intense 951 – the review
Unlike its stable mate the M9, this bike does not feature adjustable geometry. This is quite possibly a good thing, for what it does have is excellent geometry, the kind that allows for charging, the kind that doesn’t upset the ride giving crazy weight transfer, the kind that’s set correctly and doesn’t need adjustment.. The Intense 951 is slightly longer and lower than the M9 and it’s also slightly slacker – by a degree and a half. It’s quite probably slightly faster too, what with the 27.5” wheels. Many will also quite like the look of this bike, yes it’s a step away from the imposing front end of the M9, yet the graphic is striking, the bike simply isn’t ordinary.
The Marzocchi was very high on the list of choices when it came to bolting the Intense together given the immediate on-track performance, good chassis dimensions and limited maintenance issues that the famous company are known for. It’s a tight fit in terms of mudguard fitting but you can squeeze one in. Towards the rear Cane Creek takes charge of matters and in this instance does so very well indeed. I remember having issues with set-up on the M9 but on the Intense 951, whether it be fluke or not, it was pretty close out of the box.
Low slung yes, sluggish no. The Intense 951 has an immediate liveliness to its ride, there’s a definite bite with a pedal stroke that sends the bike forwards and not downwards. On a few other VPP downhill designs there has been a tendency for the bike to unsettle very easily, but not so with this bike, the poise is excellent. It also didn’t sit up under heavy braking that’s such a familiar characteristic with some VPP designs. Diving hard into terrain the Marzocchi takes everything so unfussily in its stride, never pushing or pulling in its stroke, the Cane Creek in this instance was set up well although possibly not quite the polished performance of the Ohlins shock which we had close by for comparison. The big wheels give a more controlled ride than 26” and although there is a difference in how you ride it doesn’t take long to adapt.
Bar height, some noise from the rear. There are no limits with the the Intense 951, as is the case with many downhill bikes, but even more so with the bigger wheels they need to be ridden so bloody hard to get anywhere near what the bike can do – to be able to beat the shit out of this bike you’d be trucking on at some pace. Which brings us to the next point… components.
Some might question the placement of the slightly cheaper Shimano Zee components on the Intense given the wholehearted acceptance of Saint on big hitters. Well the Zee works so bloody good and the weight difference is negligible any road. Why no Saint brakes? Well I find them almost too much brake, certainly too powerful. After all, even though this is an Intense, known or likened by some to be the American muscle car of biking, it’s certainly no Peterbilt. Braking was taken care of by a pair of Hope Tech 3, ergonomically excellent although we did have a dose of squeaking which took a while to eliminate. The Hope wheelset consisting of Pro 2 Evo hubs and Stan’s Flow EX rims is an excellent choice if you are building up a 951 without being silly money yet with awesome performance. Thomson bars, wide enough yes, high enough no, we’ll be looking to get more height in the cockpit area on our
A job well done on so many fronts, from getting the bike up to date and into market, for the faultless head banging geometry and… well to us for building it up so damn well for not crazy money. Did I mention carbon? No I didn’t… well there is none anyway. And after seeing so many holed swingarms and crucified downtubes it’s probably not the best choice for a racer, and when a bike of this race-set can weigh in at 36-and-a-bit pounds with this durability then you’re pretty much set. I’ve often been frustrated with Intense/Cane Creek combinations, but not so with this version. I love the poise and the drive, its unique style and design, it simply has charm about it. On a practical level it’s bang up to date, can handle big country slightly easier than 26” wheels and is durable. Certainly near the very top of our rated downhill bikes.
Price: 951 Evo frame £2599
Frame Intense 951 Evo 27.5 Large
Fork Marzocchi 380 C2R2 Titanium
Shock Cane Creek Double Barrel Coil
Stem Renthal 50mm
Grips Lizard Skins DSP
Bars Thomson Downhill
Shifter Shimano Zee
Derailleur Shimano Zee
Brakes Hope Tech 3
Seatpost Easton alloy
Saddle Dirty CG Racing Brigade Zero
Crank Shimano Zee
BB Shimano Zee
Ring Shimano Zee 36t
Chain Guide E Thirteen LG1+
Cassette Shimano 10spd
Chain Shimano 10spd
Pedals ANVL Components Tilt
Wheels Hope Pro2 Evo, Stan Tubes
ZTR Flow EX 650b
Tyres Michelin Wild Rock’r 2 Magi-X (F),
Maxxis High Roller (R)