I Hear you Calling: The New Bike from Evil

Evil Bikes might be known for quirky launches, like bringing out the Following just as everyone fell in love with 27.5, but they are no mugs when it comes to the direction that the industry is taking. Founder Kevin Walsh went for a hooligan 29er while everyone else thought they were just for XC racing and had spotted the potential for slack geometry when the rest of the industry reckoned it was just for downhill. Which means that most people in the know had their eyes peeled for the first Evil plus bike and the Weagle/Walsh team did not disappoint. Just before Christmas 2016 they released the first shots and press rides of their brand new Calling – it went down well

Obviously, the Calling ticks all of the boxes for a bang-up-to-date mountain bike: top notch carbon fibre frame, 148×12 Boost rear end, custom ISG mounts, high tech suspension system (the Delta is designed by Dave Weagle, the ultimate guru of back end bounce), internal cable routing, long & slack geometry, even a flip chip allowing for an adjustable head angle. You name it, this bike features it

Possibly one of the smartest features, apart from the 27.5/26+ swapability (much more on this later!) the Calling also comes with the above mentioned ‘flip chip’. This integrated element to the suspension system allows you to switch the geometry for different trails. When things are flowing and smooth(ish) you go for the head angle ‘Low’, at 66.4 degrees and a 338mm BB height. As soon as the trail gets out of control steep and gnarly, you stop, flip the chip and give yourself an incredibly slack 65.8 degree head angle, 330mm BB height and the confidence to tame the most vertiginous terrain – this is called, wait for it, the X-Low setting. It’s stuff like this that places Evil a shade above all the other’s in terms of design and forward thinking

Serving up a tidy 131mm of rear wheel travel, there’s enough to get you into and out of trouble. The Delta suspension system is widely recognised as being equally effective on the ups as well as the downs, letting you rag around your local singletrack like a boss.

Various bike mags have already been raving about the Calling (many of them, like us, having been sworn to secrecy since some time last October), with particular praise reserve, as ever, for the versatility of the Delta suspension system. Bike Magazine have given their backing to the use of the system on a shorter travel bike, extolling the virtues of the bottomless travel feel. MBR, meanwhile, is impressed with the ‘double ramp up’ suspension curve, which allows you to get the full 131mm of travel without blowing the lot in one go. Fanatikbike.com, for their part, reckon that the travel gets you all the poppy benefits of a 120mm rig, while soaking up a whole lot more on the gnarlier trails. They also call this ‘the best climber of all the Evil bikes’ – quite an accolade!

The new stuff doesn’t stop there. The Calling is also properly future proofed by being the first Evil (indeed on of the first bikes anywhere) to go with metric shock sizing. What does this mean? Basically, the industry is falling in line on measurement and the number of eye-to-eye measurements will be reduced to just six options, which everyone can understand. Not earth shattering, but more evidence of Evil being right at the cutting edge and ensuring that your new bike stays with you for years to come

 So what about that overall package? It’s a playful bike with long distance potential. A brutal climber that can keep up with the endure posse on the way back down. A new standard setter, with a unique (for now) take on wheel/tyre size versatility. We are not exaggerating to say that every member of staff was chomping at the bit to swing a leg over one when they landed at Biketart HQ.

All told, when it comes to the plus bike revolution, Evil have heard the call and answered (in their own way) with the Calling. Listen carefully and you might just hear it whispering – no, Calling – your name

Hold Up… What’s this 26+ thing?

If you’ve been keeping up with the MTB news, then you’ll know that there is another big movement in MTBs that might just be taking us towards the fabled ‘one bike to do it all’ final destination. Those half fat tyres that will grip on every surface, suit beginners as well as experts and can even be swapped out for 29er wheels when the race season starts. Equally at home over massive mountain terrain, you’re local trail centre or mixing up with fatbikes on the snow/sand, the plus bike has ‘future proofing’ written all over it. Otherwise known as ‘plus bikes’.

Just to recap, for those who have not been paying attention, plus bikes use 2.8 or 3 inch tyres to offer extra grip and take advantage of the super low pressures that tubeless tyres can run at to offer an unrivalled contact patch over any sort of terrain. The acres of clearance required to fit such mini-monster tyres also means that most models will happily accept a 29er wheel for those days when the horizon beckons or a when you’ve been talked in a 24 hour race. Hugely versatile, massively fun and cartoonishly exciting to look at, plus bikes are reckoned to be where mountain is heading

 Needless to say, however, Evil have chosen to do things differently. They reckon that the plus bike thing is definitely a way forward, but they also think that people who go for ‘plus’ are more likely to want a more ‘ordinary bike’ alternative when they convert to a non-plus size. So, while everyone else has done the 27.5+/ 29er combo, Evil are just about the only people offering a 26+/27.5 swapover choice and certainly the first to give you a full suspension option (Surly’s hardtail is a more old school take on the idea). So, full bounce 26+ – bonkers and brilliant all in one awesome looking package.

The extra cushioning of plus sized tyres effectively add another 10mm or so in bump absorption. The Calling is aimed at adventure riders as well as trail freaks. The 26+ option can be ridden to the horizon and beyond. It’s incredibly smart and almost certain to spark a rash of copycats (just like the Following did a few years ago). Start with the 26+ wheels and nick the 27.5s off your existing trail bike to create the perfect Jeckl & Hyde monster