Lately, when Intense invites you out to an event, you know you’re in for something special. In addition to the antics of Shaun Palmer, the MC styling of Pat Parnell, and the launch of the 2016 Palmer Project and Intense Factory Race teams, we were also brought to Laguna Beach for the launch of a new bike from Intense.
More than just a new bike though, the launch represents the next evolutionary milestone in terms of suspension technology for Intense. Building on the company’s heritage for drool worthy bikes that look as good as they perform, Intense is entering into the ‘JS Tuned’ era with the all new Spider 275 Carbon…
Compared to the original Intense frames that legends like Brian Lopes and Shaun Palmer cut their teeth on, the new Spider 275 is an absolute modern marvel. After bringing on Andrew Herrick as CEO in 2014, Intense has been on the warpath to bring the brand back into the spotlight. After relaunching their hallmark Tracer, Intense has quadrupled in size in just 2 years. With Herrick tackling the day to day operations, and Chad Peterson appointed as COO and product manager, that has allowed Intense co-founder and designer Jeff Steber to work alongside his “A-Team” and focus completely on the product. During the presentation, Steber commented,
“Intense was a boutique company that started in my garage and has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. I’ve allowed my role in Intense to change quite a bit, and now I can focus on what I do best – designing cool bikes that are fun to ride.”
If you use the company’s growth and new bikes as a yardstick, the new management structure certainly seems to be working. After years of licensing and utilizing VPP suspension technology from Santa Cruz, Intense is parting ways from what Jeff Steber referred to as a great partnership. The reason? The VPP patent is now expired which gives Steber and Intense additional latitude to develop their dual link suspension design.
JS Tuned Suspension
Which brings us to the new JS Tuned Suspension System – or Jeff Steber’s take on the Short Dual Link suspension design. While there are clear similarities to the VPP concept, there are a number of changes which Steber says will appear in three distinct versions for XC/Light trail, aggressive trail/enduro, and DH/Freeride. Most importantly, the tweaks necessary to bridge the gap to the JS Tuned system allow the new Intense bikes to balance geometry and kinematics while allowing more freedom with the overall aesthetic.
As good as any bike is, for Steber if it doesn’t provide that emotional response you get from seeing an exciting bike, then what’s the point? Based on how many positive comments I’ve received on the frame even as I was trying to be stealthy about riding an unreleased bike, I’d say that Intense nailed the emotional response in the looks department. In an effort to increase stiffness and shorten the stays, the JS Tuned suspension uses their i-Box design which places the lower pivot directly over the bottom bracket. Compared to the current Tracer 275c, this frees up a lot of space that was previously occupied by the lower link behind the bottom bracket and allowed Intense to shorten the chainstays by a half inch. In a nod towards durability, main suspension pivots see oversized 15mm locking collet bolts and larger angular contact bearings with built in Zerks fittings. It’s worth pointing out that along with the new suspension design, Intense has available one of the most comprehensive owner’s manuals we’ve seen with a complete step by step tear down and rebuild of the full suspension system along with toque values and part numbers for every part on the bike.
Intense also carries forward the adjustable travel feature that allows the bike to switch between 115 (lower mount) and 130mm (upper mount) of travel. This supposedly has little effect on the geometry but I swear the bike is slightly more upright in the shorter position. Regardless, other than a few short rips to try out the different settings, the Spider stayed in the 130mm travel as the preferred option.
Overall the Spider 275 Carbon actually has a 1/2″ longer top tube than the Tracer and a 1/2″ lower BB height mated with a 67 degree head tube angle and short 16.5″ chainstays all based around 27.5″ wheels.
Offered in 4 distinct builds, we were there to ride the appropriately named Factory Build. Both the Factory and the Pro Build feature a higher modulus carbon fiber as well as titanium hardware and a carbon upper link (standard frames use stainless hardware and alloy upper link) for an even lighter frame – 4.48 lbs vs. 5.96 lbs without the shock. All of the carbon frames use EPS carbon molding for a more dense carbon structure, smooth walls, and ultimately a stiffer, lighter frame. Keeping aesthetics in mind, the frame also provides a lower stand over height thanks to the aggressive drop from the top of the seat tube.
Sold complete exclusively with 1x drivetrains, the frame will still accommodate a direct mount front derailleur (including Sideswing) and a double crankset. Around the PF86 bottom bracket you’ll find ISCG05 mounts and the frame is protected with a down tube Flak Guard Armor as well as protection inside the carbon chain stay/seat stay triangle and on the bottom of the chain stay as well. Even though all models utilize Boost 148×12 spacing on the rear, the forks stick with standard 100×15 spacing. Cable routing is all internal with provisions for a stealth dropper post in 31.6mm.
Builds and Pricing
Complete builds will be sold as the Factory at $9,499, the Pro for $6,799. Both of these top tier models utilize the SL frame with higher modulus carbon and titanium hardware. Directly underneath will be the $5,899 Expert and the $4,599 Foundation builds with the SL frame and shock selling for $3,199.
Check out the complete ride review with actual weights here..