Now that it's official news that the new Intense Factory Team
will be Aaron Gwin, Neko Mulally, and Jack Moir, we can show you the M29 FRO that Gwin will be racing this year. As you can imagine, Gwin has been testing sizes and setups in the off season and one of the more surprising discoveries (for both Gwin and us) was that all three will be racing the XL sized frame. Moir, who has had the most time on the M29, is already height challenged, and actually runs a 40 millimeter rise handlebar, with an additional 20 millimeters of spacers under the fork crown. Gwin, on the other hand is the shortest of the trio, so his setup is quite the opposite, with the smallest headset spacer he can run and 30 millimeter rise Renthal Fatbar.
Gwin says the big wheels, and corresponding longer wheelbase they create, make the XL feel "pretty long" and that Intense is working on a special linkage that will shorten the chainstay length to snap up its handling.
Gwin says he likes almost everything about the smaller size large (which he has traditionally chosen for competition). "It pedals better, I can pump off of everything, and it corners better," says Gwin. "But when I am pushing hard down the steeper sections, I feel like I am pushed forward on the large. The XL feels a little long, but it's going to be better on the World Cups."
The current paint scheme will be changed to this in the near future. Jeff Steber says Gwin chose the the grey tone from a Porsche he liked.
Other than setups, the team are reportedly all on production M29s, and Gwin brought almost all of his key component sponsors with him. The glaring exception is that Kenda is the team's tire sponsor this season. All of the riders' bikes, including Aaron's, were fitted with Hellkat Pro tires on both ends, That said, however, Gwin has reportedly had contractual agreements with his tire suppliers that allow him to ride another brand until that maker can supply competitive rubber. Still, it has to be awkward that another brand is selling his signature Aquila tire design.
TRP collaborated with Gwin to perfect their four-pot brakes and this year, they have outfitted the team with a production version of the shift lever and rear derailleur that Aaron and Neko were race testing during their 2018 season with YT.
TRP's seven-speed transmission drives a tiny e*thirteen 9 by 21 tooth cassette, which allows Aaron to run a smaller chainring without eroding his top speed.
TRP's shift pod looks like its in production now.
That's big news in itself, but there's more. TRP recognizes that larger diameter wheels put more stress on the brakes, so they developed larger, 223-millimeter rotors with aluminum centers to keep the weight to a minimum, Gwin's bike had them on the front and rear wheels.
Intense Factory Racing will be supported by Fox suspension. The 49 fork is standard equipment for all and to keep the XL size bike as low as possible, Gwin's stanchion tubes are raised 15 millimeters above the crowns. Gwin and Mulally both will use the Fox X2 RVS air-sprung damper, while Moir prefers the DPX coil shock. Gwin remarked that the M29's rear suspension felt so good that it made him think whether any of his previous DH bikes ever performed well. It will be interesting to see how he does with the Intense as the season progresses.
There are a lot of smaller items that deserve mention, like Gwin's new lock-on grips, the SDG saddle, and anodized titanium hardware from wheel to wheel. I especially liked the dedicated rear mud guard and number plate. The Intense M29 was favorably reviewed recently by Paul Aston on Pinkbike in the XL size, so if you are curious about its finer points, like geometry and handling, I'd suggest you give it read