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Evil Following MB 2018 Review

A short-travel 29er with excellent high-speed handling and a clear preference for flow trails
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Price:  $5,699 List
Pros:  Excellent high-speed handling, respectable climber, great on flow trails
Cons:  Performance in sustained rock gardens, price
Manufacturer:   Evil Bikes
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 24, 2018
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 22
  • Fun Factor - 25% 7
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 7
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 7
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 5

Our Verdict

The Evil Following MB is a capable, short-travel, 29er that slays berms and operates with confidence at blistering speeds. This bike is delightful when charging flow trails and inspires a healthy dose of frolicsome behavior. The Following tolerates steep, rocky, gnar but it greatly benefits from sneaky and intelligent line choice. One glance at this stealthy shredder and it is apparent that the Following is built for a fun and fast ride down the mountain. That said, climbing abilities are solid as long as you keep tabs on the location of your cranks on technical climbs. Pedal strikes can be a serious issue in both geometry settings. There is no mistaking the Following for other zippy short-travel bikes, it's more appropriate to compare the Evil to some more aggressive mid-travel rigs. Evil is viewed as a premium brand and their prices reflect this. The entry-level Following build sells for a large $5699 price tag. To be fair, this price tag buys you some impressive components.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $5,699 List$5,099.00 at Competitive Cyclist$7,199 List$4,899 List$5,199.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Excellent high-speed handling, respectable climber, great on flow trailsExcellent climber, aggressive geometry, rim/tire combinationExcellent climbing abilities, impressive downhill performance, high fun factor, tremendous build kitLightweight, playful, well-rounded, modern geometry, solid component specificationExcellent downhill performance, re-worked suspension layout pays dividends, respectable climber
Cons Performance in sustained rock gardens, priceExpensive, big impacts are less supportive, handlebars have too much backsweepExpensive, pivots came loose a few times during testingNot a brawler, Fox 34 fork can be overwhelmedToo long to be playful, no climb switch on RockShox Super Deluxe
Bottom Line A short-travel 29er with excellent high-speed handling and a clear preference for flow trailsAn aggressive 29er with geometry to get rad while retaining a sporty and nimble feelA fantastic trail bike that blends superb climbing abilities with fun and well-rounded downhill performance.We loved the old version, but believe it or not, the new Ibis Ripley is even better.The Bronson is a ripping descender that is still capable of significant amounts of climbing.
Rating Categories Evil Following MB Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Ibis Ripley GX Eagle Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon S
Fun Factor (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Downhill Performance (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Climbing Performance (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Ease Of Maintenance (5%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Evil Following MB Ibis Ripmo GX Yeti SB130 TURQ X01 Ibis Ripley GX Eagle Santa Cruz Bronson...
Wheel size 29" 29" 29" 29" 27.5"
Suspension & Travel DELTA - 120mm DW-Link - 145mm Switch Infinity - 130mm DW-Link - 120mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) - 150mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 30 lbs 15 oz (Large) 29 lbs 7 oz (Large) 29 lbs 9 oz (Large) 28 lbs 14 oz (Large) 30 lbs 13 oz (Large)
Fork MRP Ribbon - 130mm, 35mm stanchions Fox 36 Performance - 160mm, 36mm stanchions Fox 36 Factory - 150mm 36mm stanchions Fox Float 34 Performance 130mm 34mm stanchions RockShox Lyrik Select+ 160mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RCT Fox DPX2 Performance Elite Fox DPX2 Factory Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
Frame Material Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "TURQ" Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber "C"
Frame Size Large Large Large Large Large
Frame Settings Flip Chip N/A N/A N/A Flip Chip
Available Sizes S-XL S-XL S-XL S-XL XS-XL
Wheelset RaceFace Aeffect R 30mm ID w/ RaceFace Hubs Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs DT Swiss M1700, 30mm ID w/ DT Swiss 350 hub Ibis 938 Aluminum Rims 34mm ID w/ Ibis Hubs Race Face AR Offset 30 with DT 370 hubs
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF WT 29 x 2.5" Schwable Hans Dampf 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 2.5"
Rear Tire Maxxis Minion DHRII 29 x 2.3" Maxxis Aggressor WT 29 x 2.5" Maxxis Aggressor 29 x 2.3 Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO TR 2.4"
Shifters SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM XO Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed SRAM X0 Eagle SRAM GX Eagle SRAM GX Eagle
Crankset SRAM Descendant 32t SRAM Descendant 30t SRAM X0 Eagle Carbon 30T SRAM Descendant Alloy 32T SRAM Stylo 7K 148 DUB 175mm 32T
Saddle WTB Volt Pro WTB Silverado WTB Volt WTB Silverado 142mm WTB Silverado Pro
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth - 170mm KS LEV-SI-150mm Fox Transfer 150mm Bike Yoke Revive 160mm RockShox Reverb Stealth 170mm
Handlebar RaceFace Chester 35 - 780mm Ibis Aluminum Bar - 780mm Yeti Carbon - 780mm Ibis 780mm Alloy Race Face Aeffect R 780mm
Stem RaceFace Aeffect R 35 - 50mm Ibis 3D Forged Stem 50mm w/ 31.8mm Clamp RaceFace Aeffect R 35 Ibis 31.8mm 50mm Race Face Aeffect R 50mm
Brakes SRAM Guide R Shimano Deore XT Shimano XT M8000 Shimano Deore 2 Piston SRAM Code R
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 622 628 628 625 625
Measured Reach (mm) 452 473 477 475 460
Measured Head Tube Angle 67.4-degrees H / 66.8-degrees L 65.8-degrees 65.1-degrees 66.5-degrees 65.3-degrees H / 65.0-degrees L
Measured Seat Tube Angle 74.3-degrees H / 73.7-degrees L 76.1-degrees 76.8-degrees 76.2-degrees 75.1-degrees H / 74.8-degrees L
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 338 H / 330 L 343 335 338 342 H / 339 L
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1178 1220 1231 1210 1215
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 432 436 438 434 432
Warranty Three Years Seven Years Lifetime Seven Years Lifetime

Our Analysis and Test Results

Update October 2018
The Following is unchanged for 2019. The new MB version has a few more years in its life cycle. October 2018.

Should I Buy This Bike?


Evil describes the Following as "big bike fun in a shorter travel package''. We find this assessment to be somewhat accurate but possibly a little deceiving. This stout, short-travel, shredder is very fun on flowy, high-speed trials. On most trails, the Following is as fun as a barrel of monkeys. That said, we had far less "big bike fun" when riding sustained rock gardens or chunky, physical, trails. This 120mm bicycle has the ability to beat you up on nasty terrain. It can ride everything, but it can be a rough ride on demanding trails. The Following is a great option for those who live in an area with a lot of berm-infested, smoother, trails. Riders who find themselves riding large doses of rocks and roots should look elsewhere. Yes, the following statement is a luxury, but this Evil would make a spectacular second bike for the rider who already has a long-travel sled.

The Following is a reasonably capable short-travel 29er.
The Following is a reasonably capable short-travel 29er.

If the Evil's price tag is too high, the Commencal Meta TR is a very fun, 130mm, 27.5-inch bike at an excellent price point. The Commencal offers sharp handling and playful manners while boasting similar capabilities in terms of climbing and descending. This shredder is available in aluminum only with build kits starting at $2299.

Railing corners is very fun on the Evil
Railing corners is very fun on the Evil

The Transition Smuggler is a 29er with similar travel and geometry numbers at a more attractive price. With 120mm of Horst Link rear travel and slack geometry, the Smuggler is a fun bike that rides bigger than its travel suggests. The Following is a better choice for blasting down new-school, flow trails, but the Smuggler is more impressive over rock and roots. Climbing abilities are an interesting comparison. The Smuggler offers an excellent climbing position thanks to a steep seat tube angle but relies heavily on its climb switch. The Following has a less-awesome climbing position, but a calmer suspension design. The Smuggler is available in carbon fiber and aluminum with build kits starting at $2999.

The Following's DELTA suspension.
The Following's DELTA suspension.

Frame Design


The Following MB uses Evil's DELTA suspension system. While it appears complicated, it is simply a linkage-driven single pivot design. There is a pivot forward and above the bottom bracket with an intricate linkage system that drives the shock. This bike is designed around a 130mm fork but can accept a 120mm or 140mm fork too.

Typically, we measure all of our test bikes ourselves. We rode an extra-large Following and didn't want to post our measurements because the rest of our test bikes have been medium and large frames. We felt offering measurements for a frame size that we don't regularly test would create more confusion than clarity. Here are the manufacturer measurements for a large frame.

The large Following has a 622mm effective top tube and 470mm reach. The chainstays are 430mm and the wheelbase is 1177mm. This bike has a flip-chip geometry adjustment system that changes between a cleverly named low and x-low settings.

This bike is designed around a 130mm fork. It can also run 120mm or 140mm forks.
This bike is designed around a 130mm fork. It can also run 120mm or 140mm forks.

In the low mode the Following has a 67.4-degree head tube angle and 338mm bottom bracket height.

In the x-low setting, the Following has a 66.8-degree head tube angle and a 330mm bottom bracket height.

Design Highlights

  • 29-inch wheels, compatible with 27.5+
  • 120mm of DELTA rear wheel travel
  • Designed around 130mm fork, also compatible with 120mm and 140mm forks
  • Flip-Chip geometry adjustment between low and x-low settings
  • Carbon fiber only
  • Frame-only $3099
  • Build kits starting at $5699.

Hold on tight through sustained rock.
Hold on tight through sustained rock.

Downhill Performance


The Following offers sporty and stable downhill performance. This bike has a clear preference for railing berms, pumping rolls, and flat-out speed. Despite its 120mm of rear wheel travel, the Following stands up pretty well to minor doses of rocks or steeper gnar. That said, it is far less confident on sustained, rough, rock gardens. The geometry is spot-on and it results in a lively and very fun ride.

One glance at the Following's suspension design and it is easy to see the weight tucked low in the frame. The DELTA suspension linkage and the RockShox Super Deluxe shock are just north of the bottom bracket. Having a lower center of gravity results in a planted and stable feel. As the speedometer rises, that added stability starts to pay dividends. This bike remains very composed even at borderline uncomfortable speeds. The Following's geometry is relaxed, but not quite extreme. The 67.4/66.8 head tube angle is in-line with many short-travel bikes. The 338/330mm bottom bracket height is a bit more extreme. It is the blend of the low center of gravity and the semi-slack/low geometry that provides spectacular stability. Tearing down fast and flowy trails is confident and very, very fun.

The Following in its element. Going fast on buff trail.
The Following in its element. Going fast on buff trail.

Handling is impressive aboard this short-travel 29er. Make no mistake, other bikes in this travel range like the Pivot Trail 429 or Specialized Stumpjumper ST offer quicker handling at slow to moderate speeds. Both bikes are more efficient climbers, but neither can hold a candle to the Evil's performance at mach speeds. Even when you are riding at an uncomfortable pace, the Following responds to rider input and obeys orders. The Stumpjumper ST and Trail 429 get sketchy when they are being driven that hard.

This bike has the angles to ride some steeper terrain.
This bike has the angles to ride some steeper terrain.

Performance on rocks and roots can be described as sporty and tight-handling. It may be a statement of the obvious, but this 120mm travel bicycle isn't designed for charging burly rock gardens or rutted/rooty trails. The Following can ride some rowdy terrain, but it prefers not to. The result is a jarring ride that can be difficult to muscle to hold it on a line. If you're entering a nasty section of trail, point the bike in the right direction and hold on tight because it will be a rough ride. It is best to rely on sharp and quick handling to sneak down smooth and well-planned lines. Being smart about line selection goes a very long way with the Following. Other bikes like the Transition Smuggler or Santa Cruz Hightower react much better in this situation.

We rode this bike in the low and the x-low geometry setting. If you frequently ride rooty and rocky trails, we highly recommend the low setting. This will buy you a surprisingly valuable 8mm of extra clearance. The x-low setting is stable and very aggressive, but the risk of a disastrous pedal strike is higher.

The Following offers a surprisingly calm pedal platform.
The Following offers a surprisingly calm pedal platform.

Climbing Performance


The Evil Following is an impressive climber. Given its obvious desire for high-speed, berm-infested, downhills, it scoots uphill effectively. The Following is relatively efficient and offers decent handling. This bicycle does require a bit of attention when cranking up technical climbs. The second you zone out, it is very easy to experience a bone-rattling pedal strike.

The Evil sets you up in a reasonable climbing position. The 74.3-degree seat tube angle is on the slacker side of things. Your hips are slightly behind the bottom bracket, but it is by no means crippling. The lengthy reach/top tube measurement pulls the rider weight forward and seems to partially counteract the slack seat tube angle. This bike offers a comfortable cockpit position and riders shouldn't be afraid of long ascents on this bike.

The DELTA suspension offers a surprisingly nice pedal platform. This linkage-driven single pivot design is impressively firm under standing or seated pedaling loads. Testers had anticipated a far less composed climbing experience. The bike settles into a nice, high, sag point on the Super Deluxe shock and the sagged geometry remains stellar. We recommend leaving the shock in the open position and saving the climb switch for road or double track climbs.

Long  sustained  climbs are fairly pleasant.
Long, sustained, climbs are fairly pleasant.

The Following offers okay climbing traction. Designing a full-suspension mountain bike is a game of tradeoffs. A firmer pedal platform offers less active suspension that is more efficient but has less rear wheel traction. More active suspension means less pedaling support but improved traction. With the Evil you are gaining a firm feel under pedaling loads but you sacrifice suspension movement and climbing traction. Scurrying up rock and root-infested trails can lead the rear wheel bouncing around and spinning. Running 2.5 or 2.6-inch tires would definitely improve traction compared to the stock 2.35-inch rubber.

Uphill handling is respectable. The Following can change lines relatively quickly. Navigating technical terrain is easy except for one major asterisk. Clearance and pedal strikes are problematic. If you climb rooty and rocky terrain, we highly recommend riding this bike in the low geometry setting as opposed to x-low. The 8mm difference in bottom bracket height seems marginal, but it is substantial. Carefully planned out pedal strokes and perfecting your ratchet stroke is very important. If you end up running carbon cranks, it might be a good idea to double down on crank boots. Some folks opt to build this frame with a 120mm fork, that drops the bottom bracket height to an even lower 335/327mm. Riders who ride buff, sinuous climbs or grind up a lot of fire roads won't need to worry as much about the pedal strike problem.

The Following delivers sharp handling at high speeds.
The Following delivers sharp handling at high speeds.

Value


The Evil Following MB sells for $3099 as a frame with well-equipped build kits starting at $5799. This is a hefty price tag for a linkage driven single pivot. On-trail performance is solid and reliable but lacks the wow factor. Make no mistake, this could still be a fantastic bike for the right rider on the right trails, but we would still call this bike a below-average value.

If your trails look like this  you may want to consider a more beefy bicycle.
If your trails look like this, you may want to consider a more beefy bicycle.

Conclusion


The Evil Following MB is a short-travel 29er that is a blast when its in its element. Charging down flow trails, railing berms, and pumping rolls in the trail is very fun. Given its appetite for high-speed downhills, the Evil is still a solid climber. Riders who ride slower, technical or rough trails should consider other bikes. Yes, this bike punches above its weight class, but not drastically, it is still a 120mm bike. The Following is a great example of a bike that rides very well in its intended application.


Pat Donahue