Here at Thunder Mountain Bikes, we’ve had the opportunity to ride and rent all 3 versions of the legendary Evil Following. 5 years ago, the original Evil Following was the bike that officially converted us to loving 29” wheels. It defied all stereotypes of big wheels and short travel, carrying speed everywhere and miraculously soaking up trail chatter without bottoming out. It’s been the perfect bike here in Sedona. Fast forward to now, and the new Following keeps those same characteristics, while still progressing into a better version of itself.
While the new 2020 / 2021 Evil Following may look similar, and has the same 130mm / 120mm suspension layout as previous models, it gains much needed improvement in the fit department. The reach has been lengthened, allowing for a shorter stem to be used. The seat tube angle is dramatically steeper, positioning you over the bottom bracket, the perfect place to be when grinding up a steep climb. The new suspension from Rock Shox keeps improving, and Evil has managed to perfectly pair their suspension tunes along with it.
Aesthetically, Evil has made more than just color updates. The frame lines are subtly bolder and cleaner, even giving it a tougher look. All cables are now fully internally routed, giving that ultra clean look. Although, we gotta admit, we have always appreciated how Evil has been one of the last holdouts of externally routed cables, from an ease of maintenance perspective. To give them credit, the internally routed tubes have been nicely done, making maintenance easier than some other designs we’ve seen.
Another major update is the rear wheel, now having the newer “super boost” wheel spacing. While the jury is still out on this improvement, the wider spacing should make for a stiffer wheel and stiffer rear end. Here in Sedona, where wheel damage is very common, we have preferred aluminum rims over carbon rims - much better to dent an alloy rim than cracking a carbon rim. Plus, the tougher carbon rims these days are coming in at the same weight as aluminum rims. Having the wider spacing can allow an aluminum wheel to feel stiffer, which is a plus in our book.
Geometry and Intended Use
While the current trend is for longer and slacker bikes; Evil has gone for the longer reach, but they have gone against the grain by maintaining the same fork offset (51mm) and basically the same head angle (less than ½ degree difference) as their previous model. Evil claims this maintains that playful and party feel, but if you want that high speed stable feel, the new popular 44mm offset fork can be used here. Our rental Following’s here at Thunder Mountain Bikes have the playful 51mm offset, ideal for our tight corners and quick transitioning terrain.
Given the head angle and suspension travel, we put this bike in the trail bike category. It’s capable enough for all of the hardest moves in Sedona, but compared to the Evil Offering at 140mm travel, there’s a noticeable difference in plushness off drops and high speed compressions. At 120mm, it will keep you honest, and while the margin for error is higher than other bikes in this category, it’s not as high as the Offering. On the flip side, this bike begs for speed in almost every situation. It’s almost as if you’re getting “free speed” from every undulation in the terrain, whereas a bigger travel bike would dissipate this feeling.
If we had to point out a negative, it would be the seat tube length. We are surprised that Evil chose to go with such a long seat tube for their new model, given the trend for longer dropper posts. If you’re a person with long legs, there’s probably no issue here for you. But in our eyes, why not have a shorter seat tube length and allow more riders to run a 150mm+ length dropper post? For comparison, the Ibis Ripley size large has about a 50mm shorter seat tube length than this new Following large. That’s a lotta room for a long dropper, and a lot lower you can potentially get your saddle. I wouldn’t let this be a total deal breaker though, if you love every other part of this bike, the suspension definitely makes up for the seat tube. If needed, we can source you a dropper that takes up less seat tube space in order to maximize your saddle drop.
Climbing wise, the Following does have a few trade offs here. With the suspension staying active, ready to spring out of every corner, there is going to be a bit more pedal induced movement compared to other bikes in this category, like the new Santa Cruz Tallboy. At the same time, this same movement can keep your rear wheel more planted on loose uphill terrain. It comes down to personal preference, but we find that the extra suspension movement is not an issue on Sedona climbs. It would be more noticeable on more XC terrain with lots of pedaling. Compared to the previous Following MB, this new Following climbs exceptionally better, mostly due to the steeper seat tube angle and rider positioning.
If you’re looking for that magic combination of a very reactive bike while still having a pillowy feel, the Evil Following will be the perfect bike for you. Give us an email if you’re interested in building one up!
- Very steep seat tube angle
- Longer reach for a more centered position
- Non piggy-back rear shock helps take some weight off, while still having a great feel
- Rides great with both 51 and 44 fork offsets
- Super Boost frame is not compatible with most wheels currently out there
- Long seat tube length can limit your dropper post length
- Can be confusing deciding which fork offset is better (but we can help you with that)