No doubt the Atlas crank from Race Face has stood the test of time, and while their other cranks (Next SL, SixC, and Turbine) enjoyed an earlier upgrade to Race Face’s modular Cinch system, it was only a matter of time before the Atlas would too. Cinching it up and staying with alloy while shaving weight and adding stiffness from previous iterations also makes the Atlas one of the most versatile and durable cranks in the Race Face line up.
Bottom Line: whether DH-ing or Enduro-ing, the Atlas crank provides durability and stiffness at a competitive weight with four color options (not to mention the array of ring colors) all wrapped up in Race Face’s user-friendly, versatile, and future-proof Cinch package.
- Use: Trail/Enduro/DH/DJ/BMX
- Sizes: 165/170/175mm
- Spindle: 7055 alloy 30mm diameter (68/73 and 83mm available)
- Color: black, red, blue, green
- MSRP: $209 USD (crank only), $345 USD (with ring and BB)
Forged from 7050 alloy, the newest generation of Atlas cranks are about 30 grams lighter than the previous year and 12% stiffer than the current Turbine cranks, thanks to a new web bracing and removal of excess material seen on the back of each crank arm. Armed with a 32-tooth Race Face direct mount ring, my 170mm Atlas cranks (without BB) weighed in just shy of 700 grams. Although I just so happened to have a set of Turbine’s in my possession, I’m afraid a 12% difference in stiffness is a tad slight to really perceive in any meaningful way on the trail. That said, I am about 185 pounds geared up, so perhaps a rider of larger stature may better appreciate the claimed stiffness upgrade.
Cinch allows for either a direct mount ring or a 1x or 2x 104 BCD setup, if you so choose to add the spider plate. The Cinch system also allows for compatibility across differing bottom bracket widths by simply swapping the axles, instead of a completely new crankset.
Say you run the Atlas on your trail bike with a 73mm BB that later gets some carbon treatment with a Next SL, but you still want the Atlas for your DH bike–just snag an 83mm axle and you’re good to go. Granted that’s a pretty specific situation, but the modular system may also come in handy if and when you’re moving, or selling parts, or if and when a new BB standard is introduced. It’s called “future proofing,” and Race Face is trying to help you here.
Provided you have the correct BB (Race Face has those, too) and a couple commonly-sized Allen keys, Atlas installation is about as cinchy as it gets with Race Face’s color-printed guide with words and pictures. One note on the installation: the preload cap uses a 2mm hex and while I’ve cursed many a 2mm in my day, I suppose the reason for such a small head with such a high risk of carving it out is because it should only be snugged.
On the Trail
I tested the Atlas crankset on my home turf, but more importantly, over a weekend on Moab’s unforgiving, rocky terrain. Few better places exist to expose the weakness of any bike or its parts. After 86 miles, 13.5 hours ride time, and 12 trails, aside from a couple small, expected scuffs, the big blue Atlases feel just as good as the day they were installed. The Atlas crank felt stiff both laterally and vertically, which becomes very apparent over the multitude of rock ledge encounters at speed in the Utah desert. Upon inspection, there is no wobble from side to side, the recessed openings behind each arm do not collect dirt as much as I initially thought they might, and no chain was dropped in the making of this review.
The Race Face Atlas Cinch Crank is a great crank, and I have no reservation in referring it to anyone. Plus, it comes in four colors, people!
Thank you, Race Face, for providing the Atlas Cinch Crank for review!