Intense were once a brand that struck fear into the hearts of their competitors on the World Cup circuit. Jeff Steber’s M1 was the original, long-travel downhill bike and bristled with American swagger and brutish capability.
The bike was ahead of the curve too though, it had a coil shock, a linkage and adjustability to boot. In fact, the bike’s 6-7″ of travel on release led to a race to find a fork big enough to handle the thing!
Intense became a dominant force with their bikes ending up rebranded by Giant, Muddy Fox and more – there isn’t a much greater endorsement than that. The brand’s crowning moment came in 2002 though as Chris Kovarik left the world standing still as he smashed the field by 14 seconds in Fort William.
Palmer led the march for Intense but with Kovarik and Hill on his tail this was a team that was always about the wild men. Now with Moir, Lucas and Harrison on board, the cool vibes are back and Steber is stoked to be at the races again.
And he’s back with unfinished business too. In 2009 he squeezed a pair of 29 inch wheels into a downhill bike and had to wait nearly a decade for the rest of the industry to catch up. Last year the M29 hit the ground running as one of the only, truly sorted 29ers in the pack. The impact on his racers’ results was obvious. The original racer brand is reborn.