With increasingly more manufacturers promoting full mountain bikes direct to shopper, we determined to take a look at three of the newest choices from Intense, Hen, and Sonder, to place every model’s service – and bikes – to the check. Over to James Vincent for the evaluate!
Intense Cycles is a type of manufacturers that has simply received IT, no matter IT truly is. Bursting onto the scene within the early 90s, Intense and its proprietor Jeff Steber have all the time carried out issues a bit of in a different way to the mainstream. So when information broke in the direction of the top of 2017 that Intense was going direct sale – solely within the UK, you may virtually hear the collective gasp. For a boutique firm that’s occupied a higher-end area of interest of the market, the transfer was a shock to many.
The Primer is Intense’ 130mm journey 29er path bike.
Then once more, given rising competitors from on-line direct-sale corporations, alongside with extra aggressive pricing from the larger (and arguably higher resourced) manufacturers, maybe it was solely a matter of when, not if.
However whereas there are certainly many good causes for the change, this isn’t the place to debate them. This can be a bike check in any case, and it’s one which simply obtained an entire lot extra fascinating. For 2 thousand excellent causes.
Contemplate your self briefed.
Simply over a yr in the past, an Intense Primer Expert was promoting for £5,300 in a motorcycle store. For 2018, this bike (admittedly with a few spec modifications) is promoting for a staggering £three,499. It’s additionally now shipped freed from cost straight to your door (with a torque wrench included within the field to straighten the bars), and since Intense Cycles UK solely lists what it has in inventory in its warehouse, orders are dispatched inside 24 hours of you clicking the ‘buy’ button.
For 2018, there are 5 full Primer fashions out there, beginning at £2,899 for the Basis construct, and topping out at £6,999 for the Manufacturing unit spec. The three prime builds make use of a lighter SL carbon body, which can be bought by itself for £2,299. Every Primer is out there in 4 sizes from Small via to X-Giant.
It’s an eye-popping color, however we prefer it.
Pulling the Primer out of the field, I used to be introduced with beautiful turquoise lacquer set off with shiny neon lime graphics. It by some means manages to look concurrently stylish but nonetheless very a lot in yer face!
Sculpted out of carbon fibre, the body could be very aesthetically pleasing and strikes an ideal stability, which I hereby proclaim ‘industrially organic’. The entrance triangle is definitely widespread to Intense’s personal ACV 27.5+ bike, however the rear triangle is all Primer.
You may query the logic and extra tooling prices of such a choice, however Intense has shaved weight from the rear triangle and located room for a entrance mech on the similar time. There’s additionally a set of bottle bosses inside the primary body, and inner cable routing retains issues wanting clear and uncluttered entrance to again.
Beautiful strains on that carbon swingarm.
As we’re testing the Expert degree construct, we miss out on the chi-chi SL body. The cheaper body right here makes use of a unique carbon layup, metal hardware (as an alternative of titanium) and an alloy higher linkage, which provides about 250g of mass over the SL model.
Because the VPP patent expired a few years in the past, Intense has changed the platform with its personal JS Tuned linkage. You’ll nonetheless discover two small hyperlinks that rock the swingarm similarly, however the size and orientation of the hyperlinks have been modified to offer a extra dynamic experience that retains sensible pedalling efficiency. I rarely reached for the shock lockout.
You’ve acquired two journey choices right here.The decrease hyperlink has grease ports for upkeep duties.
Whereas Intense has spec’d what seems like a relatively fiddly Increase 148x12mm axle, as soon as you determine which option to flip it, and which bolts you have to undo, it’s truly fairly easy and safe. Lastly, there are built-in rubber body protectors on the downtube and drive aspect chainstay to fend off rock strikes and hold the noise down.
You’d be forgiven for anticipating to see a number of own-branded elements as a sacrifice for getting a full carbon body and SRAM Eagle for less than £three,300, however you’d be very improper. Suspension comes from RockShox, with a Revelation RC 140mm journey fork, and a Monarch RL out again. Revelations have all the time been a strong performer and are much more so now they share the identical 35mm chassis as the Pike.
140mm journey up entrance from the superb RockShox Revelation fork.SRAM GX 1×12 shifting.
Sadly, whereas the Monarch carried out brilliantly whereas open, there was a big delay in locking the shock out – it took a number of compressions of the again finish earlier than it engaged with a clunk.
DT Swiss is in control of wheels with the superb M1900 Spline wheelset, whereas tyres are the brand new 2.35in extensive Maxxis Forekasters – an aggressive cross-country tyre that gives minimal rolling resistance and surprisingly excessive ranges of grip.
Lastly, an aesthetic Fox Switch dropper publish holds the cozy WTB saddle up and Renthal bars offer you one thing to carry on to. It’s protected to say that no corners have been reduce in an effort to hit a worth level.
The Fox Switch dropper carried out properly.Robust DT Swiss wheels and Shimano XT brakes full the smart construct package.
Good grief, this bike is eager. Like an excitable younger pet, it brims with enthusiasm, darting round in circles, chasing something that strikes whereas your driving mates make their approach alongside in a extra stately method. Most of the time I’d discover myself spinning alongside taking it straightforward, whereas getting this unusual vibe that the bike needs to be let off the leash. So, in fact, I oblige.
I modify up a couple of gears, stand on the pedals, and the Primer bursts ahead with scary ease. The brilliant blue machine is far happier with the change of tempo. There’s minimal drag from the Maxxis Forekasters, whereas the JS Tuned system stays taut and environment friendly beneath chain rigidity.
The Primer has a unbelievable get-up-and-go angle.
Designed to be extra supportive within the mid-stroke, there was little or no wallowing or pedal bob even when hauling exhausting out of the saddle, and in contrast to some extra fussy suspension methods, it has a large working window and I used to be capable of run anyplace from 25–30% sag with no destructive impact on efficiency.
‘JS Tuned’ isn’t only a fancy new identify – this suspension system is a drastic enchancment over the issues of the previous VPP suspension system and its tendency to really feel such as you have been pedalling inside a hammock.
No wallow right here – the JS tuned design performs to a really excessive standard.
Shortly to the highest and onto the enjoyable stuff, the Primer is not any slouch when it will get there and its enthusiasm on the climbs is matched by a nimbleness that belies the 29in wheels.
With a attain of 453mm (measurement L) and a head angle of 67.5°, it’s not at all the longest or the slackest bike I’ve ever ridden, however it doesn’t really feel brief, and it doesn’t really feel nervous or twitchy both. It feels good, and that Goldilocks vibe places the rider in command, slightly than the opposite approach spherical.
Having stated that, when you choose a bit extra size in your bikes, remember that the Primer has a comparatively tall seat tube and that limits dropper publish insertion. So the standard trick of sizing as much as achieve some attain may be out of the query (at a shade over 6ft, I personally discovered the sizing spot on).
The seat tube is a bit too tall, decreasing the choice to upsize for extra attain.
Actually although, it’s solely when issues get actually steep and technical that the bike begins to get overwhelmed and out of its depth. The 760mm Renthal bars don’t assist and a wider set would deliver again some management.
The different factor I’d take a look at altering is the entrance tyre. The Forekasters are an amazing cross-country tyre, roll shortly and supply sufficient traction out again, however I can’t assist however shake the sensation the entrance tyre is making an attempt to kill the get together.
The Primer has a great deal of zip and likes to play on the path.
Positive, the Primer is marketed as a cross-country/path bike, and never an enduro bike, however the body and suspension really feel like they’re able to a lot extra. A extra aggressive entrance tyre like a Excessive Curler II or Minion DHR II would give that bit extra traction and open issues up with out compromising the responsiveness that I really like about this bike.
One factor I wouldn’t change, regardless that the choice is there, is the rear suspension journey. As with the Intense ACV Plus bike, you’ve obtained the selection of operating 115mm or 130mm. However as the bike is so spritely and nimble at 130mm, I by no means felt the necessity to scale back the journey.
The Primer is begging for a greater entrance tyre than the Forekaster.
Aside from these minor quibbles, are there any negatives? Solely the sluggish lockout on the rear shock, and that the entrance Maxle Lite is wanting decidedly worse for put on and in peril of being unusable as a result of it’s so closely rounded off. I’d strongly advocate upgrading to the Maxle Final.
The Intense Primer is among the greatest pedalling, most keen and nimble path bikes I’ve ever ridden. It’s a delight to experience, urging you to go more durable and quicker than you thought potential. The massive shock is that it’s no slouch when the path factors again down both, altering course with ease and dealing with tougher trails than actually ought to be potential for a 130mm journey 29er.
Add a extra aggressive entrance tyre (and an extended journey fork in the event you’re feeling notably saucy), and the bike will probably be able to much more with out sacrificing an excessive amount of of that velocity and acceleration that’s so addictive about this bike.
With its new, extra aggressive pricing, the Primer is an interesting bike for a wider vary of riders.
Intense Primer Expert Specs
- Body // Monocoque UD Carbon Entrance & Rear Triangle, 130mm Journey
- Fork // RockShox Revelation RC, 140mm Journey
- Shock // RockShox Monarch RL
- Hubs // DT Swiss M1900 Spline, 110x15mm Entrance & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // DT Swiss M1900 Spline, 28h, Tubeless Prepared
- Tyres // Maxxis Forekaster EXO 2.35in Entrance & Rear
- Chainset // Truvativ Stylo Eagle GXP, 175mm, 34t X-Sync 2 Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Velocity
- Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Velocity
- Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Velocity
- Brakes // Shimano Deore XT M8000, 180mm Entrance & Rear
- Stem // Intense Recon Elite, 31.8mm, 50mm Size
- Bars // Renthal Fatbar Alloy, 31.8mm, 20mm Rise, 760mm Large
- Grips // Intense Lock-On
- Seatpost // Fox Switch, 31.6mm, 150mm Journey
- Saddle // WTB Silverado Race w/ Cr-Mo Rails
- Measurement Examined // Giant
- Sizes Out there // Small, Medium, Giant, X-Giant
- Precise Weight // 13.3kg (29.3lb)
- RRP // £three,499
Loved that one? This text was from Difficulty #118 of Singletrack Journal, and you may learn the complete function and a great deal of different unbelievable tales proper right here.