With bike styles diversifying on an almost daily basis, component manufacturers are working overtime to keep up with the demand for more specific parts. Race Face already has a nearly all-encompassing array of components targeted at different riders needs, but it's now added an all-mountain specific (or perhaps non-specific?) chainset to their line-up.
Race Face decided that riders of the AM persuasion needed components a tad stronger than the usual XC fare without getting to freeride levels of heft. The Atlas range is the result. It's based on the Deus, the company's XC chainset, and the extra 140g (or 120g heavier than Shimano's benchmark XT), is the result of more material in the crank arms. They're fully CNCed from Optim-Al, which, according to Race Face is one of the "strongest, most fatigue resistant aluminum alloys". The rings are also CNCed, 7075-T6 the material of choice, and shifting is improved by way of little "SHIFT" chips that give the chain a handup onto the next ring. Shifting is good, and on a par with Shimano.
But the USP of these cranks is their extra strength with a minimal weight penalty. Deciding how much stronger they are than "XC" cranks is a tough one. We've been treating them pretty hard, with no adverse effects. That treatment hasn't included any road gaps though, but if your riding includes that kind of abuse then you're probably better of with the Diabolus cranks anyway. They do feel stiffer than other cranks, we certainly noticed an extra degree of solidity on our first ride with them installed.
Out of the box they look fantastic. The sleek black arms echo the classic Turbine LP, and the silver rings are guaranteed to look great on any bike you fit them to: they're a good match for the SRAM X.O rear mech on our test bike too. A silver armed version is also available.
So should you rush out and buy a set? That's a tricky question. They do offer exemplary shifting, as good as Shimano's, and you can't say that they don't look great. They're strong, and stiff, but if you're not bending/breaking your standard cranks, then they're probably an unnessecary purchase. And if you're breaking your cranks on a regular basis, we'd probably opt for something that's considerably stronger, not just a bit (besides looking at why we're breaking cranks on a regular basis too...). The price does include the bottom bracket, which we've had no problems with as of yet.
Positives: Look amazing, strength, weight, shifting, durable rings
Verdict: They're reasonably light, and a bit stronger than other cranks. And they look fantastic. But £240, is a lot of money and we'd probably not hand over our credit card without thinking long and hard about whether the benefits they offer is worth the asking price.