In pursuit of evil
Words by Matt Beer; photos by Tom Richards
All the design elements scream that this bike is clearly Evil through and through; namely the DELTA suspension system designed by Dave Weagle, compact rear triangle, massive head tube and monochrome paint job. Differentiating models from Evil’s lineup isn’t always easy, but the 130mm-travel RockShox Pike fork directs the Following to the more pedal-focused consumer.
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 66.9º / 66.4º head angle
• reach: 460 mm
• 76º / 75.5º seat tube angle
• 430 / 432 mm chain stays
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 14.38 kg / 28.75 lb
• Price: USD 9,050
Evil sent us a mid-range build that’s not quite in the middle of the pricing range—it’s $9,050, to be exact. This XO1 Hydra kit features SRAM X01 carbon cranks and Evil’s own Boomstick and Loophole carbon wheels. The carbon rims are actually made in the USA from Fusion Fiber, and Evil also states that the rims are recyclable through the manufacturer, as they use a different process than traditional carbon fiber, as explained here.
Some subtle but ingenious component choices show why this isn’t your average mountain bike. While we swapped out all the stock tires for the all-wheel steering kit, the following came with Maxxis DHF EXO tires. The rear was suitably reduced to a width of 2.3 inches; another nod from Evil to say they want this bike to be able to carry the tempo when the pedals demand it. There’s also a big 200mm rotor up front to slow you down as you push this bike to its limits. A high 35 mm riser bar promotes a more playful trail ride than a flatter option, which would lower the body position towards the front wheel.
A big part of how the Next flows through flatter terrain is geometry. You might assume that Evil has lightened the head angle of its bike going downhill, but it actually leans on the steeper side at 66.4 with the “X-Low” setting. Coupled with a medium-sized frame with 460mm reach and stiff 430mm chainstays, the numbers surrounding the Following are sure to make for a fun ride.
Despite its bold and rugged appearance, the 13 kg (28.75 lb) Following doesn’t ride like a heavy bike in any way. Does it have get up and go compared to some Allied BC40? Absolutely not. On the flip side, the Following is a bike that can perform in a bike park or go through jump lines without feeling like a wet noodle underneath.
Trailforks areas we tested
Bustling with activity, the beautifully constructed and well-equipped headquarters of the Sentiers du Moulins trail system was just one of the networks we explored in Evil Following. This zone is full of long, exposed bedrock, a healthy dose of machined and naturally flowing technical trails. This zone surprised us with all the gems hidden on both sides of the valley.
Continuing hand in hand with the fluid nature of Following, cruising down the Blue flow track, Maelstrom, showcased tons of benches and rolls to find ambitious rhythms. On the backside of Mont Tourbillon, you’ll find a descent of almost 200 meters along the infamous “Slab City” trail, which runs mainly on a granite slab hidden under a forest floor covered by a mossy carpet. Between the fast jumping sections and the undulating Canadian Shield, there was plenty of action.
Sentiers du Moulin mountain bike trails
The following has to be one of the most unique climbing bikes I’ve ridden to date. The suspension raised from the saddle gives good support when you jump on the pedals or push the bike. However, the seating position had me scratching my head: tall bars, short chainstays and a loose seat tube angle.
While sitting on top of the rear axle provides traction, the short rear center makes it prone to front wheel lift on steep climbs or steep uphills. The 35mm risers didn’t help how far you sat in the saddle, and to combat the vertical but slightly cramped position, we lowered them after the first shakedown (more on that later).
Reach is the most important number in descending body position, but top tube length plays a more important role in climbing the bike while seated. Seat and head tube angles of 75.5 and 66.4 degrees spread the space between saddle and handlebar and put weight well over the rear wheel, but hardly enough weight up front. Typically on a bike with these angles you’d find a 60mm or more stem to slow down the steering, but the following were fitted with Evil’s own 45mm long, 12 Gauge unit.
Moving to a longer stem and low bar would certainly slow down the steering and shift the rider’s weight forward, but I feared losing some of the Following’s positives when pointed downhill. Another option would be to increase the size; something that was also hinted at to maximize the gravity fed path sections.
Part of the beauty of this little trail weapon is that it turns even the most basic singletrack into a feature-packed circuit. I’d stick my neck out and call it a freerider mountain bike. It’s stiff, rigid and snappy.
All Evil bikes look the same, or do they? Side by side, there are subtle differences. The Following’s figure tube diameters are slimmer than its enduro sibling. Coupled with a healthy dose of progression with 120mm of rear wheel travel, the frame didn’t bend once. At the other end of the stroke, traction with a single articulated DELTA suspension provided exceptional grip on steep slopes and slimy rock gardens. Evil was pushed the most on jump paths because it always required more. It had just the right amount of everything about the frame and its kinematics; not too wet and not too dry – Goldilocks approved.
You need to pay attention to steering at high speeds. As mentioned in the climbing section, the handling is fast and keeps you on your toes. It’s important to remember how much weight is placed on the front wheel because it feels like it could push and bite back.
One component we agreed we would replace immediately if this was our own bike was the handlebar. Evil states that their Boomstick Carbon Bars have 9 degrees back and 5 degrees up. Whatever they were, we never found a comfortable balance with them.
Getting the followers off the ground is never difficult, and the short 430mm chainstays pop up on command. Combined with a 66.4 degree head tube angle, the geometry’s downside is high-speed stability. To combat this knife-edge handling, installing a headset to lower the head tube angle by a degree could be one way to balance the steering dynamics.
There isn’t much forgiveness through dirty washes or dusty embankments, but then again, none of the other bikes in the test were as “fun” as the following.
#Field #test #Evil #Stout #Stiff #Snappy #Pinkbike