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Evil Offering GX Hydra review

Truly evil, or a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £5,850.00 RRP | USD $5,799.00 | EUR €6,499.00 | AUD $9,399.00
Pack shot of the Evil Offering GX Hydra full suspension mountain bike

Our review

Too short and steep to excel on technical tracks, but agile, supple and responsive on mellower stuff
Pros: Efficient climber on smooth terrain; low weight and short back-end make it easy to hop, pop and manual; supple suspension eats up smaller bumps
Cons: Relatively short and steep geometry holds it back on technical descents; seat angle could be steeper (especially in the ‘low’ setting); suspension becomes ‘lumpy’ when pedalling over bumps
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Evil’s marketing material about the Offering is full of aggressive hyperbole, from “trail slayer” to “force of nature” and even “the dark lord of singletrack.” But on the trail, this bike is more of a playful lamb than an unstoppable force.

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Evil Offering GX Hydra frame

While the suspension layout looks complex, it’s actually pretty simple – a single-pivot swingarm drives a link, which in turn compresses the shock via a rocker. The link allows the leverage ratio over the shock to be manipulated to Evil’s specification. There’s room for a full-size water bottle on the down tube.

Substantial rubber chainstay and down tube protection, along with an integrated upper chain guide, keep the chain quiet and the carbon protected.

The rear axle is the 12 x 157mm Super Boost width, which is claimed to allow for more tyre clearance (up to 2.6in) but may make it harder to find replacement wheels.

A flip-chip lets you drop the bottom bracket (BB) height by 8mm, while slackening the head and seat angles by 0.5 degrees. It’s a fiddly job, though.

Evil Offering GX Hydra geometry

S (low / xlow)M (low / xlow)L (low / xlow)XL (low / xlow)
Seat angle (degrees)77 / 7677 / 7677 / 7677 / 76
Head angle (degrees)66.4 / 65.866.4 / 65.866.4 / 65.866.4 / 65.8
Chainstay (cm)43 / 43.243 / 43.243 / 43.243 / 43.2
Seat tube (cm)35.53942.546.5
Top tube (cm)59.561.763.966.1
Head tube (cm)9.510.511.512.5
Fork offset (cm)4.24.24.24.2
Trail (cm)11.5 / 11.611.5 / 11.611.5 / 11.611.5 / 11.6
Bottom bracket drop (cm)2.62.62.62.6
Bottom bracket height (cm)34.7 / 33.934.7 / 33.934.7 / 33.934.7 / 33.9
Wheelbase (mm)1,180 / 1,1811,205 / 1,2071,231 / 1,2321,256 / 1,257
Standover (cm)67.268.469.570.6
Stack (cm)61.362.263.264.1
Reach (cm)44.846.949.151.2

Evil Offering GX Hydra kit

A RockShox Lyrik fork is always good to see, as is a OneUp dropper post. If you order through Evil’s EU website, you can choose the dropper travel based on your leg length, which is a nice touch.

I was also pleased with the 810mm handlebar – you can always cut a bar down, but you can’t make it longer!

The Industry Nine rear wheel has an obnoxiously loud coasting buzz, which I found pretty annoying. You could quieten it down by greasing the ratchet, though.

The lacklustre SRAM G2 brakes are the main shortcoming. I’d much prefer the vastly superior, and barely heavier, SRAM Codes.

Angled pack shot of the Evil Offering GX Hydra full suspension mountain bike
The niche 157mm Super Boost rear axle ‘standard’ boosts tyre clearance with short chainstays.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Evil Offering GX Hydra ride impressions

At 14kg exactly (in XL), the Offering is impressively light. The suspension is firm under power, too. There’s very little bob when spinning or sprinting out of the saddle. This makes the Evil a rewarding bike on which to push the pedals.

The 75-degree seat tube angle was (just) the steepest I had on test too, so it feels more efficient and less like you’re hanging off the back when tackling steep climbs. I do think it could be steeper, though, and didn’t like the frame’s ‘low’ geometry setting purely because it made the seat tube too laidback for climbing.

It’s not all plain sailing on the ascents, though. When pedalling forcefully at low cadences over bumpy ground, the high anti-squat of the suspension can make the ride choppy, with the bike seesawing over the terrain as the suspension butts up against lumps.

Cyclist in blue top riding the Evil Offering GX Hydra full suspension mountain bike through woodland
A flip-chip lets you choose between ‘Low’ or ‘X-Low’ geometry settings, but I’d rather have the ‘X-Low’ head angle and ‘Low’ seat tube angle simultaneously.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Despite being 1.4 to 1.6kg lighter than the Starling Murmur and Cotic Jeht Gold GX also on test, the Offering is only a little faster uphill.

However, when hopping and manualling up and over trail obstacles, the Evil requires noticeably less effort. Its short chainstays (430mm), high-rise bar and low weight make for an effortless and energetic feel when popping up and over logs and roots, and splashing through puddles.

The suspension is impressive too, when you’re up to speed and coasting. At the rear, the high initial leverage ratio gives a supple, ground-hugging feel.

With just under 30 per cent sag (measured seated) there’s a good balance of sensitivity and support, but I had to add a volume spacer or two to the shock (it comes with none) to stop it bottoming-out too easily.

The Lyrik Ultimate fork works well too, hoovering up small bumps with aplomb. Here, the bike’s relatively steep head angle (66 degrees) helps because it means the fork is better aligned with the vertical forces coming from smaller lumps, so the sensitivity is great.

Despite the boxy carbon frame, the Offering never felt harsher than the steel bikes mentioned.

Cyclist in blue top riding the Evil Offering GX Hydra full suspension mountain bike through woodland
Evil’s DELTA suspension system makes the beginning stroke nice and supple for better traction.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

However, tackling steep and rough terrain on the Offering feels notably more nervous and precarious than on its longer and slacker rivals. The relatively short wheelbase (for an XL) of 1,260mm makes it hard to keep your weight in the right place between the wheels when tackling big changes of gradient, steep turns, or big bumps and holes.

This had me understeering more (even with the same tyres) because I couldn’t load the bar confidently. Using the ‘low’ setting helps a bit, by slackening the head angle from 66 to 65.5 degrees, making the steering slightly more predictable, but this doesn’t change the wheelbase, which is the main issue for me.

Besides, putting the frame in the ‘low’ setting compromises climbing more tangibly than it improves descending. The fairly long seat tube (500mm in XL) also makes it hard to size up to get a longer wheelbase.

Evil plans to offer an angle-adjust headset, which will slacken the head angle by up to 1.5 degrees while adding to the wheelbase, all without affecting the seat tube angle.

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Sadly, I didn’t get to test this ahead of this review, but it should improve the Offering’s descending capabilities without affecting its climbing.

How we tested

Small companies have often been at the forefront of innovation in the bike industry. With limited batches, rapid production schedules and rider-rich management, they’re able to ‘think outside the box’ more than the bigger brands.

So if you stray from the mainstream, you might just get a bike that’s ahead of the curve.

For this test we got hold of three trail bikes from boutique brands with 140mm of travel and 29in wheels, all costing between five and six grand.

For that, we’d expect them to leave little to be desired both uphill and down. Two are from UK brands and constructed from steel, while the third is from the USA and made from carbon fibre.

We weighed and measured every detail, then hit the trails, tweaking the setup and suspension, and even swapping a few parts, to optimise ride feel. Once dialled in, we rode them back-to-back on the same test loops that featured steep, technical climbs and gnarly downhills. This shone more light on how each bike performs than months of standalone testing could.

Also on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $9399.00EUR €6499.00GBP £5850.00USD $5799.00
Weight 14kg (XL)
Brand Evil bikes

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Headset Cane Creek 40
Tyres Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 29x2.5in (f)/29x2.3in (r)
Stem Evil 12 Gauge, 35mm
Shifter SRAM GX Eagle
Seatpost OneUp Dropper, 180mm travel
Saddle WTB Volt Pro
Rear Shocks RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RCT
Rear derailleur SRAM GX Eagle (1x12)
Handlebar Evil Boomstick, 800mm
Bottom bracket SRAM DUB threaded
Grips/Tape Evil twin-collar lock-on
Front derailleur SRAM GX Eagle (1x12)
Frame Undirectional carbon fibre, 140mm (5.5in) travel
Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Cranks SRAM GX Eagle DUB, 170mm, 32t
Chain SRAM GX
Cassette SRAM XG-1275, 10-52t
Brakes SRAM G2 RS, 200mm/180mm rotors
Wheels Industry Nine Enduro, 30.5mm internal width rims on Industry Nine Enduro S Hydra hubs