The 130mm travel Atherton AM.130 review. Diet Trail bike? Double Down Country? Just a Mountain BIke? Regardless, it’s a unique proposition.
- Brand: Atherton Bikes
- Product: AM.130.1
- Price: £7,800.00
- From: Atherton Bikes
- Review by: Benji for 2 weeks
At this stage, I don’t think we really need to go into the whole how-it’s-made waffle. If you want to delve into the whole additive manufactured titanium lugs with carbon tubes backstory, read our in-depth 2019 feature.
What you all want to know is how the bikes actually ride. We did a First Ride Review of the Atherton AM.150 earlier this year and now we have the newer, shorter travel Atherton AM.130 review to do. How different is this new 130mm Atherton?
The realities of actual ride time on Atherton test bikes is that the two different bikes are very hard to compare with any real, genuine insight. The AM.150 was ridden for a day at the Dyfi Bike Park. This AM 130 was ridden on home trails for a longer albeit not massive two week period. The number of Atherton test bikes available, combined with how in-demand they are, results in unfortunately brief testing periods.
Half a dozen modest test rides were had on the bike you see here. Which is not really enough to come out with a final verdict but it is enough to write a usefully informative First Ride Review. So here we are.
House on fire
Thankfully, I got on with the AM.130 immediately. Any bike with a 490mm reach, a steep seat angle and decent rise handlebar is off to a good start with me. And the AM.130 exhibited enough particular ride characteristics that means I actually have something to write about.
I’m wary of assigning any ride trait to the chassis. A longer test period is required. If you pushed me, I’d perhaps begin to flannel about with statements like the bike feels very calm and quiet. It is not a super stiff sneeze-and-die frame. Neither is it a cross-camber root-hugging flexathon. Then again, I’m not convinced that it’s not just the Stans wheels and Renthal bars that are what’s being experienced most a lot of the time when it comes to ‘flex’.
The traits that I am going to talk about are caused by the geometry and – especially – the rear suspension design.
The geometry and the DW6 linkage completely and utterly override any fanciful theoretical sluggishness that some people assume may be present on a bike that weighs 14.5kg. The AM.150 covers ground extremely efficiently and extremely quickly.
I lost count of the number of times that I found myself much further ahead of my riding partners than I expected to be. I often found that I was talking to myself instead assuming my co-riders were much closer to my rear wheel than they actually were. I don’t mean this as a cringey brag but it is illustrative as to how much faster the AM.130 went at a given perceived level of effort.
An efficient suspension platform combined with a decent rider stance afforded by well-sorted geometry will always trump a lighter bike with poor suspension and/or geometry. Obviously, it would be nice to have low weight, good suspension and capable geometry all in one bike but… that never quite seems to happen. And of that particular Holy Trinity, it’s low weight that is massively less significant than suspension and geometry.
How do I describe the DW6 suspension of the AM.130 then? It feels a lot like a well-executed single pivot in terms of fast, stable response and efficiency (in a stiffens-when-pedalling stylee). There was noticeably less fear – and incidence of – pedal strikes when climbing technical tracks, which I’m going to ascribe to the DW6 design riding relatively high in its travel when pedalling, as opposed to anything the geometry is doing.
The AM.130 isn’t quite as harsh when it comes to absorbing stuff whilst pedalling as a single pivot can be. It’s not quite as swallowy as a trad 4-bar can be under pedal load. And when you aren’t pedalling – ie. when you’re freewheeling downhill – the suspension feels ultra progressive.
It’s not a floaty ride. Nor is it a racey super stiff ride. It’s somewhere in between. It feels like you’re riding on a really, really hard eraser. In a good way!
Comparing DW6 to a Santa Cruz VPP, it’s similar but I’d actually say the DW6 has the edge in terms of efficiency and response. Whereas VPP is perhaps the comfier and more upferrit when it comes to swallowing up bumps, the DW6 will find loads of fans who like a sportier ride.
Notes on the build kit
The tyres our test bike came with were rather OTT. Full-on DH-worthy Kryptotal rubbers robbed the bike of a significant amount of its potential speed due to their stickiness and stiff casings, so after a couple of underwhelming rides we swapped in a pair of our go-to Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres front and rear. What a difference a tyre change makes! It was like we’d suddenly worked out how to fully release the handbrake.
The RockShox suspension units were a good match to the bike. With the slightly firm feeling Pike fork in particular being a great match for the DW6 back end action.
The Renthal stem, bars and grips were all great feeling (although we never quite think the FatBar ever looks like it’s in the ‘right’ position – set it by feel rather than eye!)
The SRAM drivetrain was as great as ever. I never really thought about it to be honest. The SRAM G2 RSC were the weak link. Literally. Maybe I’ve just got so used to super strong modern brakes? I was very underwhelmed by the G2s.
Atherton AM.130 Review: Overall
All in all, the AM.130 and its DW6 linkage is a really good design. It’s the DW6 that would be my argument for getting an Atherton bike, as opposed to the ‘3D printed’ or ’22 size range’ stuff that gets all the headlines and raised eyebrows. Consider me very interested should anyone wish to make a DW6 bike via a more traditional (cheaper) manufacturing method. Especially if it had a coil shock on the back, which the bike’s progressiveness would be a great match.
- Frame // Carbon and Additive Titanium, 130mm
- Shock // RockShox Rear Shock Super Deluxe Ultimate, 185x50mm
- Fork // RockShox Pike Ultimate Charger 2.1 RC2
- Wheels // Stans Arch MK4
- Front Tyre // Continental Kryptotal
- Rear Tyre // Continental Kryptotal
- Chainset // SRAM X01 Eagle
- Shifter // SRAM Shifter X01 Eagle
- Rear Mech // SRAM X01 Eagle
- Cassette // SRAM Cassette X01 Eagle XG-1295
- Brakes // SRAM G2 RSC, 180/180mm
- Stem // Renthal Apex 40mm
- Bars // Renthal V2 Fatbar Carbon
- Grips // Renthal Lock-On Traction Ultratacky
- Seatpost // Fox Transfer
- BB // SRAM DUB
- Size Tested // 490 Regular
- Sizes Available // 22 in total
- Weight // 14.53kg
Geometry of our size 490 Regular
- Head angle // 65.5°
- Effective seat angle // 79°
- Seat tube length // 400mm
- Head tube length // 120mm
- Chainstay // 4356mm
- Wheelbase // 1,249mm
- Effective top tube // 612mm
- BB height // 335mm (38mm drop)
- Reach // 490mm
Members Only – View the full spec list and geo for all versions of this bike below
While you’re here…
|Tested:||by Benji for 2 weeks|