Fun for all.
In its own words, Evil Bikes describes The Following Mountain Bike Frame as, simply, "FUN." While we typically favor subtlety in our own writing, we're happy to forgive Evil this moment of enthusiastic Caps Lock excess because the bike actually delivers by turning "FUN" into a four letter expletive, as in "This bike is FUNking awesome." In terms of ride quality, "FUN" translates to a bike whose huge wheels and alarmingly capable five inches of travel defy all of our expectations—which leads us to the three letter word we might use to describe it: "all," as in "This is an all-day trail rocket and an all-mountain sled." And it's not just us. Chances are good that if you're a literate mountain biker who keeps up with product news, you're aware of The Following's growing body of glowing reviews. Evil is known for not taking itself too seriously, but the rest of the industry isn't afraid to bathe it in the accolades it deserves.
Evil's sexy approach to geometry customization is one of the key aspects underwriting The Following's all-ness. The frame's linkage includes flip chips that alter the bottom bracket height and head tube angle. When dropped to the Low setting, the bottom bracket sits a scant 12.83in off the ground, and the head tube slacks out to as low as 66.8 degrees. We're used to seeing such lewd dimensions on six-inch, 27.5 enduro monstrosities; needless to say, they make prim and proper 29er trail bikes blush. The Following definitely likes to party, and its long, low countenance is finished with 17in chainstays (16.8in in the High setting) that dice techy lines with the horror flick alacrity of a hockey-masked mama's boy set loose on a drunkenly lascivious spring break camping trip.
Compared to the gravity designs from whence it sprang, The Following's shock sits further up in the main triangle. This makes for a simplified construction process that hinges on dual row angular contact bearings and a 15mm thru axle. We know the assembly appears intimidatingly complicated, but it's actually a refreshingly simple design that places the emphasis on trail feel, not marketing palaver. It also looks pretty damn cool, and those expansive, meaty swing arms are every bit as stiff as their comically oversized diameters suggest.
OK, so the above is a bit heavier on the hyperbole than we'd typically go in a product description, but the spirit of FUN (yep, we're sticking with Caps Lock, too) that Evil infuses The Following with is contagious, and the infection begins in the suspension. Where most full suspension machines have hearts, The Following instead has a black void in the shape of Dave's Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus, which the brand abbreviates with the acronym DELTA. DELTA is appropriate, because after a few minutes on this bike, we were certain that someone (Dave Weagle himself, perhaps?) made the crossroads bargain so often depicted in the Delta blues while the design was in development. There's no other explanation for how versatile, adaptable, and surprisingly capable DELTA renders the bike's five-inch travel and Monarch shock.
Before going any further, a disclaimer: this isn't a DW-link suspension. Evil (at Weagle's behest) stuck to a linkage driven single pivot in order to achieve a level of adjustability not allowed by DW-link's four-bar design. In fact, DELTA was originally a platform for testing different suspension curves, so it's most basic, defining property is virtually limitless mutability. Given that pedigree, shock tune may be more important on a DELTA bike than on any other suspension design, and Evil tools The Following with a built-in sag measurement system to make tuning a quick, painless affair. Just reset the little toggle dial, hop in the saddle, and air up. For reasons we can't fathom, Evil doesn't assign this indispensable feature a playfully overwrought epithet like the Sag-o-Meter or Sir Sags-a-Lot—a glaring oversight considering the hyperbolic self-deprecation the brand uses to define itself and its proprietary tech. (We refer you again to Dave's Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus.)
The Following's DELTA pivot location reduces the need for shock damping, so you can ride the included RockShox Monarch fully open—even while ascending root-latticed treescapes and rocky switchbacks. Since it doesn't have to fight bob with heavy handed damping, DELTA strikes an apparently contradictory balance between a supple, light-off-the-top early stroke and a mid-stroke that keeps the tires glued to the trail. As it approaches the triple digit end of its 120mm, the travel arc ramps up to maintain a bottomless feel that belies Evil's gravity roots. It takes a lot to find DELTA's limits, and that's fortunate since The Following is, essentially, a long-travel 29er possessed by ungovernable demonic rage. In the words of Kevin Walsh, Evil's resident warlock-in-chief, "you can get away with murder on it"—largely because its spirited compression arc provides the perfect alibi for when you need a timely bail-out.
If DELTA is The Following's evil intent, then the carbon frame is the weapon via which those slasher intentions manifest. Evil has had some issues with carbon manufacturing in the past, but it recently invested in building new molds in a new factory that also happens to service most of the high-end manufacturers on the market. Given the logistics of carbon construction, this wasn't a simple process; however, anyone familiar with Evil's history will agree that it was necessary, and the frames we've put our hands on definitely occupy the sharp end of the industry's quality curve.
Each frame is laid-up with a targeted blend of T700 and T800 carbon, which are both high-modulus, unidirectional fibers from Toray. Toray is a name that we'd expect to see associated with a lightweight climber's road frame, not a brutally aggressive trail ogre that refuses to die. The same is true for these moduli. The insistence on using this material tells a story that's kind of at odds with the approach that Evil takes to itself. It's not what you'd expect from a goofy, fly-by-night operation.
Despite that, Evil really is as lightheartedly goofy as it makes itself out to be, and it really doesn't take itself too seriously. But the brand's idea of FUN at play requires uncompromisingly capable toys, so it takes everything from the lay-up pattern to the carbon compaction deadly seriously. Every frame's life begins with EPS and silicone molds. The black stuff is laid up around these and then compacted from inside and out, resulting in uniform wall thickness and eliminating excess resin pooling and the kind of imperfections and structural weaknesses that impertinent trail gremlins exploit to cause frame failures. We wouldn't quite call the result perfect, but we're hard pressed to think of any manufacturer whose frames come closer to perfection. And in this case, perfection would be pure, playful evil, so the near-perfect Following isn't quite the devil—more like the neighbor of the beast.
- A trail 29er possessed by ungovernable demonic rage
- Takes Dave Weagle's 120mm DELTA suspension to 29in heights
- Long, slack wagon wheels chassis cleans lines and climbs
- Flip chips in the linkage drop or raise the bottom bracket
- Integrated sag-o-meter practically tunes the shock for you
- Stubby stays for dicing sinister terrain
- Carbon monocoque construction for lightweight stiffness
- Evil Bikes' playful irreverence translates to on-trail fun