Focus has unveiled its first dedicated gravel bike, opting for the strapline “this bike is made to lose”, in a sentiment that takes mock aim at controversy, but of course really embodies the “adventure” ideal that has been quite so attractive to cyclists over the last year.
Focus’ Atlas takes its name from the North African mountains it was designed to do combat with, thought of course it’ll carry you over your local trails and roads, too. The brand says it’s “ready for speed, but not for world records, really made for long distances.”
At a time where a combination of Brexit and Covid have transpired to make bike availability a major factor for those looking to invest, new launches are music to our ears, and prices here start from a relatively friendly £1499, with an aluminum frame and carbon fork.
Much of Focus’ focus in design appears to have been on geometry, with notes taken from the mountain bike discipline. The Atlas features a relatively long reach to be paired with a shorter stem – between 70mm and 90mm depending upon the size.
The stack has been kept high, with a medium at 596mm, and the Atlas can be specced with 650b wheels though all models come with 700c.
Short chainstays – 425mm throughout (the same as the 2021 Specialized Diverge) – aim to bring the rider’s weight up and over the bottom bracket to provide agility which can be helpful when scrambling up short inclines.
The 75mm bottom bracket drop places it on the endurance end of the scale, keeping the rider’s centre of gravity low, though isn’t out of keeping with road bike geo, whilst the wheelbase is over 1000mm across the range, which gives it a longer turning circle.
We asked Focus for more details on the head angle (70.5°), trail (76mm, with 45c tyre) and offset (50mm) – these add up to a relaxed ride ready for the trails, placing this bike on the more ‘gnarly’ end of the scale, if road bikes are on one end and mountain bikes the other.
Focus has opted for an integrated front end via its ‘CIS cockpit’, offering cable routing directly from the bar, to be guided through the bearings and the headset. All cables run with full housing.
The internal routing approach will keep all of the cables hidden and out of the way, but it might not be a winner with all gravel riders, making maintenance a more involved job – and difficult if roadside mechanicals arise.
The brand also says the ‘smart yoke’ allows for clean cable routing at the rear, with plenty of clearance for wide tyres and debris that they may collect. We’ve not got one in the office to check out how this works in detail, but we will be calling one in.
The frame also uses Boost axle spacing (148 x 12mm rear and 110 x 15mm front), seen elsewhere in mountain biking and also on Focus’ e-bikes. This means the hub flanges are wider, allowing for optimised spoke tension for greater wheel strength, as well as more tyre and mud clearance.
All of the frames have mounts for mudguards and a rack, plus a kickstand with a replacement dropout. For those heading off on adventures, there are mountain points on the fork, with a claimed capacity of 3kg on each side.
Focus is also offering an ‘EQP’ model, which comes specced and ready with pannier racks, mudguards, the kickstand and integrated lights.
Throughout the range, riders will be set up with WTB Riddler tyres in 45c, aluminium handlebars with a 10 degree flare. The top of the range Focus Atlas 6.9 comes with a BBB FlyPost carbon seatpost, whilst elsewhere in the range this is aluminium.
Focus Atlas models
Atlas 6.9 – £2299
Atlas 6.8 – £1899
Atlas 6.7 – £1499
Fork: Carbon, disc, 110×12 mm thru axle, flat mount 160/160 mm, internal brake cable routing, multiple mounting points
Atlas 6.7 EQP – £1699