Will Ritchie’s Evil the Of­fer­ing

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Mov­ing is real. And when you leave the trails you know—trails you grew up on—it adds an­other layer to dis-ease. Vi­va­cious rid­ing mo­ti­va­tion evap­o­rates as Red­wood rib­bons are re­placed by baked, tree­less chunk. Scorched earth that you drive to.

So, I knew I wanted some­thing rad. Fod­der for fu­el­ing trail stoke. Some­thing I’d spring out of bed for—go to sleep giddy, al­ready im­pa­tient for an early morn­ing. Some­thing where it only mat­ters that you’re rid­ing. Some­thing ir­refutably fun. Shame­lessly fun.

Dur­ing Mar­quette’s Bi­ble of Bike Tests, I finally rode an Evil for the first time. I’d cer­tainly heard about them. Enough so that I al­most snarled my way into throw­ing a leg over the Fol­low­ing MB. But damn, the hype is real.

So why stray from the MB’s sure­fire suc­cess? So­Cal is lit­tered with square edges lodged in con­glom­er­ate. I wanted enough squish to swal­low mis­takes, not some­thing saggy to dis­cour­age big days. The Fol­low­ing MB’s 120 mil­lime­ters ride big­ger than ad­ver­tised, but I still wanted more.

And then I found out, some­how (I shouldn’t have) that a 140 bike was com­ing. That’s all I knew. One forty and that it pre­ferred a 51-mil­lime­ter-off­set fork. I may re­side in So­Cal, but I do dream of hoist­ing around a trunk into a line-choosey rid­dle of roots, so a slightly nim­bler ‘tra­di­tional’ off­set was a wel­come ad­di­tion may I oc­ca­sion­ally find my­self back in Marin. A rum­bling of a 76.5-de­gree-seat-tube an­gle and that sealed the deal. We’ve had a steady stream of 76-de­gree shred­ders cruise through since fall Bi­ble and once you go steep seat tube, you don’t go back. That was that.

Next, how to at­tire the Evil Of­fer­ing— things to aug­ment ca­pa­bil­ity while not drag­ging it down. I’ve long had the fan­tasy to ride with­out a pack—not even a fanny pack, but still tote about enough what-ifs, food, wa­ter and re­pair sup­plies. Seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble with­out hang­ing enough bikepack­ing doo­dads to shame a stun­ning sled to the dunce cor­ner. Still, I went for it.

I started off with Porce­lain Rocket’s Cal­gary-made Char­lene seat­pack, which I love be­cause it works great with both jam-packed loads and pared-down hand­fuls. I’ve also been quite im­pressed with the Bedrock Bags Black Dragon drop­per seat­bag, but I don’t need some­thing that big, and it doesn’t fold down as small when car­ry­ing small helpings, so the Porce­lain Rocket Char­lene wins for this ap­pli­ca­tion. I can eas­ily fit a tube, pump, food, layer, med kit, drink tabs, any­thing else that takes up space and weight. Threaded into the 150-mil­lime­ter Rock­Shox Lyrik RC2’s steerer tube is a OneUp EDC Tool Sys­tem and Plug & Pli­ers kit. So long as I head out with things ad­justed ap­pro­pri­ately, I won’t need to be quickly ac­cess­ing any tools un­less some­thing goes wrong, and if so, I’ve got all I need. A Ti King Cage fits a full Tam Bikes 24-ounce bot­tle within the front tri­an­gle, and, be that not enough, I do have a Wolf Tooth B-RAD Dou­ble Bot­tle Adapter await­ing de­ploy­ment if So­Cal heat gets the bet­ter of me. Run­ning a U.S.-made Wolf Tooth Valais clamp pre­vents any mar­ring of the Rock­Shox Re­verb Stealth’s 170 mil­lime­ters, and is made from ther­mo­plas­tic, which must be from the fu­ture. The 170 length on the Re­verb al­lows me enough ex­posed post to not buzz my light and comfy (the two can co­ex­ist) WTB Volt 135 Car­bon sad­dle and seat­pack on the Maxxis Agres­sor 2.5 WT EXO rear tire and still has enough drop that even while slightly limited by the Valais, there’s enough travel for ex­cite­ment, which is nice. This con­cludes my carry-too-many-things-but-not-on-my-back fan­tasy.

Up front, I have a Min­ion DHF 2.5 3C EXO Maxx Terra. The DHF might as well be the first non-hu­man in­ducted into the Moun­tain Bike Hall of Fame based on its un­wa­ver­ing reign rul­ing the king­dom of tires. Paired with the Ag­gres­sor, I have in­ci­sive dig up front en­gag­ing a cor­ner, a some­what more-sprightly rear and a slight chance of slow­ing down in freeze-dried dirt. Per­fect.

Round­ing things out, I went with an XX1 rear de­railleur, chain and shifter, opt­ing for black but al­low­ing hints of gold to pop, ty­ing in to those on the WTB Car­bon 135 Volt as well. An X01 Ea­gle cas­sette keeps things black and lessthan-gar­ish, also match­ing the crankset.

Hope ac­tu­ally calls it the Crankset—such a bor­ing name, so much ex­cite­ment. The Crankset touts a set-itand-for­get-it ap­proach so long as one has pa­tience for the ‘set it’ part. Hav­ing wit­nessed their in­stal­la­tion, in­clud­ing two YouTube con­sul­ta­tions, an­i­mated, though un­cer­tain dis­cus­sion over the or­der of op­er­a­tions, sev­eral spe­cific tools (shipped with the cranks thank­fully) and a lot of men­tion­ing of the “col­let thingy,” I can at­test to their par­tic­u­lar na­ture. But I’m some­one who loosens cranks, al­ways. And these Hopes have a patented ex­pand­ing spline in­ter­face bury­ing wig­gle alive be­fore seedlings of move­ment can ger­mi­nate. So I’m Hope-ful. And ex­cited. I even have an oval Hope 32-tooth chain­ring. A Hope bot­tom bracket de­signed to with­stand a Bri­tish win­ter should last a So­Cal eter­nity and there’s a sense of joy I get look­ing at ro­bust, forged and CNC’ed alu­minum mounted to a frame with two set­tings: ‘Low’ and ‘X-Low.’ Bring on the rub­ble.

Wheels. I like what Enve has done with the 6 Se­ries rims cre­at­ing a hook­less bead with a spa­cious sur­face to dis­si­pate an im­pact strike. This makes sense to me. Com­bine that with a fo­cus on the ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance of com­pli­ance meld­ing with tor­sional rigid­ity, and you have a win­ner. When I rode the Fol­low­ing MB this past fall, I was shocked by its un­apolo­get­i­cally huge car­bon tubes. So, I went with a 35-mil­lime­ter-in­ner-rim width pro­duc­ing bul­bous, here-I-am wheels to bal­ance the Of­fer­ing’s volup­tuous na­ture.

The M635s lace to White In­dus­tries CLD Boost hubs. I love White In­dus­tries. The peo­ple and prod­ucts have an un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to qual­ity. Spin a White hub and it won’t stop, ever. No drag what­so­ever. For a made-inU.S. brand, White’s prod­ucts are rea­son­ably priced and though dreams don’t have price lim­its, know­ing price is at least some­what con­sid­ered is re­fresh­ing. I went with a White In­dus­tries head­set top cup (Evil’s 62 lower size isn’t avail­able from White) paired with a Cane Creek 110-se­ries lower, which is con­ve­niently hid­den though my se­cret’s now out. West coast meets east in the headtube is how I see it.

Also clash­ing are my brakes and ro­tors. I can’t help it. Vis­ually, I love the look of Shi­mano’s RT99s with deep-dish-es­que cool­ing fins com­ple­ment­ing the deeper pro­file of the M635 rims and big tires. Big, sym­met­ric cir­cles. Func­tion­ally, I can’t ar­gue with cooler brakes and in the last cou­ple Bi­ble Sum­mer Camps, I’ve been as­tounded by the feel and con­sis­tency of SRAM’s Code RSCs. So, blas­phe­mous or not, Big­gie and Tu­pac get to sing a duet on this track, and both are holding key so far.

A 35-mil­lime­ter 35 mil­lime­ter Enve M7 stem and 800-width bar keep the big­boned party go­ing and a set of Chro­mag Square­wave XL grips add a hint of soul. Rock­Shox’s Su­per Deluxe RCT has an ag­gres­sive plat­form, a de­cent weight and in­cred­i­ble sen­si­tiv­ity for an air shock. Mis­sion suc­cess. Maybe So­Cal ain’t so bad af­ter all.

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