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?

With the Intense Carbine 29 you get a lot of bike for your money: lots of travel, big wheels, top specking and a loud colour-scheme.
160/155 mm | 11,198 € | 13.8 kg

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.

Bike-Porn! The headtube logo is simply genius!
Rugged chainstay guards avoid annoying chain-slap.
Stylish but heavy –the seat clamp of the Carbine 29 blends in nicely with the frame but is not exactly light.

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.

You’ve been warned! The bright neon-colours may fade with time. If you don’t like it, you better stick to black!

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.

The different JS Tuned-leverage curves in comparison. The JS ENDURO curve above is the reference for our Carbin 29.
Old (blue) vs. new (red). The Carbine is now clearly more progressive with a more sensitive response.
In comparison with the trail bikes with less travel, the lower links on the Carbine and Tracer are clearly longer.
Good job, man! Jeff Steber clearly knows his craft; he gifted the Carbine 29 with a superb rear end.
Tight squeeze! There is just not enough room around the front shock mount –some paint chipped off around the shock mount during our tests.

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
Stem ENVE
Handlebar ENVE DH 780 mm
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II
Hubs/Rims DT SWISS 240S / ENVE M70


50 shades of red! How many tones of red can you squeeze into one bike? Black decals on wheels and fork would already ease our eyes.
The small rotors don’t match the general performance standards of the bike and quickly reach their limitations on long descents.
The ENVE- wheels just look great. Unfortunately, they feel very stiff and direct on the trail. Too much for our liking!
The SRAM X01 / XX1 Eagle- cocktail looks great and works even better with its quick and precise shifting qualities.
No Kashima? We’re Intense-ly disappointed ;) That’s the minimum we would expect to find on a bike like the Carbine 29.
More red! Fabric saddle in… ehrr… red.

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.

Size S M L XL
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
Head Angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Seat Angle 66.0° 66.0° 66.0° 66.0°
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

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for ENDURO. He’s known as the guy in charge of the bi-monthly magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.