2015 Evil The Following

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM X1
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R
  • Wheels: RaceFace Turbine
  • Fork: Rockshox Pike RCT3
  • Rear Shock: Rockshox Monarch RT3 Debonair
  • Wheels: 29′′

Travel: 120mm Rear / 130 mm Front

Blister’s Measured Weight: 28.8lbs (13.1kg) size medium, without pedals

Frame only (with Rockshox Monarch RT3 and rear axle): 6.9lbs (3.13 kg)

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.

Test Location: Whitefish, MT

Duration of Test: a month

MSRP: $4,999

Noah Bodman reviews the Evil The Following for Blister Gear Review.

Evil The Following

Intro

When The Following was released last winter, it garnered a lot of attention. Part of that was because it was a sexy looking bike that looked to be a serious contender in the “aggressive 29er” category, but part of that was because it seemed to indicate that Evil, as a company, was back in the game. It’s no big secret that Evil had some quality control issues over the past few years, but with a new factory making their frames and a three-year warranty backing things up, it seemed a new leaf had been turned over.

The bike itself is unique in a few regards. First, in the “low” setting, with its 66.8º head angle, The Following is the slackest 29er I’ve ever ridden. While I’m sure there’s some odd contraption out there that’s slacker, I can’t think of another 29er that’s as chopped out.

Second, this is the first bike I’ve ever owned that doesn’t have a single weld on it. This is mostly just a curiosity, but it’s maybe a sign of the times. And no, the seam on the rims isn’t welded. It’s sleeved.

A quick aside before we go any further: this bike is officially called “The Following.” I’m going to call it “the Following,” because writing “the The Following” is weird.

The Frame

No welds means that the Following has a carbon front and rear triangle. And in case it wasn’t immediately obvious from the pictures, pretty much every part of the frame is massive.

The suspension runs on Dave Weagle’s “Delta” system, which is a relatively high single pivot with some linkage to modify the leverage ratio as the suspension compresses.

Noah Bodman reviews the Evil The Following for Blister Gear Review.

Noah Bodman on the Evil The Following, Whitefish, MT.

I get a lot of comments about how complicated the linkage is, but looks can be deceiving. It’s a pretty straightforward bell crank design. Perhaps it looks more complex than it is simply because it’s very compact.

According to Evil, the basic idea of the Delta system is that it’s very tunable, and can be tweaked to achieve a variety of leverage rates to mate well with a given rear shock for a given set of preferences. The same basic system is used on all of Evil’s suspension bikes, but the result on the Following is a fairly progressive rate that seems to be designed to complement the natural progressiveness of an air can like the Monarch RT3.

All of the pivots are running on sealed cartridge bearings, and the hardware is high quality and lightweight. In my time on the bike, I haven’t had any issues with anything coming loose or creaking.

Cable routing is a mix of internal and external. The rear brake runs entirely externally, and the rear shift cable runs externally under the top tube, but then internally through the seatstay. The dropper post runs internally, as would the front derailleur if I was running one.

The internal routing has tubing to make shoving the cables through a bit easier. The only downside here is that the tubing isn’t big enough to fit a SRAM connectamajig, so you still have to bleed the seatpost anytime you need to install or remove the hose.

The rear axle is a straightforward, bolt-on style affair that doesn’t have any sort of pinch bolt or expansion collet. It threads into a nut on the drive side that’s loosely held in place with a set screw. If you bungle the threads somehow, the nut is replaceable. While this system is clean looking and doesn’t leave any levers hanging off the outside of the bike, I’d still like to see a pinch bolt on the non-drive side to help stiffen up the connection a little bit.

In terms of the look of the bike, my only real gripe is the paint. From a distance it looks great, but up close it’s a bit lumpy, and it’s rough around the internal cable ports. It also seems to chip relatively easily.

Noah Bodman reviews the Evil The Following for Blister Gear Review.

Evil The Following cable port

The frame comes fitted with rubberized protectors at the key locations: under the downtube to ward off rock strikes, and along the drive side stays to deal with chain slap. Some of these protectors seem like they could be a little bigger, but all in all, they work well and they give the bike a really clean look.

The frame has one water bottle mount inside the front triangle, and there’s enough space to fit a full sized bottle.

NEXT: The Build, Geometry and Numbers, Etc.

59 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Tom October 18, 2015 Reply

    Nice review. Astounding observation w/re to Strava.

    The The Following (fun to type!) seems aimed squarely at the Kona Process 111, though even lower and slacker, and a bit more travel.

  2. Bob McBob October 19, 2015 Reply

    Noah,

    Nice review. Can you expand a bit on the rear end perceived stiffness, since you stated that the wheels weren’t very stiff. How do you know the level of stiffness isn’t a direct result of the wheels? Any chance you’ll get to try it with some nice carbon wheels like Derby?

    Thanks

    • Noah October 19, 2015 Reply

      Hey Bob,

      Yup, I’ve been swapping around with some Vittoria Daemion and Enve M60 HV wheels (reviews to come), both of which are stiffer than the stock RaceFace wheels. The Enves in particular help out a fair amount with stiffening things up in the back end. There’s still some frame flex, but those are about as stiff as any 29er wheel I’ve ridden.

      Aside from just riding the bike and noticing the frame flex, I also did some fairly unscientific comparisons to a Horsethief, a Process 111, and my Devinci Spartan. On each frame, I just popped the rear wheel out and hand-flexed the stays. The Spartan is really stiff – very little movement. The Process 111 is a bit less stiff, but still pretty solid. The Horesethief and the Following are about the same – grabbing either side of the rear end at the dropout, I can flex the stays ~2cm with relatively little force.

      Like I said, it’s not exactly a controlled, scientific measurement, but it backs up what I’m feeling while riding each of those bikes, and it removes wheel flex from the equation.

      As to your other question re: tires – for most of my time on the bike, I was running the 2.3″ DHR II in the rear and a 2.35″ 45 North Nicotine in the front (which measures out to be the equivalent of a Maxxis 2.5″, and has a tread pattern that’s pretty similar to a DHF). Like I mentioned above, recently I’ve been swapping around wheelsets. I have the 2.3″ DHR II / DHF combo on the Enves, and some 2.4″ Gomas on the Vittoria wheelset (and I’ll be putting up a review on those tires as well).

      • Bob McBob October 20, 2015 Reply

        Looking forward to your review on the 2.4 Gomas. I bought one to replace a 2.4 Ardent in the rear of my Honzo, and really liked the look of the tread especially for the rear, but in the end I returned it as it weighed over 1100 grams!

  3. Bob McBob October 19, 2015 Reply

    Also, what (wider) tire did you end up running on the front? The video shows a Goma on the back instead of the stated DHRII it came with.

  4. Blister Member
    Andrew October 19, 2015 Reply

    How would you compare this bike to the Niner WFO?

    • Noah October 19, 2015 Reply

      Hey Andrew,

      The Following definitely isn’t as cushy as the WFO. It doesn’t absorb small to mid sized bumps in the trail quite as well, and it’s less comfortable when just plowing though chunder. The flip side of that is that it feels faster; it doesn’t have the inefficiencies that come with the extra travel, and it still rolls through rough stuff cleanly

      While I found the Following to be a pretty stable bike (particularly by short travel standards), I found the WFO to not be nearly as stable as it seems like it should be (for a relatively long travel bike). Ultimately, the end result might be that they’re similar in terms of comfort level for going fast.

      The WFO basically struck me as a mellower version of the Enduro 29 – it’s easier to ride at “trail” pace, but it’s less rewarding when the going gets faster and rougher. The Following isn’t as cushy as either of those bikes, so it’s less inclined to just mindlessly smash through things. But it’s easier to ride actively and skip through rock gardens, and it handles big hits well enough that when you make the occasional mistake and blast into a big rock at speed, it’s not the end of the world.

  5. Kurt October 19, 2015 Reply

    Noah,
    I like your style of reviews…..good writing, good facts, good arguments!

    You wrote: Maxxis DHR 2 (Exo Casing) is a perfect tire for this bike (……. the bike has the ability to plow through rough trails……)

    How many flats did you have on rough trails with the Exo Casing on this bike?

    I ride a Niner WFO and punctured this tire on my rocky home trails in the alps this summer daily…… ( with 165lbs/30psi on the rear wheel) I changed to Michelin WildrockR2 (much better puncture resistance….) But it would be nice to see this DHRII with the new DD casing for aggressive bikes like Evil The Following.

    • Noah October 19, 2015 Reply

      Thanks Kurt!

      I only got one puncture on the rear – a tidy little hole in the center of the tread. I slapped a patch on the inside of the tire and continued to ride it. But up here in NW Montana, punctures aren’t usually my main issue – we don’t have much in the way of thorns or goatheads.

      Agreed though, particularly in areas where punctures are problematic, the new DD casing might be a good option, as would something with Maxxis’ “Silkworm” material. Unfortunately the DHRII isn’t getting the Doubeldown treatment just yet, but I think it’s reasonable to expect that option in the future. Or, like you said, a few other brands are making tires with a more stout casing.

  6. John W October 20, 2015 Reply

    Noah,
    That’s a great review. The content covered almost everything one would want. Almost…;-) You may not have every bike to compare so I’ll give you a break on that one, however I was wondering if you had any time on a Yeti ASRc. If you have I’d be curious how they compare.

    • Noah October 20, 2015 Reply

      Thanks John! But unfortunately, the only Yeti I’ve been on in the last couple of years was the SB95 (quicky comparison: much more xc oriented than the Following).

      It’s on my to do list to find my way onto some Yetis next spring!

      -Noah

      • Matto October 21, 2015 Reply

        Alloy Yeti sb95 with 140mm pike vs following at 130mm. This is where I’m coming from and thinking of going to for my next purchase. Any more info about your sb95 vs following comparison?

        Ps great honest review without the hype!

        • Noah October 22, 2015 Reply

          Hey Matto,

          It’s been a little while since I was on the SB95, and I think it had a 130mm fork on it (not 100% certain on that though). In that configuration, it was definitely happier going up hills than the Following, but it wasn’t as stable at speed, and it didn’t handle big hits anywhere near as well.

          Ultimately, what that means is that the SB95 is better as an all around bike – it’s better on climbs, and doesn’t feel so slack and floppy at a moderate “trail pace.” But when things get steeper, faster, and rougher, the Following comes into its element. I’d say the Following is best in class in that regard, but it does sacrifice some uphill and slower speed performance because of it.

          Hope that helps!

  7. John W October 20, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Noah, so many bikes, so little time! ;-) I have an SB5 and like it…alot, but I was looking for a more XC oriented bike and have read that the ASRc does really well pointing downhill, so I thought it would be a good comparison to the Following.
    Keep the good stuff coming!

  8. Blister Member
    Slim October 21, 2015 Reply

    Hmmm,
    You said you wondered what it would feel like in low mode with a larger offset fork to reign in trail.
    How about the opposite? A fork with less offset, run in the high setting. This would kee the wheelbase shorter and the front wheel closer for climbing and tight corners, but still offer a similar amount of trail as the low mode for high speed stability.
    The Pike comes in 46 mm offset I believe.

    • Noah October 21, 2015 Reply

      That’s an interesting thought – here’s some more food for the discussion. I briefly had a 130mm travel MRP Loop mounted up on the Following, which has a 49mm offset. I can’t say I noticed much of a difference. Or, more accurately, it was quite a bit flexier than the Pike and it’s small bump sensitivity isn’t quite as good – and those were the main attributes that stuck out.

      Ultimately, I’m not sure that reducing the offset by 6mm would be beneficial. I think that’s a small enough change that it wouldn’t be all that noticeable in terms of wheelbase, etc. (since the actual wheelbase would only be reduced by around 4mm, since the decreased offset of the fork is running at the angle of the head tube). And I think that reigning the trail number back in, even at a ~67 degree head angle in high mode, would be a good thing. But mostly this is just speculation…

  9. Jim October 22, 2015 Reply

    Great and thorough review!

    I’ve read your first look at the 2016 Stumpjumper 650b. Have you had a chance to compare the Following to the new Stumpjumper 29? I’m fairly torn between the two. I generally ride in Pisgah (WNC), I’d say 70% of rides are long up (fireroad) followed by rowdy downs, lots of roots, rocks and drops. The other 30% of rides would be backcountry, meandering but still done to get to some of the good downhills in the forest.

    The thing is, I’m coming from several years on an Anthem 29, which is a very different bike. I don’t tend to be one to pick the fun and poppy lines, but more or less plow as fast as I can through the trail on the way down. That’s partly due to the bike I’ve learned to ride on though. I’m going to get at least a day of demo time on both the Following and SJ 29 before deciding but would appreciate any thoughts you might have as well.

    Keep up the great reviews!

    • Brian November 3, 2015 Reply

      Seconded. I’d like to see this comparison as well.

      • Noah November 3, 2015 Reply

        Hey Jim and Brian,

        I haven’t ridden the Stumpjumper 29, but I have ridden the Stumpy 650b as well as the Enduro 29, so I can take a decent guess at where the SJ 29 lands relative to the Following. But since I haven’t actually spent any time on the Stumpjumper 29, take this for whatever it’s worth.

        I would guess that the SJ 29 is like a lighter weight version of the Transition Smuggler, and for the most part, I think the comparison with the Smuggler would pretty much hold true for the Stumpy. In other words, it’s probably a slightly mellower version of the Following in high mode. I’d guess that the rear end on the Stumpy would be a bit more active over small to medium sized trail chatter, but it wouldn’t hold up quite as well on bigger hits. The Stumpy probably weighs a little less than the Following, but the Following pedals a smidge better than most of the Specialized bikes I’ve ridden.

        For jumping off stuff and riding technical trails at high speeds, I’d be inclined towards the Following. But for long, pedally adventures where max speed and pushing hard on descents aren’t really the priority, I might give the nod to the Stumpy (or the Smuggler). On a separate note, a perpetual issue with Specialized bikes is their use of proprietary parts, which have the usual upsides and downsides. I also think they tend to spec their bikes with parts that are just a little bit too light, so durability suffers at times (of course, it’s nice when you’re going uphill though).

        • Brian November 3, 2015 Reply

          That’s a great comparison Noah, thanks. From what I’ve read that makes sense. I’m currently riding a 2014 Stumpjumper 29 Evo which has somewhat similar geometry to the new Stumpjumper 29. But haven’t yet ridden a Following. I’d love to find something with a bit more pedaling efficiency but that maintains the awesome downhill and braking characteristics. I would say I like to go fast downhill but not to the scary fast and pushing crazy lines point. So maybe I do fall into the stumpjumper or smuggler territory (and I would guess there are many of us 30+ guys in that category)

          Ridden many VPP and dw-link bikes over the years but they never felt right for some reason, maybe because of the activeness of the rear. The Following is interesting though.

          Weight wise the Following is a bit heavy. They’re a smaller company but if they could figure out the manufacturing to be down bit closer to the stumpjumper frame weight that would be great. I would agree with you on the parts spec on Specialized’s tending to skew on the light side of the spectrum, but then again, Evil is not the best known for frame durability, and there have been reports on forums of issues with the Following as well in that regard…

          • Noah November 4, 2015 Reply

            All good points, and I’m kinda with you on VPP bikes – they’ve just never quite “clicked” with me. Although I did ride the 2016 5010 recently, and that thing was a lot of fun.

            After your post, I checked out that thread on MTBR concerning a cracked Following (I’m guessing that’s what you’re referring to?). I’ll be interested to see if that was a unique incident (possibly the result of an impact), or if there’ll be issues with other frames. I’m really hoping that Evil is out of the weeds on QC issues.

  10. Ray October 22, 2015 Reply

    Noah, great reviews. Your analysis and comparisons appear to be unbiased and well written. I’m trying to decide between the Following and a Smuggler and will not have an opportunity to ride the Following. Is the Smuggler comparable to the Following in high mode? Would adding volume spacers to the Smuggler would improve the progressiveness enough to be comparable on bigger hits? With a riding weight of 210 I do have concerns about stiffness and long term durability. I’m primarily a single speeder and like a bike that climbs out of the saddle. Which is a better out of the saddle climber? Ride everything from downhill, park, xc…mountain biking and would like a bike to cover most everything but true DH

    Thx

    • Noah November 3, 2015 Reply

      Hey Ray,

      I’d say with some volume spacers, you could probably get the Smuggler to be in the same ballpark as the Following in terms of big hit performance. Of the things you can’t really change, the Following will always be a bit slacker and more stable, a bit lighter (assuming equivalent parts), and a bit more expensive (again, equivalent parts). For out of the saddle climbing I’d give the nod to the Following, but neither bike is going to blow you away in that respect (although they’re both better than something with more travel like the Enduro 29). If you’re concerned about longer term durability, I’d probably lean towards the Smuggler – the frame just seems a bit more stout.

  11. James October 22, 2015 Reply

    Noah, the Specialized Enduro 29 has a 2mm shorter chainstay than the The Following. ;)

  12. MJ October 23, 2015 Reply

    Super review?

  13. Roger November 3, 2015 Reply

    The 2016 kona hei hei Trail has shorter chainstays as well:)

  14. Vik November 8, 2015 Reply

    Great reviews Noah.

    My current bikes:

    – 2009 SC Nomad Mk2
    – 2014 Pivot Mach 6

    I love both these bikes…the Nomad needed an Avalanche tuned DHX Air to be awesome, but now that it has that shock it’s a spectacular bike if you want to confidently plow. Which I do in the winter here in the PNWet.

    In the summer I ride the Mach 6 and love it’s precision in the tech vs. the Nomad. Not to mention the lighter more efficient bike is nice for the longer summer epics.

    Anyways I’m keen on adding a 29er to the fleet. Considering Canfield Riot, Lenz Behemoth and Evil Following. Pretty much ranked in that order currently.

    Thanks for the great Following review. I appreciate the time you put into it. If you had a chance to ride a Riot I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Compared to the other bikes you’ve ridden particularly the Following and the Mach 6.

    I’m looking for a capable techy coastal BC ride. That can handle steep rough terrain, but offer a different flavour than the Nomad/Mach 6 combo.

    safe riding,

    Vik

    • Noah November 10, 2015 Reply

      Hey Vik,

      I swung a leg over a Riot very briefly at Interbike this year. It was essentially just a parking lot test (which is why I didn’t write anything up on it). So, based on about 5 minutes on the bike, here’s what I’ve got:

      1) It’s not a light bike. Most of the Canfields aren’t, so this isn’t really all that surprising. The bike I rode was 33.6 lbs, with pedals, and built with nice but not especially light parts.
      2) It seems to pedal reasonably well.
      3) It has super short chain stays, and this seems to keep the overall length of the bike a bit more in check. It still felt slack and stable, but it felt a little more maneuverable than an Enduro 29.
      4) With the right setup, I think the Riot could be pretty competitive in a lot of DH races.
      5) It’ll fit 27.5+ wheels / tires, if you’re into that sort of thing.

      I haven’t ridden a Lenz Behemoth (or even seen one in the wild), but compared to the Following, I’d say the Riot is a lot more bike. The Following is impressively capable and is comfortable doing things that should be sketchy on a 120mm travel bike, but I’m fairly confident in saying that if things are legitimately steep and techy, the Riot will crush it. The flip side of that, is that the Following weighs a few pounds less and feels more efficient by virtue of having less suspension. For anything that’s not decidedly pointed downhill, I’d definitely rather be on the Following.

      Compared to the Mach 6, at the risk of stating the obvious, I think the big differences will be the wheel size and the weight. For plowing through anything rough, I’m guessing the Riot will do better – it’s tough to beat wagon wheels in that situation. In tighter spots, the Mach 6 will probably be easier, both due to the smaller wheels and lighter weight.

      Long story short, I’m guessing the Riot would be a boatload of fun around coastal BC if you’re willing to deal with a bit of extra weight on the way up. You might try shooting the Canfield guys a quick email – they’re in Bellingham, and you might be able to arrange for a quick demo ride if you’re ever down in that area.

  15. Vik November 11, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the comments Noah.

    I may get a chance to ride the Riot and/or Following given both companies are in the PNW. Getting on/off the island to demo a bike $300+ touch so it’s not as simple/obvious a move as if I lived on the mainland.

    If the Following had shorter CS and I had more confidence in Evil QC and long-term product support I’d be going that way as it’s different enough from my Mach 6/Nomad to add a some versatility to my fleet. Owning two bikes with 16.9″ and 17.4″ CS already I’m intrigued by the Riot’s really short CS or the Lenz’s shortish CS.

    I also tend to keep my bikes a while…2016 will be year 8 for my Nomad. So a bike that’s well built and well supported matters to me. I’m not feeling as confident about buying from Evil as I do buying from Canfield/Lenz.

    You’ve ridden a lot of bikes… how interested are you in exploring shorter CS designs or do you think betting wrapped up in differences of +/- 0.7″ is not worth worrying about?

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman November 11, 2015 Reply

      The chainstay length question is kind of a tricky one, and there’s definitely some personal preference there. For a long time, 29ers pretty much universally suffered from stays that were way too long, but that’s not really on issue on any of the newer, slacker, “aggressive” 29ers. With stays getting shorter and shorter, I do think there’s such a thing as going too short – the extra short stays take away a little bit of stability, and more than anything, they can make climbing steep stuff a bit of a chore. That said, they’re certainly nice when you want to precisely tuck the rear end into a corner.

      Personally, I’ve found that as long as the stays on a 29er are less than ~440mm or so, I can still ride the bike like I want to. Longer than that and it becomes noticeably more difficult to manual the bike and loft the front end over stuff.

      Pretty much every bike out there has its downsides. For the Following, it’s the still questionable QC that you mentioned. For the Riot, it’s heavy, I’d argue that the stays might be a bit too short, and there’s potentially some QC issues there too (the lower link on the Balances were prone to breaking, which may or may not be fixed on the Riots). For the Lenz, just going off the numbers, the head angle is a bit steep, and Lenz seems to like to run really low anti squat numbers, so I’d venture a guess that it won’t pedal all that efficiently.

      I’m sure it’s already on your radar, but I’d be looking at the Transition Smuggler. I’d bet the frame will hold up to abuse just fine, and it shares a lot of ride characteristics with the Following. It doesn’t have super short stays, but personally I’m ok with that.

      • Brian November 11, 2015 Reply

        Agreed with the Chainstay length thing being a bit of a non-issue on modern slack/aggressive (slagressive?) 29ers. Here’s a bunch of numbers for mediums:

        Canfield Riot 414mm (!)
        2016 Stumpjumper 437mm
        Trek Remedy 445mm
        Kona Process 111 430mm
        Yeti SB4.5c 437mm
        Evil Following 430mm-432mm
        Transition Smuggler 436mm
        Ibis Ripley LS 442mm
        Pivot Mach 429 trail 443mm
        Rocky Mountain Instinct 452mm
        Salsa Horsetheif 437mm

        Most of those are < 1cm apart. Hard to imagine one can feel the difference there.

        • Vik November 11, 2015 Reply

          The Riot is definitely shorter by a big enough margin to stand out from the crowd. And I’d add the Lenz bikes in there that have 16.75″ CS into that group.

          One thing that confounds the issue is that going shorter on CS is harder and harder….especially with some suspension designs so it’s tough to determine if a company is sticking with 17″+ CS because they believe it’s the better design choice or because they’d have a challenge making their bikes shorter?

          • Noah Bodman Author
            Noah Bodman November 11, 2015 Reply

            On the design choice vs. engineering challenge issue, I generally look to bikes with smaller wheels. It’s easier to run shorter stays on a 27.5″ bike, but there’s still plenty of companies that aren’t going particularly short on their stays. My Devinci Spartan still has 432mm stays, even though I think it’d be fairly easy to shorten them up a bit with that linkage design.

            It seems to me that, in large part, the industry has settled on 430-440mm stays as being the sweet spot for aggressive, mid to long travel bikes, regardless of wheel size. But, of course, some people prefer stays that are shorter (or longer), so there’s a few companies that accommodate those preferences.

  16. Adam November 17, 2015 Reply

    Hi Noah, thanks for the fantastic review, the detail and thoughtfulness is really helpful and much appreciated!

    I know you’ve spent some time on the new Santa Cruz 5010, and while these two bike may not at first seem natural to compare (29er, 27.5, etc.), I think they’re both great candidates as capable all-rounders, and I’m curious how you think they compare?

    Of the two I have only had a chance to ride the Following, and that was on a bike with a 140mm Pike, which I thought made the ST too slack for efficient climbing, and the front wheel too wander-y on climbs. My hope is that the Evil climbs better w’ the stock 130, but … I don’t know if that 10mm really makes that much of a difference? The 5010 I’m sure is a better climber, but not sure it will hang with the Evil on the descent, or for all around fun factor.

    I also tried out an SB5C which is a fantastic bike to ride, very nimble, but was harder to manual and pop off every little feature on the trail. My times on the SB5C were faster, but I think I had a bigger smile on my face on the Evil…

    • Noah November 17, 2015 Reply

      Hey Adam,

      Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to get on an SB5C yet. As for the Following with a 140mm fork, I can certainly imagine that, like you said, the front end would be really hard to keep planted on steep climbs. Particularly if it was in “low” mode, I’d bet that would put the head angle somewhere down into the 65.5 degree ballpark. In high mode, with a 130mm fork, the Following is pretty manageable on steep climbs. Not mind blowing or anything, but on par with other slack-ish bikes.

      Comparing the Following to the 5010, the biggest difference is certainly the wheel size. The 29ers on the Following hold more speed through rough terrain, and they make the bike feel like it has more travel than it does. But they accelerate slower, they’re more of an handful in tight spots, and all other things being equal, they’re noticeably flexier.

      But if we put the wheel size differences aside, I’d say that the 5010 is a little mellower than the Following, and probably does better within the realm of a traditional definition of a trail bike. It pedals a little more efficiently than the Following, it’s a bit happier on steep climbs, the rear end is definitely stiffer (partly due to the frame, and partly due to the smaller wheels), and it’s a bit more composed under braking. This isn’t to say the Following is horrible in these categories, but the 5010 is a bit better.

      I’d also say the suspension on the 5010 does a little better at ironing out small to medium sized bumps on the trail, but when you factor in the wheels size difference. I’d ultimately give the nod to the Following in that regard. The Following beats out the 5010 at pumping terrain, it gets more pop off of lips, and it feels a bit more stable.

      The Following is a short travel bike that’ll deal with going uphill, and it’ll happily go faster than any short travel 29er rightfully should on the way down. The 5010, on the other hand, is much more well rounded. It’s not the best bike on the way up or on the way down, but it hits a well balanced middle ground better than most other bikes in its class.

      Long story short: If it were me, I’d start by deciding on a wheel size. They’re different, and each has their benefits. Personally, for the trails I ride most often, I prefer a 29er for most bikes that are ~130mm travel or less. But I know plenty of guys that disagree, and I can certainly see where they’re coming from.

      Once you get the wheel size thing figured, decide where your priorities lie. If you’re looking to maximize the descent in a 29er package, then yeah, the Following – definitely. if you want something that’s more of an aggressive wagon wheeled all arounder, check out the Transition Smuggler, or maybe a Salsa Horesthief. If you want a tweener wheeled all arounder, then the 5010 would be very near the top of my list. If you want something that’s more inclined to go downhill, the new Bronson, or the new Devinci Troy are worthy contenders.

      • Brian November 17, 2015 Reply

        Related sidenote:

        Why doesn’t anyone spec dual position/talas forks anymore? Is an easy fix to the climbing/descending specialty issue. Supposedly they don’t perform as well, but I had a 140mm pike on my 29er Stumpjumper Evo and switched to a 150/120 dual position pike, didn’t notice any suspension difference.

        Climbing is better, and descending too. Still failing to see the downside… maybe they’re a bit heavier?

      • Adam January 2, 2016 Reply

        Hey Noah, thanks for the detailed reply to my question! I liked your suggestion to pick a wheel size first, and then pick a bike from there – I hadn’t thought about it like that before.

        Just a quick update: I demo’ed a 5010, and really loved it. I’d liked the previous incarnation of the 5010, and this new version is a big improvement. I was seriously impressed by how well the bike climbed considering how fun and capable it was descending. My only complaint was that its shorter travel becomes noticeable on steeper, chunkier trails – I had a hard time keeping up with a friend on an HD3 on the rowdiest trails. That said, I still had a blast riding it.

        But, buying bikes is a weird process … I came away from the 5010 demo thinking that it was the bike for me, but a few weeks later, found myself googling Evil reviews again. I ended up ordering a Following. I got it out for the first time for three days of riding this weekend, and I am totally happy with the decision. The bike absolutely rips. I had some very fast laps today – but feel like I wasn’t pushing the bike anywhere near the limits of its comfort zone on corners. I am a mediocre jumper, but found myself nearly hitting some doubles that I’ve previously stayed far away from because the bike feels so comfortable in the air. With the fork at 130mm, the suspension in high, and the saddle pretty far forward, I’m perfectly happy with the climbing. Really looking forward to getting to know this bike even better.

        I’m sure that if I had a brand new 5010 in the garage right now I’d be pretty stoked too, but – very very happy with the decision I made. They’re all great bikes, we’re just lucky to get to ride them :) Thanks again for your feedback!

    • John W November 17, 2015 Reply

      Adam, I’m going to suggest that the reason your times were better on the SB5c was that it handled the perturbations of the trail better and left you a bit fresher. The smile the Following maybe came from a few “ahh $hite” moments for the opposite reasons! Just a thought.

  17. jack November 28, 2015 Reply

    If you set your fork sag to 15%, would setting it to 30% sag help with climbing so you can stay in the low chip setting?
    Not sure if this is something that’ll work.

    • Noah November 30, 2015 Reply

      Hey Jack,

      Technically, yes, that would probably work. But I think there would be a lot of downsides to running the fork that soft – you’d lose a lot of support in corners, and you’d probably bottom out a lot. So ultimately, I don’t think the trade off would be worth it.

  18. Nat December 3, 2015 Reply

    Excellent, informative and fun review!

    Question: How would you compare The Following to the Kona Process 111?

  19. Jack December 3, 2015 Reply

    In your setup section. Did you reverse the low speed compression and rebound numbers for the fork? 13 clicks fit low speed comp. Etc.

  20. Robert December 4, 2015 Reply

    Hi guys,
    I’m looking at a new ride and currently riding a Ellsworth Evolve SST2 alu..
    Looking at either the new Ellsworth Epiphany 29er or the Following…
    Can anyone give their two cents in this matter?
    I live in Namibia so can’t test either of them unfortunately and have to order ‘blind’…

    Many thanks!

  21. Des December 11, 2015 Reply

    Great review!

    Im just about to take delivery of an Evil Following. I currently have spec camber evo 29 and spec enduro 29. Previous bike was yeti ASR5c, I probably represent a lot of older riders that like a blast on the trail park or semi knarly trail ride, but have enough historical broken bones and responsibilities to not be too worried about the bikes ability with massive jumps or crushing massive rock gardens at light speed. I want a bike that I can ride on the trail, pedal efficiently and be reasonably quick, but with the geometry of an enduro rig when it gets step and technical to improve confidence and fun.
    My camber is great as its a quick bike in general but can get sketchy on steeper more technical rides, so I got an enduro. The geo on the Enduro is awesome and gave me a lot more confidence on the technical stuff, but in reality its just too much bike for general riding if you like to pedal and gets some miles in on the trail.

    Having read a few reviews on the following I took it for a test ride and find it to be the perfect middle ground. The pedalling efficiency is amazing! better than my camber although very slightly heavier, but it has the geo and bump crushing confidence of the enduro. Im never going to enter, let alone win any DH races. The following just seems to hit a perfect 10 in what I find important: it feels great, gives me confidence to try new lines & makes rides fun!

    there are a lot of great bikes out there now, but the following seems to hit the sweet spot for anyone looking at a great do it all bike. oh yes and its called EVIL and it looks cool as F..k

    ps Im going with the MRP stage 140 fork, gives more travel but same H angle as 130 pike. carbon everything including the new ibis 941 wheels, to keep the weight down and the smile factor up

  22. KRob December 15, 2015 Reply

    Great review Noah. I really enjoyed reading that and seeing how a good review puts into words more precisely the things I gathered from my test ride. I agree with your findings and understand better why by reading your insights.

    I didn’t make this connection at the time, but reading your review, I suspect the reason the Following was a bit more sketch going down the long, steep, slick rock chute than the Riot may have had more to do with the less active ground tracking/suspension action under braking than the tire compound. I blamed the Vitorria Morsa 4D rubber compound but it may have been the suspension as the rock was bumpy.

  23. ROY December 17, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for this very interesting and insightful review.
    As i’m considering buying either the smuggler or the following i find it most helpful.

    1. My main issue of concern is durability: in general carbon vs. aluminum, specifically Smuggler Vs. Following.
    If you’d have to wisely guess which bike will “grow old” better it could be great! (don’t plan on spending so much dough every 2 years)..
    2. from your comparison it seems the difference between the 2 bikes will be more obvious at high speed and big hits. since i’m an “average Joe” kind of rider (for the time being don’t drop more than 4 feet) how prevalent is the difference in the ride and feel of the two? (i can upgrade wheels if i’m going for the smuggler)?

  24. Lyn Wilkinson December 27, 2015 Reply

    Hello Noah. First off, if you ride as skillfully as your reviews are written, you are quite the shredder. Now that you’ve had a chance to put some miles on the Following (I agree, that ‘the The’ thing is weird), I was wondering if you had any BB creaking issues. So far, the only fault I can find with the Following’s design, at least in my opinion, is the press fit BB. Since I already creak enough as it is, it would be nice to have a bike emit nothing other than mechanical goodness to fixate on when grinding a 1000′ climb. Though the return of real winter may have shortened your riding season, I’d be curious to hear your experience on this bike, as well as other bikes of similar design, thus far.

    I’m also curious about the proprietary headset thing that the Following has going on. I assume your bike has the fixed headset. Apparently there have been some issues with the adjustable version which led to creaking. If this has been solved, I’m wondering if a 150mm Pike(51mm offset) that has 20-25mm of travel adjust for climbing could be tweaked in with the chips set in the high position and the headset rotated to steepen the angle a full degree. Could this be the holy grail of up/down for this bike? Is this as weird as the ‘the The’ thing, or am I on to something?

    • Noah December 28, 2015 Reply

      Hey Lyn,

      Thanks! Thus far, I haven’t had any BB creaking issues. From riding a variety of press fit BB’s, I’ve concluded that this is somewhat luck of the draw, and can vary from frame to frame even on the same model bike. I’m assuming this is just because very minor changes in alignment can cause issues, so unless tolerances are extremely tight, minor variances can make one frame fine, while another seemingly identical frame gets a creak.

      The same thing goes for the headset – mine has the fixed headset, and thus far it’s been problem (and creak) free. Your thoughts on the 150mm Pike are interesting. My first thought is that it might raise the BB a bit too much for trail riding, but if memory serves, I think Luke Strobel did some DH races on a Following with a longer fork on it. I’m not sure what headset and chip setting he was running though.

      Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of significantly over-forking frames. I just prefer a bike that feels a bit more balanced in terms of suspension travel. But that’s just me – if you end up trying it, report back because it sounds like it’d be badass! Or maybe you just need a Wreckoning?

      • Lyn Wilkinson December 28, 2015 Reply

        Good feedback Noah, I promise not to blow off Evil just because of the BB design! Seems to me the Kevin Walsh/Dave Weagle team dynamic thing is firing on all cylinders, much to the sport’s benefit. I find it intriguing that you should bring up the Wreckoning. I woke up around 6am with the brain gears spinning over the ‘dream bike’ article in the latest issue of ‘Bike’, particularly the Wreckoning. I pulled up the digital version, and much to my pleasant surprise, Ryan Palmer had updated and expanded his original write-up. Check it out:

        http://www.bikemag.com/gear/bikes/all-mountain-bikes-gear/dream-build-evil-the-wreckoning/#HXzLScWrljqLGlws.97

        Turns out he dropped a TALAS cartridge in the 160mm Fox 36 to give the bike some climbing manners. He also includes geometry tables. My recently overhauled knee should be back to full speed by Sea Otter, so if RP and his bike are there I will be hunting him down to plead for a test ride!

  25. Trailer101 December 30, 2015 Reply

    Hi Noah, great review on the following! Have you had significant amount of time on a Tallboy LTC? If so, how did you like it and how does it compare with the Following? I am actually on the fence to get a new 29er. I am torn between the Tallboy and the Following. Only thing that bothers me on the following is maintenance. The linkages look complicated to maintain unlike Santa Cruz Bikes.

  26. Jason January 31, 2016 Reply

    It’s already been said and asked, in the comments, but not answered, so I’ll ask again…

    The Following is so similar in geo to the Kona Process 111, it begs a comparison. They’re both basically single pivots setups with low travel, slackish, and super short chainstays. Please give a quick comparison.

  27. Owen June 9, 2016 Reply

    Noah,

    Evil’s website has the Following’s seat tube angle listed as 74.8. Your review has it listed as slacker than that. I’m wondering if Evil had a typo along the way. Did it feel steeper than the posted number would suggest? I’m really looking for a bike with a steeper seat tube angle, so I’m curious about that part of your review.

    Also, what do you think about this bike for Clydesdales (I’m 6’4″ 230) and the lack of ability to run a piggyback, and the lack of Boost have me a bit concerned.

    • Noah June 9, 2016 Reply

      Hey Owen,

      For the seat tube angle, the 74.8 number is with a 120mm fork with a 520.8 axle to crown measurement. With a 130mm fork with a 530.8 axle to crown, the seat angle drops to 74.3 (per Evil’s chart). The 130 Pike I was running actually has an axle to crown measurement of 541, so it’s 10mm taller than the 130mm fork used in Evil’s chart, which means the bike is even slacker (both for the head tube and seat angle). Plus, I believe Evil’s chart is measured in “high” mode – in low mode, the seat angle slacks out a bit. So all of that combined makes for the slacker 72.7 degree angle I was coming up with.

      More to the point, while the seat tube angle isn’t super slack, there are certainly bikes out there that are steeper.

      As for Clydesdales on this bike, I think your concerns are warranted. The lack of shock options, and the fact that the rear end isn’t the stiffest out there mean that there might be better options. In the “short travel aggressive 29er” category, I’d probably nudge a Clydesdale towards a Transition Smuggler or a Kona Process 111. Neither have Boost spacing, but they’re both stiffer rear ends than the Following, and they both have enough room to put on a piggyback shock, if needed.

  28. porky July 27, 2016 Reply

    Hi Noah,

    I think a key distinction you haven’t mentioned, nor have any of the commenters, is that the ACTUAL seat angle on this bike (and the Wreckoning) is ridiculously slack. Take a look, and/or a measurement. It’s slacker than the head angle! You, and a few other reviewers (usually the taller ones) have mentioned this as a significant impediment to climbing. For what it’s worth, the seat tube angle they give – the effective seat tube angle – is measured when the seat is at the same height as the top of the head tube (I believe). Anytime you raise the seat above this height, you will have a slacker angle than what they are claiming. For this reason, I think the bike is very difficult to size, and makes it a challenging climber, particularly for the sasquatchs among us.

  29. brian November 3, 2016 Reply

    hi noah, great review addressing must of my concerns and interests. have been pedaling a med smuggler around a bit which i really like but would love to shed some weight and have more shred ability to boot. seeing how you have ridden both of these was interested to know how the med following cockpit might compare fit wise to the smuggler which fits me pretty well with 50mm stem and seat slightly back. my concern on the following is the sa and maybe having to run the seat fwd to get over the pedals and lose the tt length needed for a 50mm stem which is what i would really like to be able to run….could go large but trying to keep the shorter wheelbase for my type of riding. thanks

    • Noah November 7, 2016 Reply

      Hey Brian,

      If you’re happy with the fit on a medium Smuggler with a 50mm stem, I’d probably look at going with a large Following. Like you said, it gets a bit tricky because the Following has a relatively slack seat tube angle (especially when the bike is in low mode), which means that, although the reach on the Smuggler is longer, the Following’s top tube is pretty stretched out. In other words, while standing up, a Large Following with a 40-50mm stem probably feels pretty similar to the medium Smuggler. But while seated, a Large Following is going to feel a good bit more stretched out than the Medium Smuggler. That might not be a bad thing though, especially if you’re inclined to scoot the seat forward, which would likely help out on climbs. And the Large Following’s wheelbase is only a couple millimeters longer than a medium Smuggler, so you’re probably ok there.

      Hope that helps!
      -Noah

  30. brian November 7, 2016 Reply

    thanks noah appreciate the reply…it’s the info i was looking for. knew the reach would be/feel shorter just wasn’t sure how the tt length would actual be/feel relative to the evil sa on the medium vs the smuggler. should have mentioned am 145 lbs, 5’9″ with a 33 ” inseam so the slack seat angle will definitely be a factor as well as running a 140 pike up front. did the med following feel any more nimble on the trail with it’s shorter wheelbase vs the med smuggler or maybe just overall smaller? thanks. -b-

    • Noah November 8, 2016 Reply

      In “high” mode (which is how I leave the Following set up these days), the Following maybe feels a little more maneuverable than the Smuggler, but it’s not a night and day difference. In “low” mode, the Smuggler definitely feels more maneuverable. The Following’s slacked out front end feels like overkill in slow situations, and it takes a conscious effort to keep the front wheel going in the direction I want it to.

      Overall, the medium Smuggler feels a little bigger, and thus it takes a *little* more effort to throw it around than a medium Following, but it’s not a dramatic difference – I think it’s the kind of thing you’d get used to really quickly and never really think about again. I’m about the same height as you, but you have a slightly longer inseam. I think you could probably go with either a medium or large in a Following, but I’d probably lean towards a large with the seat pushed forward on the rails.

  31. brian November 8, 2016 Reply

    thanks noah really appreciate all your input here and time. am talking with evil now about a frame so will see what i end up deciding…may have a chance to get on a large later this week which would be a great help. thanks! -b-

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*