Race Face's Atlas cranks have been the workhorse of the company's lineup since the glory days of the freeride movement, back when telephone pole-high skinnies and massive road gaps were all the rage. The spotlight may have shifted from hucking to racing over the last few years, but there's still a demand for cranks that can take a beating, which is just what the third generation of this venerable crankset is intended to do.
The crankarms now use Race Face's Cinch interface, a change that allows them to accept direct mount chainrings, or (with the addition of a removable spider) be set up for 104mm BCD 1x and 2x configurations. Cinch also allows for axles to be swapped out, which means that if you installed the Atlas cranks on a DH bike with 83mm bottom bracket spacing, and later decided to put them on an enduro rig with a 73mm BB, a new axle would be all that was required, rather than a complete crankset.
Race Face Atlas Cinch Details
• Intended use: trail / enduro / DH / DJ
• Sizes: 165, 170, 175mm
• Forged 7050 aluminum arms
• 68/73mm and 83mm spindles available
• Weight: 170mm crankarms and 68/73mm spindle: 631 grams (700 grams with 32t direct mount ring).
• Colors: black, red, blue, green
• MSRP: $210 (arms only). $345 USD as tested - includes BB, 32 tooth ring.
The backsides of the crankset's forged 7050 aluminum arms have had any excess material removed, leaving six deep indentations of various shapes and sizes, a technique first used on the more trail / all-mountain oriented Turbine cranks
that were released two seasons ago. The new construction technique results in a slight weight savings of 33 grams versus the previous version, and as far as stiffness goes, Race Face claim that the Atlas cranks are 12% stiffer than the Turbine crankset.
The crankarms are mounted to a 30mm, 7055 aluminum spindle that's available in 68/73mm and 83mm versions. Bottom brackets are available for all current 'standards'; threaded, BB92, BB107, PF30, and PF30-83. As tested, in a 170mm version with a threaded BB and a 32t direct mount ring, the total package weighed 792 grams and retails for $345 USD. Looking for a color other than basic black? The Atlas cranks are also available in blue, red, and green. Installation / Issues
Getting the Atlas cranks installed was a straightforward affair, and Race Face includes clearly illustrated directions for riders who need visual reference to make sure they're on the right track. I would recommend checking the 16mm cap on the drive side to be sure Loctite has been applied and that it's snugged down – I've had a couple Cinch equipped cranks arrive where this wasn't the case. Why does this matter? Well, if that cap isn't securely in place, unthreading the 8mm hex to remove the crankarm will end up removing the cap instead of the crank. The 16mm size seems to be the unicorn of the hex key world, but luckily a 5/8” hex wrench will work just fine, and it's massive enough that it can also be placed by your front door instead of a baseball bat to ward off intruders. Race Face also offers an 8mm to 16mm adaptor
that's much smaller and more portable than a full size wrench.
I do have one other small gripe, and that's regarding the screw that's used to secure the crank's preload ring into place. That little screw uses a tiny 2mm hex head that can easily be rounded out - it's best to read the instructions, take your time during installation, and remember that the screw really only needs to be finger tight. All the same, a larger head, or even going with a torx screw instead of a hex, would be a welcome improvement. On the Trail
Once installed, the cranks were completely trouble free, and withstood all of the rough trails and hucks to flat that I subjected them to with zero issues. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to feel the claimed 12% stiffness increase over the Turbines out on the trail, especially since it'd take me a year's worth of eating bacon and drinking protein shakes to make my way into the Clydesdale category, but it turned out that the difference was noticeable, especially when standing up and stomping on the pedals.
Now, the Turbine cranks aren't flexy by any means – I have absolutely no complaints about them in that regard, but the Atlas cranks definitely take things up a notch, a fact that will be appreciated by bigger riders, or even smaller riders that like to go really big. No one wants to worry about their cranks shattering or bending after a rough landing, and with the Atlas cranks those type of thoughts never even crossed my mind. They're impressively stiff, with a very reasonable weight, especially considering how solid they feel underfoot.
What about mud collecting in the recesses on the back of each crank? I haven't had any issues with excessive build up, even in extremely sloppy conditions - I'd say this is a non-issue, and a quick blast with the hose is all it takes to clear out any stubborn dirt chunks that do manage to withstand all of the revolutions that happen during a ride. Regarding the bottom bracket, after a few months of use, months that happened to coincide with the wettest rides of the year, it's free of any play, but a rebuild and some fresh grease wouldn't hurt - it's not spinning quite as smoothly as it once was. That's a little quicker than I'd like, but then again, the conditions it was ridden in are about as nasty as it gets. Pinkbike's Take:
|For riders looking for a stiff, strong, DH-worthy crankset that's light enough to be installed aboard an all-mountain rig, the Atlas cranks should be near the top of the list. The addition of the Cinch interface makes these cranks more versatile than ever, and they're still tough as nails. - Mike Kazimer|
Visit the feature gallery for high resolution and additional images