This piece originally ran in the premiere print issue of Beta.
In 2015, we met the first Evil Following. At the time, the short-travel-29er category was chugging along, but nobody had taken it in the direction that Evil did. Progressive but approachable geometry, light but capable spec, and a rear travel number that was clearly a typo.
Then, for years, the Following waited. It underwent a modest update in 2017 and, meanwhile, bikes around it were tearing out of their categories like they were transforming into the Hulk. Still, the Following kept waiting. Then suddenly, the landscape changed. We saw the new lower-link Santa Cruz Tallboy, the Ibis Ripley, the Norco Optic and the Trek Top Fuel. When the third-generation Following dropped in early 2020, it was already in good company. Later came the YT Izzo, the Revel Ranger, the Transition Spur, and more bikes that we’d list if this story weren’t already over its assigned word count.
So, why did the Following V3 win out? It’s not because we’re sentimental or nostalgic. Two of us hadn’t even ridden a Following until last summer. And one had never ridden an Evil at all. But that speaks to the magic that we’ve found in Evil’s bikes, and how especially powerful it is in the hands of the Following. This bike does things that other short-travel bikes don’t.
Evil’s DELTA link looks like an overly simple single-pivot from a distance and an overly complicated mousetrap from close up. The truth, as they say, is somewhere in the middle. With the same number of pivots as a Horst Link, Evil Bikes produce a leverage curve that changes direction twice throughout the stroke. I know, right? It starts supple but ramps up quickly around the sag point where it levels off before ramping up again to resist bottom-out. That gives the Following extra small-bump sensitivity in the early stroke and an endless feel in the late stroke. Those are big-bike buzzwords. But in between, there is a predictable, supportive platform that lets you pop, flick, and mash. Those are little-bike buzzwords. And the contradictions don’t stop there.
The Following is available with a Push Elevensix shock. The XC alternative is a RockShox SID Luxe, and in between is a Super Deluxe Air. But nothing says aggressive short-travel like a coil shock on a 120mm bike. And not just any coil shock. One that costs $1,200 and was built specifically for the Following. No manufacturer makes an off-the-shelf coil shock with a short enough stroke length and eye-to-eye. That’s commitment.
But what brings it all home is the head angle. Those 66.9 degrees caused quite a stir when the V3 launched. To be clear, there’s an eccentric cup that can take you down to 64.9 in Evil’s x-low setting. But winning the Annual Bike Industry Slack-Off is not what the Following is about. It’s supposed to steer that way. It stays true to what makes aggressive short-travel bikes so much fun. They’re nimble and precise. Take it or leave it. It would have been no trouble for Evil to kick out that jam a degree or so, but they didn’t want to.
That approach kept the Following from having any maximum or minimum speed limit where it might become too little or too much bike. Despite the very occult, very black-eyeliner, very grindhouse-midnight-movie persona that the Following puts out there, it is a bike that will speak to any rider and on any terrain. It doesn’t limit you to a style or a category or a stereotype. It embodies what we love about the short-travel renaissance. It is a mountain bike.
Photos: Anthony Smith
From Spring 2021