While hardtails are nothing new to Evil bikes, the Faction II in a limited-edition complete build is. With a frame-only option still available, the second generation of Evil's steel Faction hardtail reflects an entirely different focus than its predecessor. The build kit is about as good as it gets in terms of functionality and durability, and we were lucky enough to take one to the parks and pumptracks to see how it shreds.
- Reynolds 520 steel frame
- 26-inch wheels
- 100mm (3.9-inches) fork travel
- 69.5-degree Head angle
- 71.5-degree seat tube angle
- 135mm rear hub spacing
- Mid BB standard
- Tapered headtube
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
- Measured weight (size Large, no pedals): 25 pounds 5oz (11.49 kg)
- MSRP: $1,650 USD
Evil’s Dylan Bibbins gave us some insight into what the new Faction 2 is all about, including the change in direction from the previous generation to better match the riding preferences of the trails-loving employees at Evil. While the previous generation was focused on gated racing like 4x and dual slalom, the new Faction is geared towards park riding and dirt jumping. The Faction's new intention means a BMX-influenced geometry along with frame standards that make most BMX cranksets and hub options compatible. The less-stretched-out bike has been designed around a 100mm fork.
Changes to the frame include shorter geometry than the original Faction to create a more responsive and playful feeling for riding skateparks and dirt jumps. Instead of a straight 1 1/8" headtube, they've modernized to the tapered variety. Dropouts change from the e*thirteen HVS system to standard 10x135mm horizontal dropouts without a derailleur hanger. Evil has ditched the ISCG tabs and made the switch from a threaded BB to the Mid bottom bracket standard found on BMX bikes. The interface is simple, durable and allows for use of BMX cranksets. Cable routing remains fully external with ziptie mounts losing the rear derailleur means no shifter cable routing options to further clean up the lines. Another cool feature of the Faction II is the frame decals - or lack thereof. Decals are provided as a separate sticker sheet allowing for bike personalization by the bike's owner. We dig the sleek look of a bare frame and chose to leave decals off of ours. We received the smooth looking Protein Powder frame color but there is a Raw Black Rust paint job as well.
The Faction II is offered in three sizes said to fit riders from 5’ up to 6'4”. Our tester was at the top of the size chart’s recommended height for the size Large tested, but it felt comfortable in most situations. The reach on our size large Faction II is 414mm. For comparison, a Transition PBJ in size X-long is 460mm (their short is 415mm), a Specialized P.3 has a 423mm reach, and a YT Dirt Love size Long has a 430mm reach. The Faction II has a poppy and lively feel off of lips and allows for shapes to be made out of transitions rather easily thanks to the short reach and responsive chainstays that range from 381mm to 397mm in length. When compared to the spectrum of BMX frames built around trail or park riding, the Faction II falls into what we feel is more of a park frame with its shorter, more nimble stature.
A single build kit in limited quantities is offered across the three sizes of Faction II. The component spec is well thought out and leaves little to be desired. Standout features include a class-leading RockShox Pike DJ fork and solid Novatec Crisp wheelset. The rear wheel uses a 9t driver and the Sammox cranks come with a 25t sprocket in a drivetrain build that's fairly typical of complete dirt jumpers these days. Evil brand alloy Boomstick bars have a 35mm rise with 35mm clamp diameter in 810mm width. They mount up to a 45mm Evil 12 Gauge stem. A hydraulic SRAM G2 rear brake is nicer than what a lot of completes come with at this price, and there is enough cable for a double barspin out of the box. The SDG Apollo I-Beam saddle provides a bit of additional comfort over most pivotal variants and is great for chilling between laps during long sessions. Maxxis DTH tires front and rear offer plenty of traction for any kind of park environment or well-maintained trails.
Thanks to the ease of setup and simplicity of the RockShox Pike DJ, we had our ride dialed in quickly. The only changes made were raising the stem as high as possible on the steer tube and cutting the stock 810mm bars down to a more appropriate 760mm width. We wouldn't mind a higher rise bar out of the gate. The compact 25t x 9t gearing reflects a BMX bike build and will be appreciated by those riding larger features requiring a lot of speed. We felt gearing to be a bit tall for technical park riding.
At The Park
Going from a personal bike to anything else at a skatepark usually feels weird. We tested the Evil at the Tempe skatepark, Espee Bike Park in Chandler, AZ, and the Velosolutions pump track in Avondale, AZ. The compact geometry is very responsive, easily popping out of both tight and larger transitions at the skatepark. The geo felt equally comfortable at the pump track as we generated speed and eyed up gaps. Even if we lacked speed, we could still get the bike off the ground, confidently yankng for gaps and doubles. Our test rider being at the top of the size chart, did struggle slightly with keeping the wheels on the ground over rollers when riding at maximum speed. We do believe that average-height riders will likely not encounter this issue.
While we would have loved to get the bike on some proper trails during our test period, local conditions kept the trails out of our reach. Though the bike may be a bit short for larger, faster sets of trails, Evil’s Black Collar freeride team seems to have no issue throwing down on the Faction II while riding massive jumps. The shorter geo is definitely beneficial for riders incorporating tricks at a high level.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Evil Faction II is a solid value for a complete dirt jumper with a standout spec. This steel hardtail comes equipped with durable, performance-oriented parts. The Faction's price is competitive if not better than other brand options of a similar level. The Rockshox Pike DJ is light and performed flawlessly. Maxxis DTH tires provide tons of grip at parks and will be enough to ride most sets of trails with confidence, and the Novatec Crisp wheels are a standout component; one of the nicer OEM options available. Even after a few botched gaps at the pump track, we experienced no issues with stiffness or durability of any kind. While it is spec’d with some in-house components, they get the job done and the BMX standards used on the Faction mean upgrading and customizing will be a breeze.
If the Faction II were ours to keep, we likely wouldn't change anything aside from gearing with a 10t or 11t cog out back. We grew to really enjoy the snappy feel of the smaller bike for popping out of transitions. Our 6’4” tall test rider, would likely consider something larger, simply for a more comfortable fit, but for most riders who fall within the typical range of the size chart, we would recommend the Faction II as one of the best skatepark and pumptrack mountain bike options on the market.
For more information, please visit www.evil-bikes.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Jonny started mountain biking in 2003 after taking a trip to Northstar and discovering how much more could be ridden than on a BMX bike. He began racing at age 12 and raced for 12 years until ultimately deciding having fun on a bike was more important. After working in the industry for a few years and developing a deeper understanding of bikes inside and out, he has an aptitude for pairing his riding ability with the analysis of bikes and breaking down what makes them work well. He spends most of his time between trail rides and skatepark laps with occasional days on the downhill bike.
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