A fun, playful bike that rewards a dynamic riding style, can be ridden off the brakes in the roughest terrain thanks to the excellent rear suspension
If the outcome of this test were based on ‘cool’ factor alone, Evil would win hands down. In fact, it’s such a core brand (Evil would probably spell that with a ‘k’) it doesn’t even sully the finish of its frames with the model names.
It’s confusing, as the bikes all look so alike, but Evil can get away with it as there are only three full-suspension platforms to choose from, and they are all full carbon. There’s the 120mm-travel Following 29er trail bike, the 161mm-travel Wreckoning 29er enduro bike and the 151mm Insurgent that’s rolling on 27.5in wheels.
All of Evil’s full-suspension bikes employ Dave Weagle’s Delta Link design. And for all of its visual complexity, if you break it down, it’s just a single pivot with linkage-driven shock. Don’t think for a second though, that it isn’t an effective design.
While none of the other bikes in this test offer adjustable geometry, the Insurgent has four settings. Two are provided by the asymmetric linkage mounts, and you have two additional settings with an Angleset. Hence the bulbous, tapered head tube.
With most of the Monarch Plus rear shock obscured by the chunky carbon swingarm, Evil has incorporated a neat sag indicator into the Delta Link to help with set-up. And because it’s specific to the bike, it’s far more accurate than using the generic sag gradients anodised onto the body of the shock.
Thanks to the shorter 170mm crankarms, running the recommended 30 per cent sag with the geometry in the extra-low setting presented no pedal clearance issues. This set-up does make the suspension feel too mushy for effective climbing though, and robs the bike of zip on rolling terrain.
On Evil’s recommendation, we fitted two extra tokens to the air can of the shock. This instantly tightened up the suspension response and provided an altogether more stable ride. An added bonus being that the red O-ring wouldn’t blow off the end of the shock so readily. This set-up is now standard on all new Insurgent bikes and frames.
Silverfish has made a schoolboy error with the build kit. The frame has no facility to fit a front derailleur, yet our test bike came with a left-hand Reverb remote mounted above the handlebar, not a right-hand remote flipped upside down.
Other than that though, we can’t fault the choice of components. Carbon 800mm Race Face handlebar, check. Stubby 50mm stem, check. Comfy WTB saddle, check. Given that the Insurgent is a fair bit cheaper than the other bikes in this test, we even doubled checked that the rims were carbon, as it almost seems like too good of a deal to be true. Our only real concern is with the reliability of the rear hub. Hopefully e*thirteen has sorted out the bearing issues that plagued its early wheelsets.
Getting a good set-up on the Insurgent took a little longer than the other bikes in this test. And even with the extra volume spacers in the shock we still weren’t convinced of its climbing prowess. That’s because the seat angle is too slack on the L and XL frame sizes, placing your weight too far behind the bottom bracket when sat down spinning the pedals, especially in the extra-low geometry setting.
In that respect, the Insurgent is more about surviving the climbs, rather than rocketing up them. Get to the top, however, and you’re rewarded with its ability to hang it all out on the way down. It’s a fun, playful bike that rewards a dynamic riding style, but it can be ridden off the brakes in the roughest terrain, thanks to the excellent rear suspension. It doesn’t have the inherent damping in the carbon of the Transition frame, and there’s a lot of chain noise too, but we could live with both if it means keeping the best part of £2k in our bank accounts.
As Boutique Beauties go, the Evil Insurgent ticks all of the boxes, and then some. It’s drop-dead gorgeous, it’s exclusive without being prohibitively expensive, and it’s a total riot to ride. The e*thirteen build kit giving it a distinctly custom feel. Yes, the seat angle is too slack for technical climbing, but that’s not what this bike was designed for. Twiddle up a fire road in an easy gear to get to your favourite downhill trails then open it up. That’s what the Insurgent is all about. And having other riders ask you which model it is, as it’s impossible to tell them apart.