If Evil Bikes' The Wreckoning prides itself as a versatile all-mountain monster that's happiest running big lines and revels gleefully in days filled with lift laps and bomber descents, then 2017's The Calling Mountain Bike frame is best described as its sassy, irreverent, trail-leaning little brother.
Scampering off on its snappy 27.5-inch hoops towards whatever terrain currently suits its fancy, The Calling is ready to seek out adventure with a cheeky aggression that'll have you cackling joyously out of every berm and opportunity for air. With 131mm of travel (compared to The Wreckoning's massive 161mm) and ever so slightly steeper angles, the Calling is perhaps better equipped to manage varied terrain and get you to the top of climbs without the spiral of self-defeated pouting sometimes associated with slacked-out, big travel rigs. As a rule, Evil Bikes prides itself on making bikes fun, and The Calling is set to meet that mark in spades.
Evil's approach to geometry is one of the key elements to The Calling's versatility. The frame's linkage includes flip chips that alter the bottom bracket height and head tube angle. In Low setting, the bottom bracket sits at just 13.3in off the ground with a head tube angle of 66.4 degrees. When dropped to the X-Low setting, the bottom bracket drops to 13in off the ground, and the head tube slacks out to as low as 65.8 degrees. The Calling is definitely down for a party, and its long, low countenance is finished with 16.9in chainstays (17.0 in the X-Low setting) that dice techy lines like a cat on carpet.
Where most full suspension machines have hearts, The Calling instead has a dark void in the shape of Dave's Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus, which Evil abbreviates with the acronym DELTA. To be clear, this isn't a DW-link suspension. Evil stuck to a linkage driven single pivot with a specific aim to achieve a level of adjustability not allowed by DW-link's four-bar design. DELTA was originally designed as a platform to test different suspension curves, so it's most basic, defining property is virtually limitless mutability. Given that fact, shock tune may be more important on a DELTA bike than on any other suspension design, and Evil builds in a sag measurement system to make tuning a quick, painless affair. Just reset the little toggle, hop in the saddle, and air up.
The Calling's DELTA pivot location reduces the need for shock damping, so you can ride the included RockShox Debonair 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 131mm, 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 its spirited compression arc provides the perfect alibi for when you need a timely bail-out.
If DELTA is The Calling's darkly mischievous intent, then the carbon frame is the vessel via which those 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.
All things said and done, Evil really is as lightheartedly goofy as it makes itself out to be. But the brand's ethos 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.
- Evil's sprightly trail machine is down to party
- A responsive pedaling platform with 5.2in of DELTA travel
- Long, slack geometry attacks fast lines
- Revamped carbon construction process for lightweight reliability
- Evil Bikes brings fun to the trail with uncompromisingly capable bikes