The Evil Wreckoning LB (Little Better’er) is a serious machine intended for a small audience of extremely aggressive riders. The new version makes some small changes that do enhance the bike but only a little bit. The Wreckoning LB is still the same monster truck 29” bike that we reviewed a few years back. With enough speed, the thing feels like a playful trail bike eating up the gnarliest terrain you can throw at it. If only I had the trails to warrant owning such a beast…. More on that a little later.
I actually had the pleasure of building the bike myself before taking it out for testing. Building Evil bikes are a breeze. The rear brake line and the shift cable and housing are externally routed until the rear triangle where the shift cable enters the frame through an internal channel so there is no issue just pushing it through. I am a fan of the mounts that are molded on the frame. With some zip-ties, the cables route cleanly and tight to the frame. It is a small thing but I have even started to appreciate the nice cable swoop that all Evil’s we build at the shop have. The Wreckoning LB comes with an appropriate specification of Sram Code RSC Brakes which I am a huge fan of. They are easy to bleed using the proper kit and bleeding-edge tool. They feel great on the trail and have a ton of power but have a similar feel to the Sram Guide RSC Brakes which I have become accustomed to. Rotors spec’d on this bike are 180mm front and rear and for me, this was all the braking power I needed.
When building this bike up the only thing I didn’t appreciate was that the bike ships with tubes installed. I would rather they didn’t as most people who ride this bike are going to want to set it up tubeless, which is simple to do as the E*Thirteen wheels and Maxxis Minion tires are both tubeless-ready. The bike will include E*Thirteen tubeless valves. The DUB threaded BB is a nice touch as well. The frame has both an integrated carbon chain guide as well as ISCG 05 mounts. When it comes to frame clearance for chainrings the minimum which you can run is 30T Single Ring / 32T Oval. This might be a problem for some people…..More on that a little later.
Evil’s website says that max rear tire size is 2.4 depending on the brand but I could see you running into trouble if you are riding somewhere with mud. Here in California, all we have is dust but I would still go heavy on frame protection in that area to avoid punishment from rocks.
As far as geo goes there is nothing new, which is not a problem. According to Evil at 5’9” I fit squarely on a medium which is what I rode and it did feel right for me. The numbers aren’t as extremely slack or long as most big bikes these days but I don’t care this thing is a beast and descends with confidence right where it is. The standout for me and the reason this bike feels so unique are the short chainstays at 430mm for all sizes. Once you have some speed this bike feels half the size, playful and easy to maneuver. On that note the biggest “little better’er” improvement is that Evil has lightened the frame up nearly half a pound. This is huge as I think that any weight savings on this bike are beneficial. I would even say that this new version really does feel stiffer than the older version when hitting some hard chunky turns which is impressive considering the weight savings.
Now it is time to talk about the thing that everyone already knows so let’s face reality here. Deep Breath……. this thing is not fun to climb on. There, I said it! This bike is big, 160mm of travel front and rear with 29” wheels and aggressive tires you shouldn’t expect to fly up. However, all of my Wreckoning worthy trails require some pretty steep climbs, sometimes long boring fire roads. This made for some very demoralizing moments trying to go my regular pace up familiar climbs. This biggest issue is not the weight, travel or even the suspension design, it is the damn seat tube. I will go ahead and speak for about everyone at the shop and say that we all were hoping that the seat tube would be steepened when we heard that the Wreckoning was going to be getting a little better’er. It didn’t and the Wreckoning LB is still not a bike you are going to be getting KOM’s on. Just one look down while riding the bike you can just drop your eyes down a little bit literally see the entire length and logos of the seatpost between your legs. If I was running this bike I would have to pick the longest saddle and slam it forward to feel like I am not pedaling over the rear axle. You can even feel the additional friction when dropping your seatpost.
On the bright side going up rocky terrain that requires open suspension and traction this bike does a solid job. It climbs technical terrain very well if you have the legs to keep it moving. This is a bike that unless you are fit AF you are going to need to sit back be patient and spin. Earlier I mentioned that the smallest chainring that you can run is a 30t but I think there are some people out there that live in terrain that could benefit from a 28t if they are a humble enough person to do so. :) It was harder than normal for me to stay out of Eagle on my ride. Now enough on that. I am not telling you anything you might not have guessed but it needs to be said. This bike is intended for going down and will get you up the mountain but it might be a drag getting there.
Now the good stuff. The Wreckoning shreds in a way that I feel is unrivaled by other similar bikes on the market. It really does become a different bike when pointed down or with some momentum. Immediately this bike wants to charge and fly at the same time. Maneuvering it through rock gardens is a breeze. Popping it off of every rock and lip is addicting. Seriously addicting. I am not the most confident jumper but I immediately headed for every single jump and drop I could find and flew farther than I think I ever have before. I felt nicely balanced in the middle of the bike in what I would consider a more relaxed attack position then I have felt on other bikes. This thing is also surprisingly quiet. I floated over some very chunky terrain without losing speed or losing confidence. Switchbacks! Give me more Switchbacks! Those short chainstays really help make this bike fun to rip turns on. Traction is unbelievable and I felt glued to the ground unless I decided to pop off of it with ease. The Lyrik was very impressive as well, eating up square hits and fast choppy sections and hardly feeling a thing. I never felt this bike bottom out in a harsh way. I had a teenage level of confidence immediately on my first descent. The Code brakes also inspired confidence and slowed the beast when it was required. Their modulation helped me carry more speed into all of my turns.
"At the end of the day, this bike is best suited for riders that have the trails that require an extremely capable shredding machine. The Wreckoning is the stoned shuttle driver that will get you to the top but in no hurry so just sit back and chill and get ready for the descent. Going down you will feel younger, faster tougher and stronger. You might even develop delusion of grandeur and start feeling like a pro. Overall this bike needs to be ridden to experience what I believe to be the most unique feeling long travel 29” bike on the market." - Alex Knott