No other brand has launched as many bikes over the last few months as Intense has. After giving their Enduro-classic the Tracer a general overhaul, it was time to give the Carbine 29 a face-lift. We had the pleasure to test the 11-grand Carbine Factory Build – can a bike really be worth this much money?
The heart of the stallion– The frame of the Intense Carbine 29
Just by looking at the Carbine 29, one thing is clear straight away: it’s an Intense! The shapes look familiar and the colours brave and flashy as usual. As with the recently presented Tracer 275, the Carbine is available in two different carbon versions. The lighter SL-version, which features a more weight-efficient carbon-layup and carbon link-arms, and a standard carbon frame with aluminium rocker arms. The price difference between the frames is € 500.
Whichever version you decide to take home, most features like the integrated chainstay-guards, downtube protectors, the geometry and the rear-end concept with 155 mm travel are exactly the same; also the clever cable routing is identical on both models. With a frame weight of just under 3 kg (without shock) even the SL-version is not exactly feather-light, but it’s clear that Intense prioritised reliability over weight-efficiency in the case of the Carbine, as the bike’s downhill handling qualities will also reveal later on in our test.
Improved VPP-link. The JS Tuned Suspension System
Until not long ago, most VPP-linkage systems shared one common problem. Due to its digressive curve in the initial segment, responsiveness was never going to be great, however its climbing efficiency is high. But Jeff Steber made sure he addressed this problem on his newly developed JS Tuned Suspension System. Depending on travel and application, he counts on different damper kinematics. Compared to its little trail-sisters, the Carbine sports longer rocker-arms, which make for a decisively more progressive leverage curve. At the beginning the curve looks linear, but becomes later noticeably more progressive (24% progression). This makes for a smoother, more sensitive response and allows for great feedback in the middle stroke.
Lots of lush components – the specking on the Intense Carbine 29 Factory
Even the best of components were just good enough for the new Carbine 29 Factory. Intense threw in a colourful mix of high-end components from Shimano, SRAM, ENVE, RockShox, Maxxis, Fabric and FOX to round off their top of the range model. Functionally, all of the components are excellent, although a set of bigger rotors would have been a more adequate option for a bike like this. The combination of carbon wheels, a stiff fork, a massive head tube and a carbon cockpit make the front-end feel extremely stiff. Some riders will love this feeling, but the majority of our test-crew found the setup to be way too stiff, especially on long descents.
Fork RockShock Lyrik RCT3 160 mm
Shock RockShock Super Deluxe RC3 155 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR
Drivetrain SRAM X01 EAGLE
Seatpost Fox Transfer 150 mm
Handlebar ENVE DH 780 mm
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II
Hubs/Rims DT SWISS 240S / ENVE M70
The geometry of the Intense Carbine 29 2018
There are three common adjectives which perfectly describe the geometry of the Carbine 29: aggressive, long and slack. And one thing is for sure: as far as downhill performance goes, Intense developed a very well-balanced and suitable geometry.
The interaction between head angle, reach, chainstays, stack etc. just works incredibly well.
Only the BB with a 23mm drop feels slightly too less for this sort of bike. Also the seat angle (effective 74 ° / actual 66 °) is noticeably shallow. The great news is that Intense offers the Carbine in four different sizes, making it really easy for everyone to find their right fit.
|Seat Tube||385 mm||418 mm||448 mm||483 mm|
|Top Tube||603 mm||627 mm||655 mm||675 mm|
|Head Tube||92 mm||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm|
|Chainstays||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm||445 mm|
|Wheelbase||1181 mm||1205 mm||1233 mm||1253 mm|
|Reach||410 mm||431 mm||455 mm||471 mm|
|Stack||616 mm||624 mm||632 mm||641 mm|
|BB Drop||22.87 mm||22.87 mm||22.87 mm||22.87 mm|