A Q&A with Kevin Walsh by Benjamin Whitney
The red hot brand Evil Bikes is known for defying tradition when it comes to developing mountain bikes. The brand’s history is checkered with hang-ups and successes, but its resilience is paying off. Kevin Walsh, owner and designer, has assembled a quiver of award-winning carbon fiber trail bikes that are standard bearers for industry trends in design, suspension and geometry. Mount Baker Experience caught up with Walsh to discuss Evil’s recent move to Bellingham, its plans to open a showroom in August and what the future has in store.
Mount Baker Experience: Evil Bikes relocated from Seattle to Bellingham. What factors were involved in making the move?
Kevin Walsh: The move was something we wanted to do for years and for a variety of reasons. Seattle is experiencing uncontrolled growth, which makes it not only difficult to operate a business within the city limits, but more importantly, it makes it difficult to ride bikes.
I wanted to give the staff a better quality of life and better access to the outdoors without gridlock traffic and an hour drive in every direction. We also wanted to be part of a community where we could actually contribute and make a difference.
Your new facility in Fairhaven is huge. What’s inside?
We thought the same thing until we started filling it with bikes and watched the space quickly disappear. The Fairhaven building is our global headquarters and houses a large showroom/event space in the front with office and a large warehouse in the back.
We built the facility with the intent to house the next 10 years of growth and expansion for Evil. The showroom will be a brand experience and have all our bikes, accessories, soft goods, a selection of apparel and rotating artwork. We are working on a public bike park around the building as well. We will offer technical servicing for our customers’ bikes, but we will push anything else to our local partners and shops around Bellingham. Additionally, we will have a demo fleet available with rental proceeds donated to the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition.
I’ve heard whispers about a taproom event space. Any collaboration beers in the works?
We currently have six taps, which are just for personal use at the moment. This could change in the future once we get the showroom up and running. We really look forward to hosting events and connecting with the local community. You might see a few different collaborations in the near future. Boe Trosset from Aslan and I have been throwing around some ideas.
Are you bringing a crew up from Seattle or will you be looking to hire
We brought up 90 percent of our Seattle staff and hired five new team members from Bellingham. We will be hiring more local staff as we get closer to opening the showroom. Additionally, we are working with Western Washington University on setting up a graphic and industrial design internship program.
How’s the relationship with other bike brands and shops in town? What niche does Evil fill?
It’s funny, from the outside I think people maybe assume there could be tension or competition, but everybody has been incredibly welcoming. In fact, our good friends at Transition disguised a case of Smirnoff Ice as a house-warming gift, and basically iced the entire company. This was shortly followed by a visit to Zane Burger for lunch, then a group ride on the Chuckanut trails with the Transition crew. I think everyone is mostly concerned with building the local riding community. And we are definitely excited to be part of it and contribute as much as possible.
I think everyone is mostly concerned with building the local riding community. And we are definitely excited to be part of it and contribute as much as possible.
Favorite trails in town? Digging any dirt at the Fairhaven facility?
There are so many! I love the Chuckanut trails as they are in my backyard, but we all ride Cougar Ridge, Blanchard, Cedar Dust jumps, etc. We are very fortunate to have such a variety of amazing trails, and a big thanks to Eric Brown, WMBC and all the volunteers who make it happen.
We are currently working on a small bike park on the property surrounding the building. We are working with the city and hope to make it a public park with dirt jumps, speed and style course, pump track, single track and some progression skills areas. We want to make a little something for everybody while keeping it interesting.
It looks like Evil’s been ramping up the dual-crown downhill bike line. What’s the line-up looking like for the upcoming production year? Any surprises you can let us in on?
The dual-crown park bikes were just a fun little experiment, as we don’t have a downhill bike at the moment. We all love the playful short travel bikes, so we decided to make a limited-edition version of the Insurgent and Wreckoning. You can see these in action on the Black Collars page of our website. I can’t really speak too much in regard to the new line up, but I will say we’ll be throwing a few curveballs.