Evil Bikes will already be familiar to most of you under their chainguide guise of E13. Originally made as Evil chainguides, the chainguides evolved into their own brand due to their success.
Hailing from North America, Evil Bikes are made by people who ride, and who want the world to ride better bikes. This emphasis shines through with their fantastic quality bikes that feature great design and finish. Evil make bikes that will suit the most hardcore dirt jumper through to someone who just wants an agile bike to clock up some miles...
Designed for freeriding of the regular kind - riding somewhere, hitting up the jumps and DH while you're there, then riding back again with little fuss - the Sovereign is a neat bike that sits well in the UK market at the moment, with the current trend for 4-6in (10-15cm) travel hardtails and full sussers.
Made from Reynolds 853 and 752 tubing, the Sovereign is set on paper to have a sprightly ride and is available in two different sizes, determined by the 23.14 and 24.14in top tube lengths. The bottom bracket height remains at 12.5in, as does the seat tube at 16in, with its tower to allow for decent seat extension.
The top tube and down tube are both heavily oversized, and the cable routing is under the top tube where it's out of harm's way and keeps things looking neat. Out back, there's something a little special - adjustable vertical dropouts, not unlike those seen on Identiti frames. These are a lot neater in construction though, and feature a stunning machined aluminium mech hanger and tidy disc mounts.
Although only available as a frame from UK importers Silverfish, our test bike came equipped with Silverfish's finest selection of freeriding products to complement the bike. DT rims on Hope hubs with Hope M4 disc brakes took care of rolling and stopping duties, while skinny old Maxxis High Rollers kept us sliding around in the leaves. A Fox Talas fork up front span in a RaceFace Diablos headset with Diablos bars and stem to match, and ODI Lock-On grips kept our mitts happy. A RaceFace Evolve seatpost, SDG Bel Air saddle, Atlas cranks, E13 DRS chain device and a Shimano XT drivetrain finished the steed off.
Even though our Sovereign came fitted with heavyduty RaceFace Diablos parts, the Talas fork and skinny tyres in combination with the 30.2lb all-in weight made for a great lightweight trail bike feel. The head angle was fairly tight, and the bottom bracket height was high enough to stay away from the ground yet low enough to keep the cornering predictable and agile.
The Reynolds tubing held its proprietary springy and compliant feel while efficiently transmitting power to the ground. The ride was great, but the thing that really drew us to the Sovereign was its versatility in the way you can build it. You can run up to a 6in travel single-crown fork, and either 24 or 26in wheels. This means it's suitable for almost limitless types of riding - perfect for the rider with ants in his pants who one minute wants an all-day trail bike and the next a ladder-riding freeride rig.