THE WOODS ARE CALLING
Evil sure is on a tear these days. With each new bike they release, they once again stir the proverbial pot that is the mountain bike industry. Instead of following trends, each of their bikes seem to start a new trend. In other words, the folks at Evil march to their own beat, as do their bikes. The Calling is the latest addition to the fleet, and as you'd expect, it looks like an Evil! But it's what lies under the hood that sets this bike apart from the rest.
Looking at the numbers, we’ve got 131mm rear suspension travel and classic Evil geometry. Slack angles, low BB, and short chainstays. You can reference the geometry chart below if you’d like exact numbers. That’s all what we’d expect, but when it comes to wheel size, this is where things get interesting. While many companies have opted to go for the 29”/27.5”+ dual-purpose bike, Evil took a different approach. The Calling is compatible with 27.5” tires up to 2.5”, and 26” tires up to 2.8”. Yes, you read that right: 26”+ is here. Before you break your screen, let's discuss the thought process behind yet another wheel/tire standard. To be fair, 26”+ is not entirely new...Surly has been doing it for a couple years. However, it is now going to be a mainstream trend, and you’ll be seeing most major bike manufacturers following suit with 26”+ compatible bikes. So here’s the reasoning, in a nutshell. The folks at Evil know they already have a killer 29’er bike with the Following. Slapping 27.5”+ wheels/tires on that bike would kill the nature of the bike, and much of what makes the Following such a rewarding ride. Most 27.5”+ tires in the 2.8” range are going to have a similar effective diameter as a 29” x 2.3” tire. While there are certainly gains in traction, you’re going to lose agility and increase rolling resistance. 27.5”+ is great for lots of people, and it certainly has it’s place - but not on a bike like the Following. With the Calling supporting 26”+ tires, Evil aims to offer a dual-purpose bike without overshadowing the Following. Using similar logic, 26” x 2.8” tires will have nearly the same effective diameter as a regular 27.5” tire. So again, you’ll gain some extra traction with the plus tire, BUT it’s still going to feel fairly light on it’s feet and quicker to respond than a 27.5”+ bike. So in theory, you’re getting the best of both worlds...the traction of plus tires without as much loss in agility compared to 27.5”+ tires. Keep in mind, this is all very new still, so options 26"+ tire and rim options are quite limited at this time.
After our first few rides on the Calling, we can say with certainty that it’s a pure-bred Evil, through and through, with strong similarities to the Following. Some of you may have shied away from the Following due to the relatively short 120mm travel and 29” wheels. If that’s you, then the Calling may be your ticket. The Calling does feel a tad more forgiving when mistakes are made, thanks to the increased 131mm travel. The Calling is a bike that loves to go play in the woods just as much as you do. I found the bike to be right at home on fast, flowy trails with lots of pop. The Following will still hold momentum over chatter and bumps a bit better due to the larger wheels size though, making it a better bike for bigger all-day types of rides. At this point, you probably know what type of rider you are, and whether the Calling will suit your riding style. Maybe you’re a BMX-turned-mountain-biker looking for your next ride, or perhaps you’re a wheels-on-the-ground rider looking for some encouragement to pop.
When it comes to pointing the bike uphill and putting the pedal down, I found the Calling to be the best climber of all the Evil bikes. Not ground-breaking climbing performance, but given the nature of the bike, it does quite well. If you’re going to be doing a fair bit of climbing, we recommend running the bike in the higher geometry setting. This will give you a 74.8° seat tube angle, which puts you in a comfortable position when the seat is up. Some folks have griped that Evil’s seat angles are too slack, putting you too far in the backseat when climbing. The Calling does have a steeper seat angle compared to the Following and Insurgent, which should put that concern to rest.
The Calling is the first of the Evil bikes to take advantage of metric shock sizing. Gone is the oddball 7.87-whatever by 2-point-something shock sizing. Instead, we now have simple even-numbered metric sizing that the entire world can understand. Rock Shox is behind the movement to metric sizing, so naturally, the Calling is spec’d with their flagship metric rear shock: the Super Deluxe RC3 Debonair. Rock Shox has reached deep into their pockets for the transition to metric, so they had better bring a pretty convincing shock to the party. As air shocks go, the Super Deluxe is damn impressive. At lower pressures, the shock will initiate its stroke simply under the weight of the bike it’s mounted to. While not unheard of, there are very few air shocks with stiction that low. Part of that low stiction can be attributed to the new sealed bearing mounting hardware. Rock Shox has developed the Trunnion mount, which is a new way to mount the shock to the frame. Instead of a traditional DU bushing eyelet at the upper end of the shock, there are now two mounting ports on either side of the actual shock body that attach directly to either side of the Delta System linkage on the frame. Additionally, there are bearings housed in the frame linkage where it mounts to the upper end of the shock, reducing friction significantly compared to a standard DU bushing and traditional mounting hardware. The lower end of the shock uses a traditional eyelet and DU bushing. The Trunnion mount also effectively reduces the overall length of the shock pretty significantly, giving engineers more room to play with when designing frames, which is a big plus and will benefit us all in the long run.
Riding the Super Deluxe is a pleasure, leaps and bounds ahead of the Monarch in our book. We could go on to say a bunch of cliché things about how supple and responsive the shock is, but all you really need to know is that the Super Deluxe will not disappoint on the Calling. Don’t get any pipe dreams thinking it will perform as well as something like a Push ElevenSix - it doesn’t. But it also doesn’t add $900 to the price tag of your bike. While there’s still an argument to upgrade to a Push shock from the Super Deluxe, the argument is not quite as convincing as it was when we were upgrading from a Monarch. This brings up my next point of discussion. Some of you may be curious about alternate shock options. Can you just toss a non-metric shock on the Calling? The answer is no, you cannot. It’s an all new standard, which means the bike won’t accept any non-metric shocks. While there's nothing available yet, many other suspension manufacturers such as Fox, Push and DVO are all working on metric sizing and Trunnion-compatible mounts, so expect to see more options in the future.
As we mentioned earlier, the Calling is a bike that begs you to get out to the trails and go play. Looking for something to get you out when all your friends are staying in? The Calling may be your new best friend.
- Wheel Size: 26"+/27.5"
- Frame Material: Carbon
- Rear Shock: Rock Shox Super Deluxe RC3 Debonair
- Rear Susp. Travel: 131mm
- Rear Shock Size: 185x50mm
- Rear Shock Hardware Size: Trunnion Top, 8x20mm Bottom
- Rear Axle Standard: 12x148mm Boost
- ISCG Tabs: Custom
- BB Standard: 73mm BSA
- Seat Post Dia: 30.9mm
- Seat Clamp Dia: 34.9mm
- Headset Standard : ZS44/ZS62mm
- Intended Use: Trail/AM
- Warranty: 3 Years