When UK mountain bike royalty produce a bike, called the Atherton A150, the result is classy but complicated...
The Atherton A150 Build 1 is a 150mm travel 29er enduro bike from the fastest family in mountain biking. Prices start from £5,500.
Atherton A150 need to know
- Unique construction uses carbon tubing that is bonded into cradles, bearing housings, headtube and bottom bracket all made by an additive-printed titanium process
- DW6 suspension design combines Specialized FSR-style Horst link with short twin-links to deliver 150mm travel
- Two builds available direct from Atherton including a cheaper RockShox model at £5,500. Both with 160mm travel forks
- 10 different sizing combinations designed around two seat tube ranges Low and High. Reach up to 510mm on XL
One way or another, this first ride on the one-of-a-kind Atherton A150 bike has been a long time coming. I first rode an earlier prototype back in 2019 and a Robot bike that pre-dated that by a couple of years.
What’s the connection with Robot bikes? Atherton bikes absorbed Robot’s engineers and technical know-how, and 21 prototypes later, it’s finally ready to unleash its finished creations.
The A150 is a 29er enduro bike and it’s part of a small range covering trail/enduro and downhill racing. There are two builds of A150 and a frame only option for £3,400. The cutting-edge manufacturing, where bespoke carbon tubes are bonded in 3D-printed titanium lugs, pushes the cost up to seven grand for a Fox Factory build. AKA Build 1.
That’s not wildly different from many other boutique brands though, and £350 extra adds fully personalised geometry if you’re not happy with the comprehensive range of stock sizes.
The distinctive chassis is the star of the show here, so I’ll not focus on the parts package other than saying that I’d prefer less stiffness in Renthal’s carbon FatBar, bigger rotors on SRAM’s G2 disc brakes and a more compliant casing on the grippy and tough Continental Der Kaiser tyres.
Now back to the frame. From a big range of stock sizes – we’re talking 10 in total – six are designed around the Low seat tube range (that goes from 400-465mm), and four sizes with the Tall range (465-490mm). And there’s obviously some overlap. I rode the Low L which has a 470mm reach and a 430mm seat tube, but you can also get the Tall L with the exact same reach and a longer 465mm seat tube.
And if you think the sizing and construction process is complex, check out the bespoke DW6 suspension. Engineered by industry legend Dave Weagle, it’s highly tuneable and incorporates two shorter twin-links to manipulate curves and linkage velocities, as well as a more traditional Horst link chainstay pivot.
Taken together the 150mm travel DW6 layout affords detailed manipulation of anti-squat, chain growth, axle path and braking interactions, to create a complicated matrix for suspension tweaking.
And due to this complexity, it’s quite tricky to perfectly dial-in the rear suspension; demanding systematic adjustment of volume spacers, air spring pressures and the four-way damping settings on the Float X2 shock to eke out maximum potential.
How it rides
Once set up sweetly, what does a new-fangled, bonded carbon and titanium enduro bike ride like? Well, it is surprisingly normal. It pedals and climbs very efficiently with minimal bob from the Float X2 shock and the Low version with the shorter seat tube has tons of standover clearance too. Overall the sizing feels good; generous but not too long so it places the rider’s hands and feet in a good position for descending – which is what the A150 is all about.
And with a slightly longer 160mm Fox 36 fork, the production A150 uses more refined carbon tubes and links than the ones I previously pushed to the limits at Dyfi Bike Park, the family’s North Wales spot where bikes get developed and tested. Bone dry conditions however, meant it was impossible to prove my theory that with minimal clearance between the rear tyre and chainstays, mud clearance just behind the BB could be an issue come winter.
On blown-out dusty trails with exposed roots and rocks, Atherton’s rig maintains straight-line speed with no harshness or excessive deflection. There’s an exceptionally damped, calm feel to the chassis, just like I first noticed in Wales on the previous incarnation.
That composed ride quality likely stems from the construction techniques employed and extends to the handling too. The A150 has really neutral steering and tackles natural terrain and rocky trails with zero quirks or weirdness. And even though it only has 150mm travel, the rear end feels deep and plush, which really suits steeper tracks that slink down twisty, rooty, ruts. Deep in the forest precisely tracking the terrain (even while dragging the brakes) is where the A150 feels most at home, not slamming bike park berms or boosting jump faces.
With four volume spacers inside the Float X2 shock, the DW6 suspension isn’t mushy or wallowy, but there’s definitely less punch and progressive ramp than some enduro bikes. Following Gee Atherton’s personal settings, I added more air pressure and lowered the stem by one spacer to stop my weight getting tipped back on faster, flatter, bermy trails. Even run harder like this, the suspension retains good small bump tracking and smoothness.
The A150’s character leans more towards finding flow where it’s lacking rather than popping off lips, but after much knob-twiddling I found that it can also feel livelier when running the low-speed rebound more toward the open range of adjustment.
This simple suspension tweak hugely upped the responsiveness and increased the fun factor, transforming the A150 into a machine that can also switch and bounce side-to-side pretty rapidly from berm to berm or when changing lines in a matter of seconds.
If you’re after something unique and different, Atherton bikes is one of the few brands offering a genuinely fresh design approach in a crowded marketplace. You’ll need to fettle with set-up to find your sweet spot on the A150 though.
But invest that time and the Atherton A150 can deliver top-level performance as an enduro race machine, even on really demanding tracks, especially if stability, comfort and composure under braking are key considerations.