We recently stopped by the Atlas headquarters to check out some of what they've been up to. Much of the design has stayed the same, with the flexible open-frame design, and front leaf spring and rear pivoting supports, as well as adjustable pad heights on top of the shoulders. But...there's a whole bunch of new items. Let's look at some of our favorites.

1. All right, you want flash and sizzle, and the new carbon version of the Atlas Brace is pretty sweet-looking indeed. It's been simplified wherever possible, as well as undergoing a diet to get it down to a claimed 635 grams (22.39 ounces for those of us not using the metric system). It'll be available in two colors (black and the white shown here), two sizes (Small and Medium) and will retail for $499.  The original plastic version will also still be available, and that one's $299.

2. New on all the braces are these clips that you can use if you're doing a cross-strap arrangement. If you opt to not use them, they're removable.

3. The Emergency Removal System (ERS) has been simplified to allow easy removal in the event of a crash. That means no more loose parts and one-handed operation. The full-sized brace is still designed to slip over a rider's head without having to separate the halves.   See the cavities at the center of the front section? That's a new collapsible padding arrangement. The early sample that we saw collapsed pretty easily, and is supposed to be made stiffer in production. It certainly beats running into a hard surface if your chin met the front of the brace.

4. The design has been simplified wherever possible. The back mounts still fold forward for easy storage.

5. Sizing on the adult braces will now be adjusted with the silver aluminum blocks, which can be turned fore or aft to offer custom fit options.

6. The Prodigy is the new mid-sized addition to the line Atlas lineup, and is designed for teens and women. It has nearly the same feature set as the full-sized brace. Suggested retail? $249.

7. Need something even smaller? Atlas has added the Tyke model, for the smallest riders. The design's the same, just scaled down, and suggested retail is $199.

8. Since both the Prodigy and Tyke are smaller, and children and teen heads are proportionally larger, they both use this release in the front to allow the halves of the brace to be separated for installation and removal.

9. The smaller braces use a simple eccentric design at the pivot to allow custom sizing options.

10. The back supports on all the models feature a softer rubber material on the lower section, before meeting the harder plastic near the top.

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