Evil The Following MB ($6,900 as tested)
Pretty much every mountain bike we tested this year was tight and close to the ground for better descending, had wide bars and a short stem for improved handling, and came with big, tough rubber for added traction. The plus-size craze spurred many of these improvements, but performance has improved without weight gain for a ride that’s more versatile and forgiving than ever. That’s certainly the case with Evil’s The Following MB, though this 120-millimeter 29er managed to get “more betterer” (in the company’s parlance) without increasing travel. Instead, Evil added boost spacing and room for a piggyback shock—the RockShox Super Deluxe RCT DebonAir—while trimming carbon from the rear triangle, changes that allow the proprietary suspension to deliver an open, supported feel in a lighter, stiffer bike. The shortish-travel rear end and 130-millimeter Pike fork suggest a middle-of-the-road trail machine, but the bike shreds like a baby downhiller, minus the weight. (It comes in at just 29 pounds.) Part of the trick is in the awesome eThirteen wheels—the wide carbon rims spread chunky, soft rubber for plenty of grip. There’s a gorgeous sculpted chain guide, so the 1×12 XO1 Eagle drivetrain never fails, and integrated rubber on the down tube and chainstays protect the carbon build over nasty terrain. In a market flooded with specialization, the Following MB does it all.