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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I apologize in advance if a new thread is inappropriate. I wanted to include a bunch of photos and information and didn't want to add that much to the already busting-at-the-seams threads that are here.

Me: Closer to 50 than 40, 6'2, 34+ cycling inseam, 182-ish pounds walking around weight without gear. I'd say I have average fitness and somewhat above-average technical skill. I live and ride in Phoenix and the overall trail difficulty here demands decent technical skills. I raced BMX into my 30s and have been mountain biking pretty seriously for about 11 years.

Much like some other folks here, I have significant gear acquisition issues. I've owned A LOT of bikes. I tend to prefer 29ers overall. My most recent bike was an XL Banshee Phantom with an Avalanche-tuned shock. Big fan of that bike, but I was in the market for something with a touch more travel, a touch lighter and a little shorter wheelbase. All that said, I very very nearly bought a Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail. If I hadn't had a bunch of high-end 29er parts to sell off, I probably would have bought the GG. I'm also interested in the upcoming Canfield Riot.

Anywho, sold the Phantom and picked up the last XL Following from Fanatik. Ordered Monday, received and built Thursday, rode Friday-Saturday-Sunday. Three trails rides featuring some of the best technical climbing and descending here in Phoenix. Sucks that it's already hot here; it's in the mid-80s by the time I get going at 6 am.

IMG_0923 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

IMG_0925 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

I reused all the parts from my Phantom, so the Following build is as follows:

-- XL Frame, stock, with RF BB, stock headset, running in high position.
-- RS Pike RC3 solo at 140
-- Custom Flow EX to Hadley wheelset built by Speed Dream
-- Sram Guide RS brakes 180/180
-- Drivetrain, mix of X1 and XX1, RF Turbine Cinch, 28-tooth ring
-- Cockpit, Easton 40mm stem for 35mm bars, RF Atlas 800mm bars
-- KS Lev Ti 150mm dropper with Silverado saddle
-- Minion DHF front tire, Spec. Slaughter rear (just swapped today to a DHR II), both tubeless

Initial thoughts: Bike went together painlessly, though I had to pull the BB after the first ride as I forgot to zip tie the inner cable guides and the rattling was driving me nuts.

It's a beautiful bike and draws a lot of attention. Fit and finish are quite good, except for a paint chip at the rear dropout. Based on the packaging, I imagine this happened at the factory.

IMG_0924 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

I ended up sliding the seat forward on the rails more than normal to account for the slack seat angle. My knees tend to be sensitive to slack SA, but so far so good on this frame. The fitment is pretty dead on perfect for my body and I have zero complaints.

IMG_0802 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

It seems to be an easy bike to jump on and ride pretty well. I did find that my suspension setup as I typically run it was pretty far off, particularly front to back. I ended up running the Pike with one token, full open, no LS compression and about 72 psi plus slowing the rebound.

The Following really does climb incredibly well. The suspension doesn't do anything weird; in fact, you don't much notice it. It seems to find the perfect spot to be without fighting you. Traction is good, particularly on hacked square ledges; we have a lot of that here. I'm mostly a sit-and-spinner on a geared bike, but the Evil actually seems to reward stand-up pedaling, as least moreso than any other FS bike I've personally owned.

In the past, I've tended to rely on "feelings" related to MTB performance. For the past year or so, I've been pretty on top of utilizing Strava on every ride to be more analytical about what works for me.

I mean, I ALWAYS "felt" fast on my E29. The facts are, I was almost universally faster on my Phantom, despite having the sort of terrain that the E29 is best on. That said, I PR'd the National climb on Saturday on the Following. This is a ride I do pretty consistently. It's roughly 6 miles of non-stop ledgy technical climbing.

The descending portion of the equation is still a work in progress. Geometry-wise, the bike is dialed and feels very natural. Suspension-wise, it's hit-and-miss. On more gentle or rolling terrain and landing bigger drops, it's very nice and deep feeling. However, most of our bigger descents here are high-speed, square ledges and significant nonstop chunk. I've slowed my rebound way down as the rear was way out ahead of the front on gaps and jumps. I've experimented from 220psi to 242psi.

To be honest, it doesn't have the bottomless floating-on-air feeling that my 105mm Phantom had, though to be fair it was on an Avy shock.

But all that said again, I PR'd two extremely chunky descents that I regularly ride (the bottom third of National on Saturday and Upper Cheesegrater on Sunday).

I'm still not 100% pleased with the rear suspension performance, but that doesn't take away from how fast this bike is. So far, pretty stoked.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

IMG_0800 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

IMG_0803 by dbozman1173, on Flickr
 

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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That seems counter-intuitive. It seemed rough and wanted to hang up at 242.
 

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I'd add more psi if I were you. I ride chunky stuff, weigh 160 and run about 250psi
Same weight as the OP here... 240psi gives me 27.5% sag, which is a little less than Evil recommend, but at 220psi which gives me 30% sag, I can bottom it out too easily for my taste.

Bike looks awesome by the way! Enjoy it...
 

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That seems counter-intuitive. It seemed rough and wanted to hang up at 242.
You gain mechanical leverage with less sag for small bumps. If you are too deep with sag, you loose mechanical leverage and it is harsher.

It took me a little bit to get it right and I am still tinkering. Front fork influences quite a bite.

I think the smaller travel bikes requires more fine tuning.

I am also using a digital air pump, why spend $7k on bike and use $20 pump.
 

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That seems counter-intuitive. It seemed rough and wanted to hang up at 242.
Might seem to...i re read your post. If you're getting hung up on the big chunky stuff, I would imagine you would want a more stable platform if you're felling like you're bottoming out too much. One way to achieve this is running higher psi, which might you allow to run an even slower rebound than its currently set at.

Don't forget, this bike is meant to be poppy and lively - you might have to modify your body positioning to get that floating over rocks sensation. I found that weighting the front end and being really active with body English in the cockpit really brings the following out of its shell.

I gave you my stats for reference - in my super humble extremely opinionated pov, you are running about 10-20 psi too little. Play around with the settings..there is a sweet spot in there somewhere...when you find it, the bike will rip.
 

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Something else to consider, I was initially bottoming out during my rides on the following (almost exclusively chunky single track with moderate drops at high speeds). I remedied that but running a higher psi, I even sometimes run as high as 260 psi, depending on how fast I go...since running 250, *edit -I have bottomed out but only on large drops going pretty fast. Bottoming out is fine - but only on the most severe of hits. That being said, pump that shock up!


Edit (in response to Blatant):
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To be clear -- and I apologize if I wasn't -- I have NOT bottomed this bike out. I typically do bottom my rigs out at least once a ride, which I've always found to be relatively normal.

Today's ride, for instance: Common loop that I ride. Nothing huge, but a bunch of drops and a bunch of them at speed with transition nearly to flat. No harsh bottom on the Pike, but I used all the travel. I would normally bottom the rear on most of my bikes on this ride. I still have a good 5-7mm of shock shaft on the Evil. That's running the shock open and with 225psi.

I do use a digital shock pump. I have not, however, cycled the shock with no air to see if it uses then entire shock shaft for its travel.

I didn't feel any hanging today. I noticed the rear "hanging" on Saturday when I was running 242psi. It wasn't from bottoming. After all that, I did PR that section, so maybe I just need to get used to a new normal.
 

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I really enjoyed the original post. As I'm in the process of figuring out what my next bike might be (and even more importantly, how to afford it), these sorts of posts are very helpful.

This part is a little bit off topic, but I'm confused by the people who are NOT bottoming out their suspension, unless you're riding way less tech than your normal ride. For reference:
  • Suspension Setup Series #6: How Often Should I Bottom Out?
    "Every ride. If your bike is set up properly for the course you're riding, you should use full travel on the biggest hit/drop/jump of your ride. Otherwise, you're not fully utilizing your shock and the fun-o-meter isn't maxing out."
  • Fork tuning for beginners - Bike Magic
    You should get full travel over the biggest hits you encounter.
  • From "Mountain Bike Like a Champion", By Ned Overend
    But if you never bottom out, you aren't benefiting from the suspension's full range.
 

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If you're used to the Avy on the Phantom, do yourself a favor and do the same for the Evil. I noticed mine feeling alot more "floaty" and composed through rock gardens afterwards. I don't think the stock shock is bad, but I was used to DB Airs, Coils and Inlines on all my bikes before the Evil so I found the stock Monarch a bit lacking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thauma: I concur. I expect to bottom my suspension at least once on most rides.

Colin: I think you're correct, sir. I'll email Craig today to get the turnaround. Hate that they're on the East Coast, since that's four days in transit before any work is done. What tune did you get?
 

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Standard. Pedals just as well as stock, if not better. I've noticed less pedal strikes since the swap.

Sent from my VS980 4G using Tapatalk
 

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I take a different view. The suspension is capable of handling everything from small bump XC to major hits from jumps (see the Strobel vids) and is presumably tuned and designed with that range in mind. Since I don't do that kind of jump-huck I'm happy to get home with a little travel unused, it means the tune is in the ballpark for my use over the range I use it and I have a little spare for 'emergencies'.

Or put another way: it's not about using the whole range just because, it's about using the range you do use in the way it was optimised for.
 

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Great review.. definitely deserving of it's own thread.

OP, you mentioned the Phantom had that bottomless, floating on air feel and you were fast on it, so what made you want more travel?

I only ask because the Phantom and the Following are on my 'list' right now.
 

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What rise are the bars? Fitted mine with flat ones, as I assumed the bigger headstock would cause issues, but have now lifted it above my steerer spacers.. not sure if to go for a 20mm riser or bigger..
 

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I take a different view. The suspension is capable of handling everything from small bump XC to major hits from jumps (see the Strobel vids) and is presumably tuned and designed with that range in mind. Since I don't do that kind of jump-huck I'm happy to get home with a little travel unused, it means the tune is in the ballpark for my use over the range I use it and I have a little spare for 'emergencies'.

Or put another way: it's not about using the whole range just because, it's about using the range you do use in the way it was optimised for.
I agree. I've learned that chasing after full travel on every ride is relatively pointless and a good way to drive yourself nuts while unnecessarily compromising suspension performance... for me anyway.

Quote from a Bike Rumor suspension setup article that made sense to me:

"I've heard before that you should bottom out once or twice a ride, that's how you know you are set up right," Porter (Eric Porter from Manitou) told us. "I don't believe that necessarily, I think you should bottom out only when you think you should, if that makes any sense. If you ride a medium rough trail and aren't smashing everything, you probably won't use all of your travel really. I look at my last inch of travel as my insurance policy, I want it there when I really need it, not just when every big rock comes along."
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ganderson; Thanks. I think it was less about "more travel" and more about size, wheelbase and weight. The XL Phantom is a big bike. That said, Banshee absolutely kills it in the way they address travel and efficiency. Can't say enough good things about that bike.

Ghetto: Fair enough. I don't personally put much stock in promo videos as far as my own suspension needs for the trails I ride. I'm no Luke Strobel. And we don't have any idea what shock he's actually running. This sorta stuff is very specific to trail conditions and rider needs. I don't personally know anyone in my riding area that doesn't max out their suspension travel on any given ride.
 

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> "I think you should bottom out only when you think you should, if that makes any sense"

Well put I think.

> Ghetto: Fair enough.

It also sounds like you are a more aggressive rider than me, so fair enough to you too & good points re the videos also. High 5s and back slap man-hugs all round!
 

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As someone who also owned a Phantom prior to the Evil, I think the Phantom was very capable in terms of descending. Especially for 105mm of travel. My niggle with it was that it didn't pedal like a 105mm travel bike. I honestly think my Prime climbed a tad better. Weight wise it's a heavy bike for it's travel as well. Don't mistake it for a XC bike, that's for sure.

All that being said it was a great bike. The Evil obviously climbs better as it's lighter, has higher anti-squat and is stiffer. I also feel that I'm pushing my limits more on the Evil. It is just so comfortable and confidence inspiring, which could be a good or bad thing:) While the Phantom is very good, the Evil is better as it should be since it's more $$$.
 
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