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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I haven’t seen any user reviews posted other than the oft-cited bike publications, and many forum users have been asking about this bike, so I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts on the new Evil Following.

Background

I grabbed one of the few frames that were made available after the initial release and got around to building up my medium in time for the long weekend. I’ve since spent two and a half, very thorough days flogging the thing--enough to glean some good insight. It certainly gathered some crowds and I was surprised how many other riders recognized it and rode over to chat with me about it.

I was looking for an aggressive trail bike; so take note that I am judging the bike from this perspective. I regularly race XC and endurance events and have purpose-built short-travel FS and hardtail bikes already for those. So this bike is for trashing around technical trails, popping off ledges, getting air…you get the idea.

I’m also not one to have new-purchase-justification-syndrome, where those afflicted overly praise a product to make themselves feel better about its purchase ☺ I’ve been testing and trying out multiple mid-travel trail bikes (all wheel sizes) looking for the perfect one. Two favorites remain with me to this day since I haven’t been able to get myself to part with either of them: An Ibis Ripley and a Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo. I’ll use these two great bikes for comparison.

The Build

I built up the Following with a Pike, XX1, an Enve AM wheelset with Purgatory and Slaughter tires, Specialized Command Post, XTR Trail brakes and pedals, 780mm carbon bars and a 70mm stem. Weight is 27 pounds even.

Fork Travel

I rode a full day on the Pike at 140mm, rebuilt it later that day with a 130mm airshaft and rode it the next day at 130mm. I’m contemplating a return to 140mm despite the bike’s recommended travel of 120 or 130. At 140, there was noticeably more wheel flop on slow turns and there was more finesse needed while cornering but the bike just ate everything up and the 140 matched that magic, seemingly bottomless rear end well.

Suspension

I’ve read a bit on the technical details of the DELTA linkage and how works in theory, by changing the shock characteristics depending on where in the stroke the swingarm is positioned, but the effect is not at all perceptible. In fact I mentioned to my buddy that it was amazing how I didn’t think about the bike suspension at all. It just worked in all the different scenarios I threw at it. Standing and jamming up a steep climb, braking over stutter bumps, landing a jump to flat. All scenarios had the suspension working so well it never announced itself.

In contrast, the Ripley (paired with a 140mm Pike), an amazing climber and acceleration machine, complains to me often when blasting downhill, like on the awesome, gnarly, steep Santa Cruz trails that have large clusters of successive bumps. The rear end would go from supple to hardtail-like and no amount of tweaking the Fox, XFusion or DBInline rear shocks I had for it would tame that characteristic. The Camber Evo’s rear on the other hand would remain active through the same sections, but I could never get the bike set-up to use most of the rear travel without making it too wallowy. When setup with proper sag, the Camber likes to ride high on top of the stroke. The Following went through the same trails with no issues, using most of its rear travel yet never leaving me with the feeling like it ever bottomed out.

Climbing was equally impressive. When pointed upward, that super active rear end seen on the downhill sections transforms into an efficient pedaling platform. Like the Ripley, I rarely if ever switched out the rear shock from the fully open position, only doing so on long climb-outs on fireroad, and mostly because I was curious and not because it needed it.

I never felt the rear suspension locking out when braking, which I heard was a negative trait of single pivot designs. In fact I can’t find anything at the moment to complain about regarding the rear suspension action. Well except for the placement of the Monarch’s three position switch. While on the move, it’s a tight fit when putting your hand in between the rear shock and the moving linkages to flip it. Luckily flipping the switch is not needed often, if at all.

The Frame

First thing you’ll notice when pulling the frame out of the box is its heft and size. The thing is built like a tank. Large tubes, wide expanses of carbon, massive junctions. The large seatstays bow out quite a bit toward the rear and I got some heel strike on occasion since I ride somewhat duck footed. On my second day I was able to avoid it altogether.

Cable routing is simple and straightforward. Internal for the dropper post. Under the top tube for the rear brake and rear shifter, which drop neatly into the seat stays. Much cleaner and frustration-free compared to the Ripley but not as stealthy as the all-internal routing of the Camber Evo.

Cleaning the Monarch rear shock will be interesting though as its hidden inside a cage of linkages and carbon fiber.

This is no weight weenie frame. 6.2 pounds on my digital scale. More than a pound and a quarter more than the Ripley (Edit: with X-Fusion rear). But as I discovered, this bike is built to demolish trails, not climb like a bat out of hell only to descend gingerly down the other side.

Geometry is what originally sold me. The Ripley has downright miniscule reach numbers. Same with many Santa Cruz and Intense offerings. My size large Ripley has nearly all the same size dimensions as the medium Following and medium Specialized Camber Evo. The Following has a head angle that’s much slacker than all of these. It has a longer reach, but much shorter chainstays. Shorter than a Blur TRc 26er, shorter than an Enduro 29er. Coupled with a 51 offset fork, the effect is great handing. Great stability at speed yet a very playful nature in the twisties.

Conclusion

I think I found what is as close to my perfect trail bike as I’ll ever find from what is available today. I’ve never gone faster downhill, carved tighter on the berms, or flown higher on the jumps than on this bike. And that includes my 650b bikes sporting 160mm front and rear. Time will tell on durability issues. There are quite a few moving parts on the Delta linkage so I’m hoping everything remains quiet after a season of muddy fall riding. For now, consider me amazed at its capabilities. Can’t wait to take it out again!


More details to come...


Following1.jpg
 

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Thanks so much for the review. I'm coming directly from a Ripley so your thoughts are very relevant to me. I loved the climbing prowess and acceleration of the Ripley and I'm hoping the Following is similar.

Can you elaborate on the climbing and acceleration of Following compared to the Ripley?
 

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M070R-M0U7H FR3NCHI3
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great initial review - thanks for taking the time to write this.

if you don't mind me asking, how tall are you?
 

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Sweet!!! Nice build and summary!!! 27lbs - wow! What geo setting do you have it in? Interesting about the 140mm fork statement.

Also what trails do you typically ride in Santa Cruz? That's where I ride as well, I own an Uprising.
 

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Nice review, Ducrider--thanks! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Following sounds a lot like the Uprising. After spending a bit of time on my Nimble 9 (w/ 140mm fork), I've been looking for my ideal trailbike: a short-chainstay/slack-head-angle 29er w/ an active rear end equal to the Nimble's front end. Although I've been waiting patiently for Canfield to bring their FS 29er to market, Evil's Following ticks all my boxes. Now I just need to find the coin to put one in my garage.
 

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Re: First Rider Review of The Evil Following

I haven’t seen any user reviews posted other than the oft-cited bike publications, and many forum users have been asking about this bike, so I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts on the new Evil Following.
Maybe cross-post on the 29er forum? Lots of buzz there over the Following...

So this bike is for trashing around technical trails, popping off ledges, getting air…you get the idea.
As you'd expect with that geo... the question being, is this a bike you would also do long epics at elevation, all-day in the saddle, climbing 4-6k feet? I'm guessing not but wd be interested in your opinion.



In contrast, the Ripley (paired with a 140mm Pike), an amazing climber and acceleration machine, complains to me often when blasting downhill, like on the awesome, gnarly, steep Santa Cruz trails that have large clusters of successive bumps...
Climbing was equally impressive. When pointed upward, that super active rear end seen on the downhill sections transforms into an efficient pedaling platform. Like the Ripley, I rarely if ever switched out the rear shock from the fully open position, only doing so on long climb-outs on fireroad, and mostly because I was curious and not because it needed it.
Not sure if I'm reading right, but it sounds like you're saying this climbs as well as the Ripley? That'd be something!


The large seatstays bow out quite a bit toward the rear and I got some heel strike on occasion since I ride somewhat duck footed. On my second day I was able to avoid it altogether...
You adjusted your stroke in other words? I find that works temporarily but when you get fatigued or need to add body english you go back to scraping... maybe something you could report back on later?

This is no weight weenie frame. 6.2 pounds on my digital scale. More than a pound and a quarter more than the Ripley. But as I discovered, this bike is built to demolish trails, not climb like a bat out of hell only to descend gingerly down the other side.
Thanks, great detail.

I think I found what is as close to my perfect trail bike as I’ll ever find from what is available today. I’ve never gone faster downhill, carved tighter on the berms, or flown higher on the jumps than on this bike. And that includes my 650b bikes sporting 160mm front and rear.
Wow. This is truly hard to believe for a 29er compared to, say, an HD3 or T275, even a Nomad. Makes me stoked to try this thing!


More details to come...
Yes please! You're the only one of us so far who's had the privilege of riding and posting. I'm sure we'll all appreciate your updates while we wait for the chance to throw a leg over the Following. Thanks again for your generosity sharing.:thumbsup:
 

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It's the axle
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I assume you went with the standard headset.

6 pounds. Ugh. I have to say I'm a bit ashamed to be looking at a bike with bashguard tabs if I'm trying to find something similar to the Ripley. It's apples and oranges, or is it. It sounds even better. But...

I'm 130 pounds. Every ounce I remove is a big deal.

Can anyone convince me that 1+ pounds isn't a deal breaker? I grew up XC. Then again, I ride an original Mojo, and really enjoy it.

Or, it that extra weight desirable in the sense that the bike is stiff and solid?

Thanks for review!
 

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From what I've heard the weight is centered low and isn't noticeable. The Following is lighter than the Uprising by almost .75-1 pounds.

I personally don't mind a little extra weight if it makes a better performing bike in terms of stiffness and handling.
 

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From what I've heard the weight is centered low and isn't noticeable. The Following is lighter than the Uprising by almost .75-1 pounds.

I personally don't mind a little extra weight if it makes a better performing bike in terms of stiffness and handling.

I'm getting a support group vibe. Haha.

But yeah, like Merckx says, just get stronger. I have at least 15,000 miles on the Mojo, and it's flopping loose from wear.

Also, totally OT, I want to know more about this seemingly secret company of 1-10 employees. I know the guy who owns Sotto group, maybe I can ask him. But this company that has produced this bike seems to be coming from obscurity. There isn't even an Evil forum here.
 

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Also, totally OT, I want to know more about this seemingly secret company of 1-10 employees. I know the guy who owns Sotto group, maybe I can ask him. But this company that has produced this bike seems to be coming from obscurity. There isn't even an Evil forum here.
Not that obscure, they've been around a while. Just small scale and boutique.

Maybe start your reading here.... The Writer Knows Nothing: EVIL |
 

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I actually stopped by Evil World Headquarters, (my name, not theirs ;-) yesterday in Seattle and Keith, the owner, graciously let me take his personal bike out for a spin then talked with me for an hour about The Following. Awesome owner, really nice team of guys, beautiful bikes, passionate about what the sell and ride. What more could you ask for? The Following looks like the real deal. I can say its the first 29'er I've thrown a leg over and been excited about. Their prices reflect that fact that they understand that bike have gotten crazy-expensive so they are choosing to do more direct marketing to try and make these gorgeous bikes affordable to more people. My next bike may very well be The Following.
 

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Not that obscure, they've been around a while. Just small scale and boutique.

Maybe start your reading here.... The Writer Knows Nothing: EVIL |

That's so amazing. It's kind of an Ibis-esque story with more suffering. Building bikes has gone from Tom Ritchey in his garage, to cnc machinists on another continent, cranking out bikes like a monster. Their nightmare is why I didn't send injection molds offshore. I love these dedicated, small groups who yearn for expressing their creative concepts. I wish I could have an opportunity like that again. But I've avoided it for the very reasons they had troubles. But then I do have a friend in Taiwan who goes between manufacturers and designers. But they're still alive! Amazing.

These guys have been through hell. Given the quality of their design, and their attitude on the subject, it makes me want to buy their bike even all that much more. .

Once again I'm inspired.
 

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Cleaning the Monarch rear shock will be interesting though as its hidden inside a cage of linkages and carbon fiber.
Great write up!
This gives me a bit of a concern. Do you mean keeping it clean on the trail, or just general cleanliness? I know the Evil guys are not averse to a bit of mud being from the PNW, but nothing compares to our Scottish mud season, which tends to last 12 months a year. Last thing I want is something that clogs up.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Some replies to questions;

OP: Great review. How tall are you and inseam if you know it? Thanks.
I'm about 5 9 with 32 inseam. I was contemplating a large since I ride with my saddle far forward and didn't want to use too long a stem. In the end the medium worked out great.

A great data point for those who have a size dilemma: the medium and large actually have the same stack height and head tube length so essentially your position on the bike relative to the bottom bracket is the same on either size (same chainstay lengths), your bar height will also be the same, but the large will be a couple of CM longer in front of you in terms of reach and the wheelbase will correspondingly lengthen in front of you. Since the head tube is already slack, I didn't want the front wheel even further away from me with a large, so I chose medium with a 70mm stem and chose a shorter wheelbase as the priority.

Can you elaborate on the climbing and acceleration of Following compared to the Ripley?
It feels very Ripley-like when stomping on the pedals. I will get on my Ripley later today to do a back-to-back and explore this more :)

Dude! Sweet!!! Nice build and summary!!! 27lbs - wow! What geo setting do you have it in? Interesting about the 140mm fork statement. Also what trails do you typically ride in Santa Cruz? That's where I ride as well, I own an Uprising.
I have it on the 'High' setting and am using the stock headset (not the angleset). I'll spend more time on the 130 then try the 140 again to make up my mind. Point is I thought I would hate the 140 and only rode it that way because I didn't get to finish my bike build the night before and the only Pikes I had that I could use were set at 140mm and 120mm. I was pleasantly surprised at how it worked at 140.

I ride UCSC, Demo...For those of you not familiar, basically if you watch any Santa Cruz or Ibis promo video, those would be the trails.

As you'd expect with that geo... the question being, is this a bike you would also do long epics at elevation, all-day in the saddle, climbing 4-6k feet?
Well, obviously not ideal for that but we regularly put out that kind of elevation gain just riding all day around the aggressive trails around Santa Cruz. The best trails have very long descents so the climbs are super long singletrack or bumpy fireroad grinds. So it helps to have an efficient climbing machine. I had no issues climbing this bike. I would have issues on a long travel squishy bike with minimal platform.
 

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...6 pounds. Ugh. I have to say I'm a bit ashamed to be looking at a bike with bashguard tabs if I'm trying to find something similar to the Ripley. It's apples and oranges, or is it. It sounds even better. But...

I'm 130 pounds. Every ounce I remove is a big deal.

Can anyone convince me that 1+ pounds isn't a deal breaker? I grew up XC. Then again, I ride an original Mojo, and really enjoy it.

Or, it that extra weight desirable in the sense that the bike is stiff and solid?

Thanks for review!
It's horses for courses, having the right tool for the job, etc., blah blah. There are plenty of 29er short-travel FS bikes optimized for Strava KOM bragging rights uphill, and pedaling efficiency on rolling terrain or buff single track. But there are far fewer 29er short-travel FS bikes optimized for ripping downhill on rowdier terrain, and thankfully that market segment is growing. And in that select group, how many have the combo of ~67 deg HA, 17" chainstays, weigh less than 7lbs, and are carbon?

For bikes like this, a 6.2 lb frame weight (including air shock) is light--most of the direct competition are alloy and weigh 1-1.5lbs heavier. If any of those bikes tried to suck weight to grapple in a lower weight class, you'd likely to feel the undesirable effects of a flexy frame when pushing the bike hard.

Also, 1+ lbs of frame weight is not much since it's static weight--ie, you're more likely to notice a 1+ lb increase or decrease in rotational tire/wheel mass than if you simply increase or decrease the same mass from your frame.

If you want to look at it from another angle, 1 lb is about how much 15 fluid ounces of water weighs--so if your 20 oz water bottle is 3/4 full vs empty (or your hydration bladder has 15 ounces more water), does that make or break your ability to ascend over 4000 ft of climbing on a long morning ride? Maybe if you run out of water, but otherwise that extra weight is probably negligible, especially if you consider the work you do when climbing is a function of total weight and includes your weight fully kitted in addition to total bike weight. So if you weigh 130lbs, wear 5 lbs of riding gear, and pedal a 27 lb trail bike, your total weight is 162 lbs, and a ~1 lb difference is therefore less than 1% overall--ie pedal a bike with a frame that's 1lb lighter and you've cut less than 1% of your total weight.
 

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Why a medium with a 70mm stem? Did you not consider the large so you can run a shorter stem?

Good review...like your writing style.
 

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It's horses for courses,



I think you kind of nailed it. I tend to be a purist without thinking the whole thing through. And I'm a climber. I used to ride over Madonna for my school commute rather than get on the roads. Not much of a climb really, but I think one reason I've hesitated on the Ripley is a 70 degree HA. There are rock gardens off Cuesta ridge that we rode before shocks, but would still probably be pretty tough on a steep HA with suspension. I've heard Ibis say that the bigger wheel ends up out in front enough that it's not an issue. But I'm riding super tight singletrack that isn't very forgiving.

This bike keeps growing on me.
 
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