Third-generation Evil Following includes a jutting jawline that’s sharper-edged, a seat tube brace for improved standover clearance and internal cabling.
Editor’s Choice 2020
Third time lucky, right? Joking aside, luck had nothing to do with the third generation Evil Following making the cut for this year’s Editor’s Choice. But before we get into what makes it such an impressive bike, let’s take a closer look at what’s changed from the gen 2 Following.
The most obvious difference to the carbon frame is the super low-slung top tube and tighter seat tube bracing strut, where the fresh new design language also translates to the latest Wrecking. Switching to an inline shock helps tip the scales in the Following’s favour, while making it much easier to fit a full size water bottle even with the impressive standover clearance.
Out back, the carbon swingarm has been beefed up to give the bike more drive out of and through corners. Also the switch to the wider 157mm Boost rear end should help silence complaints about limited tyre clearance. Yes, the haters can now hate on yet another standard, but having a short rear and ample tyre clearance always leads to a compromise, and 157 Boost seems like a good workaround on the Following that doesn’t compromise handling.
Evil has tweaked the geometry too, the seat tube steeping by 0.5º while the reach on the size L grew to 480mm. Travel is still 120mm, and the bikes all ship with 130mm forks. By resisting the temptation to go super slack in the head angle, Evil retains the laser-like accuracy that made the previous Following such a hit. And combined with the extra stiffness the latest version generates more cornering G-forces and sheer boost-and-pop.than any other bike we’ve ridden. That’s not to say you can’t make the Evil slacker by upping the fork travel as it’s designed to handle a 150mm travel fork. Just don’t complain about the subsequent seat angle being too slack if you decide to go down that route.
In fact, with the Gen 3 Following in the X-Low geometry setting you can pretty much say goodbye to all your riding buddies. This bike punches so far above its weight you’ll be able to ride the Maxxis tyres clean off the Industry Nine wheels, or knock yourself out trying.
Evil Following is still a 120mm travel 29er, but by adopting an inline shock like the V1 Following, Evil has made some weight savings, where canny sculpting, enabled by a stiffer Super-Boost rear end and 157mm hub, save additional grams.
Bigger main pivot bearings add extra stiffness to a frame that was never wimpy, which should also make it more reliable. The more upright seat tower could still be marginally shorter on the size L to slam the saddle though.
Evil Following review
Dave Weagle’s DELTA suspension is tuned to be ‘dual progressive’, which means ramping to sag then flattening out to ‘float’ in the grip zone. The single pivot design feels predictable transitioning from floating across chop to absorbing the heaviest punches that are inevitable considering the speed generated by a short travel rig with this much traction and cornering grip.
A top-tier RockShox Deluxe Ultimate shock offers a three-position compression dial, and the Following’s one of the few bikes where some platform is beneficial for trail riding. For a truly coil-like feel and maximum grip in the wet though, run the shock wide open and it’s so reactive it trumps plenty of enduro bikes with way more travel.
Grab a fist full of rear brake and the Evil can bite then skip rather than feel totally planted, but it’s all part of its maniac character.
The lowest-tier Evil prioritises suspension with Ultimate level kit, then economises on drivetrain, brakes and a smattering of aluminium parts, which accounts for the £500 saving over the Transition Spur.
SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is perfectly effective, but Industry Nine’s Hydra freehub is obnoxiously loud; especially when the thick rubberised stay protectors and a snazzy miniature chainguide ensure everything else is deathly silent.
The wheels‘ enduro tag is exaggerated too, but they are competitively zippy and lightweight. Also the Maxxis Minion DHF tyres weigh more than Transition’s skinnier models and this is obvious when climbing and accelerating out of turns.
Evil calls the Following ‘the most playful bike to manual the earth’, and we’re hard pressed to come up with a more accurate assessment. Stiff and solid, it responds instantly to every muscle twitch and will leave the muscles in your face hurting from grinning so much. We’d argue this is mainly due to the way the Following rails corners, but it’s hard to think about anything much whilst being thrown around turns like stripping the willow at a ceilidh.
The Delta suspension also plays its part as it isolates chatter better than any other bike with so little travel, balancing bottomlessness with an almost psychic connection to the terrain. And as much as the Deluxe shock slices the tops off bumps, there’s always a mellow ramp-up deeper down to pump turns and launch off lips.
The steeper seat angle ensures a prime position to get on top of the pain on long climbs, and a tactile touch to the suspension gives tons of traction negotiating fiddly steps and loose scrambles. Acceleration can’t match the crazy light Spur, but power transfer is snappy and constantly delivered in the perfect zone as pedals crest the chainring all the way through the downstroke with zero lag.
If you don’t really give two hoots about climbing prowess, you’ll be blown away as the suspension nonchalantly slurps up the singletrack. The Following is a bit of a twisted firestarter, but one you can instinctively trust as it leads you at Mach 10 towards countless potentially regrettable situations and blazes out of the chaos hungry for more.
What’s new for 2021?
With the way model years work, some brands deliver next year’s bikes mid-way through the current year. It’s confusing, but seeing as the V3 Following was launched in March 2020, don’t expect to see a V4 anytime soon.
With the latest Following, Evil bucks the trend for ever-longer and slacker geometry. And in doing so it has hit the jackpot in terms of laser-like accuracy and the ability to generate more cornering G-forces and sheer boost-and-pop. Yes, it isn’t the absolute lightest or best-pedalling short-travel trail bike available, but we’d forgive it just about anything for the good times that ensue. The DELTA suspension grips like Velcro, and each end is perfectly harmonised, the handling so natural it excels at everything from XC missions, to huge bike park jumps and big mountain rocky tech. Not something you can say about many other 120mm bikes.