The Evil Insurgent is a full-blown party-sled that rides far more aggressively than its 151mm of travel suggests. Two testers smashed this bike around a healthy smattering of big-mountain trails to evaluate how it performed in mixed conditions. This long and low enduro bike is a dastardly delight to charge downhill and only feels better the harder you push it. Rough, enduro-grade, terrain or super fast flow trails, the Insurgent remains composed. The smooth, DELTA suspension system keeps the rear end planted through the nastiest rock gardens or deepest braking bumps. Does this sound too good to be true? Perhaps. It is clear that Evil designed this bike for downhill performance not for hammering uphill. Climbing skills are capable but it is a laborious endeavor. This bicycle prefers not to rush uphill. While the suspension platform remains firm, the ultra-aggressive angles are detrimental to power transfer and efficiency. Those looking for a bike that is at-home in the bike park or blasting shuttle laps, but still offers a reasonable climbing experience, will love this bike.
Evil Insurgent X01 Eagle 2017 Review
Cons: Lackluster climbing, poor slow-speed handling
Manufacturer: Evil Bikes
Should I Buy This Bike?
Evil markets the Insurgent as a unicorn that can be a do-it-all bike from charging DH laps to all-day pedal fests. We found this assessment to be a bit of a stretch on the pedally end of the riding spectrum. There is no doubt that this bike can climb well-enough to get you to the top. That said, the Insurgent is not a great choice for those who want to crank out a 30 mile ride. There are far better 150mm options for long days in the saddle. The Insurgent's downhill skills are truly spectacular. This bike's sheer desire to attack the trail is impressive and its high speed handling blew us out of the water. You should buy this bike if you strongly favor lively downhill performance and want a dialed suspension design.
Prefer an enduro bike that better balances uphill and downhill performance? The Santa Cruz Hightower LT provides a nearly perfect blend of swift climbing abilities and downhill skills. This bike sports 150mm of travel and rolls on 29-inch wheels. The Hightower LT doesn't quite have the same wide-open feel when the gnar-factor is cranked to the double black diamond level. Don't worry, this bike still slays the descent, but Santa Cruz took a more conservative, middle-of-the-road, approach when designing this enduro sled. The LT is happy to crank up the most heinous multi-hour climb providing the illusion you're powering a bike with far less travel. Our test bike carries a $5699 price tag and features a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork, DPX2 rear shock and a Shimano 1x11 drivetrain with an E*Thirteen extended range cassette. The entry-level build kit goes for $3949 with a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain, RockShox Revelation fork, and SRAM Level T brakes.
Still interested in a downhill-dominated ride experience but $6199 seems a bit lofty? The aluminum Commencal AM V4.2 produces excellent gnar-slaying capability with price tags starting at $2499. The Meta AM V4.2 sports a slightly less sophisticated suspension design but, like the Insurgent, does not shy away when the trail gets rowdy. The Commencal cannot, however, come close to matching the climbing abilities of the Hightower LT. The Meta AM is a sluggish climber that relies heavily on the shock's climb switch. Regardless, when the speed is cranked up and the going gets rough, plowing down the trail is a pleasure aboard the Commencal.
The rowdy, redesigned 2018 Santa Cruz Nomad is an even more confident descender than the Insurgent, but it doesn't climb as well.
The Evil Insurgent is built around of 151mm of rear wheel travel. The seemingly complex suspension design is called DELTA. While this design looks incredibly complex, it is a linkage driven single pivot. DELTA is yet another Dave Weagle design. As you would expect, it works well.
Our large test bike had a 557mm effective top tube and 423mm chainstays to produce a 1221mm wheelbase. We measured the reach to be 452mm. We tested this bike with a 160mm fork. The Insurgent features adjustable geometry. The two settings are dubbed Low and X-Low. This nomenclature goes a long way to indicate the intended application of this bike. We rode this bike in both geometry settings, but preferred the aggressive X-Low setting. We should mention that the adjustable geometry system found on Evil bikes is one of the more complex designs and requires multiple steps to setup properly.
In the low mode we measured the Evil to have a 65.2-degree head angle, 73.5-degree seat tube angle, and 339mm bottom bracket height.
In the x-low mode, the Insurgent has a measured 64.5-degree head angle, 72.9-degree effective seat tube angle, and 328mm bottom bracket height.
- Available in Carbon Fiber only
- 151mm of rear wheel travel, designed to fit a 150, 160, or 170mm fork
- 27.5 wheels only with clearance for a 2.5-inch tire
- NON-BOOST spacing
- Available as frame-only for $2799, GX-kit for $4699, XT-kit for $4999, and X01 Eagle for $6199.
- Available in sizes S-XL
How We Tested
Two OutdoorGearLab testers hammered the Insurgent X01 Eagle pushed this aggressive 27.5 rig up and down the Sierra Nevada mountains in gloriously tacky as well as dry and loose conditions.
The Evil Insurgent is a decisively aggressive ride that produces excellent stability and performance on rowdy and fast terrain. This bike lives for gnarly trails and handles better the harder it is pushed. There is no mistaking this bike for a cross-country or short-travel rocketship on the uphill. That said, you will get to the top with a little patience. The dialed DELTA suspension is calm under pedaling forces and provides a supremely grounded and muted feel through chop or braking bumps.
When aimed downhill, the Insurgent is as confident as any 150mm travel bike we have ever ridden. This stability is particularly evident when carrying a healthy dose of speed. The unmistakably long and low geometry provides a grounded and planted feel no matter how steep the terrain. The DELTA suspension is muted and incredibly plush. Whether you use low setting or the x-low setting, this bike slays
The component specifications compliment the bike's stunning descending skills. The 160mm RockShox Lyrik RCT3 is a rock solid performer. The Insurgent can accept up to a 170mm fork, an option that should probably be reserved for those seeking a park or shuttle bike. The RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock isn't always a favorite of our testers. When paired with the DELTA suspension system we found the Monarch Plus to be super plush yet supportive when hammering the pedals.
The angles on the Evil are unmistakingly aggressive. Through our testing period, we found it impossible to overwhelm this bike. Steep chutes, ludicrous speeds and braking bumps were all shralped with confidence. This is not to suggest that this bike would feel wonderful on a double-black diamond at a bike park, but it has the angles and composure to ride it all. The harder the Insurgent is pushed, the more confident it is. This is the same phenomenon we experienced with our Santa Cruz Nomad. Slower speeds can feel a bit cumbersome due to the 1221mm running length. This is just more motivation to go fast.
The Insurgent is not exactly the kind of bike we would label as especially playful. This bike does not have a stubborn or bland feel, but it takes some persuasion to engage in shenanigans. Due to its length, the Evil requires a fair bit of mustard to get it to follow instructions. Without sounding like a broken record, fun-factor and handling improves with speed. Dipping into corners is predictable and effective. Much of the Insurgent's 29 lbs 10 oz appears to be tucked away low on the frame. This allows lower center of gravity and a nice planted feel. The E*Thirteen TRS+ tires were predictable through the mixed conditions we encountered.
The DELTA suspension system certainly looks complicated. Through our short test period, we are unable to comment on the maintenance required by all of the linkages and bearings. We can say that there was no creaking or crackling during our test period. Regardless of complexity, we found this suspension design to function exceptionally well. There was a distinctly quiet, calm, and muted feel when skipping over high speed bumps or roots. We found the Insurgent's suspension did not kick back or bounce on us.
If it sounds like we love partying down mountains aboard this bike, we do. On the ascent, the Insurgent is predictably fine. If we evaluate this bike through the scope of its intended gnar-slaying application, the uphill performance is solid. With a bit of patience and a healthy effort, you will get to the top of every climb. The pedal platform is fantastic and the build specifications enhance the ride but the geometry simply was not designed to fly uphill.
The SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain comes in handy when grinding up a climb. Your best bet for a pleasant climbing experience is to drop it into the 50-tooth cog and relax. The climbing position is comfortable and upright despite the slack, 72.9-degree, seat tube angle. The Insurgent is light and the pedal platform work in your favor, but the ultra-slack design results in a dead, power sucking, sensation. Power transfer is less than excellent. The DELTA suspension system remains respectably firm. We didn't feel it absolutely necessary to use the climbing switch on the RockShox Monarch Plus, but it only helps.
As with most super-slack bikes, uphill handling requires some attention. If left unsupervised, the Insurgent's front wheel has a tendency to wander. Proper weight distribution is important on this bike. Our large test bike fit on the smaller side despite a seemingly average 452mm reach measurement. This limited our testers ability to shift weight around to place weight strategically. Slow speed, uphill switchbacks require a well laid-out game plan as it can be tricky to steer this gnar sled at slow speeds.
The low and x-low settings on the flip chip produce a 339 and 328mm bottom bracket height respectively. In the x-low setting, the pedals look visibly low to the ground when you're seated and cranking uphill. That said, pedal-strikes were a relative non-issue. One tester admitted that he was paying extra attention when grinding up technical terrain.
Our Insurgent X01 Eagle retails for $6199. Yes, it is hard to call $6199 a great value, but this bike provides high-end performance within its intended application. On top of that, the suspension design proved very effective on the descent and a solid pedal platform when mashing pedals. A SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide RSC brakes, and high-end RockShox suspension are nice build specifications.
- RockShox Lyrik RCT3 Fork - 160mm Travel
- RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
- SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12 Drivetrain
- SRAM Guide RSC Brakes
- Integrated Chainguide
- RockShox Reverb Stealth Dropper Post
- E*Thirteen TRS+ Wheelset (Now Replaced by Raceface Turbine R Wheelset)
- E*Thirteen TRS+ 27.5 x 2.35" Tires (Now Replaced by WTB Vigilante 27.5 x 2.3")
The Evil Insurgent produces high-end downhill performance that only improves as the rider pushes the limits. This bike offers a level of downhill confidence that few, if any, 150mm travel bikes can match. On the flipside, there are a great number of bikes in this travel class that climb far better. Grinding uphill requires a level of patience as it is apparent that Evil placed far more emphasis on downhill shredability.
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Most recent review: September 14, 2017
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