Reviewed by John Hauer and Jess Pedersen // Photos by Lear Miller
Shrouded in mystery since the beginning, the Evil Uprising is now available to the public. It’s about time, too! We’ve been eager to try one out since we first saw Filip Polc on a prototype back in 2012. Our chance finally came during the 2014 Vital MTB Test Sessions. With looks that could kill, the full carbon frameset features 150mm of travel, 26-inch wheels (gasp!), adjustable geometry and the unique DELTA suspension system.
- High-pressure molded unidirectional carbon frame
- 26-inch wheels
- 150mm (5.9-inches) of rear wheel travel
- DELTA suspension system
- Tapered headtube
- 66.7 or 65.7-degree adjustable head angle via flip chip system
- 72.8 or 71.7-degree adjustable seat tube angle
- 349 or 336mm (13.74 or 13.22-inch) adjustable bottom bracket height
- 430 or 434mm (16.90 or 17.08-inch) chainstay length
- ISCG05 tabs
- 73mm BB shell
- 142mm x 12mm thru-axle
- Measured weight (size large, no pedals): 28-pounds 8-ounces (13.04kg)
- $6,500 MSRP
Looking at the Uprising, the thing that immediately jumps is the DELTA link suspension system. That’s short for Dave’s Extra Legitimate Travel Apparatus. No joke, and Evil is the only company using this Dave Weagle design. Similar to DW's other linkage designs, the frame has a nice balance of pedaling performance and neutral braking. The DELTA system was designed to provide three stages throughout the bike's travel. It starts with a supple beginning stroke and transitions to a mid-stroke leverage ratio intended to provide as much traction as possible. Finally, a progressive leverage rate at the end ramps up in combination with the air shock to create a bottomless feel and help prevent harsh bottom-outs. These stages are achieved by the system's dual progressive leverage curve (progressive, near linear, then progressive again).
The shock, links and massive portions of the frame sit near the bottom bracket keeping the center of gravity low. That's a plus. While building the bike, however, we discovered that due to the shock positioning it’s a royal pain in the butt to install or remove the lower shock mount. To clear the chainstay it’s necessary to let the air out of the shock, remove the upper bolt to get an extra few millimeters of clearance, then bottom the shock out. Very tight tolerances to say the least... It’s also nearly impossible to reach the shock’s rebound adjuster without a small allen key - this problem is a FOX Float X issue, not Evil’s.
One feature of the DELTA system is the ability to change the geometry between a high and low setting via flip-chips in the linkage. It can basically go from a bike with the right angles for all-day trail riding to a mini DH shredder. Doing so does not affect the leverage rate or suspension feel, so you can change the geometry of your bike and not have to re-tune your shock to get it back to where you like it. Laser-etched directions on the hardware indicate if the bolt is reverse-threaded and which geometry setting the flip-chip is set to. While it’s rad that the bike includes this feature, it’s far from a quick and easy process to change the geometry. Because of this, we’d probably just put it in the lower/slacker shred mode and leave it be.
Additional frame features include a Shimano direct mount for the optional front derailleur, ISCG05 tabs for chainguide compatibility, and fixed 12X142mm rear dropouts. The bike includes a nice frame protector at the bottom of the down tube which also incorporates a housing guide for the front derailleur cable. There’s no chainstay guard, but with SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain it doesn’t really need one. Also absent are bottle mounts. For 2014, tire clearance has been improved to accommodate a 2.35-inch Schwalbe tire. Mud clearance is still far from awesome, though, so consider that if you ride in the slop often.
The use of carbon allows Evil to fine tune different areas of the frame for stiffness and flex - something you can't achieve to the same extent with aluminum frames. It has clean lines and looks every bit as burly as the Evil Undead DH bike, but the frame weighs in at a reasonable 7.2-pounds with the rear shock and axle. Our complete size Large build came in at 28.5-pounds.
The Uprising is available in five sizes (Small, Medium, Medium/Large, Large, and Extra Large), which is nice for those that often fall between them.
On The Trail
Our affair with the Uprising was spent pounding out the miles in Sedona, Arizona. One of the highlights was John trusting the bike with his life while navigating the incredibly exposed White Line. John gives the Uprising big kudos for not being the bike he plummeted to his death on. Other trails included Broken Arrow, Little Horse, Slim Shady and Hi-Line, which included everything from fast and flowy to rocky tech and high speed hits with big slickrock g-outs.
We’ve said it dozens of times - bikes of this nature should be spec’d with a proper short stem/wide bar combo. In the case of the Uprising, it’s nice not to have to complain about the cockpit. At 6-feet tall a size Large frame with the stock 55mm stem and 750mm wide bar felt spot on, offering a healthy amount of reach and good front to back balance. Thanks for doing things right, Evil.
As mentioned above, the Uprising offers adjustable geometry. Due to the difficulty of changing the geometry, it was left in the “high” position for the duration of our test. Don’t let the high designation fool you, though. The bike still rode great in this setting, offering a sufficiently slack 66.7-degree head angle and 13.74-inch BB height. It was able to charge hard, felt stable, cornered well, and made the tighter portions of Sedona’s varied terrain more than manageable. Dropping to the low setting would only make the bike charge harder, which is exactly what we’d expect considering the riding ability and preferences of Evil’s World Cup athletes and owner, Kevin Walsh.
With everything mentioned above it should be no surprise that this thing hauls ass on the downhills. This rig was clearly built for speed, steeps and tech. It has a playful attitude and you can flick it around or change directions on a dime. Light but stiff, it’s a responsive ride that you can trust not to do anything weird when you’re hauling through the rough stuff. Whether pushing it or just casually riding along the bike feels really good. Nothing felt below average (or even average for that matter).
Combined with the FOX Float X rear shock, the rear end left us very impressed. We played around with the CTD settings quite a bit at the beginning of our ride, but quickly noticed how well the Uprising pedals. This encouraged us to keep the compression setting wide open almost all the time. As claimed, the suspension was very supple off the top but had a nice progressive feel that kept it away from the bottom of its travel. Being so active off the top made for great traction on the chatter and loose sections of trail. The mid-stroke had sufficient compression support so the bike never wallowed. It also took g-outs and drops like a champ. We always felt like it was efficiently eating up the trail and ready for the next impact. All this and the thing still pedaled and sprinted very well!
After riding over two dozen of the latest 27.5 and 29-inch bikes for 10 days straight and then hopping on the Uprising, we were fully expecting to have "little wheel syndrome" and feel like we were hanging up everywhere. But guess what? It still ripped. Good suspension coupled with a high main pivot and proper geometry allowed the bike to soak up the big hits and keep rolling with good momentum. It handled the square edges as well if not better than any other bike in the Test Sessions lineup, 26-inch wheels and all. If anything, the front end was having a tougher time carrying speed over continuously rough sections than a 27.5 rig with comparable angles. That said, we had an easier go at navigating tighter sections and putting the bike in precise locations.
Up front the bike is equipped with a 160mm FOX Talas 34 CTD fork. While we never felt the need to drop the travel, we did go back and forth between the CTD settings. Things performed best in the Trail 1 setting, but when riding fast/loose terrain we would open it up for added traction and small bump sensitivity. Regardless, FOX’s 2014 Talas felt really controlled throughout the entire stroke and ramped up nicely towards bottom - a welcome improvement from previous model years.
For how heavy it looks, the Uprising feels surprisingly light thanks to good weight distribution above the bottom bracket. This makes it stable yet snappy when you needed to accelerate. It also felt like it was easy to keep up to speed when spinning out on long, flatter sections of trail. Sprinting was also a major plus. It transferred power straight to the ground and was very quick to get up and go when punching it. The suspension design works very well with a 1X drivetrain under power.
Pointed uphill the bike continued to impress us, so much so that we were able to run the rear shock wide open without sacrificing energy wasted into the suspension. This added traction on the steep, punchy, and often loose climbs and ensured the bike was always ready to descend at its best. Keeping the bike in the high geometry setting gave us good crank clearance over rocks, a comfortable body position, and great balance between rear wheel traction and keeping the front end down.
While you won’t find any current info about build specs on Evil’s website as of the time we’re writing this, know that they do offer five build kit options ranging from $3,800 to $6,500. There’s also a frame/shock option that’ll run you $2,400 with a FOX Float CTD or $2.600 with a Float X CTD. Our $6,500 build came decked out from head to toe, and it’s hard to fault any of the component spec on the high-end model.
The standard RockShox Reverb seatpost was a small issue, however. It worked as it should have, but the line running to it bulged out when the seat was down. This was mildly annoying as it would rub on your leg. A post with a fixed cable would solve the issues, as would an internally routed option if the frame allowed for it.
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf front and Nobby Nic rear tire combo was predictable and hooked up when it counted. There only situation where this combo struggled to provide traction was when braking hard on loose dirt. It also did well on slickrock, adding confidence when things got off camber and sketchy.
Aided by the super loud rear hub, e.thirteen’s wheels really stood out. They were extremely stiff, had great engagement, and held up to all the abuse we could dish out. We hit several drops to nearly flat, boosted lips into very rocky sections and took a few good sandstone g-outs at high speed.
Avid’s four piston X9 Trail brakes yielded no complaints in the braking department. John surviving the White Line should be enough to tell you that they work well. They provided the bike with more than enough stopping power and great modulation.
Once again SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain impressed us. With a 32-tooth front chainring it was ideal for Sedona’s trails. We had no shifting issues and there was always an ideal gear. Zero dropped chains, zero chain slap, and zero drag are a definite win. The only noise was the occasional knock from the clutched rear derailleur when the wheel would slap down hard. A quiet bike is so enjoyable, and XX1 makes it so all you can hear are tires on the ground and the buzz of a good hub.
Long Term Durability
There’s no denying the past issues Evil has had when it comes to durability. Heck, they’re the first to admit it. Luckily they were smart to switch up factories and enforce stricter quality control throughout the construction process, which we hope will solve their past issues. Evil backs the Uprising frame with a two year warranty and lifetime crash replacement.
There are a lot of pivots that may need routine cleaning and maintenance, so keep an eye on those. Also, flipping the links to change the geometry requires removing and reinstalling a lot of hardware, which may provide an opportunity for a less experienced mechanic or rider to damage something.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Evil Uprising was built for the person who wants an all-out trail shredding machine. It’s also very reasonably priced for high-end full carbon bike. Some will avoid it simply because it doesn’t have the latest wheel size. That’s a real shame. This is no dinosaur. If you are holding true to your roots and love to shred the trail to pieces, then you need to check this thing out. It pedals well enough to get you to the good descents with ease and then it's all downhill from there. It may not excel on flatter, smoother terrain against a bigger wheeled bike, but it rips on anything technical and can be ridden with confidence on even the steepest descents. Stable, playful, efficient and aggressive, the Uprising just makes you want to grip it and rip it. And damn, it looks mean!
For more details visit www.evil-bikes.com. Better yet, email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonus Gallery: 19 photos of the 2014 Evil Uprising up close and in action
About The Reviewers
John Hauer - In 13 years of riding, John has done it all and done it well. Downhill, 4X, Enduro, XC, cyclocross... you name it. He spent 7 years as the head test rider for a major suspension company, averages 15-20 hours of saddle time per week, and is extremely picky when it comes to a bike's performance. And yeah, he freakin’ loves Strava.
Jess Pedersen - Jess is one of those guys that can hop on a bike after a snowy winter and instantly kill it. He's deceptively quick, smooth, and always has good style. He's also known to tinker with bikes 'til they're perfect, creating custom additions and fixes along the way. Maybe it's that engineering background...