The Intense Carbine is the the latest release in a long list of all-new models launched by this brand over the last year. The second of two 29ers to come from them, this is the longer travel model with an enduro focus.
Words: Steve Jones, Ieuan Williams, Sean White Images: Ieuan Williams
INTRO – INTENSE CARBINE 29 FACTORY
Here at Dirt we’ve had a strong affinity with the big wheelers from Intense. Ever since we started testing 29″ wheel mountain bikes way back in 2011 Intense has turned out some impressive machinery that made us inquisitive as to the future of this wheel size for more aggressive riding. First came the all-aluminium and US made Tracer 29, a long-termer that we ran with an angleset, a Fox 34 fork and often a coil rear shock. The combination of the silky-smooth VPP rear suspension and robustness allowed us to roam into territory normally reserved (at the time…) for longer travel 26″ wheeled bikes. ‘It simply doesn’t let up when the going gets out of hand’ was how Steve Jones summed up the Tracer 29’s ride dynamic. While the 26″ Intense Slopestyle was on the cover of the 2011 Dirt 100, the Tracer 29 took the spot as our ‘Trailbike of the year’ two years later.
Then came carbon from Intense, with the Carbine 29. Slacker, lower in weight and with adjustable travel from 140mm to 125mm. It scored a slot in the 2014 Dirt 100 and in a feature we titled ‘Haulage’ went up against the Specialized Enduro 29 and BMC’s Trailfox 29er. This new breed was here to stay.
The Intense Carbine for the 2017/18 intends to pick up where these benchmark bikes left off. As with all the latest Intense designs, main man Jeff Steber has worked closely with Cesar Rojo, bringing his suspension and geometry expertise to the table. It’s an all carbon machine and here on the Factory spec bike we have the SL frame which uses high modulus carbon fibre, a carbon linkage and titanium hardware and drops 200g over the standard carbon model. This latest Carbine dishes out 155mm of rear travel with a 160mm fork. All the features you’d expect are here: Frame protection, water bottle mounts, internal cable routing, Boost dropouts and grease ports on the pivots.
The geometry is as you would hope; slack and long but in this case not extreme. The reach figure for a size large is 455mm and it sits on a 1233mm wheelbase. The ‘JS Tuned’ suspension uses their longer Enduro link on the Carbine to ‘optimize leverage curve, axle path and overall performance’ (Intense’s words). So it’s not just a longer travel Primer, but a bike designed specifically for enduro stage racing and riding with a gravity bias. With a 65.5° head angle and a 74° seat tube angle this bike promises both good climbing ability along with uncompromising descending manners.
One of the highest spec and most expensive bikes in our Dirty Dozen shoot out, the Carbine is also available as a ‘frame only’ option with rear shock at £2499. However, the Intense Carbine bike range starts with the ‘Foundation spec’ (using the regular carbon frame) at £2699. With lower pricing for 2018 and a change to direct sales (rather than through retailers) does this bring Intense more in line with brands such as YT, Canyon and Commencal?