Late in 2014, we met Evil’s The Following. After our first rides, we concluded that it might be the ultimate 29er. After his first ride, Evil founder Kevin Walsh concluded that it was not. Thus, the Wreckoning was conceived.
We've known about this beastly 160-millimeter 29er for a while, but we wanted to see how it would stack up against this year's most sought-after long travel bikes and how it would be received by this year's most hungover bike testers. You're probably not in much suspense here, but the answer is fucking fantastically. The DELTA link will always put an evil grin on your face, but for a different reason on each platform we find it. On the Wreckoning, its mid-stroke ramp-up stood out the most. We were impressed by how efficiently it climbed as long as we were in the RockShox Monarch Plus' 'Pedal' setting and could keep the 66.1-degree head angle in line.
More importantly, we were impressed by how easily it allowed us to pop the bike out of corners and off the ground when necessary or, better yet, when unnecessary. The short 432-millimeter chainstays even made it comfortable to pull a quick manual or stab off a slow-speed drop. For those of us who were used to bikes near this travel range, piloting the Wreckoning was second nature. At least, that is, when we were at high speeds. We sensed the soul of a downhill bike in the Wreckoning. You really have to open it up for it to behave properly. Its big wheels, early stroke suppleness, long travel and even longer wheelbase only felt at home at high speeds or on steep descents. Once in its element, the Wreckoning would beg you to point it where you wanted to go and hold on.
At the time of testing, the one build for the Wreckoning was this masterpiece, but there's a lower-priced option coming soon. The suitably wide 35-millimeter clamp bar, burly Lyrik fork and no-compromise X01 Eagle drivetrain were perfect fits on the Wreckoning. The e*thirteen wheels offered a sturdy-but-compliant ride quality that proves aluminum rims are still relevant, and the matching tires may have been our favorite in the test. The only thing missing was a water-bottle mount, and maybe some goggles and a full-face helmet.
Q&A with Kevin Walsh, Owner – Evil Bike Co.
On Evil’s web synopsis of the Wreckoning, you mention "apologizing to Dave Weagle for our gross oversight on the Following." I know it was tongue-in-cheek, but what did you mean? Is the Wreckoning the ultimate form you believe the 29er should take? Be gentle. The Following was my dream build this year.
At the time everyone was going 27.5 so the logical next step would just be to do a 27.5 version of the Uprising. I was against 29ers, but Weagle believed in them, so he convinced me to do it. But I wasn't excited about it. "I'm going to give this to a 29er guy to test” I said. The apology was that I was a skeptic about 29ers and the extremes their designs could be taken to. Before the first ride was finished on the first Following, I knew what the next step was, but Weagle knew from the start.
So, this thing has more rear travel than the 650b Insurgent. That's the opposite of most brands' approach to designing "comparable" bikes in each wheel size. Are they wrong for assuming short travel goes with big wheels and long travel goes with small wheels? Am I wrong for assuming the Wreckoning and Insurgent are comparable?
The Wreckoning and Insurgent compliment each other, but they’re different bikes. The Insurgent is a slasher trail bike. More bike-parky. More BMX. All Evils have a similar DNA to them. All do the same thing with their playful mid stroke, the Wreckoning being no exception. But it is our end-all. Maybe you want to go as big as you can and ride the baddest stuff, or just have an advantage on the enduro circuit. Tons of people ride the Insurgent and Wreckoning the same way, but often that's just because of wheel preference. We didn't want to make a tit for tat habit along the line. I haven't yet found the end of the Wreckoning. Luke Strobel has won nearly every downhill race he's entered on it. It will dumb things down a bit on the trail unless you're hauling ass on it. It's like a formula one car. It's not good for driver's ed.
Here’s where I ask who you had in mind when designing this bike: Who did you have in mind when designing this bike?
The Wreckoning is the bike I've always wanted to make. It didn't even have a wheel size in my brain at the time. On our average trail ride we're riding what are essentially downhill trails. You can call it endurance racing, bike park, aggressive adventure riding. Riding stuff blind, riding it really fast, but knowing you have the right equipment below you. In all respects, it is The One Bike. I did Trans Cascadia on it, but also did Crabapple Hits on it. It’s very versatile, aside from pure XC. The Wreckoning wraps the Folllowing, and the downhill bike in one bike. It’s designed for maximum destruction.