Skip to main content

Evil Following Review: We put the Evil Following MB X01 through its paces

Evil’s Following set a new standard for short travel, big attitude 29er trail bikes but how does it compare to the latest contenders? Guy Kesteven has been hitting the moors, Enduro tracks and off-piste black runs of Yorkshire to find out.

Evil Following
(Image: © Evil Bikes)

Our Verdict

On paper, the geometry of the Evil Following MB might look dated, but you don't ride bikes on paper. You ride them flat out on mud and trails - and that's exactly where the Following MB excels

For

  • Insanely controlled and speed-hungry suspension with addictively agile handling
  • Comparatively good price for a premium brand and sorted spec

Against

  • Shorter, steeper geometry makers it less stable than contemporaries
  • Relatively short frame warranty

The original Evil Following was one of the first unashamedly angry 29ers, centred around a unique Delta suspension system that gave unholy traction and speed sustain from only 120mm of travel. The Following MB ('More Betterer') updated some practical elements and added a piggyback shock to supercharge the suspension engine but geometry remained relatively uptight. With several new big-name additions to the short-travel 29er arms race since it appeared, is the Evil still a leading contender or is it following in nature as well as in name? 

 Design and geometry

Evil has always been an ‘in your face’ brand in both character and construction. The Following follows the brand's classic ‘jutting jaw’ head tube, low-slung Y split top tube and kicked-back seat tube mainframe format. The back end uses ‘big bike’ sized tubes to create a single-piece swingarm pivoting on the chain line directly above the bottom bracket. The Dave Weagle-designed Delta system packs a lot of complexity into a small area though. Three bolts each side of the swingarm attach anchor plates which give a Low (338mm) or X-Low (330mm) ride height, 67.4- or 66.8-degree head angle and 74.3- or 73.7-degree effective seat angle. Short dog bone links then drive triangular plates which join the trunnion mounted RockShox Super Deluxe shock onto a down tube pivot. The shock arrangement means the damping controls are easy to access on-the-fly. A neat sag meter pointer is built into one of the triangular plates too, which partially makes up for how hard it is to see the travel tracking O-ring. 

There’s just room to squeeze a bottle in above the Delta assembly (a side mount cage will help on smaller frames) and the MB made a very welcome switch from press-fit to screw-in bottom bracket. Evil was one of the first brands to provide an integrated chain guide as well as ISCG tabs and the Boost axle bolts straight into the rear dropout. There’s thick rubber armour on the stays and belly of the bike for chain and rock protection, too. Only the rear section of the gear cable and the dropper line are internally routed, with the rest of the controls running under the top tube. Whether that’s a simple servicing win or an eyesore in these days of fully integrated frames is a personal matter, as is the choice between rowdy ‘Smashing Pumpkin’ or ‘Drunken Olive’ colour schemes. Either way, it’s obvious that the centre of gravity and suspension action is as low and central as possible, promising a grippy, super grounded ride. Evil made a conscious decision not to massively alter the geometry when Following became MB though. That’s why angles are relatively steep - the 1180mm wheelbase and 452mm reach are definitely on the short side compared to Whyte S-120 Yeti SB-130, Santa Cruz Tallboy 4, Trek Top Fuel, Ibis Ripley etc. At 3.25kg for a medium frame with all the trimmings, it’s competitive with those bikes on weight though. If you’re into 27.5 x 2.8in tyres, then the Following is one of the few bikes in this category that can still take them. 

Components and build

On the whole, the spec is bang up to date and generally really well-judged. The SRAM XO1 Eagle comes with a 34T chainring to properly crank some speed into the equation. RockShox’s Pike Ultimate is an awesome fork and one of the few 130mm units up to matching the jaw-dropping levels of high-speed control that the Delta system and custom-tuned Super Deluxe RCT DebonAir shock create from the 122mm of rear travel. SRAM also provides the G2 brakes and Reverb Stealth seat post in 125-170mm drop depending on frame size.

Race Face Next R 780x35mm carbon handlebars are clamped in a 50x35mm Turbine stem. Maxxis Minion DHF tyres are all-round favourites whatever the weather or mission, and they come set up tubeless on the carbon e*thirteen wheels. Fat instant reaction hubs combined with lifetime warrantied carbon rims give the Following proper responsiveness and accurate tracking boost too, but keep an eye on the bearings over time to avoid early trouble. 

Evil Following

(Image credit: Evil Bikes)

Ride, handling and performance

Unsurprisingly the Following feels slightly cramped coming off fashionably stretched bikes. The long offset 51mm fork and near 67-degree head angle feel snappy and rapid rather than raked out and stable. The steep slope of the upper seat tube means long seat extensions can seriously slacken the effective seat angle. Both those things make sizing up a smart move if you want a more stable, grounded front wheel on climbs or descents.

If you’re the kind of rider who rides with their hips and feet as much as their hands, you’re going to love what happens in the centre of the bike. Simply put, the Delta system still provides probably the best short-travel suspension around for attacking technical trails. The shifting shock rates created by the linkage move for an ultra supple start making the most of the bearing mounted trunnion shock and then ramp seamlessly into mid-travel support. Not constipated, foot-loosening support, but super grippy, impact-erasing flow, just without diving too deep into the travel or wallowing. The end stroke ramps up further to collect bigger drops like a glued cat, keeping you on the right side of the bars if you hook up on a boulder or case a lip at high speed. It’s such a natural, glitch-free transition back and forth through all the phases that after initial set up you’re very rarely aware of the specifics. There’s just an overwhelming sense of connection and trust to hit the sketchiest lines.

Over exiting rocky, rooty sections you’ll also realise just how much speed the Following has ploughed through terrain that would normally stall most short-travel bikes. It’s significant enough that you might have to recalibrate how quickly you’ll arrive at the next section on sequential tech trails and the upward spiral of speed and confidence is intoxicatingly addictive. 

The rapid rather than raked out steering will definitely divide riders. For some, the increased chance of it tucking under, sliding sideways or getting bullied off line will be a deal-breaker. For others, the constantly alive, eye-widening agility, snap turn, hip and jib manoeuvrability is what makes the Following MB so fantastic. It was certainly enough to keep us coming back to it repeatedly compared to more ‘fashionably shaped’ bikes when we wanted maximum fun.

Obviously, pedalling performance is a big factor in buying decisions on short-travel 29ers, and again the Evil performs impeccably in terms of ground-connection and flow-sustain over broken ground. The recent change from e*thirteen tyres to faster rolling Maxxis Minion DHFs helps efficiency under power too. The Delta suspension tech means bob is minimal even when you’re mashing out of the saddle, and the sensitivity and pedal-neutrality means there’s no obvious bite or suspension-stiffening to press against, so if you’re used to a VPP system (or something else with a lot of anti-squat) it can feel flaccid underfoot. Keep faith in your fitness and the longer and further you pedal, the more the Following's connection and flow will fight fatigue and claw you up climbs - long after more reactive bikes have knocked their riders past the knackered point.     

 Verdict

If you’re buying by numbers then the Following MB might look dated and the geometry definitely creates a less settled state of mind when you’re flat out. That makes the longer, slacker, 140mm travel Evil Offering the obvious choice for riders who want a more stable character. If you live for the electric thrill of a truly visceral bike, the Following's agility is class-A-addictive and the Delta suspension is still an absolutely stunning speed and control generation engine. The latest spec choices make the best of the bike’s naturally aggressive, ready for anything vibe too. 

Current pricing is also good compared to similar 'premium cachet' brands although you only get a 3-year warranty compared to lifetime on Santa Cruz and Yeti.

Tech Spec

  • Price: £5799.99
  • Head angle: 67.4- or 66.8 degrees
  • Frame material: Unidirectional carbon
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 13.11kg
  • Wheel size: 29er
  • Suspension (front/rear): RockShox Pike Ultimate 130mm travel, 51mm offset/RockShox Super Deluxe RCT 45mm stroke 120mm travel
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XO1 Eagle with X0 carbon 34T chainset
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC brakes with 180mm rotors
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF Exo TR 29 x 2.3in tyres front/rear
  • Whheels: e*thirteen LG 1 EN wheels
  • Bar/stem: Race Face NEXT R 780x35mm bar, Race Face Turbine R 50x35mm stem
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth 170mm dropper post
  • Saddle: WTB Volt