more versatile bundle than the majority of.
With generous tire clearances, more mounting points than youll ever understand what to do with and competent shred-friendly geometry, you truly might build this bike up as almost anything.
The front end is not the only place the geometry is progressive.
The reach of the Focus Atlas is extended out to a chunky 410mm on my size large test bike. This is coupled with a dinky 70mm-long stem.
For contrast, my last test bike (the 2021 Specialized Diverge) has a reach of 392mm and is fitted with a 90mm stem in a comparable size.
18mm may not seem like a lot, however it makes a huge difference on high terrain– with your weight placed further back on the bike, you are less pitched forward over the front wheel, making the bike feel less nervous and more regulated.
The cable televisions are neatly routed through the leading cover of the headset. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
For context, with 40mm tires, an equivalent size Canyon Grail has 65.6 mm of trail. Will other makers adopt Boost, further narrowing the space in between roadway and mountain bikes? The stock wheelset warrants no complaints in any case. There is a set of triple bolt mounts on each fork leg. If you require more baggage bring capability, the fork is also rated to have a conventional front pannier rack fitted.
The fork is a chunky ol beast and feels a bit severe on difficult impacts, however is also super-stable under hard braking. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.
Couple of will discover problem with the stock wheelset. Felix Smith/ Immediate Media.