Two weeks of persistent rainfall is not good for mountain biking (except if you were to do your riding in the Mega Cavern, but that's another story). With that much rain, the trails in Kentucky will turn into mud and any attempt at riding them will cause rutting and severe damage. I, personally, don't take pleasure in riding through thick, heavy mud, so I tried to make the best of a bad stretch of weather by keeping in shape at the gym until I could get out and ride and further evaluate Evil Bikes The Following .
I keep my bikes locked up and safe in my home office so when I work there, they are in plain sight. The rain gave me plenty of time to admire The Following. It has a function before form look that I really like. Some people think the non-drive side is ugly, and it might be – but I don’t really care. If a bike works incredibly well, I warm up to aesthetics that might not be initially pleasing to the eye.
The Following is all business with large carbon tubes and highly engineered suspension linkages. Cable routing is very clean and I love the stealth routing (inside the frame) for the Rock Shox Reverb dropper post. I chose the all black frame and, other than the Evil logo on the down tube, there are no graphics. Some bikes these days are so tricked out with logos, technical indicators, and graphics that it makes me wonder why they have to market so hard. The design and resulting performance of a bike should speak for itself. The Evil Following doesn’t fight for attention beyond its purely functional design.
Speaking of the design, it is splendid. This is my fourth mountain bike with suspension engineered by Dave Weagle (DW Link) and he has the formula for great performing suspension pegged. Once properly set up for your weight and riding style, DW Link disappears and you float over the terrain. It’s not a mystery why some of the top bike brands – Ibis, Pivot, Turner and Evil – use Dave Weagle suspension designs. DW suspension transfers your power to the rear wheel very efficiently and provides excellent control over all types of terrain.
When the rain finally subsided, I was itching to get on The Following and dial it in. I was impressed with my initial rides but when I got back on it, nothing felt right. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been riding for 3 weeks and I was sluggish, but it wasn’t the same bike I remembered. I had the same air pressure in the fork and shock as before but the bike felt unresponsive. I did some online research and decided to add about 30psi to the rear shock taking it from 210 psi to 240psi.
The added air pressure woke the bike up instantly! It still had great bump control but felt more responsive when putting power to the pedals. The handling felt better as well because the rear suspension wasn’t sitting as low in it’s travel – turning went from feeling slow to precise. I also experimented with the compression and rebound speeds of the front fork and rear shock until I felt like I hit the sweet spot. This, of course, is all personal preference so my only recommendation is to try a range of different settings while riding the same trail until it feels best.
With the suspension dialed in and the trails dried up, it was time to spend some time on The Following. Comparing it to past bikes I have owned, namely the Ibis Ripley and Mojo HD, The Following has a much slacker head tube angle at 67.4 degrees and shorter chain stays at 16.93.” I didn’t think the Following would feel as quick during directional changes and it doesn’t, but it isn’t that far off. What I gained with the slack head tube was more confidence in plowing through the rough, catching air and launching short drops. The Following is a very agile and forgiving bike.
I should also note that I purchased a set of Ibis 941 wheels when I bought The Following. The 941’s are a big difference from the ENVE AM rims I had on my Ripley. The 941’s have an internal width of 35mm and I’m running a 2.35” Nobby Nic on the front and a 2.25” Nobby Nic on the rear. Looking at this set up next to the ENVE rims with the same tires, the Ibis rims create so much more tire width that it looks closer to a 2.5” tire.
The shape of the tire sidewall also changes drastically being much more upright and less curved toward the rim. The wider width allows for lower pressures – I currently have 21 psi in the rear tire and 18 psi in the front. I weigh 180 pounds ready to ride and there is zero squirm at these pressures. The stiffness of The Following’s frame plus the traction from the Ibis 941 carbon rims is astonishing – I still haven’t found the limit and the limit may be faster than I am willing to ride. I’m still getting used to this bike’s ability to conquer turns of all shapes and sizes.
The only drawback is The Following’s slack head tube angle is noticeable when going up really steep and technical terrain. It requires a little more attention to keep the front wheel from lifting up. But this is minor – The Following climbs really, really well and the rear suspension does an excellent job of tracking the trail and maximizing traction.
I really haven’t found anything I don’t like about this bike. I’m not sure this is a draw back but I think it is at its best when going fast both up hill and down hill. If you are a casual rider, The Following may not suit you. It is aggressive and it performs best when riding aggressively. The Ripley is a little better for picking through slow and technical terrain and I think this is mostly due to the quicker steering feel from the steeper head tube angle. The Following begs you mash the pedals and plow over obstacles.
The Following is capable of much more than I am comfortable doing – it is overkill for cross country / trail riding. It is durable enough to ride dedicated downhill terrain and launch big air. But at the same time it is still excellent at trail riding. For me, knowing that it is capable of much more gives me additional confidence that it will handle whatever I throw at it. My favorite part of The Following with the Ibis 941 wheels is the unshakable traction in every situation. Flat turns, banked turns, dry or wet trails – this bike sticks like glue. The Following is the most versatile bike I have ridden yet and has definitely raised the bar for high performance trail bikes. I love it and look forward to spending more time on The Following, rain or shine.
Clark is an avid mountain biker and founder of MORR Protective Gear (www.morrgear.com). He also writes for the MORR Life blog.
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