Words by Cole Gregg | Photos by Gerow / Evil Bicycles
I had the chance to put a solid day on the Evil Epocalypse prior to its release to get a first impression on how it stacks up in the hotly contested Enduro eBike field. While this was enough time to get an initial feel for the character of the bike, you’ll have to stay tuned for the long-term review to get our definitive impressions on Evil’s new electric mountain bike.
The fit and finish of this eBike is spot on for what you would expect to come out of an $11,999 Evil bicycle. The Evil Epocalypse has sharp lines, tight tolerances, and that classic look the brand is known for. It is very apparent that Evil took their time on the little stuff and shows that they care. We’re fond of the tube-in-tube cable routing, which is something every brand should strive for. The handlebars feature internal cable routing to keep the cockpit ultra clean but also still gives you the option to easily change bars unlike some other fancy bars on the market. The built-in sag indicator makes it ultra-easy to assess what coil you should be running. The build kit really leaves no desire for upgrading in my eyes, but then you would hope so for this kind of price tag. If you really want carbon wheels then you could do that, but the I9 wheelset is a solid spec.
On the climbs the DELTA link stayed high in the travel with minimal bob, but there was some feedback over square edge bumps. It is not as plush as the likes of the Norco Range VLT or Scott Ransom eRIDE, which do a great job at ironing out the edges of chunky climbs. With that said it was by no means harsh, with a soft feeling to these edges – If you have ever pedaled an Evil you will know this feeling. For me the 482mm reach in the large size bike tested was spot on for getting my weight over the bars without feeling cramped, letting me claw my way up some of the gnarliest tech climbs I have ever tried. The 442mm chainstays made railing uphill corners an absolute dream and the tight switchbacks were easily negotiated. We had the Epocalypse in the less powerful of the two preset profiles on the Shimano system, and pretty much stuck to Trail mode the entire day, which still gave plenty of juice to get up steep sections without being gassed. The only downfall I felt on the technical climbs was the 170mm crank spec. With the ability to mash technical climbs, I would have liked to see 160mm cranks. With that said the DELTA link kept pedal clearance manageable for the most part, so pedal strikes were minimal.
Ok, now onto the really fun stuff, pointing this thing downhill! Even on the first 2 minutes of descent you can tell that this bike delivers the classic Evil suspension feel. This is something Evil worked very hard to package and reproduce in the Epocalypse. The predictability and hard charging feel is 100% there, the best way to describe this bike is a Wreckoning with a motor. Hats off to Evil for keeping their most notable qualities from their analog bike and packaging it into their first eMTB. The biggest thing that stuck out to me on every lap was how bloody good the bike cornered. Flat corners, sharp corners, corners filled with bomb holes… the Epocalypse ate them all up. The weight balance felt low in the bike and did not have a notable front or rear bias. The short chainstays aided in how easy the bike was to manual and play through tight sections of trail, meaning the bike was more on the playful side than the planted side. While we really did not have a chance to hit a dedicated jump trail, the few hits out at Chuckanut gave me the feeling that the bike feels as much at home in the air as it does railing corners. Getting to the end of the stroke in the big compressions came on very smooth hit after hit, with ample bottom out resistance.
On ultra-fast square edge choppy terrain, I was getting some feedback into the pedals. This was not blowing my feet off by any means, but it was there. It is hard to narrow down exactly what the cause was since I only had limited time on the bike and the concerning section of trail was short. You’d assume the vertical axle path does factor into this equation, but we’ll be trying to get to the bottom of it for the long term review.
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSIONS
If the first ride is anything to go by, then it’s safe to say that everything about the Evil Epocalypse instilled confidence on the descents. Climbing performance was stellar too, save for the 170mm cranks leaving the pedals in the danger zone from time to time. We’ll need to get more time to assess if the pedal feedback on choppy terrain was a setup issue or an unavoidable consequence of the DELTA Suspension System, and are looking forward to logging many more miles on the Evil Epocalypse for a long-term review.
THE EPOCALYPSE HAS ARRIVED
AMPLIFIED FOREST SHAKER
The electrified Epocalypse is your tractor beam to the summit. This long travel overlander is prepped for the end of days, placing direct current between your heels to turn the steepest ascents into provocative dares.
Inspired by our beloved Wreckoning platform, the battery boosted Epocalypse rides above two 29” wheels with 166mm of rear travel and 170mm below the bars. Posture for this genre-fluid beast closely resembles that of the Wreckoning for a proper dance party deep in the trees. The geometry teeter totter is well balanced across the Evil family tree and the Epocalypse drops into a cozy branch alongside its gravity kin.
Epocalyptic lightning flows into a low-slung Shimano EP8 motor to kick out 85Nm of pedal assistance at full throttle, backed by the brand’s burly 630Wh battery for max laps. Spin it up and let the good times rip! The motor’s trail-hugging heft will dig those rubber lugs in deep for unshakable stability and traction.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
Between the juiced watts and the pedaling prowess of our DELTA System, few ascents will tilt too steep for the Epocalypse. Electrified bikes are a blast whether gravity’s helping or hindering, and the engineers at Evil worked closely with Shimano to achieve an ideal power balance. Good luck locating a slope that the Epocalypse can’t scale. After two years of rigorous testing and perfecting we’ve created the right machine for any rider’s version of fun.
A pair of sturdy carbon triangles surrounds the EP8 powerhouse, protected from front tire projectiles by a custom skid plate beneath the motor and a shuttle shield under the downtube. As ever, chain slap is silenced by a hefty sound mound strip on the chain stay, and there’s a second slab of ‘shut-up” inside the seat stay.
Our refined vascular system guides housing and hoses discretely through the frame, and some massive main-pivot bearings are ready to carry the powerful Epocalypse load all season long. A SRAM UDH derailleur hanger dangles from our SuperBoost+ rear end, keeping those precious drivetrain bits shifty, and hangers are available at most shops if you manage to clip a passing rock. In fact, each of the bike’s electric and analog components can be had at your local two-wheel Evil dealer, keeping the ride rolling and the maintenance time minimal.
We wreckon these 442mm chain stays are worth a shout. The Epocalypse boasts some of the shortest carbon stays of any 29” ebike on the market, maintaining that Evil slap-happy, side-hit slashing, dumb-gap trying DNA we all know and love. If you’re searching for a lightning-powered unicorn that’s deft at stabilizing descents and lofting roots whenever it’s asked, you’ve found it. We’ll leave you to choose between Low and X-Low geometry settings, and to select the standard or angle-adjust headset that best suits your style.
The potential advantages of an electric Wreckoning run deep. More laps in a day, longer rides with friends, additional carrying capacity for dig days, and faster lunch laps when the schedule overflows. Adding battery power to your stable will morph rest days on the couch into trail parties with friends. We’re confident your sofa won’t mind.
EVIL THUNDER, SHIMANO LIGHTNING
We teamed up with Shimano to implement their integrated EP8 e-bike system as the backbone for the Epocalypse. The battery charged system provides a powered drivetrain that is fully capable, totally customizable, and globally supported.
85NM OF MUSCLE
At the heart of the Epocalypse, a Shimano EP8 motor pumps up to 85Nm of torque into the pedals. This latest power source from Shimano is lighter, faster, smaller, smoother, and more efficient than the previous E8000.
630 Wh of integrated battery power nails the intersection where maximum riding range and minimum weight collide. How those watts are burned or conserved is entirely up to you.
The EP8 system comes with a covert mode switch on the bar and a full color LED display with all the data you care to know about, keeping your eyes focused on the trail ahead and not the bike below.
TUNED FOR YOU
We recognize that no two riders and no two rides are alike. The EP8 system comes with multiple levels of adjustment and customization to support you on a wide variety of tracks.
Three power modes offer on-trail adjustments, and a cockpit computer displays how much juice remains. Though we only toggle the motor between Off and Boost mode around here, Eco and Trail settings will also suit your speed and save juice on longer outings.
PICK YOUR POISON
An Evil-tuned EP8 motor offers two power profiles to rip with. For moto-minded go getters, Profile 1 cranks out maximum Epocalyptic watts. Riders with a little range anxiety will dig Profile 2, designed around more conservative power output so you can go the distance without the fear of unplanned camping.
E-TUBE MOBILE APP
Not finding those perfect settings for your style of riding? Download the Shimano E-Tube Project mobile app to dial in the support modes and torque settings for a truly custom experience.
A NECESSARY EVIL
How do we keep that playful Evil DNA in a fully loaded monster truck? With our existing 166 travel Wreckoning chassis and DELTA System of course. From there we developed a split yoke chainstay design and paired it with a Superboost+ rear end. This setup affords plenty of tire clearance in an easy rolling 29-inch wheel package that doesn’t compromise that playful rear end feel. Pairing this with the added central weight of the EP8 system provides the confidence to plow through the bumpy stuff and slice corners when the trail gets tight.
WHEELIE SHORT CHAIN STAYS
The newly developed split-yoke design lets us maintain short 442mm chainstays, allowing riders to maneuver through impossibly technical climbs and easily pull up for manuals and trail hits. Pairing this with a wider main pivot and a unified one-piece rear triangle means increased stiffness and strength so you can flex on your riding partners instead of your bike.
A wide 157mm dropout spacing allows us to get a broader, stiffer spoke pattern, and a wider swingarm so the added weight near the bottom bracket doesn’t turn the rear end into a pool noodle. This rear end design was driven to support tire clearance around a 29 x 2.6” tread, allowing you all the rubber you need to keep the wheels on the ground without sacrificing that playful rear end feel.
In the rare case you find yourself a little too over the bars, we’ve added our flip chip capability that Evil fans know and love. Flipping the chips lowers your bottom bracket and slackens the front end for a more aggressive stance without changing that signature DELTA leverage curve.
KEEP IT DISCRETE
Our goal with the Epocalypse design was to keep the tech as covert and quiet as possible so you can breeze past pedalers on your local trails. Less of an abomination, more of a bicycle.
EVIL ENERGY BAR
Evil has introduced a custom 35mm carbon bar with internal wire routing to clean up the cockpit and keep you focused on the fun stuff. The discreet Energy Bar is shaped with a 35mm rise, 5° upsweep, 8° backsweep and accommodates a 760-810mm width range.
10 SECOND PIT STOPS
Our fully integrated battery design keeps the electric bits protected inside the downtube, while quick release access makes for ten second battery swaps through a covert slot in the downtube door. Faster pit stops means more laps.
TUBES IN TUBES
Internal guide tubes for a clean look, easy setup, and even easier maintenance. Ditch the archaic zip ties on this spaceship from the future.
PROTECT THE GOODS
More time on the bike means additional wear and tear. We’ve taken every step to develop a protective system to reinforce key areas of the bike that take a beating.
A custom skid plate, reinforced with a rubber pad keeps the EP8 motor safe and sound from heavy hits and your downtube covered from front tire projectiles. Integrated drain holes keep water out of the bilge and away from the goods.
An integrated protection slab shields the downtube from tail gate bashing. Never go into the tailgate battlefield without a shield.
CALM AND COLLECTED
We’ve included our rubber sound mounds on the chain stay and silent rubber on the integrated chain guide to keep the drivetrain quiet and tidy while you’re banging down track.
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