This much fun doesn’t come cheap
This much fun doesn’t come cheap
The Evil The Calling is the perfect downhiller’s trail bike. With maximum grip, cornering shred-factor and attitude. Easy to ride for intermediates too.
Evil is so boutique, that all of its frames are cut exclusively from unidirectional carbon cloth. And while the futuristic-looking Calling may resemble every other bike in the Evil range, this particular curvaceous hulk uses the Delta link suspension to deliver 131mm of travel.
Evil’s signature suspension design is a relatively straightforward affair, a single pivot with linkage-actuated shock. Asymmetric mounts that connect the shock linkage to the swingarm offer two geometry settings so you can sink the already low BB to ground-scraping levels if slicing corners to shreds is your priority.
The UD chassis feels solid and precise, but conforms better to the terrain compared to some racier, razor sharp carbon frames. It’s quiet too, thanks to frame armour in all the right places and a rattle-free cable routing. The rest of the fixtures on Evil’s latest creation are bang-up-to-date, like having no front mech mount, Boost dropouts at both ends and a metric-sized shock.
The Calling is the first bike in the Evil line to employ a metric shock, where the move to a Trunnion mount means the shock now rotates on bearings rather than bushings. Grip and control have been improved to such a degree that the back-end on the Calling shames many enduro bikes with 30mm more travel.
The short rocker links of the Delta suspension enable large angle and speed variations throughout the travel to manipulate the leverage curve to yield a swanky-sounding ‘dual-progressive’ rate. It’s tuned for a subtle mid-stroke ramp up to give support for pedalling and pumping and combined with the outstanding off-the-top sensitivity from the RockShox Super Deluxe shock, the Calling’s suspension gives a sense of floating in a predictable, supportive middle zone that never bottoms too easily.
Up front, the 140mm travel RockShox Pike suspension fork with the new Charger II damper balances the rear suspension perfectly, with damping, stiffness and control a match for anything on the market. Best of all the 2018 fork can handle a front tyre up to 2.8in in with if you want to improve grip and slacken the head angle further.
Sram’s GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain boasts a headline grabbing 500% gear range, but the real news story here is that there’s an almost identical silky smooth shifting and pedalling experience to the mega-expensive XO1 version.
Evil doesn’t scrimp elsewhere either, with a wide Race Face handlebar and short stem. The Race Face Aeffect wheels are a decent weight and accelerate easily. The 30mm rims also proved tough enough when we landed so hard during testing that the casing snapped on one of Maxxis control tyres.
If you find yourself at the top of the kind of descent you’d normally only enjoy, or even ride, on a 160mm travel rig, rest assured, the Calling totally has your back. The 131mm suspension is impressive and balanced, with so much cornering grip it urges you to ride faster, jump further and take more chances. This carbon bike is deceptively rapid too, gliding down the trail like a hoverboard, even over pretty beat up trails
Pedal clearance is obviously reduced in the X-Low position, but the tyre-knob-peeling cornering speed is addictive, and, with good suspension support, the Calling never wallows or upsets rider weight even when squaring off berms at warp speed.
It pedals, climbs and sprints with all the efficiency of a short-travel rig even with the shock wide open, but it doesn’t surge uphill quite as rapidly as the Pivot Mach 5.5. This might be in part because the Race Face wheels feel less snappy, but with an £800 saving over the Pivot, you could buy some pretty snazzy hoops to help bridge this gap.
With less travel than an enduro rig but a similar skillset, the Calling walks the tightrope between lightweight trail and all-mountain ripper. Being comfortable and plush is easy, but few bikes remain tight, poppy and agile with it, so Evil has actually pulled off a perfect balancing act. The reduced travel sharpens focus on steeper tracks while its dynamic ride begs you to flick a manual or play like a kid everywhere else.
The Calling is the perfect downhiller’s trail bike. With maximum grip, cornering shred-factor and attitude, it encourages you to play like a big kid looking to get nicked by the trail police. It sure loves gravity-assisted good times, but being very effective climber and sprinter helps join the dots between all the fun bits. The perfectly shaped, curvy carbon frame carries it weight low slung to help launch the bike around every corner and through the air. And with RockShox’s latest Pike fork and Super Deluxe shock being so well tuned and balanced, the Calling is every bit as easy to ride for intermediates as it’s a total riot for hardcore shredders.