BikeRadar's Guy Kesteven loved Evil’s original The Following when he had it on long-term test in 2016. But is this evolution of the 120mm-travel shredder really ‘More Betterer’?
- The Evil The Following MB X01 Eagle is one of our key bikes for 2018. We've collated eleven bikes that we believe you should know about in the coming year. Some are super bikes, while others might display great value for money, but they all have one thing in common — they're all important bikes that show how incredibly varied road and mountain biking is today.
It’d be easy to miss the frame changes on the new Following. It's still single-pivot, with the shock driven via the twin rockers, short links and flippable (‘Low’ or ‘X-Low’) swingarm plates of Dave Weagle’s DELTA System.
Those rockers now hold a trunnion-mount RockShox Super Deluxe piggyback shock though and each pivot gets cartridge bearings. The bike also gets an inset sag indicator on the non-driveside.
In common with other Evils, the bottom bracket is now threaded for better longevity. There’s also a built-in upper chain guide and a custom e*thirteen lower guide/bashguard for the two-screw mount. The back end is Boost width, so it can fit high-volume 29ertyres – up to 2.35-2.5in depending on brand – or 2.8-3.0in 650b+ rubber.
Although the 66.8-67.4° head angle, 73.7-74.3° seat angle and 330-338mm bottom bracket height remain the same, the carbon frame is now approximately 20mm longer per size (with a 450mm reach on the large size).
Evil is now selling direct and via a few selected dealers, which means prices have dropped markedly, although they’re still premium level. I tested the top build kit here, with X01 Eagle gearing and a 130mm-travel RockShox Pike RCT3 fork.
Evil The Following MB X01 Eagle ride impression
A super-sticky front tyre, custom chain guides and 820mm bar aren’t typical short-travel, 29er-trail-bike spec, but then, The Following MB isn’t your typical short-travel, 29er-trail-bike.
Yes, the rear wheel follows a simple single-pivot arc, but the way the DELTA linkage manipulates the rates and leverages driving the shock at different points in its short stroke produces as perfect a suspension response as I’ve experienced. In fact, it doesn’t feel like suspension in the normal, reactive sense, but some sort of velocity-generation engine that converts normally choking impacts and chunder into extra speed.
The shifting shock rate and stiction-free linkage bearings create an ultra-sensitive and connected ‘sucked onto the trail’ feel around the sag point. In the progressive mid stroke, rocks, roots and ruts are screened out to give a stable, feedback-rich platform for pumping and carving corners.
The final end-stroke ramp-up protects the rims and absorbs body blows and landings with ricochet-free control. It’s totally unfazed by pedalling or braking too, snapping power down firmly or dumping speed regardless of what’s happening under the rear wheel.
Because there’s no excess shock stroke or suspension wallow to alter geometry dramatically, steering and rear wheel chop-and-hop reactions stay accurate and agile too. The result is an almost slow-motion feel, in terms of the time you’ve got to react to the craziest terrain.
It feels like you’re cruising as you stick the most radical lines, but strings of PBs down trails we’ve ridden countless times in faster conditions confirm the DELTA System is in a class of its own.
RockShox’s impeccably controlled and accurate Pike fork is a great match up front, and the extra frame reach and low bottom bracket add welcome stability at speed. The Following’s sheer speed can make the 67° head angle and slim front frame tubes feel borderline nervy in suicide sections, but the bike’s immediate reactions and the fact it has just enough compliance to boost traction let you surf and savour the adrenaline rush through the super-wide bar.
The Evil feels agile on climbs and singletrack too, so it’s far more than just a gravity slave. The only real criticism I have is that it has so much grip and control that the sticky tyres are overkill and suck speed.
Switching to faster-rolling 27.5x2.8in tyres on 35mm rims added speed and created an even more bolted-down connection to the ground, until things got really sloppy.
BikeRadar would like to thank Brittany Ferries, the Commune of Peille, France, and Kieran Page at La Maison des Activities de Pleine Nature de Peille for their help and support during our Headline Bikes test.