Intense launch the ACV - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine


Trail and Enduro Bikes

Intense launch the ACV

Big tyres, all-action Intense

Intense Cycles, more often than not a market leading and pioneering company were a shade late to the 650 Plus game but oh my haven’t they come up with the goods with this one.

Words: Ieuan Williams   Photos: Callum Philpott

With a launch destination based around the Forest of Dean this was one launch that I relished getting involved in. When Intense whisper that a new bike is imminent there is simply a ton load of suspense of what it could be, the promise of something totally new, ground breaking. Sexy.

This is the second of five new releases for the iconic brand this year with this, the all-new Intense A.C.V. (Air Cushioned Vehicle) being the first plus tyre bike from Intense. First impressions are good, and with the name coming from a military based theme, and a paint job and attitude to match it’s set to be one classic, if not alternative bike from Temecula.

This is the first ‘plus’ bike that Intense have developed and there has been some real attention to detail from the dedicated rear stays to the twin sided seat stay for extra strength to compensate for the increased force applied by the extra grip that is produced from the bigger volume rubber.

The ACV has no front mech’ fixing so it’s single ring only, but with the improvements in gearing a 11 speed set up is no problem. There has been some real thought put into keeping the bike smooth and quiet with the integrated seatstay and chainstay protectors covering every part of the frame that’s harm’s way.

The guys at Intense have also spent some time thinking about the best way to run the cabling on the all new ACV. At every point possible the cables are hidden and out of the way, best of which being where the brake hose crossed through the chainstay to keep a clean and flowing look with no need for cable ties.


There are two builds available for this model, first up a foundation build that comes in at £4,100 with a lower specification for the beginners or people on more of a budget. This bike comes equipped with a RockShox Pike RC 27.5+ fork with a RockShox Monarch R Debonair at the rear. Sram’s GX and NX groupset drives everything smoothly, a budget set of Shimano stoppers and the Boost Intense front and Shimano rear hubs being laced to a set of Sun Duroc 40mm rims.

For those who are after some more bang for your buck the Pro build should hit the nail on the head at £5,400. This bike comes equipped with the RockShox Pike RCT3 27.5+ fork and the machine setup with the RockShox Monarch RT3 Debonair rear damper. With Sram XO1 and X1 sorting the shifting out things are looking up for the ACV PRO build. DT Swiss 240 boost hub on a 40mm DT Swiss M1600 rim keeps the bike rolling and Sram Guide RS stoppers and Renthal bars make for an all-together well rounded build.

First ride impressions

After smashing down some of the local trails that I know well it helped me see exactly what’s was going on with this bike. First off there is an incredible amount of hold and grip from the big volume Maxxis Ikon tyres, and if you look at the lack of tread it’s amazing that’s there is any traction at all.

That the front fork is packing more travel than the rear by 20mm really does not seem to matter because with the tyres being so compliant the imbalance is not particularly present on the A.C.V.


One of the points that were looked upon in the presentation for the A.C.V. is its ability to seamlessly change terrain while riding and this was totally apparent when descending on rocky and rooty sections of the tracks. We have always found the plus size tyre to be confidence inspiring the shape of the bike helped too.

There is a definite stiffness to the chassis, the twin sided rear stays help out and the new bolt configuration giving an all-round stiffer package to compensate for the 2.8 inch tyres that can feel a bit soft and can ‘give’ a little when hitting a hard turn.

The bike that was supplied was a size large and it did come in on the smaller scale whereas an extra large could have been a far better fit but due to availability this was not possible to swing my leg over one, it will be on the list of things to try in the future though. All in all this is a great fun fast bike that’s name tells you all you need to know, Air Cushioned Vehicle. If you are a beginner or a pro you could find applications that this bike will shine in.

EDIT: For 2018 Intense Cycles go ‘direct to consumer’ with a new website (see below) and lower prices. The 2018 Intense ACV range starts with the Foundation build bike at £2999.

New to trail bikes? Check out our buyer’s guide HERE


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