Evil triumphs with a badass 29er that redefines how much fun you can have with 120mm of travel
Need to know
- The Evil The Following is a short-travel 29er built for aggressive riding
- Delta System suspension linkage delivers 120mm travel
- Both halves of the carbon frame unite at a 15mm thru-axle pivot that uses dual angular contact bearings for stiffness and durability
- Geometry is adjustable between ‘high’ and ‘low’ settings — the lower position offering a sub-67° head angle
The idea of 29in wheels and short-travel suspension hitting the sweetspot for speed, efficiency and playfulness has been voiced in the pages of mbr before — bikes like the Specialized Camber Evo and Kona Process 111 spring to mind. The low-slung Evil The Following, however, pushes the envelope for aggressive short-travel 29er trail bikes further than any bike yet.
For a 120mm bike, the Evil’s geometry and attitude is aggressive. There’s a sub 67-degree head angle and 330mm bottom bracket height in the lower setting, and the way the suspension configuration places everything down low in the frame reinforces the ready-to-rip vibe. In fact, the intensely curved carbon chassis looks fast even standing still.
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Appearances can sometimes be deceptive, but not here. As you’d expect from a 120mm 29er it’s a nimble, fast-to-accelerate trail bike with great technical climbing ability. The Evil’s calling card is that it also devours the kind of terrain 160mm bikes are optimised for.
At speed, or railing berms, the geometry and suspension synchronise perfectly. Equally, the Evil The Following rides so solid, planted and secure, it incites you to boost jumps, attack rowdy DH tracks and generally shred as hard as possible.
The Delta System suspension works great. You tend to hover in an active mid-zone of the travel, giving gobs of grip in the loose stuff and isolating you from chatter, but without ever hanging up on square edge hits or bottoming harshly.
Another win is, with much less travel than most bikes that are this capable, the tighter, more precise feel gives direct feedback from the trail and this makes the ride of the Evil even more engaging and alive.
Spotlight on: Evil The Following’s Delta system
As an Evil founding partner, suspension guru Dave Weagle launched the complicated-looking Delta System in 2009. The new Evils still use the same single-pivot with a linkage-actuated shock, but it’s a much-refined, easier to manufacture version that saves considerable weight.
Short, beefed-up ‘dog bone’ links improve lateral stiffness and connect the swingarm to a triangulated shock cradle that compresses the shock from the top. The other end of the shock is mounted directly to the front triangle.
The short links change angle and velocity considerably throughout the travel — something Weagle uses to dial in a ‘dual progressive’ suspension leverage curve that aims for suppleness off the top, maximum traction in the mid-stroke, and good bottom-out resistance. Best of all, it actually does what it says on the tin.
Looking beyond its awesome ride quality, the Evil is not without fault. The internal cable routing rubs on the inside edge of the carbon frame, and the seat angle could be a bit steeper to place rider weight further forward for climbing.
These small gripes are also shadowed by Evil’s need to prove that its well-publicised issues with reliability are firmly in the past too. As such, the latest-generation carbon frames are made in one of the most highly regarded production facilities in Taiwan.
The Following is evil in more than just name — it’s one of the only bikes in years to get me so excited that I’d consider dipping into my own pocket to get one. I now know the correct answer to the “what bike should I buy?” question every bike tester gets asked on a routine basis. It’s that good.