Sonder Evol: Q&A with Bike Guru Neil

Sonder Evol: Q&A with Bike Guru Neil

By Hati Whiteley

“A reyt good bike”

Bike Guru Neil’s been raving about the Evol, Sonder’s new 140 mm travel bike, since before the first prototype even arrived. We figured it was about time we let him tell us all about it, so we dragged him away from the workshop for half an hour to tell us Evol’s story.

Neil taking the Evol round his local

Let’s start simple… tell us about the Evol.

The Evol is the full suspension trail bike I’ve always wanted, sensible weight, enough travel, tough and really good fun when you point it downhill!

This is Sonder’s first full sus bike trail bike, why did you decide that now was the right time to launch a full sus?

We’ve already got a few really good solid trail hardtail bikes in our range, so a full suspension was our next step. It sits alongside the Transmitter in that it’s an aggressive trail bike that can do a bit of everything much better than you’d expect it to!

A few people are probably wondering, why did you go for just 140mm travel?

140mm of travel is enough for this style of bike. We’ve got it set up nice and progressive so it ramps up nicely towards the end of its stroke to give it that bottomless feel.

You’ve gone for 27/5in tyres over 29in or 27.5+, why?

We decided to stick with 27.5” wheels to give the bike a more playful feel. It feels smaller underneath you than an equivalent 29er, meaning you’ll be able to muscle it around. Plus you’ll feel more confident holding onto it when things start to get a bit rowdy!

I’m a big fan of 27.5+ tyres on a hardtail, there aren’t many occasions when I’d want anything other than a set of 2.8” tyres on my hardtail. But when it comes to full suspension bikes, you start to find the limit of Plus tyres much quicker.

My view of it is that a full suspension bike simply enables you to travel much quicker over rough terrain than a hardtail. This, coupled with the lower pressures and larger casings of plus tyres, means that you’re more likely to roll them off the rim in turns than a standard tyre, and you’re going to be bouncing off the rims much more often.

We’ve heard you raving about the Evol’s rear suspension after testing a few times , so you’re probably raring to tell us why you went for Metric Shock Standards…

Metric is a massive performance upgrade over the old shock sizing standards, the increased bushing overlap makes a huge difference to how supple the shock is. The Deluxe RT fitted to this bike is the most plush shock I’ve felt since my old TF Tuned 5th element coil shock back in 2003!

We’re also future-proofing. Support for standard shocks won’t be around much longer, putting plenty of frames out of commission if shocks fail… I want the Evol to be around longer than just a few years!

Unlike the Transmitter, you’ve gone for internally routed cabling for the Evol, what was the thinking behind it?

There’s plenty of suspension bits and bobs hanging off this frame without cluttering up the look of it even more with external routing! I was never a big fan of internal routing from a maintenance point of view. These days, bike parts are so reliable that some people may never need to remove a cable from the frame and, if they do, our generous sized removable port on the downtube means it’s not too much of a struggle!

We’ve heard rumours that this is your dream bike… when you were designing it, where did you picture riding it?

I’ve always wanted a bike that can descend like a DH bike, play around on the jumps like a slopestyle bike and pedal to the top too. This, for me, covers all bases, it’s fun and more than capable of hitting the odd uplift day. It’s a bike for what most of us do when we get the chance to ride our bikes, go down to the local woods with a like-minded group of mates and have fun. For some that might be a 25 mile loop, for others it might be doing runs of enduro style trails, either way the bike is more than up to the task!

The one trail I’m really looking forward to hitting on it is my favourite top to bottom run at Bike Park Wales, Vicious Valley into the A470 line, cut across onto Surfin’ Bird then finish on what is one of the best bits of trail in the country, Insufficient Funds!!

We know you’re always planning something… what have you got in the pipeline?

The sample of the next full suspension bike we’ll be doing has just landed, shorter travel, bigger wheels, just as fun! Hopefully we’ll have something to show you around the middle of 2018.

We can’t wait… nice one Neil!

Sonder Evol is now available.Frame and rear shock at £899; full builds from £1599.

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