There’s more than one way to launch a new mountain bike. Some companies do it with fanfare and massive ad campaigns, while others quietly release their creation into the wilderness and allow whispers of its existence to spread organically.
Evil Bikes chose the later strategy when it rolled out The Wreckoning, a long-travel 29er unlike anything currently on the market. Evil’s staff and sponsored riders tested the new model in the open for most of 2015 – and it was often mistaken for Evil’s shorter-travel trail slayer, The Following.
It was an easy bike to hide in plain sight. Aside from wheel size, all of Evil's mountain bikes cut similar silhouettes. The top tube divides in two, arcing up into a brace for the seat tube and curving downward to join the seat tube just above the DELTA suspension’s main pivot. The swingarm is low-slung, as is the frame in general. Low, slack and short in the back sum up the company's geometry predilections.
I caught up with Evil’s CEO Kevin Walsh to get his take on The Wreckoning and the future of long-travel 29ers.
I photographed Walsh’s own pre-production bike while it was getting fitted for an ElevenSix shock at Push Industries
The Wreckoning details
- 161mm suspension travel
- Designed for a 160mm suspension fork
- Adjustable geometry
- Full carbon frame
- 73mm threaded bottom bracket
- Integrated upper chainguide
- 12x148mm rear thru-axle
- 34.9mm seatpost diameter
- All sizes available mid-January
- $2,877 / £2,799 / AU$TBC for frame with RockShox Debonair Plus
What was the impetus for developing a long-travel 29er?
“[Dave] Weagle talked me into doing The Following. After I rode that bike I thought ‘Whoa, we're onto something.’ So I told Weagle we need to make a long-travel version of this thing.
"So that was the next bike thrown into development. We developed it and The Insurgent at the same time.”
In designing The Wreckoning, did you ride other long-travel 29ers: the Niner WFO 9, Enduro 29, BMC Trailfox and so on?
“All our bikes are really similar in terms of geometry, so we already knew what we wanted. I had developed a 160mm version of The Uprising that never made it to market, so I kind of knew how it would pedal.
"The general design criteria for it was all-mountain or enduro-eqsue by our standards in the Pacific Northwest — a bike that you could ride park or all-day epics on. Something that could be a one-bike for longer-travel riders with a gravity background."
With 160mm upfront and a head tube angle that can be adjusted from 66.1 to 65.5, this is a new breed of 29er trail bike
Were there any lessons learned from the development of The Following that went into The Wreckoning?
“We designed The Following four years ago and have evolved the form language a bit. The big thing we learned from The Following was in working with VIP as our carbon partner we learned where we would need to stiffen things up for a longer-travel 29er.
"We put downhill-grade carbon layups on The Wreckoning. It needed to be durable and incredibly stiff. We went to a 17x28mm main bearing over the 15x24mm on The Following. We also got rid of the front derailleur; it just wasn’t a necessary option.”
Like The Insurgent, The Wreckoning comes with an integrated chainguide
Another change from The Following is the seatpost diameter. Evil moved from 30.9mm on The Following to 34.9mm for The Wreckoning. What was the motivation for this change?
“Not only did we do that for longer droppers, but also for structural integrity.”
Longer travel droppers are on the way this year
How do you feel Evil’s two 29ers stack up against each other?
“The Wreckoning needs to get up to speed before it really comes into its own, while The Following feels playful on just about any trail.”
The tube profiles are a bit more angular on The Wreckoning than The Following
Is The Wreckoning 27.5+ compatible?
“It has clearance for 29x2.4in. We might do a secondary swingarm in the future if we see enough demand for 27.5+ compatibility.”
Rear chainstay clearance with a 29x2.3in Maxxis DHR
The Following, Insurgent or Wreckoning — if you had to ride only one for every trail, which would you pick?
“It would definitely be The Wreckoning, if you only gave me one. It’s been my daily driver for about a year now.”
The Wreckoning's bulbous head tube allows for offset headset cups to be used to further customize the bike's geometry
Who would you say Wreckoning is for?
“I think it’s going to be for the person who just wants to have one bike — the guy that rides downhill and races enduro and wants a hardcore trail bike. Something that can handle those bigger days but still be a pedal bike.
"Setting up the Wreckoning for these different uses can be as easy as swapping as swapping the shock.”
ElevenSix has two compression circuits, allowing it to be configured with one circuit for climbing and another for descending
Do you think we’ll see a long-travel 29er comeback in 2016?
“I think so. It’s not necessarily something that Evil has done itself. The geometry and positioning of the bikes in general was skewed away from hardcore mountain biking in the beginning. Now the geometry is coming in-line with trail riding and you have the benefit of the big wheels. I think people are seeing through some of the BS with wheel sizes.”
The Wreckoning is in a league of its own, at least for now