Evil Chamois Hagar | Finest Gravel Bikes 2020
The Takeaway: That is an journey machine constructed for gravel roads, grime trails, and for riders who prefer to get wild.
- The slack 66.67-degree head tube offers it tons of stability.
- It’s robust sufficient to outlive legit grime jumps, however that makes it really feel much less compliant than some others.
- Regardless of its radical body form, you’ll be able to nonetheless get in an aggressive place for hammering on gravel roads.
Value: $4,799 (with Shimano GRX)
Weight: 20.9 lb. (M)
Evil’s Chamois Hagar is a splendidly divisive factor. Even within the still-developing class of gravel bikes, the place experimentation occurs extra freely than with street or mountain bikes, the Chamois attracts consideration and criticism.
In type and objective, this bike resembles a mountain bike greater than some other gravel mannequin obtainable—even these like Niner’s MCR and Cannondale’s Topstone that make use of suspension. In contrast to these bikes, which have mountain bike parts on extra conventional gravel frames (which is a slight by-product of a ’cross body, which is a slight by-product of a street body), the Chamois has the lengthy sloping traces and relaxed angles of a contemporary enduro mountain bike. However is a gravel bike that feels extra like a mountain bike than a ’cross bike an excellent factor? The way you reply that query seemingly determines which facet of the divide you fall. After two months of testing that included all the things from singletrack periods to mixed-surface rides to all-day gravel grinding, I’ve landed solidly on the facet that believes that unconventional pondering driving the Chamois led to one thing particular. With the Chamois, Evil created a motorcycle that’s not solely able to quick gravel rides and bikepacking adventures, however that additionally has the soundness, calm steering, and power to be ridden aggressively anyplace.
Kevin Walsh, the proprietor of Evil Bikes, and longtime design accomplice Dave Weagle collaborated on the body. Each spend extra time on mountain bikes than on street bikes, and people experiences influenced the design. “It’s mainly a street bike crafted into the Following,” Walsh stated, referring to the corporate’s groundbreaking mountain bike.
The Following is proof that good issues occur when the 2 collaborate. Launched simply as mountain bikes with 27.5-inch wheels have been taking up, it was designed across the bigger 29er dimension, and had the slack angles of a downhill bike and the journey of a cross-country bike. It instantly modified the course of mountain bike design. Now, almost each model has a comparable mannequin.
Walsh and Weagle drew on that historical past when creating the Chamois. “Our solely boundaries have been the mechanical ones,” Walsh stated, that means backside bracket and axle requirements dictated elements of body design. Every little thing else was broad open. Foremost, they wished to treatment the twitchy steering they felt whereas driving within the drops on different gravel bikes. They wished extra stability, particularly when bombing down grime roads. They usually wished a motorcycle robust sufficient to be ridden slightly recklessly, the way in which the 2 journey their mountain bikes.
There was one thing else, too. Earlier than beginning Evil, Walsh owned a design company that did work for Purple Bull, Jones Soda, and others. He will get the enchantment of visible identification and the position it has in attracting followers to a model. Across the similar time that his workforce started creating this new bike, they have been additionally redesigning two of the corporate’s hottest fashions: the Wreckoning and the Following. The Chamois Hagar shares some distinctive design language with these mountain bikes—a steeply sloping high tube that flares across the seat tube with shapes that look nearly reptilian; a vertical compactness that exaggerates the gap between the axles, making it appear to be some forces took maintain of a standard body and stretched it finish to finish nearly to its breaking level. It seems to be unconventional, and that’s the purpose. “We got here at this recent,” stated Walsh. “We weren’t involved about designs anchored in custom.”
To make the bike really feel steady and “much less twitchy,” Evil engineers gave it a 66.67-degree head tube, 80mm of backside bracket drop, and many attain (420mm on a dimension medium). There’s a 57mm offset fork and 93mm of path. That gathering of numbers and angles works collectively to calm issues down because the mud begins flying.
This modifications the way in which you journey this bike in comparison with different gravel bikes. On the Chamois, you steer from behind the entrance wheel, as an alternative of over high of it. There’s extra leaning and twisting of the hips to arrange turns. It’s a extra dynamic exercise, which can really feel uncomfortable at first to folks used to extra conventional road-based geometry. It is advisable work it round tight switchbacks extra. Whenever you stand to punch up a double-digit grade, the bike doesn’t sway and counterbalance beneath you. It desires to remain upright, and the wheels stay in line. Till you get used to it, that may make the bike really feel like it’s combating towards you.
What’s most stunning is how good the Chamois feels while you’re on flatter floor, the kind of terrain you image while you consider gravel races like Rebecca’s Non-public Idaho. Regardless of the bike’s unconventional geometry, your key factors of contact—seat, ft, and palms—stay in a typical place. That makes the bike really feel quick and environment friendly while you’re within the drops; it nonetheless reacts rapidly to your instructions.
Including to that environment friendly really feel is a remarkably stiff body that Evil deliberately overbuilt to resist ranges of abuse that might crush many gravel bikes. “We all know our clientele they usually’re a bunch of derelicts,” Walsh joked. So you’ll be able to slam into ruts going downhill at 50 mph and never fear about your head tube ripping off, he says. Or launch over a 25-foot double like some Evil-sponsored riders, or, like I did, hit a front-yard booter with a flat touchdown with out fear.
Extremely, the Chamois Hagar is comparatively mild. Our size-medium take a look at bike weighs simply over 20 kilos with a mid-priced assortment of elements. (The corporate claims an unpainted body weighs 1,164 grams and the fork is one other 467.) What it’s not is supple. Making a motorcycle this stout additionally makes it inflexible. You’re feeling small bumps, and more durable ones ship shockwaves via the body. The dropper put up—important, given the bike’s meant use—takes away any alternative to scale back vibrations through the use of a extra forgiving put up.
You’ll be able to run tires as much as 50mm broad on 700c rims, and that helps soak up a number of the chatter. However in a single concession to conventional gravel/street requirements, the Chamois makes use of a 142x12mm rear axle and 100x12mm entrance as an alternative of the broader Increase spacing widespread on mountain bikes. Which means you’ll be able to’t run wider tires.
What you are able to do, although, is connect a ton of baggage and bottles to the body. There are seven mounts in addition to connections for fenders or mudguards. The sloping high tube limits what luggage will match contained in the body and the dimensions of the bottle you’ll be able to squeeze into the ahead down-tube mount, however cargo capability is ample (you’ll want a seat bag made for a dropper or an adapter that gained’t mar the put up).
Right here’s one thing else to think about: In value and efficiency, that is additionally a comparatively accessible bike. The GRX mannequin I examined sells for $3,899 (although updates since then have pushed related variations as much as $4,799). That’s similar to an identical Trek Crosscheck and $600 lower than a Santa Cruz Stigmata with related builds (although neither of these comes with a dropper put up). And the identical geometry that makes this essentially the most aggressive gravel bike oddly makes it one which’s nice for newer or informal riders. The sloping high tube and the flexibility to drop the saddle makes it simpler to get on and off, particularly when you’ve got groceries or a six-pack in a single hand. And the slower steering and steady journey you need on singletrack provides a delightful calmness whereas navigating metropolis streets and leisure paths.
A lifelong good friend of mine, Roger, just lately began driving, totally on our native rail path community. As his weekly mileage elevated, he traded his hybrid for a gravel bike, selecting the Chamois Hagar after testing just a few fashions. The dropper put up, calm dealing with, and connection to the model appealed most to him. Quickly after his buy, the length and frequency of his rides began growing. A number of occasions every week, he hit 25 or 30 miles. After which towards the tip of my take a look at of the Chamois Hagar, we drove to the rugged hills within the heart of Pennsylvania and rode 50 miles up and down once more via budding mountain laurel on grime roads that have been easy clay in some areas and a mosaic of limestone and shale in others.
These of us who journey heaps know that we join with bikes in methods that may’t be measured in body angles and top-tube lengths. On the suitable bike, we see a few of who we’re and the kind of rider we aspire to be. I’m undecided Roger and I might have made that journey if he had bought one other bike. The Chamois Hagar shouldn’t be for everybody. And like many first-generation fashions, it has imperfections. However these imperfections are simple to miss if this bike speaks to you the way in which it did to Roger, the way in which it does to me, the way in which I believe it could to quite a lot of cyclists in search of a quick, regular, trail-ready drop-bar bike on which you are able to do dumb issues and fulfill your most far-out journey fantasies.