When I was approached about purchasing one of Evil’s new 27.5″ wheeled shred machines, The Insurgent, I had to jump at the chance. My job has me working with lots of fancy bikes, but the one I have been around the most in recent months is the widely acclaimed Following, and given that bike’s success I could only assume The Insurgent would be a winner as well. I’ve been a long time rider of single pivot bikes, from Foes to Transition and Yeti’s older trail bikes, and I’ve always been a fan of their simplicity and predictable feel. That being said, having recently transitioned to a modern trail bike with the ever popular four bar linkage, I was curious to see what The Insurgent and Dave’s Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus was all about.
Having been on this bike for three weeks now and doing everything I can to put it through it’s paces, I think it’s a bike that very much stays true to the brand’s good natured but darkly “evil” temperament. Trying to ascertain how to describe it leaves me with images of Batman’s nemesis Two Face, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. I say this because in reality The Insurgent is two very different bikes, with very different ride qualities that will appeal to very distinct sets of riders and very disparate trails. What I am referring to here is the two geometry settings available via flipping a chip in the suspension linkage.
The higher setting results in a thoroughly modern long travel bike, but one with an entirely reasonable disposition and geometry. A 65.6° headtube angle, 346mm high bottom bracket, and 430mm chainstays are smack dab in the middle of where many of today’s more capable riders want an all around trail bike that pedals uphill with relative ease and maintains a playful, carefree feeling of all around enjoyment. After two weeks of riding the bike in this setting, I can attest this is exactly what the bike delivers. Taking it out on the local public trails, which offer moderate inclines followed by fun, fast, flowy descents left me feeling right at home on the bike, and wondering why anyone would bother with the lower, “X-Low” position.
Then one fateful, foggy, wet afternoon, after a slog up to the very top of an area radio tower, we dropped into one of the steepest, most technical trails I’ve been on. I quickly found myself tucked back into the “oh crap” position hanging on for dear life as I reluctantly bombed down slick, 50° rock rolls and dirt-surfed through muddy, rutty chutes, trying to maintain some semblance of control until I reached the bottom. It was here on this tower that I saw through the lies and decided that the next ride I would be descending to this humorously titled, seemingly superfluous “X-Low” setting.
This is where The Insurgent’s dark side emerges, a shred-devil that holds true to all it’s branding and marketing hype. The headtube angle drops almost a full degree to 64.8°, both the wheelbase and the chainstays lengthen by two millimeters, and the bottom bracket drops 12mm to a category low of 334mm. These are numbers that can no longer be described as “carefree,” and certainly push the limits of what is appropriate in many riding contexts.
That being said, I feel when I take The Insurgent in this form to the limits of my abilities, it comes into it’s own. The same steep, techy trails on which I previously felt uncomfortable are now confidently managed by what is essentially a downhill bike, albeit one that weighs under 30 pounds. The shock placement creates an extremely low and balanced center of gravity, and the large diameter carbon tubing combined with a one piece swing-arm mated to the front triangle by a giant pivot provide a stiffer frame than I have ever experienced before. The result is a bike that corners like a demon, putting all of your energy directly to the ground. This is assisted by a highly active suspension that maintains traction as well as any other platform and allows for an exceptionally playful feel, akin to what riders have experienced with The Insurgent’s smaller sibling, The Following.
If it hasn’t become evident, my initial thoughts on this bike are overwhelmingly positive, and I relish the chance to spend more time on it and explore our boundaries. As this frame becomes available to the masses and prospective riders are faced with the increasingly tough decision of what mountain bike to purchase, you can rest assured that if what you seek is a FULLY capable trail bike marked with nefarious underpinnings, this bike will not steer you wrong. I will be continuing to fine tune the geometry and suspension settings, and we here at Fanatik Bike Co will be getting back to you with a fully fleshed out review of the Evil Insurgent within the next month or two.