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

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Evil Insurgent XO1 LTD Edition

Pros:

  • Killer suspension and keen pricing

Cons:

  • The seat angle is too slack

Product:

Evil Insurgent XO1 LTD Edition review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£6,499.00
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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.

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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.

We opted to test the latter, saving the Wreckoning 29er for a showdown with the new Specialized Enduro and Trek Remedy later this year.

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.

Bulbous head tube allows geometry tweaks via offset headset cups

Bulbous head tube allows geometry tweaks via offset headset cups

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.

Suspension

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.

Rear shock set-up may lack efficiency on the ups but shines on descents

Rear shock set-up may lack efficiency on the ups but shines on descents

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.

Components

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.

Proprietary upper and e*thirteen lower guide ensure chain retention

Proprietary upper and e*thirteen lower guide ensure chain retention

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.

Performance

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.

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Verdict

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.

Details

Frame:UD Carbon, 151mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch Plus RC3
Fork:RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm travel
Wheels:e*thirteen TRSr Carbon, e*thirteen 3C 27.5x2.35in tyres
Drivetrain:e*thirteen TRSr Carbon 32t chainset, SRAM XO1 r-mech and shifter
Brakes:SRAM Guide RSC, 180mm
Components:Race Face Six C 35 800mm bar, Race Face Atlas 50mm stem, RockShox Reverb Stealth 125mm, WTB Silverado Team saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:13.02kg (28.7lb)
Contact:silverfish-uk.com
Size tested:L (X-low)
Head angle:64.9°
Seat angle:67.4°
BB height:335mm
Chainstay:433mm
Front centre:771mm
Wheelbase:1,204mm
Down tube:710mm
Top tube:623mm
Reach:451mm