Trail and Enduro Bikes

2017 Intense Primer – First look

Is this the fastest trail bike on the planet?

After the recent launch of Intense’s first plus bike we have more to keep the taste buds tingling. The Intense Primer is a new addition to the 29er category and takes over from the Spider 29 comp.

Words: Ieuan Williams  Photos: Callum Philpott

Straight off the bat you can see that there is a real air of quality in every inch of this bike. From the clean cut paint work and detailing down to the parts spec on the build. The single sided rear stay also adds a look slick, clean and refined touch to the carbon frame. This is a real no nonsense bike.

For 2017, Jeff Steber has really focused on making these new look Intense frames with a longer reach and a shorter rear stay length. These updates are accompanied with the new I box link and a super low standover height – this bike seems to have an awful lot going for itself.

The Primer comes with four different builds and two frame options. The two lower specification builds the ‘Foundation’ and ‘Expert’ come with a standard carbon layout, stainless hardware, alloy top link and cheaper parts spec starting out at £4,099. This then ranges up to the top two builds the ‘Pro’ and ‘Factory’ topping out at an impressive £7,999 but with ti hardware, a lighter carbon layout in the SL frame, a carbon top link and what can only be described at a dream specification build you can see where the money is!

The Intense Primer frame has also been sleeved in all the important places such as the bottom bracket and pivots. To solve any bearing issues that may occur in the lifetime of theses frames the bearings are now pressed into the links and not directly into the frame at any point. This now means if the rare occurrence that a bearing gets jammed in, it’s far cheaper to replace just one pivot and not worry about damaging the main frame or rear stays. A good move.

The Primer also comes with its own specific shock tune designed around each model’s shock curve to give a better feel and composure. With the Primer’s new JS design suspension system this makes for a complete package.

Something to add into the mix with the Primer is the ability to have the front mech. Most riders will never use this, but in some cases there are still riders that swear by the ability to have a two speed set up at the front, especially in certain markets.


Starting out at the lower end of the spectrum the Foundation build on the non SL frame set. Getting things rolling with the RockShox Pike RC Boost 140mm fork supplying ample front end compliance with a RockShox Monarch R Debonair rear damper to match. Keeping the Primer rolling are a set of Sun Helix TR25 rims laced to Intense tuned hubs. Wheels and dampers dealt with, SRAM come into play with the NX 11 speed shifter and a GX rear derailleur – they may be at the cheaper end of the scale but by no means are they poor quality. The RockShox Reverb dropper post is a nice quality touch when you consider this is the lowest specification build. Shimano have been called up for the braking system with the lower range BL M506 brakes with a combination of 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear. Finishing things off there is a RaceFace Aeffect crank and cockpit wise there is a 760mm Intense bar to round up a fairly good build for the money.

Moving forward a few builds there is the cream of the crop and this is the bike pictured and the one we have ridden. The big daddy if you like, with the Factory build. This is the bike that comes in at £7,999 and sounds like a big whack of dosh to splash out, and it is, but you do get some bang for the buck. Keeping the titanium hardware and carbon pivots on the SL frame aside you get the top Fox 34 Factory Float 29” Boost at the front end and the matching Fox Float Factory EVOL 3 position rear shock, so for the travel and weight point of view things do not get much better.

Wheels are by DT Swiss, with a super stiff and lightweight XMC 1200 Spline carbon rims laced onto DT Swiss 240 boost hubs. When drivetrain comes into play SRAM have once again come up with the goods but this time in the form of the new Eagle XX1 12 speed setup from the crankset to the gearing. A 10 to 50 rear cassette ratio and a 34 tooth front chainring bodes well for any climbs that have to be tackled. The RockShox Reverb Stealth the keeps the seat going up and down while carbon railed Fabric Scoop saddle to park your behind on in comfort. Onto the stoppers, once again the Shimano theme is present this time with an XTR system with the 180mm and 160mm disc combo as in the other model. Renthal deal with keeping the cockpit looking and feeling good with a carbon FatBar and Apex stem. All in all then this a premium build to go with the premium price.

First ride impressions

Before there was even chance to turn a pedal the weight was the first major impact that was noticed. After putting it on the scales and weighing in at 26lbs, this Intense is light by anyone’s standard! Taking the Primer out of the camp and up the road onto the first trail was an exciting moment after riding around in circles for a good half hour while everyone set their bike up. There was a real composure and balance to the ride of this bike from the get go, the proof in the pudding was taking it to a local super competitive ‘mates enduro race’ where the Primer and I came out on the top step.

Do not be fooled by the lack of suspension travel that the Intense Primer offers, it really does punch well above its weight where you can lock the shocks out to almost rigid to climb to the very top of to the hill and not just descend down a gentle hard packed trail. The Primer that has been in our possession for over two months now has tackled 40+ foot gaps and all of the local downhill tracks and still looks and feels like new.

The price point has to be looked at here and £7,999 is not a small amount of money to part with, especially when compared to the likes of YT Industries coming out with the Jeffsy CF Pro (currently selling at £3,750) which is less than half the price and with a killer spec. But I really do feel that there is an air of quality to the Intense with real race winning abilities and then there are some negatives with the chassis on these competitors’ bikes that Intense have got dialled in with the Primer, even over their Carbine model where the sizing is now more up to date and very noticeable. All in all it really is a pin up bike, and I feel these bikes that people always want and sometimes can not afford are needed to keep that dream of one day owning such a beast. This will be on our short list of possible trail bikes in the next Dirt 100.

PRICE: Complete bikes from £4099 to £7999. SL Frameset £2800

EDIT: For 2018 Intense Cycles go direct to the consumer. See our review of the 2018 Intense primer Expert HERE

Check out our buyer’s guide to TRAIL bikes HERE.

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