Always ahead of the curve, Intense have spearheaded the research into larger wheel sizes for gravity application. Having tested with 29” wheels the folks out in Temecula have settled on 27.5” (650b) as their production choice with the Intense 951 Evo. As such they have delivered increased speed into downhill racing. Any little help is a good thing.
DIRT ISSUE 141 – NOVEMBER 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Ben Winder
On the World Cup circuit several of the SC Intense team riders having been using the bike to reasonable success this year, the only other big name utilizing 27.5” being Brendan Fairclough on his Scott up until mid way through this season, although this seems to have confused Brendog more than anything. More recently the classic Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre) off–camber on his way to fourth at Hafjell has clearly justified that bigger wheels certainly work, and of course Loic Bruni’s crushing ride at the finals in Leogang.
Featuring eight and a half inches of travel, a reduced 62.5º head angle, short 17.5” chainstay and long 49” wheelbase, this bike is as close as you’ll get to Gee Atherton’s GT sizing (in large). The Intense might well be faster in the right hands too. Although the 651 has an inch less travel than the M9 we look forward to the improved stability on the bigger wheels and length. We’re hoping the large size bike is going to be perfect for the 6’ and taller rider.
Build wise we will be looking at Novatec or Hope/Stans wheels, plugged in with Manitou Dorado or Fox Air 40 forks. Given Intense’s strongarm reputation we will be heading down the Shimano Zee route and shod with Maxxis High Rollers. Interesting times for sure and we simply cannot wait to getting stuck in to some timed runs, because as much as people will say time is no reason to get bigger wheels on your trail bike, in downhill whether you’re chasing your mates on a weekend away or are chasing down the clock the small benefits will be worth it.
But more than this, never mind the staunch 26” traditionalists, it’s about the bike, the build, the look, the dynamic ride. It’s early days and the bike, dampers and everything have to perform in unison. All being well it could just turn out to be one of the most sought after bikes of the year.
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