PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Words by Matt Beer; photography by Tom Richards
Evil Bikes are known for their roots that have been dug deep into the gravity side of mountain biking for some time, but their 120mm short-travel trail bike, the Following, shouldn't be neglected, because it punches well above its rank.
All design elements scream that this bike is clearly an Evil through and through; namely, the DELTA suspension system designed by Dave Weagle, compact rear triangle, massive headtube, and a monochromatic paint scheme. Distinguishing between the models in Evil’s lineup isn’t always straightforward, but the 130mm travel RockShox Pike fork steers the Following to the more pedaling-focused consumer.
Evil Following Details
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 66.9 / 66.4º head angle
• Reach: 460mm
• 76º / 75.5º seat tube angle
• 430 / 432mm chainstays
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 13.04 kg / 28.75 lb
• Price: $9,050 USD
Evil sent us the middle tier build, which isn't exactly middle of the road in terms of pricing - it's $9,050 USD, to be exact. This XO1 Hydra parts kit features SRAM X01 carbon cranks, and Evil’s own Boomstick and Loophole carbon wheels. The carbon hoops are actually made in the USA from Fusion Fiber, and Evil also states that the rims are recyclable through the manufacturer because they use a different process than traditional carbon fiber, as explained here
There are some subtle but clever part choices that prove why this isn’t your average downcountry bike. Although we swapped all of the stock tires for a control set for all of the bikes, the Following came with Maxxis DHF EXO tires. The rear was appropriately downsized to a 2.3” width; another nod from Evil to say they want this bike to be able to carry some tempo when the pedals ask for it. There’s also a large 200mm rotor up front to slow you down when you take this bike to its limits. A high 35mm rise bar promotes a more playful approach to trail riding than a flatter option that would lower your body position towards the front wheel.
A large part of the way the Following flows through flatter terrain is the geometry. You might expect Evil to have slackened out the head angle on their trail bike to downhill bike digits, but it actually leans towards the steeper side at 66.4 in the “X-Low” setting. Combined with a reach of 460mm for the size medium frame and stubby 430mm chainstays, the numbers surrounding the Following certainly make for a snappy ride.
Despite its bold and stocky appearance, the 13kg (28.75lb) Following doesn’t ride like a heavy bike by any means. Does it have the get up and go compared to something like the Allied BC40? Definitely not. On the flip side, the Following is a bike that is capable of making appearances in a bike park or flowing through jump lines without feeling like a wet noodle underneath you. Trailforks Regions Where We Tested
Bustling with activity, the beautifully constructed, and well-stocked, headquarters of the Sentiers du Moulins trail system was just one of the networks we explored on the Evil Following. Filled with long, exposed bedrock, a healthy dose of machine made and naturally flowing tech trails, this zone surprised us with all of the gems hidden on either side of the valley.
To go hand in hand with the flicky nature of the Following, a cruise down the blue flow track, Maelstrom, presented tons of berms and rollers to find ambitious rhythms through. On the backside of Mont Tourbillon you find close to 200m of descending down the infamous "Slab City" trail that rides primarily a sheet of granite that hides just under the mossy carpeted forest floor. There was plenty of action between the high-speed jump sections and undulating Canadian Shield for the Following. Sentiers du Moulin mountain biking trailsClimbing
The Following has to be one of the most unique climbing bikes that I’ve ridden to date. Out of the saddle, there’s a good amount of support through the suspension when you jump on the pedals or push into the bike to lunge up a ledge. However, the seated position left me scratching my head: high bars, short chainstays, and a slack seat tube angle.
Although sitting over the rear axle provides traction, the short rear center does make it prone to front wheel lift on steep climbs or steppy uphills. 35mm rise bars didn’t help how far back you sat in the saddle, and in order to combat the upright riding yet slightly cramped position we lowered them after the first shakedown (more on those later).
Reach is the all important number to look at for the descending body position, but top tube length plays a more crucial role in how a bike climbs while seated. The 75.5 and 66.4-degree seat and head tube angles spread out the room between the saddle and the handlebars, placing weight well over the rear wheel, but barely enough weight towards the front. Typically on a bike with those angles you’d find a stem of 60mm or more to slow down the steering, but the Following came equipped with Evil’s own 45mm length, 12 Gauge unit.
Moving to a longer stem and low-rise bars would certainly slow down the steering and shift the rider weight forward, but I’d be afraid to lose some of the positive traits of the Following when it was pointed downhill. Another option would be sizing up; something that was hinted at for maximizing the gravity fed bits of trail too.Descending
Part of the beauty that hides in this little trail weapon is that it turns even the most basic singletrack into a feature-filled lap. I’d stick my neck out and call it the freerider’s cross country bike. It’s stout, stiff, and snappy.
All Evil bikes look the same, or do they? Side by side, there are subtle differences. The tube diameters of the Following’s figure are slimmer than its enduro sibling. Combined with a healthy dose of progression in the 120mm of rear wheel travel, the frame never winced once. At the other end of the stroke, the grip through the single pivot-driven DELTA suspension provided exceptional grip across rooty off cambers and through slimy rock gardens. The Evil was pushed the hardest on jump trails because it always asked for more. There was just the right amount of everything from the frame and its kinematics; not too soggy, and not too dry - Goldilocks approved.
You’ve got to pay attention to steering at high speeds. As mentioned in the climbing portion, the handling is quick and keeps you on your toes. It’s crucial to mind how much weight is on placed the front wheel because it does feel like it could tuck and bite back.
One component that we all agreed we’d change immediately, if this was our own bike, was the handlebars. Evil states that their Boomstick carbon bars have a 9º backsweep and 5º upsweep. Whatever they may be, we could never find a comfortable balance with them.
Getting the Following off of the ground is never a chore, and the short 430mm chainstays pop on command. Paired with that 66.4-degree head tube angle, the downside of the geometry is high-speed stability. In order to combat that knife-edge handling, installing a headset to reduce the head tube angle by a degree could be one way to settle down the steering dynamics.
There isn’t a lot of forgiveness through rubbley washouts or dusty berms, but then again, none of the other bikes in the test were as much “fun” as the Following.