The Following has created quite a stir in the bike industry over the past several months since its release and left other manufacturers scrambling to catch up. Evil carved out a whole new niche in the bike world with its short travel, aggressive geometry 29er trail shredder. “Monster truck wheels with a sports car feel…. A FUN, versatile, yet aggressive short travel, big wheel trail bike with progressive geometry that could be at home on all day adventures, slashing trails or riding jump lines.” is how Evil Bikes describes the Following on their site and we’d have to agree they hit their target. I’ve been super intrigued by this bike since I first started reading about it and have been dying to take it for a spin.
I knew Evil would not officially be at the Dirt Demo but I was hoping some component company would use it as a platform to spotlight their product or someone from the small company might show up on the outskirts with a bike our two to loan out to a lucky few. A query on mtbr did not turn up any leads and in fact one poster who is fairly well connected with Evil said they would not be there. I was disappointed but resigned myself to not being able to ride The Following. But as I was sitting eating my lunch a guy rode up on an Insurgent, Evil’s just-released 27.5″ enduro rig. I quickly dropped what I was eating and asked him where he got it. Vittoria tires has a new mountain bike tire line they were wanting to showcase and could not have picked a better bike to get attention drawn to their tent.
They only had two bikes, an Insurgent and the Following which were both out when I scrambled to the Vittoria tent near the end of the day but I was fortunate to only have to wait a few minutes before this black medium sized The Follwing came rolling back in, its rider still wiping a huge grin off his face.
I’d read with interest the long sizing discussions on the mtbr.com Evil Bikes forum and wondered, with The Following’s long effective top tube and reach if I’d be more comfortable on a medium or large. I’m still a little undecided which I’d order if I were ordering one today, but I will say this medium fit quite well. It may have been a bit cramped for long smoother climbs, but for the standing and hammering I was able to do on it, the medium felt great. The Following really encourages a stand up and shred attitude with it’s rally racer low, long, and slack geometry. The short chain stays make you want to pump and manual everything in site. All the while the big wheels and well-controlled but short suspension travel are just gobbling up some pretty nasty trail conditions that have flummoxed many much more DH=specific bikes I’ve ridden here at Bootleg Canyon over the years. Super impressive. I was never aware of the bigger wagon wheels doing anything that compromised the ride in any way, even though when looking out over the bars the front wheel sticks out there quite prominently.
Climbing was exceptional on the short steep, sometimes loose and often rocky ascents on the way down our usual run. The rear tire stuck to the ground and did not spin out or bounce you around when putting down the power. We didn’t have an opportunity to test it on any long, sustained climbs but it pedaled very efficiently both seated and standing and the seated position seemed to put the rider in a good position for long climbs…..although I must admit, I didn’t sit much on the Following. It was all about the BMX style pumping, gapping, and railing. Handling can be described as slot-car effective. I did not have any trouble getting the big wheels around in tight spots and switchbacks, yet it still felt incredibly stable on fast, rock-littered, and ledgy descents. It was almost unbelievable how The Following could feel both like a small, quick handling bike and a big bruiser AM bike at the same time. In fact by time I got to the entrance of the same long, super steep, sketchy chute (The Hour Glass) that the Riot navigated with relative ease I’d developed enough confidence in the gnar-capability of The Following that I decided to send it down. Besides, Nate was sitting at the bottom with a video camera waiting for the show so I was pretty much obligated to do it. I’ve come to realize over the past while after riding some pretty capable short travel bikes that descending and gnar-tech ability has more to do with geometry than travel and the Following with its excellent progressive geometry confirmed this theory in spades as it took me safely down the Hour Glass with only slightly more drama than the Riot.
Being a showcase for Vitorria’s new line of mtb tires The Following was shod with Vittoria’s excellent 2.3″ Morsa tire front and back that resembles a cross between a High Roller II and Minion DHF. They had good volume and exceptional traction in the loose, rocky, and dry Bootleg conditions but not quite the same ultimate braking grip on steep rock faces as the 3C High Roller II, thus the extra drama on the Hour Glass super chute as I had more trouble controlling my speed on the Following than the HRII shod Riot.
In summary, I can’t imagine a better blend of fun and aggressiveness and a wider range of usefulness in a mountain bike than is offered by The Following. Outside of XC racing on one end and bigger drops and super chunky, fast World Cup DH type rock gardens on the other where more suspension is really required it can just about do it all. Believe the hype. The Following is a true game changer and will redefine how other manufacturers design bikes for years to come.
Dave’s Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus (Delta Link). I don’t know how the mad scientist Dave Weagle does it, stuffing all the good suspension action in that tangle of shock and linkage down there but I know it’s effective and keeps the weight low, down by your feet where it belongs.
With its black on black color scheme and dark moniker I thought it appropriate that we shoot The Following in a cave… with spider webs. If it were a super hero, The Following would definitely be Batman.
Vittoria has always been the parent company to Geax mtb tires, but they have recently decided to gather all their lines under the Vittoria brand. This is the Morsa. An aggressive tread, dry to loose to loamy terrain tire. It worked quite well.