Intense Carbine: Carbon Fiber 5 Inch Trail Bike
“State of the art engineering and technology, along with the vision and design of Jeff Steber, has culminated in the production of our most alluring and inspired mountain bike design to date. “We combined the best of the best” says Steber, “American design with German engineering.”
Intense employed the services of German firm, SEED Engineering to match its vision with their expertise in carbon-fiber product development and engineering.
The brains behind SEED come from years of experience in carbon fiber manufacturing. “We use all the great technology there is, but especially keep a focus on providing the best product”, says SEED engineer, Thomas Harter.
The outcome is remarkable: a do-it-all trail bike with a dual personality. “We took the original DNA of the famous Tracer VP and re-designed and improved it using carbon fiber construction”, says Steber.
The Carbine is proving to be Intense’s best all-around trail bike. The combination of the properties of carbon fiber and the magic of patented VPP suspension makes the new Carbine a segment leader.”
There’s the marketing hype straight off the Intense web page. Here’s our impression. The Carbine is insanely light and stiff. It felt like it would practically levitate up hills… as long as they weren’t too rough. The set up was decidedly more XC than AM with narrow bars and Fox 32 fork (you could get it with the 36 float as well but they were all out by time I got there).
I don’t know if it was the early start that morning or the fact that I’ve been mostly riding slacker plusher more AM type bikes lately, but the Carbine felt a bit too skittish on any technical climbing stuff. I uphill endoed on a small rock feature when the front wheel got hung up with my weight too far foreward, logging my first crash of the Demo within 200 yards of the trailhead. I didn’t feel any discernable pedal kickback on these same sections nor did I feel any lateral flex when mashing hard on the pedals. This would be a great endurance racer or multi-day stage race bike.
Slow technical stuff is not its strength, but get it up to speed and pound through the medium rough stuff and it was solid….. not plush mind you, but it didn’t deflect, rattle, flex, or stray off line. Throw a light 160 air fork on there and I think the downhill performance would be Super D worthy as well.
Pretty decent tire clearance but not huge… and a sticker you’re going to see a lot less of this year (In case that means anything to you). Carbon bars and xtr brakes where both light and effective. I really liked this 611 seat by SQlab. Never heard of them, but it was light and comfy. Kinda shaped like the WTB Silverado but with much better padding and not quite as flat.