Gravity bike specialist Evil freely admits it never thought it would make a short travel 29er. But then, this is no ordinary 120mm travel wagon wheeler.
With its slabs of carbon swingarm, Monarch shock buried in the belly of its low, long front, short rear stance and a 30 percent recommendation on the built-in sag meter, the Following looks like a totally gravity focused machine. The Dave Weagle designed DELTA linkage doesn’t just let you adjust ride height (the super sized headset allows an adjustable angle headset option too), it also creates carefully calculated shock velocity and spring rate changes through the mid and end stroke.
Short, feels long
The result is a rock-solid, race-tuned rear end that’s certainly not configured for comfort but converts 121mm of travel into an implausible amount of impact-ignorant speed. Crucially, wherever you are in the travel, feedback is razor sharp and control and ground connection absolute, so you can snap sprint towards the next corner or take off wherever you’ve got crank clearance.
The Weagle-designed DELTA linkage wrings far more than it should out of 121mm travel
The frame is also extremely stiff and teamed with the 35mm diameter bar and stem, and high traction Maxxis tyres you’ll discover you’re able to hook ridiculously aggressive lines and slingshot out of berms in a way that’ll have you recalibrating what’s possible after every bar-end-scraping corner.
Given the outrageous amounts of ground-hugging grip we had ripping round a corner into the bottom of our first climb we thought it would die on its arse within a few soggy pedal strokes. What actually happened was genuinely hardtail levels of power application and punch that dropped our jaws as far as it dropped the riders behind us.
Even when grunting up crux moves, straining as hard on the bars as the pedals, we could leave the shock fully open, and the traction and momentum it carried up random slab climbs or loose babyheads was outrageous.
Traction levels are borderline outrageous
Despite the bulky frame sections and chunky kit choices it’s also relatively light so it accelerates as well as most 27.5in bikes and, with a short back end, it flicks and flares like a smaller wheeled bike too. Keep it on the ground though and it carves and carries speed like only a super-stiff, super-low 29er can – just even more so.
Evil has done something amazing with The Following. It’s harnessed all the stability, grip and momentum-multiplying effect of 29er wheels in a rock-solid frame, then added speed-amplifying suspension and radical, riot-inciting geometry to create one of the most ferociously fast and outrageously fun bikes we’ve ever ridden.
BikeRadar's Josh Patterson currently has another of these on long-term test and is battering it all over Colorado. We will update and expand this review once he's done.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.