If you're the type of rider who loves descending or hitting jumps, then you've probably heard of Evil bikes and their reputation for delivering trail eating machines. For those of you who haven't, Evil is a brand based out of Washington state, USA. Much like the smaller brands such as Transition and Intense, Evil's bikes all have an emphasis on descending and having a blast.
Which brings us to our next point, we are super proud to announce that we will be stocking Evil bikes for the Australian market! Overall, they are a company that delivers a premium product and their riding style aligns with our own.
I've been fortunate enough to have spent the past couple months on The Calling. This is certainly going to be a very popular model due to its multiple personalities and capabilities. The Calling is a 130mm frame that sports the typical 'long, low, and slack' geometry commonly found on aggressive trail and Enduro sleds. With a 65.8-degree head tube angle in the Extra Low setting, The Calling is slacker than some 160mm Enduro machines.
So, what type of bike is the Calling? It certainly isn't an Enduro or race bike, heck, Evil doesn't even categorise it in any way. After spending more than a month on it and a few hundred kilometres, I full heartedly agree with their description:
"This bike-shaped-skateboard has enough travel to keep you honest, while encouraging you to irresponsibly hit every extra-credit line on the trail."
Rather than a 'point A to point B' as fast as you can go bike, the Calling encourages you to go out of your way to slash corners and hit hidden jumps. It's a bike that's designed for long days in the saddle while maintaining the fun descending characteristics that DH oriented riders will love. This is what the market now considers a 'mid-travel' bike.
Before I go into how it rides, there are few details that separate Evil from its competitors. An important fact about Evil is that it was co-founded by Dave Weagle whose suspension designs are regarded as some of the best on the planet.
The entire range of Evil bikes use Dave Weagle's DELTA suspension system. In short, this is a linkage driven single pivot. By using linkages that connect the swingarm to the rear shock, the bike will naturally sit high in the travel for better traction and pedal efficiency. As you progress further in the travel, you get a supportive mid-stroke that gives you the poppy, playful feel that Evil is known for. Finally, you get that comfortable, bottomless feel on the biggest hits. Additionally, this linkage design allows for adjustable geometry to fine-tune your ride.
Moving on to other frame details, the line is 1x only, so take note if you're building up a frame with old parts. Partially related, due to the main pivot size and location, Evil had to forgo traditional 3-bolt ISCG05 mount. In place are a built-in, adjustable top guide and a 2-bolt modified ISCG 05 mount. Evil worked with MRP and E13 to supply bottom bash guards for these frames (sold separately).
Other than the notable features above, these frames sport your typical chain and downtube protectors. Seat post routing is internal. The brake is fully external while the shifter is external on the front triangle and internal on the swingarm. Always a favourite, these frames use a traditional 73mm threaded bottom bracket.
Moving back to the most important question - How does this thing ride? Before I dive into that, it's important to point out that I've spent the better part of the past 5 years riding pretty much nothing but 6" bikes with an occasional dab in mid-travel bikes. As you would expect, jumping to a short travel bike will feel 'snappier' and much more responsive than those.
As usual, you have to get to the top before the fun starts. So, how does it climb? Really well if you ask me. I have a personal philosophy of ignoring my climb switch and I haven't touched it in years. I'm partially afraid of forgetting to turn it off before my descent and more importantly, most brands tell you not to use it unless you're on the road. All climbs have been done with the shock fully open. The Calling climbed comparable to other, similar travel bikes. You can tell that it provides a solid pedal platform. However, it does bob a touch (remember, fully open shock) more compared to some other suspension designs that tout their climbing abilities.
Now my personal favourite, how does it descend? Remember, I came from an Enduro bike which the Calling certainly isn't. Additionally, I opted to set mine up in the Extra Low setting which drops the BB and slackens it out. With 130mm rear wheel travel and 140mm fork, riders who prioritise descending may be sceptical, which I was at first. All that doubt quickly went away within the first few turns on my favourite descent. For a 130/140mm bike, this is going to surprise every type rider and will cause some of you to ask yourselves whether you really need a 160mm enduro bike. With less travel and overall shorter wheelbase, The Calling makes short work of tight corners and slow technical stuff. Much easier, in my opinion, than your typical Enduro bike with a long wheelbase. Going back to Evil's description:
".....while encouraging you to irresponsibly hit every extra-credit line on the trail."
Yep, this is especially true. As I mentioned before, this isn't a race bike and certainly wasn't designed to get you from point A to point B the fastest. Rather, I found myself hitting all the jumps I could find and going out of the way to set myself up for corners. The Calling is an absolute riot to descend on. Speaking of which, this is by far the stiffest frame I've ever ridden. I'm sure it's cliche to say now, but the Calling does feel like it has more travel than whats printed on paper. This is partially due to the bottomless feel that the DELTA system provides and the slack geometry.
While a bike may do some things great and a lot of things well, there's not a single model out there that scores top marks on everything. The only place where I felt like I was at the Calling's limits was the faster, chunky stuff. It did it, but I got the feeling that I was reaching my limits faster than normal and the bike started to feel a little overwhelmed. Again, there are other Evils with better descending capabilities.
It's easy to rate a bike on the climbing and descending capabilities separately. However, every trail isn't a simple up and down. The Calling, like The Following, was built to put miles in for the search of fun trails. How does this fair as an all-day bike?This is where this bike shines. I would be more than happy to spend a day adventuring on the Calling.
One final question, who is The Calling for? If you want an aggressive bike and don't hit the bike park - You'll love this bike.
If you it the park frequently - You're still going to love this bike. If you 'only ride park' with an occasional trail ride - the Insurgent and Wreckoning are for you. In a perfect world, we may hit technical DH trails every day. But the real world is a bit different which is why the 'mid-travel' category has exploded. The Calling is for the rider who spends a day in the saddle exploring the ups and downs looking for the most fun. The Calling promises to be the right bike for most types of riding and for most riders in any given area.
Trust us, you won't be disappointed!