Evil The Following MB hands on review vs YT Jeffsy
The Following MB
The following MB is Evil’s 2017 upgraded version of the legendary 120mm trail bike that was released around 2014. The upgraded version is called MB (More Better`er). The only geometry change in The Following MB is a 20 millimeter increase in reach, besides that it has rear wheel boost spacing and an upgraded shock which is now RockShox Super Deluxe, additionally in the upgraded version you can run a water bottle (I was able to fit 550ml bottle on my Medium frame with a side loaded bottle cage). It still features 120mm rear travel and Dave Weagle’s DELTA suspension. The bike is built around 120mm fork with 51mm offset, but can also be built with either 130mm or 140mm fork options for people who desire to have more front travel.
Background about me
Back in 2014 when The Following V1 was released I was riding Ibis Ripley V1. Ibis Ripley is an amazing trail bike with more conservative head angles and lighter frame. I think that the non LS version can be described as a marathon bike on steroids. At the time I was quite happy with my Ripley. Even though Evil’s marketing and reviews really made me want to get The Following, it was (and still is) a rather expensive bike (around 3k$ for the frame with the rear shock alone), so I decided to keep my money in the bank and postpone the upgrade.
About 2 years later, I sold my Ripley, I wanted to try something different and more aggressive with a little bit more travel and got myself YT Jeffsy 29 CF PRO.
The Jeffsy is YT’s trail 29er trail bike with 140mm front and rear travel. I got the top specced model (carbon everything) in the end of 2016 on sale for an excellent price. I owned the Jeffsy for about 9 months riding it weekly. The Jeffsy is an excellent trail bike, mad value for money that rides really well. Comes with top specced components and weights around 12.5kg out of the box. After riding it for a while I started noticing that it felt like a bit too much bike for the stuff that I normally ride. I would get up in the morning and prefer to ride my XC bike instead (Canondale Scalpel). In the last 2-3 months before selling my Jeffsy frame I was mostly riding the XC bike 3 times per week.
Trails that I ride
Most of the trails that I ride are pretty flat, descents are up to 1 minute and climbs are 10-15 minutes. Rocky super try terrain. Average descent grade being around 4-10% with some places that are considered steep get to around 15% grade. Even in the steep places you need to pedal to get to the top (20-30 mins steep fireroad climb). So pedalling uphill efficiency is super important to me, even more than the descent capabilities. My average ride is about 1.5-2hours long before work and a little longer on weekends. In addition I like a fast nimble bike that can turn really well, hop over stuff, with rear suspension that works well over the rocky terrain that I ride.
Building the bike
After checking prices and already having top specced components on my Jeffsy I’ve decided to sell the frame and build The Following MB with the components taken from my Jeffsy. I couldn't really afford the X01 build kit offered by Evil the kit alone worth more than top specced YT Jeffsy.
After consulting with the size chart and having demoed the Medium V1 frame about a year ago I decided to go for the “Drunken Olive” medium frame (even though the color is pretty boring, I didn't want a bike tha looked like V1, the orange color is either completely the same or almost the same).
My inseam is 770mm, on the Jeffsy I've had a lot of my dropper post, even with 150mm travel, out of the frame. It wasn’t an issue most of the time, but on really steep trails I felt like the seat would get in my way and found myself wishing it would go lower. I really wanted to get a 170mm dropper for my The Following build, considering the fact that its seat tube is even shorter than on the Jeffsy. However, after running the numbers of the different seatposts available with 170 mm travel, which are either the Rockshock Reverb or 9point8 175mm dropper post), the Reverb was too long by about 1cm. According to the calculations, the 9point8 did seem to fit, but after reading some of the feedback on it online and some first hand stories from a friend of mine who owns it I decided that it wasn’t reliable enough. Which brought me back to look for a 150mm seat post. Unfortunately the one I've had on the Jeffsy didn't fit because it was a different diameter (31.6 vs 30.9). I’ve chosen Fox Transfer 2018 150mm dropper post which has had excellent reviews online and comes in the sexy Kashima color, and its a little easier to install than the Reverb. Another thing that I did was to reduce travel on my Fox 34 fork from 140mm to 130mm. Even though it’s not a big difference I really wanted a little shorter travel bike, as much as I was even considering trying the bike with 120mm front travel (I plan to do this in the future). Whilst building The Following I realized that unfortunately to me, the steerer tube that came with the medium YT Jeffsy was cut way too short. Even though I've found a solution for that running a stem with lower stack, the fork offset is 44mm vs the 51mm that is recommended to The Following. So I ordered a different steerer tube as well (but it hasn't arrived yet). One other thing that didn't fit and couldn't be transferred to the new frame was the bottom bracket, the Jeffsy has a press fit bottom bracket and The Following has a threaded bottom bracket.
Once I had all the parts and the frame I got to building the bike. It took me about 6 hours to build it properly, put protective frame on all key areas and perform initial suspension setup. Building The Following was pretty straightforward. The hardest thing was routing the internal dropper post through the frame. I’ve had to insert a ruler into the seat tube to get the dropper post cable bend in the right direction. This was the first time I’ve installed an internal dropper post, but overall it was pretty simple, even though on the first attempt I've cut the dropper post control cable too short :).
Riding The Following MB
I rode the bike about 6 times so far (about 12 hours total on the bike). The bike feels really similar to YT Jeffsy in the body position. Comfortable, the head angle not too slack (I’m running the bike in the Low position, there is also X-Low position for slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket; I plan to test it in X-Low soon). I was happy to find out that everything the reviews say about the bike is true.
Some key features I felt
The frame is really sturdy and feels like a tank (in a good reliable way). You can feel that it's stiff on turns or when riding rocky terrain.
It descents really well and catches speed on the way. Rolls over rocks easily and inspires a lot of confidence. I’ve never ridden an actual downhill bike but I would imagine it feels similar just with less travel.
The rear suspension works really well on rocky terrain. It really smoothes out the trail. On Jeffsy I would feel small hits here and there on the rear wheel on really rocky bumpy terrain, nowhere as smooth as The Following feels. The suspension feels bottomless. I’ve hit all the drops and jumps I’ve hit on Jeffsy which had 140mm travel and didn’t notice any difference. In fact The Following felt better on the jumps due to the bottomless feel.
Technical climbing works very well. The rear wheel stays planted to the ground when climbing steep rocks and trail features. It definitely doesn't climb like an XC bike, or even like Ibis Ripley, but it's not supposed to. It climbs like pretty much like any other trail bike with similar characteristics. I got used to the minor differences very quickly and feel completely at home on the bike. It feels a bit heavy when climbing fire roads, but maybe I am just out of shape :)
Some issues I’ve had and things I changed:
1. The top shock mounting bolts kept getting loose on my first 2 rides, even though I closed them to the right torque settings. I removed the bolts completely and applied loctite in the screw holes on the shock. This solved the issue.
2. I have yet to find a bottle that would fit ideally into the bottle cage. Seems like you need a 500ml or a 550ml bottle with the right shape.
3. I’ve ordered a quick release seatpost collar for those days when I will be riding really steep trails and would like to have the seat lower.
Overall I’m really happy with my bike. I still feel like I need to keep playing with the suspension setup to find the ideal configuration. After weighting the bike it turned out it weighs 13kg in the current setup with pedals. I have yet to try the bike with 27.5+ wheels. For me, it's the most fun bike I’ve had so far, and I'm not saying it cause its new :).