Chris Kovarik Gets a Custom Heavy Metal M29 to Celebrate 22 Years with Intense

Apr 3, 2021
by Intense Cycles  

Words: Mike Rose / Intense
Paint Job & Photos: Fresh Paints of Whistler

The word ‘legend’ is often used a little too freely, but Intense team rider Chris Kovarik really is a legend of the downhill mountain bike world. There are very few (if any) professional mountain bikers that have been with just one brand for such a long period of time. Twenty-two years, well over two decades of loyalty and dedication, during which time Kovarik has won multiple Australian National Championships titles, four World Cups, including his unforgettable +14 second demolition in Fort William 2002… one of the greatest race runs of all time… and all on flat pedals let’s not forget.

Back in the late 1990s Kovarik was part of the initial wave of super fast Aussies that turned the downhill race scene on its head. The style was powerful and aggressive, but always seemingly in control… kind of! When Kovarik was on track it was serious stuff, it was not for the fainthearted. You couldn’t take your eye off him, and he was always up for the win.


Chris first met Intense at the NORBA finals in Vermont. He was a privateer riding for Dave Rodgers’ Qranc Team with Nathan Rennie, Johnny Waddel and the Rogers brothers. He won the race and ended up second in the overall points for the series. Later that day Jeff Steber (Intense CEO and founder) approached him and said to give him a call. A month later, he signed with Intense and basically became part of the family from that day on.

bigquotesThere’s been a ton of great memories and highlights along the way, a couple that stick out are my win at Fort Bill by 14 seconds, third place at the Worlds in Kaprun 2002. There was my third place in Schladming with Nathan Rennie and Sam Hill winning, we were all on flat pedals which was cool. The comeback win at Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2006 was really satisfying. Then merging with CRC and Nigel Page was a really cool adventure, including three years developing the EVO DH bike. It’s been great to have shared some input and see the bikes evolve from the M1 right through to the M279 mullet today that the Intense Factory Racing team and young Seth Sherlock (who I used to coach for many years) are riding.Chris Kovarik

So, to celebrate 22 years with Intense Chris hooked-up with local specialists Fresh Paints of Whistler to create this very personal one-off celebratory custom painted M29 frame. It had to be a DH bike and that’s what Chris grew up riding and it was only fitting to choose the M29 over the M16, as it’s the bike he will be spending most time of his time racing, coaching and riding on. Check out Chris's thoughts on the project below:

"Over the 22 years that I’ve been riding for Intense there has been on and off talk about creating a Kovarik signature frame, a way to celebrate both Intense’s and my work and loyalty... time flew by and nothing really came of it. I got chatting to my good riding buddy, videographer and now master painter at Fresh Paints of Whistler Dylan Forbes, and asked him about a Kovarik signature paint job, and he was like, 'yeah, let’s do it'! This was all over two years ago in Whistler when I had an M29 frame sitting there. I taped it up ready to paint with a design so I could later present it to Intense. A few weeks later I decided I didn’t like the idea and scrapped it. I flew back to Whistler in January this year and got chatting to Dylan again and we decided to do an all-out, one-off custom ‘22 years with Intense’ paint job.'

"I haven't worked with Fresh Paints before doing paint jobs, but I have watched Dylan at work painting many times before, so I trust his style. Fresh Paints and I go back over 10 years of filming. They have pretty much filmed all my videos, like the Crankworx Dirt Diaries. Dylan, Mitch and Dewey are a very talented bunch off the bike as well as on it."

"The blood splatter window and skull window were Dylan’s idea, it was a way to separate the paintwork, ideas and colors but still incorporate the Intense logo clearly. There’s a ton of detail in places you don’t normally look... you have to see it up close to really appreciate it."

"I wanted the paintwork to illustrate some of the work I’ve done over the years. It’s all personal, it’s all the music I’ve listened to, the quotes, the colors, the flags. It’s not just a random idea, it all has meaning or represents parts of my career or something about me. The Australian, American and Canadian flags on the down tube represent respect to myself. Born, bred and began racing in Australia, Intense originates from the USA and it’s where I got my first Pro contract, and thrashed and beaten in Canada. I had a bunch more ideas to put into the paintwork but Dylan ran out of time thankfully!"

"I haven’t counted how many bands there are but it’s around 25 or so. It’s what I grew up on and still live on... heavy metal. It’s a Metal Mayhem theme I’ve had for around 20 years but I never made into something. There are also a few quotes there that fit into my career… they have all inspired me and driven me on throughout my career and life in general. There has been a lot of blood shed on and off the bike, a lot of hard work, sacrifice, dedication, motivation, frustration and dark times... but there have been more good times and a lot of beers along the way."

"The frame took two weeks on the go. You can see that Dylan has put a special touch on this one, and he has also added a few little details I didn’t expect."

"The guys did a custom painted helmet just before the frame so it ties into that, and they both tie into our top five Whistler Crankworx Dirt Diary videos over the years, ‘Shred till ya Dead’, which always had a horror theme. The helmet design was really up in the air, I’m not one for bright colors so when the boys said let’s do all white with blood dripping I wasn’t sure about it, but I trusted them and ran with it. That took four to five days to do and Dylan once again put his touch on it, adding the subtle ‘Karving’ knife armed hooded shadow to tie into to the horror theme."

"The skulls fit into the heavy metal theme obviously, but also into our films. It’s a graveyard of dark times in my life and career but also a reminder that you could end up there anytime riding or racing your bike if you mess up, that’s how on the edge our sport has become these days (hence the head tube with the upside down Metal Mayhem crosses)."

"I love all of it. When you’re at a distance the frame looks like it’s just black and white but as you get closer you start to see how much detail there is, it’s subtle, detailed and aggressive all in one. I have had a few different colored DH bikes over the years but this is my first custom paint job, I couldn’t have had better guys painting it or thought of anything this rad in the past."

"Next, I will be building it up myself to ride in Whistler Bike Park and race some BC DH events where we will be running our Intense Podium Payback Program. Cheers."



102 Comments

  • 75 3
 25+ years continuously on Intense bikes here, since late 1995!

Early 1996, 14 year old me: www.pinkbike.com/photo/20383318/?s6
1996 Mt Hood Skibowl dual slalom: www.pinkbike.com/photo/20383317/?s6
1996 Dry Hill (Port Angeles, WA) dual slalom: www.pinkbike.com/photo/20383316/?s4
1994 team M1 frame, refurbished and built up by Jeff Steber for me in late 1995, one of his first customers in the PNW: www.pinkbike.com/photo/20383319/?s6
  • 12 49
flag heavyp (Apr 3, 2021 at 3:52) (Below Threshold)
 You would of thought for 22 years of service they could of made Chris a custom prototype M279 that the team currently have and had it painted instead of giving him a bike thats pretty much out of dated already.
  • 4 7
 @heavyp: *out dated
  • 23 1
 @heavyp: Yeah he's 6' of rampaging muscle. Do you think he needs a mullet in order to tell the ground that it is going to grip to his tyres?!
  • 22 1
 Heavy Metal... Carbon?
  • 10 0
 They shoud have made him a special heavy metal version out of steel. Missed opportunity!
  • 9 2
 @heavyp: Out dated? Clearly you haven't raced on one.
  • 3 0
 @scary1: You do have to admit though, the M29 had a nice smooth surface to paint on.
  • 4 5
 @heavyp: douche comment
  • 2 2
 @GRAV-Intense-Racing-Canada: Intense aren't making a new DH bike from the ground up for this bike to stay in the line up are they ?
I know its a good bike (well you'd think so with Cesar Rojo the man behind the design) but by 2022 i'm sure this bike won't be for sale any longer and the M279 will have taken over. If they can make a prototype for a 17 year old you'd think they could have knocked up one for someone who's been riding longer than he's been alive and maybe even helped with the R&D !?!
  • 2 1
 @heavyp: they need to give gwin a custom bike because he's been there for 22 minutes without moving teams.
  • 1 0
 @heavyp: I agree with most of what you are saying here, however there is still an argument for "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The prototypes (M279) they are cracking out are individualized, this helps fine tune the kinematics in a much shorter timeline when you have at least 3 racers tweaking their own geo ranges. Proper tool for the job as it were... from a pure racing standpoint.. a 279 might work a twistier tracker better than the M29, where as on a course that is less snappy, the M29 would be the better gun to shoot with. Case in point, and if Chris is reading this... we both still have M16's... fantastic park bike, but use the M29 for the bill payin'. Is the M279 going to be better than the M29? Who knows.. depending on your skill set, it may help you or hurt you.. but as it stands now..I personally think the M29 will be hard to replace outright, and will likely see it around a couple more seasons with little changes other than color-way.
  • 38 1
 Gripping the bars his knuckles went white with desire The wheels of his Intense Exploding on the mountain like a slug from a 45 True death 10 horse power of maximum performance Piercing the trail This is Black Sunhine.... Sweet'n the ride! Yeah!
  • 3 0
 i see what you did there
  • 2 0
 This deserves all the upvotes
  • 2 0
 Great song on a great album. Well appropriated
  • 26 0
 That is a thing of outstanding beauty
  • 6 0
 no u
  • 17 1
 Global component supply shortage means Intense can only supply Chris a frame - he'll have to wait until 2022 for the parts to be able to ride it...
  • 17 1
 Right now as I see it, the world needs more of GWAR.
  • 10 1
 The world always needs more Gwar. Hail Oderus Hail Flattus
  • 1 0
 More GWAR always more GWAR!
  • 9 0
 Sick looking bike for a top bloke. I remember meeting him, Peaty, Rob Warner on a sunday night in Ft Bill after Peaty's epic win in 05. Was a good night from what i remember.
  • 8 0
 Congrats on surviving that night out. Sounds legitimately terrifying!
  • 2 0
 @Superburner: Aha thanks i remember Chris wearing a kilt, and me saying it suited him or something like that. Was a weekend i will never forget, great memories.
  • 10 0
 Why didn’t Chuck Norris race DH? Because Chris Kovarik did.
  • 5 0
 Damn that's awesome. He deserves it 100%, bought his chain bumper, and it's amazing. Top guy in my books. Buy his chain bumper, and your chain literally won't bump. Top tip. That's an ideal paint job right there. Love skulls, love metal, love blood spatter (maybe not blood spatter personally), but yeah, I would have that frame in a heartbeat!!! See literally, he came up with the chain bumper, sold it, rode bikes well, then became probably a millionaire, so there. What's not to like!?
  • 5 0
 I remember that clip from NWD where he's doing insanely fast nose wheelies like it's child's play on his big yellow and red Intense!
  • 5 0
 Saw the frame and helmet in person last week at Fresh Paints. Absolute works of art. Great job Forbes and Dewey.
  • 2 0
 Other brands should offer customers a chance to do some kind of this art painting,work with buyer and the artist,because it was our frame our bike ,cause the price they charge for a frame it’s ridiculous,nice paint job ,and Chris keep on shredding man
  • 4 1
 I want to tattoo that frame on me .....Best Paint frame I ever ser....That 's Kovarik ridding image for sure....Flat out...burn out...
  • 4 0
 great paint job!! he´s videos are awesome because there´s always great soundtrack, no dubstep crap!!!
  • 3 0
 SUCH A SICK PAINT JOB! FOR SUCH A SICK RIDER/GUY! Chris is a legend Big Grin \m/
Also if you're a fan of flat pedals, checkout his Chromag Dagga's! They're the real deal \m/ Big Grin
  • 4 0
 If I had a frame painted that perfectly, it would hanging on a living room wall.
  • 7 2
 Metal. As. f*ck. \m/
  • 5 2
 I miss the old times when a nice paintjob was standard for the bikes..
www.pinkbike.com/photo/17629439
  • 3 0
 The blood splatter on the back of the helmet is a little intense I'll see myself out
  • 2 1
 This paint job is beautiful, hopefully he never crashes it and it will hang on a wall after the season... BTW ACDC, along with Sabbath and Motorhead, are the foundation upon which all other Heavy Metal was built...
  • 4 0
 You can’t kill the metal. The metal will live on.
  • 3 0
 Sickest custom paint I have ever seen, hands down. Bad ass rig for a bad ass bloke.
  • 4 0
 Dude that's sooo sick!
  • 1 0
 Any good footage of his fort bill win? I would love to watch that. I think I've seen some of him absolutely steaming into the arena but that's it unfortunately
  • 3 0
 Thats so sick! Stoked to see it built. Stellar job Fresh Paints!
  • 3 0
 This is the best paint job I have ever seen
  • 3 0
 Awesome. Kavorik is a legend. One of the best.
  • 2 0
 New version of "murdered out" - complete with blood and skulls. Not my jam but well done!
  • 2 0
 The silent Seeker, the Seer,
Travels beyond the Vail

Gravis Metallum! \m/
  • 3 0
 Fake news: this is carbon and not heavy metal (e.g. steel)
  • 3 0
 It would be cooler if Steber welded one up for him -
  • 3 0
 Epic paint job!
  • 2 0
 Longest running sponsorship in mountain biking?
  • 3 1
 Hans Rey?
  • 2 0
 Tinker?
  • 2 0
 @gerhards: ah yeah, that's highly likely tbh
  • 1 0
 How long as Ryan Leech been with Norco?
  • 1 0
 @alexisfire: since like 96 or 97
  • 3 0
 Hats down to Dylan
  • 2 0
 Fine artwork, where is the ACDC logo?
  • 2 0
 You can see the acdc logo on the top tube in the first pic
  • 7 2
 I like the project and i respect the idea but since when ACDC is Heavy Metal?
  • 2 1
 @petrospit: in early 90"s sure, ever seen them?
  • 4 1
 @lifted-d: @lifted-d: they're loud, but not metal.
  • 4 1
 @jaycubzz: No one expects the Metal Gatekeeper!
  • 1 0
 Old school heavy blues rock.
  • 1 0
 ACDC in not metal.
  • 2 0
 Nice one boys. Looks great!
  • 2 0
 What a thing! Well deserved CK
  • 1 0
 My 1st GT came to my hands in december 1998... Was a Backwood, and now I have/ride 5 GT's
  • 1 0
 Thought I was rather amusing calling a plastic bike heavy metal. Bit of a contradiction there.
  • 1 0
 Came here for 'Heavy Metal' movie content, left disappointed with marvel punisher vibes.
  • 2 0
 Amazing!
  • 2 0
 Siiick!
  • 1 0
 looks more like leggins metal
  • 1 0
 Drool....I want it! Helmet looks amazing too.
  • 1 0
 That is truly amazeballz.
  • 1 0
 Sickest thing I've seen on Pinkbike....ever!!!
  • 1 0
 If brand would offer this paint jobs sales would go throught the roof
  • 1 0
 Bad ass! Please clear bra wrap that thing, that frame is a work of art
  • 1 0
 Ngl, that's pretty f*cking sick! \m/
  • 2 1
 LOL! NIN in not metal. Mostly mall metal bands, but the skulls are sick!!!
  • 5 1
 @hit-n-run I would have to dis agree with you, I'd say NIN is in a different category or genre of metal like industrial metal for sure tho. Ever seen NIN live? The pit is just a crazy as any Pantera, Zombie, Hatebreed, lamb of God or obituary concert (to name a few) I've been to.
  • 1 2
 @pdxjeremy: SICK STORY BRO!
  • 3 0
 @hit-n-run: ok. You got me. Damn it wiki!
  • 2 1
 @pdxjeremy: All good bro. I love Obituary btw.
  • 2 0
 Yeah Chris! Looks sick.
  • 1 0
 Hard As A Rock!
  • 1 0
 Hell bent for leather?
  • 1 0
 Killer!!
  • 1 0
 „Painkiller!“
  • 1 0
 Raining blood
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