These three bikes were just edged out by the rigs that made it into our 2020 Summer Buyer’s Guide. That doesn’t mean we didn’t love them—it just shows how many dang good bikes there are currently on the market. We focus our Buyer’s Guide coverage on the top bikes of the year, which often means the flashiest and most innovative ones get the nod. But past iterations of the following trio of bikes have changed the sport, and these versions are even better and more fun to ride.
Evil the Following ($5,799)
Best For: Singletrack shenanigans
The Following rewrote the playbook when it launched back in 2014. The name was appropriate: every mountain-bike brand followed suit with similar short-travel trail bikes shod in 29-inch wheels.
Now in its third iteration, the Following retains the rowdy spirit of the original, with a lighter carbon frame and longer, slacker geometry that keeps it current without going overboard.
Evil Bikes kept the two-position geometry adjustment so riders can tune the bike’s handling to suit their trails and riding style. The Delta Link rear suspension provides 120 millimeters of efficient, impact-absorbing travel, and the 130-millimeter RockShox Pike fork is supple and precise through the roughest rock gardens. Short-travel trail bikes should handle like rally cars, not tugboats, and this generation of the Following hits the sweet spot.
Ibis Ripmo V2 ($5,899)
Best For: Big-mountain riding
Mountain-bike geometry is evolving at a feverish pace. The Ripmo was our 2019 Gear of the Year–winning mountain bike, but by early 2020, its reach numbers and headtube angle were already considered dated. Thankfully, Ibis rolled out a revamped Ripmo this spring.
The updates aren’t revolutionary but, rather, thoughtful adjustments that make the bike an even better all-arounder. The head angle is a degree slacker, at 64.9 degrees, offering riders more confidence during steep descents. Shock placement was tweaked ever so slightly to give the Ripmo’s suspension more support through the midstroke for improved pedaling performance and more resistance to harsh bottom-outs when using every last millimeter of travel (160 millimeters up front, 147 millimeters in the rear). On the trail, these improvements turn the Ripmo V2 into a fun, self-assured ride that’s great for logging big miles on big-mountain terrain.
Specialized Levo SL Comp Carbon ($7,500)
Best For: Boosted rides
We like the Specialized Levo e-mountain bike for its balanced handling and its smooth-operating Brose motor. But the new Specialized Levo SL weighs less, offers less power, and rides more like a traditional mountain bike—welcome traits for those who want a little boost but don’t want to lose their ability to control the bike.
Levo SL builds weigh between 36 and 38 pounds, approximately ten pounds lighter than the standard Levo. Specialized cut weight from this 150-millimeter-travel trail bike by using a less powerful motor and a smaller battery. Despite those reductions, the Levo SL has the same range: three hours with the internal battery and up to five hours with a range-extending battery.
This rig requires less rider input to maneuver through tight, technical sections of singletrack than heavier, more cumbersome e-mountain bikes. It feels less like an e-bike and more like you have fresh legs and abundant fitness.
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Lead Photo: Justin VanAlstyne