Focus Atlas Gravel Bike Review
Back in January, Focus released their brand new Atlas gravel bike. It wasn't your normal bicycle release, instead Focus did something quite different…using phrases like “The Focus Atlas is not made for winning races, setting World Records, or beating people". "It's made to lose - lose track of time, to lose yourself". "It's for getting out in nature, having adventures, meeting people, and generally just having a great time".
A very different approach right, a bike that's not made for winning? What the...? At the end of the day we’d all like to think we're capable of winning a race, if not now but definitely in the future right?
Kind of, gravel riding and especially bikepacking is more about the adventure, getting out there, experiencing it, seeing the views, getting fresh air in the lungs away from all the pressures of life.
The single most important factor of a gravel bike is comfort, you’re going to spend a decent amount of time in the saddle so the bike has to fit properly, ride well and feel comfortable all day. Secondly is durability, longer rides and especially multi days rides put bikes through another level of abuse, it's crucial they can handle this. Lastly, storage. You’ll be carrying more water, possibly sleeping bags, tents, food, clothing and more. It's all got to fit somewhere and having well thought out mounts makes a big difference.
I think Focus is spot on both with their marketing approach, and the Atlas itself. They've even gone as far as making a Spotify playlist, all to help keep you motivated out there.
Here's what we love about the bike:
It's in stock, with the constant shortage of bike components and parts it's nice to see bikes in stock on the floor ready to go.
It's got a double crankset, not that I don't like single ring setups as I ride one myself, it's just at this end of the market a 30/46T setup gives you a greater range of gears. The standard 11-34T cassette can be easily swapped out for some lower gearing if needed.
Shimano’s GRX groupset, proven in the market, will provide stable and dependable shifting on any terrain.
It has good tyre clearance, being able to take up to 47 mm tyres will provide better ride quality and a far greater option of tyre choice.
It’s lightweight aluminium with a carbon fork, keeping the price down whilst still being lightweight and robust.
Three bottle cages! Plus you’ll find every mount that you could possibly need for your setup, including one for a stand.
Focus’s integrated cockpit solution not only looks slick, it actually keeps the cables out the way when using a handlebar bag.
More about the bike
The Atlas uses a hydroformed aluminum frame, spec'd with a full carbon fork, including the steerer tube. At 10.8kg for a medium 6.8 model it's not quite as light as a carbon frame version, however it's not in the same price bracket as these and one could argue that aluminum is more durable for this type of use. One thing is for sure, the weight is not at all noticeable while riding.
The carbon fork is beefy, equipped with cradle mounts which can hold 3kg of weight each side. The fork has mounting options for a mudguard, light, and internal cable routing for a dynamo front hub setup.
The frame itself is equipped with many mounting options, fenders, racks, bottle cages, top tube bags, and even a stand mount. The 6.8 and 6.9 models come already equipped with top tube bag, be it a slightly smaller one, it’s well suited for day rides.
Cables are almost fully internally routed, only being exposed around the bottom of the BB shell. We really like the integrated cockpit as it keeps the cables well clear of any front bag setup you might be using.
Geometry of the Atlas has been designed to offer more comfort over longer rides. With endurance like geometry, which is a slightly higher front end and longer wheelbase, makes the bike an all rounder, and ready to tackle any adventure.
Hub spacing gets the newer 110/148mm wide boost spacing with 12 mm thru-axles, providing plenty of stiffness and strength. This is technically the same spacing as a mountain bike, so if you’ve got a nice MTB wheelset you’d just need to use a 15mm to 12mm reducer for the front wheel. The 6.8 is spec’d with Novatec Elite Twentyfive wheelset, both hubs have sealed bearings.
The frame design can accommodate 47mm tyres, coming in handy for comfort on those multi day rides. Both the 6.8 and 6.7 get spec’d with the WTB Riddler, 700 x 45C which is a well reviewed tyre. The WTB on the 6.8 has folding bead and tan walls, for looks and weight, especially looks! It's also worth noting that the frame and fork, like many other brands, is 650B ready.
The Atlas is available in three build options and five sizes, from XS to XL, although currently there is no stock of the 6.9 model on offer.
Sizing runs slightly on the larger size if you're trying to compare with other brands, checking Focus's size guide or getting our advice is recommended.
Both the 6.8 and 6.7 models run the same frame and fork, the main differences between these the two are gearing and wheels. The 6.8 is spec’d with Shimano’s slightly higher GRX 600/810 2x11 speed, Novatec Elite Twentyfive wheelset and folding WTB tyres. The 6.7 gets Shimano’s 10 speed GRX 400/600 gearing with lesser spec’d Novatac hubs and WTB rims.
With both models using the same frame and fork there is plenty of future proofing if you’re wanting to upgrade further down the road.
Focus Atlas 6.7
Hydroformed aluminum frame, carbon fork, Shimano 400/600 GRX 2x10 speed, Novatec hubs and WTB ST i23 TCS rims. 11.3kg.
Focus Atlas 6.8
Hydroformed aluminum frame, carbon fork, Shimano 600/810 GRX 2x11 speed, Novatec Elite Twentyfive wheelset and WTB folding tyres. 10.8kg