2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

Compared to Spider Comp’s 4.5″ to 5″ travel, the new Intense Carbine 29 gets 5″ to 5.5″ rear travel and a 160mm fork to become an aggressive enduro bomber.

On the lift ride up the mountain, Intense’s marketing man Mike Dettmers tells the story of it’s genesis: They were racing the Carbine and Tracer 275, but decided to try the Spider 29er for some of the more pedally courses. What they found was they were blowing away their own course times with the extra speed over the climbs and tamer sections and still just as fast or even faster over the rough stuff. But, when it got super chunky, they felt a bit more travel could make all the difference. Thus, a few Carbine 29 prototypes were welded together (plus a couple modified carbon Spider Comps) with the longer travel, a slacker head angle and a bit taller bottom bracket. They liked it. That was last summer and through the winter, and now it’s a production bike. Pretty quick, no?

Drop in for the details…

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

It’s a carbon frame using a VPP suspension design, similar to their other bikes. It has the usual features you’d expect these days -ISCG05 tabs, FLK-GRD downtube and chainstay protectors, internal cable routing and tapered head tube- plus a few extras.

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

It gets 5″ to 5.5″ (127mm to 140mm) rear wheel travel, with the change just one bolt away. The upper position shown here is the long travel position. Either way, geometry stays the same, it’s just a change in leverage over the shock that lets it push farther into the travel.

In the photo above this one, note how much the lower pivot drops down. Dettmers says it’s tough to go much bigger with a VPP design because longer travel would require longer linkages, which would create difficulties in getting the desired design, wheel path and chainstay length.

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

Compared to other models (and some other VPP bikes), it has a slightly higher BB. That lets you stand and hammer without as much risk of smacking a pedal, but because it’s a 29er, it’s still dropped below the axles so you get that good “in the bike” feeling.

The bike comes with extra cable/hose retention clips, and the bottom two bolts double as your water bottle mount. The remote dropper post cable runs externally on the downtube before tucking in just in front of the bottom bracket. Or…

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

…if you’re running a 1x front drivetrain and a non-stealth dropper post, you could run the remote cable into the front derailleur’s cable port (shown empty here) and it’ll pop out just behind the shock, helping keep things clean. The upper stealth cable mount is duplicated on the non-drive side, letting you run it on either side of your handlebar and still get a natural curve into the frame. Really nice to see so much thought put into the little things.

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

Complete bike with X01, Reverb Stealth, Pike Solo Air, FSA stem and carbon bar, Novatec Diablo 29er wheels (23mm inside width) and Maxxis High Roller II tubeless ready tires for $6,599. Frameset is $3,199 with Kashima Float CTD shock. Complete bike weight for a size Large is 28.4lbs (12.88kg), set up tubeless. Claimed frame weight is 5.8lbs w/ shock, size Medium. Mike’s bike had a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock, so there’s room for something more aggressive.

2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike geometry chart


2014 Intense Carbine 29er enduro mountain bike details weights and ride review

Mike and I took the Carbine 29’s on some of the flowiest and chunkiest trails off of Park City’s lifts, including Homeward Bound, Twist ‘n’ Shout and Pointy Rocks.

A couple of things stood out: The frame and everything on it is very stiff. I tapped the tires on the edges of a couple mid-sized rocks and the entire bike deflected quickly – no sign of flex. The upside was that it also went exactly where it was pointed, you just need to be strong enough to handle the bumps and knocks and it’ll reward you with the line you want. In the turns, the slack 67º head angle worked well on the steeper stuff, and the 51mm offset fork and long top tube helped it feel very stable at speed, but it definitely handled better when the front end was weighted a bit and driven into the corners.

All of this suggests Intense’s goals with the bike were met: It’s meant to go fast, and it’s meant to be ridden aggressively. Push it a little and it’ll deliver.

Another highlight: You don’t really need the CTD much. I kept the shock in Descend mode for the entire ride, with the fork wide open, and it still climbed and powered through pedally sections with nary a mushy feeling. The VPP system works great for making a fast, supple bike.

Anytime we get just one ride on a bike, we’re inevitably tinkering along the way. I played with the suspension’s air pressure and settings a bit, but it wasn’t until the very end of the ride that tire pressure came up on the list. They were run tubeless, but they were pumped pretty high, which likely exaggerated the bouncing off the rocks. Lower (normal) pressure would have made a very good ride even better. That said, it’s also the only bike I rode that day that didn’t get flats (yes, plural).


  1. The paint scheme looks great, if a little “specialized” but the big “29” graphics aren’t my favourite embellishment.

    And the sizing looks a bit small for me, at 6’5ish. Only 3 sizes is a bit limited, though understandable.

  2. Boo to Intense for ignoring the taller than 6′ crowd. It looks like they’ve completely dropped the XL sizes from their new bikes. At least make some bigger sizes in the 29ers!

    I was a big Intense and Santa Cruz fan in the past but have had to dump them for Specialized because they make proper XL sizes. Too bad because I prefer VPP suspension.

    Also, is that a terrible looking bond or a crack near in the seatstay near the upper link?

  3. I look at the wheelbase numbers and laugh. 46″ for a medium, hilarious. Long travel 29’er are the suck. That thing has to ride like a bus.

  4. Yes, bikes seem to be getting huge. Super long wheelbases are preparing consumers for fire roads, bike parks and maybe bike only doubletracks in multi use areas. That looks like the long term trend to me. I can’t imagine threading such a bus through sinewy trails lined with saplings either, regardless of a “51mm offset fork and long top tube”. Imagine what the WB would be if they did offer an XXL size for tall riders.

  5. To all you long travel 29er haters: yes, the wheelbase of a 29er will always be longer than a 26″ bike. But to claim that the bike “rides like a bus” is a fallacy, and is ignorant. My Banshee Prime (L) has a wheelbase of 46.6″, and while I wouldn’t call it ‘playful’, it gets around just fine through tight, twisty terrain. For reference, a Santa Cruz V10 (size L) has a wheel base of 47.1″, and the riders at the WC race at Vallnord seemed to do just fine.

  6. Hahaha. @ Bryan H. Your 5″ travel bike has almost the same wheelbase as a 10″ travel 65° head angle World Cup DH bike. You made my argument for me. I just wonder why nobody was running a 5″ travel 29’er on the Valnoord Andorra DH course? I mean that’s your comparison, right?

  7. You know who 29ers are great for? Tall people.
    You know which 29er doesn’t come in XL? This one.
    Besides, long chainstays.

  8. @Jeb Let me put this in terms that hopefully even you can understand: Yes, my bike has a longer wheelbase than most trail bikes, but it also has better rollover capabilities and is more stable at speed. With a shorter WB and steeper headtube angle than your typical DH bike, it’s more responsive and a heck of a lot efficient. Tracy Mosely is killing the World Enduro Series right now aboard a 29er, and a lot of the top men have chosen a 650B bike.

  9. Bryan please stop justifying you’re disproportional wheelbase with WC winning rider’s performances. Apples to oranges.

    Jeb I totally agree, all the ingredients here are the new [overplayed] enduro theme. IE basically mini DH rigs with 29er wheels. Good for enduro, FUN for nothing else. I want to know who is dropping 6K+ for such specific rigs these days and congratulate them on buying into the hype. Its funny to how there are only a few places in the states that can actually replicate the geography of Europe’s enduro stages.

    I’d love to try and take this through some of my rocky, switchbacked narrow tree filled trails. It would cry for mercy.

  10. @ Bryan H, Tracy is killing it on a 29’er….until TREK makes her ride a new 650b Remedy because that’s what they want to sell next, then she’ll kill it on that. @New England, thank you for being the most mature person on the internet, what was I thinking? By the way I own a 29’er hardtail too.

  11. 29er bashing was old years ago. beat that horse while the rest of the world just rides and shuts up. Go back to pink bike, guys.

  12. Everyone keeps talking like a 46 inch (medium) wheel base is huge for this bike. It is pretty standard for any bikes with this kind of travel. Specialized Enduro 26 size medium is 1153mm or 45.4inches vs Enduro 29 size medium is 1159 or 45.6. Both bikes rides great and have their advantages. VPP bikes have to be slightly longer due to linkage design. No hate, needs to be spread.

  13. I have a dream! I have a dream that one day no one will discriminate by the size of a tire. That one day everyone can smile and ride together and enjoy other riders company. Only ride the bike that makes them happiest and not tell other people what they should be happiest on.

  14. Hey DJ, the most likely reason for no XL is pure economics. A rough average of bike sales by size breaks down to 15% small, 40% medium, 35% large, 10% XL. With the cost of molds for carbon frames it can be hard to justify really small or large frames.

  15. Jonny, probably you are right that many things said about wheel size are tainted with a kind of size chauvinism. Still, you overdraw your analogy – there is still an insistent question around wheel size that presents itself after all illusions are dispelled. The question is, when does angle of attack and rollover trump wheel path? (This is a question only applicable to suspension bikes because hardtails don’t have wheel paths.) Wheel path is less of an issue on short travel bikes but becomes more of an issue on longer travel bikes because that classic “rearward” path is helpful in clearing large obstacles without impeding forward progress too much. Angle of attack/rollover is always important but the very fact

  16. …of long travel suspension can offset any disadvantages due to a slightly steeper angle of attack. So, the way things are panning out at the moment, with 29ers appearing mainly in short travel guise and other wheel sizes being preferred for longer travel uses, really does make sense.

  17. why all carbon fiber doubles are looking pretty similar to an S bike?
    don’t get me wrong, the bike look awesome anyway, but all this trend in the bike design is a shame.

  18. I’ve had my Tracer 29 for close to two years now . Been riding/racing mountain bikes since the 90’s. Stood on the podium numerous times in Super D riding the Tracer 29. Being 6′-2″it’s the first bike I have owned that truly fits . The bike is like a freight train on downhill . Never had a problem on tight single track . Climbing in lock-out is great also. I’d buy one more just for parts if they still made them (xl).

What do you think?