Intense Cycles have a long history of making impressive 29" trail bikes, with the aluminium Tracer 29 being one of the early longer travel big wheelers to impress us. They soon followed this up with the move to carbon frames and the punchy Spider 29 and more capable Carbine both scored places in the Dirt 100.

We loved the Intense Primer from the first ride onwards. All of us here at Dirt felt the mix of 29" wheels, 130mm of travel and a lightweight carbon frame resulted in a very fast and capable trail bike. A bike that could cover distance with ease, yet feel engaging in tight, twisting and rough terrain.

"The mix of 29" wheels, 130mm of travel and a lightweight carbon frame resulted in a very fast and capable trail bike"

The Primer was an expensive bike though and was under equipped when compared to both the new-wave of direct sales bikes as well as established brands such as Trek and Specialized. For 2018 Intense have moved to a direct sales approach with a pricing restructure that makes their bikes incredibly competitive

It’s a full carbon main frame and rear triangle (using an aluminium or carbon upper link depending on model) with an exceptionally high finish. The Primer has loads of mud clearance with tidy internal cable routing and neatly integrated rubber frame protection. It’s a class act.

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The Primer is a low-slung bike, with plenty of standover height giving a nimble feel in the tight stuff and plenty of clearance if you’re upsizing to a larger frame. Intense have upped the travel of the stock fork for 2018, now with 140mm up front and the same 130mm rear travel - that can be dropped to 115mm if needed. With Boost spacing front and rear allowing for larger volume rubber, this along with the longer travel fork adds some extra firepower and ability to this already capable trail bike

When it comes to geometry remember we’re in trail bike territory here - the head angle is a not-so-slack 67.5° with a steepish seat angle of 75° assisting seated climbing. The wheelbase on our long-term test bike measured 1207mm (for a size XL), which gave a good blend of stability and manoeuvrability.

So how does the Primer ride? As with the 2017 Intense Primer there is an immediate feel of urgency from the first pedal stoke. This bike feels like it wants to press on and not hang about. Longer trail rides are where this bike truly shines though. Sure, it’s great for an hour of messin’ in the woods but there are plenty of bikes that do that well. When you’re three hours into a full-on trail ride the Primer just seems to be on your side, not dragging you down or making you feel like heading home. It wants you to keep turning those pedals – up, down and along; whatever the trail brings this Intense can handle it… and all at a rapid pace.

"This bike feels like it wants to press on and not hang about. Longer trail rides are where this bike truly shines though"

If ‘singletrack with a dash of tech’ makes up a big part of your riding then you should check out this bike.

Prices: Bikes from £2699 to £6799. Frames (SL) £2299

uk.intensecycles.com