Part of our 12 bike long term test, is this Intense Carbine 29, currently in use by one of our UK Editors, Jim Buchanan. The difference with this test (as Jim tends to things his own way a bit!) is that it is not an off-the-shelf bike test, more a test of the frame-set, built up with parts on long-term test. Jim took delivery of the Carbine in December and has since done an incredible 1078 kilometers of riding on it, including 5 Enduro races, 2 Marathon races, 2 DH uplifts plus 29,171 meters of climbing. Surely this will serve as a good test for any frame and components.
As a bike and components tester a few things have been, and are still are being tested and changed on this bike, but as a race enthusiast at heart, the reliable and best performing stuff has remained. I shall start with the frame and forks, being the main factors to the bikes performance.
The frame came equipped with the fantastic Cane Creek DB Air, which after some teething trouble (a replaced air seal, leaking air in the 2nd week, was sorted very quickly under warranty) this has since been faultless in it’s performance. I had this shock explained to me, as it’s quite complicated, but now I have it right I just leave it and don’t mess. I only run the recommended 25-30% sag when trail riding, as I feel performance on the gnarlier stuff at races is better when run at 40%, plus I have rotated the shock upside down, so the dirt doesn’t get pushed down onto the seal. I have also just started to get into the habit of running the bike in short travel and leaving the climb switch turned on for the more pedaly stages.
Forks are 160mm Pikes, these took some getting used to, to be honest, they are a great, low-maintenance fork, but I did a lot of messing around with air pressure, compression damping and volume spacers till I found the right balance. Now their performance is perfect (like the shock) so I don’t touch them, and will only ever put them on climb for uphill fire-roads and nothing else, I opted finally for 3 volume spacers, being 85.5 kilos in weight.
As to sizing, being 178cm I chose the medium which fits well. Firstly I have very recently just fitted a full set of bearings, but that’s pretty standard after so many kilometers (I’m not shy with a jet wash too!) and the bearing change was very cheap. The gear cable was rubbing the carbon away between the main frame and the swing-arm, so this was cured by fitting an outer tube around it, this elongates the cable, hence keeping it away from the frame. Rubber also had to be wrapped around the swing-arm in a small area where the chain was rubbing. The frame was protected by Invisiframe and Rockguardz from new, so still looks nice and box fresh
Lots of the other components on the bike have been on the entire time. Hope provided the Headset and Bottom Bracket, and also the Tech3 brakes with E4 calipers and 203mm rotors, I personally think the bigger rotors suit the bigger wheels. Hope also provided their grips, these are the second set, as the first’s end cap fell off after a big crash, but they are the only grip I feel narrow enough for real comfort. I have tested several wheels, the current being the beautiful Enve 60/40s, these have only been on a couple of weeks, with the trusty Hope Pro 2 Hubs. I have tested loads of tyres, but so far my favorites have been the Proto-type Continental Barons, of which I run one on the front with my other top choice, Maxxis Minnion DHF dual ply (non sticky version) on the rear! Any shit flung up from the front tyre has always been kept from my face by the tasty looking carbon Rockguardz fender. Renthal have also their Fat Bar Carbon bar to test, these are light and comfy and I run them held in by the rather unique looking Azonic Baretta Evo 40mm stem
The drive-train is an XX1 cassette, cranks (now protected by crank boots) shifter and mech, with a newer KMC chain and Works Components chain-ring. To keep the drive-train in check I use a sexy CSixx carbon chain guide, which I have never had to touch.
The seat is a real racers light-weight, carbon railed one made by Dirty (San Marco) this attaches to the awesome Thomson dropper post. I am now awaiting the arrival of the new stealth version, also with rumor of a Bluetooth wireless one on the making! The pedals I am currently running are the American Xpedo Baldwins, light, reliable and effective.
My goal this year is to do well in every race, get a podium in a UKGE, win a Mini Enduro and kick some ass at the Megavalanche, which I’ve never done before.
Words: Jim Buchanan Pics: Doc Ward, Jim Buchanan