First Ride: Intense Sniper Elite XC

Mar 7, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  



The Sniper has been in development for quite a while and Intense Founder Jeff Steber says that he has been working on a high-performance 29er cross-country trail bike for well over two years. A rough count revealed there were at least four aluminum test mules made to experiment with suspension kinematics as well as how far Intense could push the geometry without completely alienating the Spandex Crowd. The project came into sharp focus, however, when the bike maker switched to their new "Rider Direct" sales model.
Sniper XC Details
Intended use: XC
Travel: 100mm
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: UD carbon frame, carbon/magnesium links
Sizes: S-XL
Pricing: $4499 - $8499 USD
Weight: 21.9 lb - 24.1 lb
More info: intensecycles.com

bigquotesRider Direct has taught us a lot. We started getting orders for shorter-travel models, like our Spider, that dealers and distributors rarely bothered with. Through Rider Direct, we learned that a lot of our customers also wanted lighter, more responsive bikes that were a better match for their home trails.Jeff Steber

Intense Sniper XC


Meet the New Sniper

The decision was made to go with progressive geometry - a crazy-for-cross-country 67.5-degree head tube angle, with a super-sized top tube designed to pair with stems in the range of 40 to 50 millimeters, and a pedal friendly 74-degree seat tube angle. The mandate for those progressive numbers, however, came with a powerful caveat: the Sniper would not be produced unless its weight and pedaling efficiency were equal to or better than current cross-country World Cup superbikes. Success for the project came in the form Intense's Chad Peterson - a self-proclaimed cross-country geek who puts in well over a hundred miles a week in one of the more technical zones in Southern California.

Two versions: Peterson embraced the Sniper project as his own, and ultimately, two models were slated for production: The 100-millimeter-travel Sniper XC, and a more aggressively spec'ed 120-millimeter-travel Sniper Trail. At 21 pounds and some change (10kg), the top-drawer Sniper Factory XC can shamelessly walk the runway with the likes of Scott's Spark - the racebike that sets the bar for dual-suspension on the Pro Tour. (Spoiler alert: they share the same factory.)


bigquotesIt was important that the Sniper was confidence inspiring on descents. For most XC racers, climbing is their forte. With this bike, you can still hold it together at mile 30 or 40 and you'll have the handling to make it down the steeps.Chad Peterson

Intense Sniper XC
Chad Peterson: Chief of Operations, with the Sniper Elite XC.

And the Sniper Trail? It shares the same carbon chassis and dual-link rear suspension, but its longer, 120-millimeter legs are accompanied by a burlier build, including 30-millimeter inner-width DT Swiss wheels, mounted to 2.3-inch Maxxis Forecaster tires. Both versions feature Fox suspension, SRAM Eagle drivetrains and Shimano brakes - and every price point features a dropper seatpost.

Intense Sniper Trail
Sniper Trail Expert
Intense Sniper Trail
Sniper Trail Pro

Affordable options: With four models to choose from, prices for the Sniper XC range from the $4499 Expert Build to $8499 USD XC Factory Build. Two models of the Sniper Trail are offered: the $5599 USD Pro Build and the $4499 Expert Build. In case you were wondering, weights for medium-sized bikes range from 21.9 pounds to 24.1 pounds for the Sniper XC, and from 24.57 to 25.64 pounds for the Sniper Trail models.

Sniper Trail Geometry
Intense Sniper Trail

Sniper XC Geometry
Intense Sniper XC

Intense Sniper XC


Features and Construction

Much effort was directed towards arriving at a rear suspension system that could satisfy pedal picky cross-country pros and at the same time, respond to the terrain without requiring electronics or a cable remote lockout system. Jeff Steber says that computer models and real-world testing produced kinematics that ended up very close to their Primer 29er. The convergence was accidental, but the uncanny pedaling efficiency of the Primer is a strong wager that the Sniper will be similarly endowed. Pro XC racers can generate 800 watts on a whim, and Steber says the 100-millimeter-travel Sniper XC's shock curve ramps up more than the longer-travel Trail model to counter those efforts.

Intense Sniper XC
Carbon link and sturdy clevis seat-stay pivots.
Intense Sniper XC
A pull-out lever to unscrew the through-axle.


Mechanically, the Sniper's suspension is straight-forward. Its upper link is carbon and the major hinge points rock on full complement ball bearings. Intense eliminated the hollow that many bike designers still carve out in hopes that the front derailleur will return from the dead. The Sniper is dedicated to one-by drivetrains and the swingarm pivots are widened for extra strength - as are the down tube, seat tube and its 92-millimeter bottom bracket. Clearances are tight around the 2.25-inch Rekon tires, but there is just enough room to squeeze in more aggressive rubber should the devil of shred whisper in your ear.

Top XC models are outfitted with Fox's Step-Cast 32 forks with a 44-millimeter axle offset and Factory DPS shocks (Kashima, of course). The longer-travel Trail models run Fox 34 forks with 51-millimeter offsets and a similar Fox DPS shock. Chad says the differing offsets help keep the XC bike's steering on point while climbing and puts some teeth into the Trail model's technical handling.

Details catch the eye throughout the chassis. Titanium hardware, well-concealed hoses and cables, thick noise-reducing pads on the chainstay and the underside of the down tube, and a pull-out lever in the rear axle to hasten wheel changes are just a handful of them. Plenty of stand-over clearance is afforded by the deeply curved top tube, and the single down tube water bottle location is well placed for racing.

Components

Intense went all out on the parts spec of its flagship Sniper Factory XC, with Enve wheels, SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain - the list goes on to support its MSRP, but elsewhere, the team makes use of house-branded components and some intelligent mixing and matching of drivetrain and cockpit parts that offer up a busload of performance at surprisingly low weight figures, and much more attainable MSRPs. The medium-sized second tier Elite XC that I have been riding weighed 22.8 pounds (sans pedals) on the Park Tool scale. It weighs one pound more than the $8499 Factory build and its MSRP is two thousand dollars less.
Intense Sniper XC
The Sniper XC's Fox Step-Cast 32 fork has a 44-millimeter offset.




First Impressions:

Chad Peterson brought a Sniper Elite XC in my size for a show-and-tell in the mountains near San Diego. I normally ride this particular route on a longer travel all-mountain bike, so it would be a trial by fire for the 100-millimeter-travel XC machine. To spice things up, some of the upper passages were snowbound. The ride was a hoot, with the nearly treadless Maxxis Rekon tires drifting wildly at inopportune moments. And, as we made our way down the mountains, the two of us tried to beat the carbon wheels off of the bike in the zone's infamous rock gardens.

If there was a flaw in the new bike's design or handling, it didn't show up on that day. The handling was far tamer than my recollection of cross country, with none of the front-end push in the turns that steeper steering geometry paired with longer stems is infamous for. Initially, I was concerned that the slight rocking of the shock was sucking the life from my legs, but as it turned out, I was climbing and accelerating in much taller gears than I am accustomed to.

The front center is long, really long. I moved the saddle forward one centimeter on the medium-sized frame and I still needed a few miles to acclimatize. The stretched out cockpit, paired with the 50-millimeter stem keeps the front wheel planted and the steering precise while climbing steep pitches. The steering, in general, feels light and responsive - which I would expect from wheels that are lighter than any hoops I had ridden all year.

Cross-country and trail riding are often measured by the climbing involved, and a good XC bike is supposed to make that job a lot easier. Its 74-degree seat angle feels just right for high tempo climbs. The forward position over the bike takes some bite from the rear tire when the grades get steep, so I had to be mindful to put more pressure over the rear end.
Intense Sniper XC
Maxxis Rekon tires on Intense's new 25mm IW carbon rims.
Intense Sniper XCs
DT Swiss hubs and those tiny looking 160mm rotors.
Intense's suspension kinematics encouraged me to leave the shock's three-way adjustable compression ever in the open position most of the time. That said, the Sniper felt better on longer climbs with the lever set in the middle position. If there were no serious descents looming ahead, I would be inclined to leave the lever there.

That's about as much as I can squeeze from a few rides. Intense is going to let us take the new Sniper out for a long-term review, so we can elaborate on the bike's finer points. So far, I am certain that intense's decision to go with modernized geometry and a slack head angle was a good call. The pluses outweigh the negatives (if there are any negatives). It's the most fun I've had on a 100-millimeter bike in quite a while. Whether it can win races? Well, that is the million-dollar question, isn't it?


215 Comments

  • + 173
 That's the first XC bike I've seen that I'd seriously consider buying.
  • - 2
 You should look at the 27.5 Giant Anthem if this tickles your fancy. 110mm of travel in the rear, carbon or aluminum, pedals very well, is stable at speed, comfortable going downhill with the 68 degree HA, doesn't have a stupidly long front end, and is generally a very fun, playful bike. Also, as per usual with Giant, the spec is very good for the money.
  • + 51
 @mnorris122: "comfortable going downhill with the 68 degree HA"

havent read a phrase like that in a while
  • + 60
 @adrennan: Yes, the 0.5 degree difference on the Sniper will make such a difference, you'll be able to shred such gnarly lines with it, anything less than 67.5 is just unrideable ????
  • + 7
 intense rep alert!
  • + 9
 @mnorris122: I rode an Anthem once... and I will not ride one again. the rear triangle felt like noodle.
  • + 7
 @mnorris122: Although a 27.5 and not quite an apples to apples, we did cross shop 27.5 this winter, and in that price range nothing came close to the 2018 Anthem 2. Nearest option was $600 more and it weighed a pound more.
  • + 3
 What about the Unno Horn?
  • + 3
 This XC bike tops it I think!
www.bikes.com/en/bikes/element/2017
  • + 1
 @mister-sister: The Element's geometry isn't even in the same ballpark as the Sniper. The Chip9 system, or whatever it's called, is relatively steep in its slackest setting. The Sniper is about long reach, slack head angle, climber friendly seat angle and low weight. Plus it climbs a lot better than the Element's design.
  • + 10
 @mister-sister: and all for only $13k
  • + 2
 @mnorris122: no, please not. Im 1,74m/5.7 with long legs and with saddle put max. forward is saddle far back on Anthem Advanced 2017. For really steep, technical climbs... no go for me in this position. And 27.5 in XC/trail XC bike class?! Hell no!
  • + 3
 @bikewriter: haven't ridden intense, but both Rocky's old 26" Element RSL and the newer Thunderbolt climb ridiculously well
  • + 1
 @mnorris122: That sounds really special
  • + 16
 @adrennan: Funny, right? My first DH bike had a similar head angle. I still remember when the Santa Cruz V-10 was around 69 unsagged.

It's nice that we're pushing the envelope on geometry, but I think people often forget context. 68 isn't upright, it's a half degree off the Process 134, which is heralded as a stable bike for all conditions.

Don't get caught in geo hype! Buy what makes sense for your trails!
  • + 5
 @sherbet: the trail has a 66.5. context means from one to the other is a huge step.

I love a playful bike and my home trails are not DH bike trails. I'd like to give it a go at the next demo day, but intense doesn't really send a van to my neck of the woods.

Intense if you are reading this out bike fest in my area is called the Shindagin Shindig. We often have Giant, Trek, and Salsa up there. We could use Intense to offer a different perspective. Shoot me a message for the info and send us a rep!!!
  • + 28
 @taletotell: Message coming your way.
  • + 5
 Scott Spark > Giant Anthem for both pure XC racing and normal trail riding. I've owned both. This Sniper sounds like it would float my boat. Kudos Intense.
  • + 0
 @adrennan: yea whats this giant joey talking about...
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: except that it sucks...nice find
  • + 2
 @WoodenCrow: huge fan of that thunderbolt model - favorite trail bike
  • + 2
 @KotsosK: 50 frames available in September 2018?! And I presume the price is much higher. Thinking Intense's marketing plan wants to make more money than 50 frames: www.unno.com/horn
  • - 1
 @bikewriter: for me both bikes are in the same category, the one that I'm most likely not gonna get for at least another 3 years #brokeAF, so I don't care about that. I'll continue racing with my 4-year old HT XC bike until it's microscopic unridable strands of carbon. For now I look at FS wonderbikes like common folk look at Bugattis and LaFerraris even though if I had one I could use it well, placing in the top-10 in my national championship
  • + 1
 @mnorris122 the new anthem is a 29er. nice bike no dropper post. ide go with the sniper. im a BIG giant fan but not this time
  • + 61
 i'm the 1st to comment and i have nothing to say
  • + 28
 at least you're admitting it.
  • + 19
 Since when did that ever stop a commenter on Pinkbike?
  • + 7
 A lot of people comment here but are never really saying anything. Don’t feel too bad.
  • + 1
 @CaliCol: this should be a tattoo or a song lyric
  • + 21
 It's great to see a new XC race machine when many companies have stopped selling them. Geo and weight look perfect!
  • + 20
 about time someone put out a fun aggressive short travel 29er, been looking for a while!
  • + 31
 I guess you haven't heard of Kona, Banshee, or Transition then?
  • + 12
 @FLATLlNE: or Evil....
  • + 11
 Aggressive short travel 29ers are the long travel 29er of last year!
  • + 15
 Tallboy3?
  • + 1
 @JBSDesigns: How could I forget Smile
  • + 7
 Agreed, I dont want a 30lbs enduro 29er I want this, so much more of this!
  • + 1
 Or the Pinarello Sarcasmo
  • + 1
 @FLATLlNE: Heavy, heavier and heaviest? Yes, these bikes actually weight under 30lbs!
  • + 1
 @xmesssenger: my 111 is under 30...barely Razz
  • + 14
 Do I need a sub 25 pound short travel daily?
No.
Do I want one?
Oh god YES!
  • + 9
 What I find most interesting is the top quote of "Rider Direct has taught us a lot. We started getting orders for shorter-travel models, like our Spider, that dealers and distributors rarely bothered with. Through Rider Direct, we learned that a lot of our customers also wanted lighter, more responsive bikes that were a better match for their home trails."

A direct line from consumer to business apparently resulted in the ability to perform user research, analyze user behaviour and get validation. Was Intense not collecting this type of data before?

Surely they must have, or maybe it wasn't enough to see real-world patterns of the bikes that people actually want to buy; it was obfuscated by what dealers pick with their bulk purchases.

It's odd that simply going consumer-direct suddenly provided Intense with this type of information and an untapped market of people without Intense shops around. Does the same data not show up via what's custom ordered through dealers? I've never worked in a bike shop (ski and snowboard shops, though) so I don't know the answer.
  • + 42
 In my experience working at a bike shop, customers are typically pushed towards buying what is on the floor on the shop instead of custom ordering bikes. Shops are motivated to move their inventory (where they have sunk money already) before bringing in new bikes. So someone looking for a 100 or 120mm xc bike might end up buying the 140 mm one on the shop floor. I think this is where the skew in the data come from.
  • + 4
 @siegea: Ah, thanks for the explanation. Makes sense. A business has to make money.

Interestingly, of the 22 mountain and road bikes I've owned during the past 25 years, just four (about 20%) were purchased direct off the showroom floor. Dealers rarely stock XL or XXL models for tall riders and so I typically have to custom order my bikes.
  • + 13
 No, it's not odd that going direct suddenly provided Intense with this type of information. You'd probably like to think Intense was collecting this data before. Sadly, you're more wrong than right but probably not for the reasons you think. In short, either Intense couldn't get their hands on most/all of the data they can now get before going direct, or it just didn't exist. For data to exist it has to be compiled; someone has to observe, analyse, and create it.

When a company like Intense is dealing with shops, there are barriers in place to getting data. Everything from shop staff responsible for buying, to sales people, to owners, to the Point of Sale system used by shops, to a bike manufacturer's relationship with each and every single shop they sell bikes to, will affect what said bike producer (in this case Intense) can get in terms of info and data. If anyone at any step of that chain isn't observing, analysing, and creating data, a producer can't get it.

You almost had it when you mentioned "bulk" orders, or "booking orders" as they're known in the business. Those orders will obscure what's going on to a certain extent, because good shops will buy based on what's hot, what works on local trails, what their consumers can afford, and about a billion other factors. Know what doesn't get booked? 100mm travel 29ers with traditional race geo. Why? Because it's a niche market, most shops don't know how to deal with them, not that many people race cross country and buying cross country race bikes, and frankly because they used to suck in terms of being a "mountain bike".

So when a company creates a short-travel 29er with aggressive all-mountain/enduro-ish geometry that actually works on dirt, it's a hard sell to most shops. They don't get it, they haven't seen sales in that category for a long time, and it's basically a completely new type of bike. Do their customers want it? Is it better than a 130-150mm travel bike? Does anyone at all need it? Who knows but now we're stuck with a chicken-or-egg scenario. Does consumer demand come first? Are we creating demand by putting these bikes out in the market? Most importantly: will they sell?

Yeah, it's a mess.
  • + 2
 @siegea: I have this issue too. I'm super tall and hardly ever seen an xl on a shop floor.
  • + 10
 @somebikeguy: I don't buy it. This bike has been in development for 2 years. Intense went rider direct in January...
  • + 1
 It's likely a combination of factors. As others have pointed out, shoppers often get pushed towards what's in stock. Couple this with most shops' penchant for discounting in-stock models and clearance pricing on previous model years, and they either wind up on a longer-travel bike than they might have originally set out to buy, or they get something from a different brand - either from the same shop or from a competitor. For example, maybe they were interested in the Primer, but since no one stocked it, they bought a Tallboy or a Mach 429 Trail instead. And it isn't always easy to track what's being sold. Depending on their inventory management systems, it may have been possible to track special orders from dealers, but that's not necessarily true - they likely invested significantly into software with the change to Rider Direct. And there would be no way to reliably track what was selling on the floors of their dealers.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: it says in the article that's what caused them to focus on getting the bike released ASAP, not that it's what inspired the bike in the first place
  • + 8
 Apparently selling half of your volume to Jensen at blowout prices didn't provide much feedback.
  • + 2
 I have a real hard time buying that with the lead times to build a carbon frame that they changed any production development plans based on input over the last few months. However, the XC crowd often gets deals from their teams and only buys what is at a good price point. The new dealer direct model, could see much more sales because a lot of those guys will buy a great xc bike at a good price. An xc bike with good geo is awesome for most trail systems out there. If I was getting back into marathon or xc racing, this would be exactly my setup.
  • + 1
 I'm wondering, Intense has gone Direct for like 4 months now; and they said they gathered data on they customers. How many bikes&frames did they sell in 4 months ? a couple of hundreds ?
When Canyon released the Spectral Women they said they used a 60k users database.
  • + 1
 As a long time Intense owner and fan, living in the Southeast is not easy! Intense rarely visits (if ever) and to my knowledge hasn't had demos in this area. Rider direct will change that for them. There is a huge untapped market here. In a visit to Winter Park everyone was riding Intense bikes. In Tennessee? Very rare and the few you see I probably talked them in to getting it! Very excited about them bringing the prices down and the rider direct program.
  • + 1
 I found that interesting too, and took it to mean simply that the bike shops are a little out of touch with what their customers are looking for.
  • + 1
 I think that employees of companies who sell through distributors and dealers have a tendency to think of them as their customers, not the riders.
  • + 2
 I don’t know either but I think there is so much marketing filter going on. Yeti have dropped the asr which seems stupid
, from an xc point of view the epic has gone single pivot so it can’t be that bad a platform and with yeti’s experience they could make it work as a 5 inch same as intense but it seems like they have positioned themselves as enduro bro or get rooted. I don’t know why you’d do something like that but distributor thing is interesting, I’m in oz and if I want a medium travel intense frame it has to come from Europe, still hats off intense for asking something for people who don’t have access to a bike park.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: Gotta say I agree, I was thinking the same thing. At least it sounds good and is a way to spin it to the consumer.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: shops won't have XL size bikes on display as they'd be buying for a smaller market and they look mongoloid compared to s/m/l sizes.
  • + 11
 I would really like to have one in the trail 120mm version !!
  • + 6
 I’m digging the concept! After the seat post on my 150mm trail bike blew up last week I started riding my 100mm XC 29er again and wow is it fast! Sure it taps out on the gnar but wow is it easy to gain and hold speed!
  • + 4
 40-50mm stems and 74 degree seat tube angle(69.4 actual) on an XC bike...times are a-changing! Short stems are fun but 69.4 degree SA’s can be tough for taller riders. I’m sure this bike is suuuper fun as an uber light trail bike but I’d be curious how it stacks up to the steeper, more conservative frame geometries for overall pedaling efficiency on flats and climbs.
  • + 3
 After reviewing the Spark geo chart, it’s headangle is a degree steeper at 68.5 but it’s SA is sitting at 73.8 degrees but this isn’t specified if it’s actual or not. It looks to be slacker than that. Reach numbers are about 10-12mm shorter and spec’d with traditional stem lengths. This design is obviously working for Nino. Should be interesting to see who Intense signs to represent their XC crowd!
  • - 6
flag jrocksdh (Mar 7, 2018 at 11:18) (Below Threshold)
 74 is still slackish..75 is now the min.
  • - 2
 @jrocksdh:
Yeah was thinking the same. I wonder what the reason is behind implementing the slacker post. A compromise to tuck the wheel for shorter stays? Roomier top tube when seated? Companies obviously have a design reason that I don’t have the knowledge of.
  • + 3
 @joalst: not sure about science but I personally have less strugle with rear wheel traction on tech climbs with more relaxed SPA. Steeper angles equal more comfort (in my head). Off course it's all related to the rest of Geo, especially CS lenght.
  • + 3
 @kanasasa: that sounds like a valid observation. Your weight is definitely further back. I guess this all just goes to show that it’s pretty hard to make everything work harmoniously for the majority of people’s preferences
  • + 1
 @joalst: They should sign me!
  • + 1
 @joalst: The move to these extremely steep seat angles (75-76) seem to be more associated with bigger, slacker bikes, not XC bikes to the same degree (no pun intended). When your HTA is 65-66* it seems to reason you may want a steep seat angle to help with seated climbing and keep you centered on the bike. When your talking about a 67.5-69* head angle as most XC bikes have, I don't think it's as critical.
  • + 3
 @yupstate: It has nothing to do with the head angle. It's just optimizing the bike for climbing, under the assumption that you can drop the seat out of the way for descending so that there isn't a downside to the steeper seat tube angle. Think about when you start climbing a steep hill. The first thing you do is slide forward on the seat. You don't do it to keep the front end down, but to get over the pedals so you can apply more power. When you do that though, now you're on the skinner less comfortable portion of the saddle, with less support. By using a steeper seat tube angle, you don't have to scoot forward so much on the saddle, so you have more comfort while climbing (typically the longest portion of a race), and you maintain the proper leg extension for maximal power.
  • + 1
 @TucsonDon: I see what you are saying about HTA specifically, I guess my point was that it seems with the longer bikes this has become a "thing". Generally the longer bikes that they've been putting steep STAs on also come with slacker HTA but it may not be related to that specifically. I just don't see XC race bikes like this one with crazy 75-76* STAs. If you're wheelbase is over 1,200mm and you're hanging off the back with a 72* STA its not that comfortable or efficient. Look at Transition, they slackened all the HTAs, stretched the length of the bikes and put crazy steep STAs on everything. They don't have any 68* HTA bikes running a 76* STA.
  • + 8
 MEC is gonna drop intense now for a name like that smh
  • + 5
 That dazzle/camo pattern on the Sniper Elite XC is probably the best colourway Intense has come up with in years. Maybe they've hired a proper graphic designer and brand manager?
  • + 39
 No sorry, I'm still here.

The dazzle/camo pattern we used a similar design last year on the decals for the Prototype M29 alloy frames for Jack & Dean. Everyone liked them so I adapted the design to the Sniper. We wanted to keep the weight as low as possible for the Sniper frames so the challenge was to create designs that only use decals on a raw UD carbon base with a coat of clear. This allowed us to achieve a half pound lighter frame.
  • + 3
 Must be kidding? Looks very 1980's... Eddie Van Halen's striped guitar meets Miami Vice. Puke....
  • + 6
 It always amazes me how much weight there can be in a paint job.
  • - 8
flag john65 (Mar 7, 2018 at 12:57) (Below Threshold)
 @gtrguy: I agree . That colourways and stupid model names that reference guns gotta go. Either go riding or go shooting.
  • + 2
 @john65: eh the model names don't bother me.
  • + 1
 @creativefletch: I think your color ways are cool. If I'm paying 3k for a frame or 6k complete I want a paint job to match.

The whole matte black 6-8k bike thing is like buying a beige ferrari.

Wtf would you?
  • + 4
 @tremeer023: yeah, on super light weight stuff paint on a frame can be 10-15% of total frame weight. There should always be a decal-less paintstripped version of all bike items!
  • + 2
 @creativefletch: This paint scheme is really cool, is it going to be on other models ? The Yellow and Orange Tracer is burning my eyes
  • + 6
 That is probrably the hottest or one of the hottest XC bikes I’ve ever seen.
  • + 2
 Curiously the geometry of the XC version is very similar to my 2012 Rocky Mountain Element with 120mm fork and 2 degree Works angleset. Guys from RM nailed the geometry in 2012 except the head tube angle, easily corrected by the headset. Also, i got the Medium even knowing the "right" size for 5'4" me was the Small one. Now Small bikes have same Top tube as Medium old ones. Thats how you get a awesome deal "modern" geometry mountain bike using a old one. ep1.pinkbike.org/p4pb15374114/p4pb15374114.jpg ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb15474030/p5pb15474030.jpg
  • + 1
 What is the reach on that 2012 Element?
  • + 0
 do they warranty their frame though when used with an angleset? I guess any xc bike could be made cooler by an angleset but... warranty?
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: theres no catalog information about 2012 model reach, but according to 2013 model (wich have all same numbers as 2012 and looks like the same frame) the reach is 409.1mm for the Medium size. It should be about 400-405 now with the angleset and 120 fork.
  • + 1
 @manchvegas: Dont know hows the warrantypolitics for angleset use, never saw this mentioned anywhere. But this frame is old and im probably 3rd ou 4th owner so, no waranty for me. But it was a bargain, Im very happy with the result, still need a dropper post for proper trail riding.
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: here is the geometry for 2013 Element ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb15674281/p5pb15674281.jpg
  • + 1
 also, like Kona, all sizes have same Standover Height, wich is awesome.
  • + 5
 A 150mm bike is not aggressive. Riding an xc bike over rough terrain is aggressive. I'd have a hoot on this bike.
  • + 2
 Same complaint as with the last new Intense release. If I try to go to IntenseUSA to order one I get redirected to the local importers website and they don't have half the models. Why can't I just buy from who I want, when I want? In the meantime I've bought something else from another company but I still want an Intense. Running out of love Intense!
  • + 2
 Because our market is too small for a local distributor to stock every model and colour and size for every customer, and it's too difficult for Intense USA to ship bikes worldwide.
  • + 5
 The Intense website is now region specific and will only show the models that are available to ship straight way from the NZ warehouse however feel free to get in touch with us direct and we will work to source the model/colourway/size your after.
  • + 3
 I've had almost every bike under the sun but keep telling friends that my 2016 Kona Hei Hei DL trail was probably my favorite bike of all time. It was so poppy and fun, this Intense looks similar and ought to be a blast!
  • + 6
 Shut up and take my money.
  • + 5
 Frame only option available and what's the actual frame weight?
  • + 14
 Frame only options will be available on both the SL & NM Frames with option of 100mm or 120mm Fox Factory DPS shocks. intensecycles.com/collections/intense-sniper/products/sniper-sl-frame

Frame Weight: 4.67lbs for SL (with shock ) // 4.8lbs for NM (with shock)
  • + 2
 @intensecyclesusa: I really like the concept and tried to follow the link to get more info. The page opens in exactly what I want; info on this bike, but then forces me to the canadiian site where there is no info on this bike. How much in canuck buck will the expert trail be?

BTW I find it funny to see all these pink bike types excited about a short travel 29er.
  • + 7
 @intensecyclesusa: this bike is going to sell like crazy. Trail bike geometry matched with the weight of a cross-country race whip. If it can withstand the abuse trail riders will put on it, you will have a real winner. This type of bike has been absent in the market.
  • + 1
 @intensecyclesusa: $500 difference between SL frame and NM frame....and 59 grams.
  • + 1
 @bradwin2: Buying new for warranty makes sense. Same goes for Scott's lightweight RC frames (as stated, made in same factory as Sniper) which break often.
  • + 1
 @intensecyclesusa: On your site it lists weight diff as .57 pounds between the frames without shock. That is about 258 grams. Still a lot of money ($500) but 258 grams is "worth more" than a paltry 58 grams (diff between 4.67 and 4.8 pounds).
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: and 20mm more travel... those looking to race will want the 100mm lighter frame. But, ya, the price difference kinda bites
  • + 1
 @manchvegas: Both frameset-only options are same travel 100mm. The SL variant is only slightly lighter. The 20mm more travel is the Trail complete bike which uses the heavier NM frame. But selling the 100mm travel shock and buying a shock that gives 120mm travel would be easy to convert the NM frameset-only option.
  • + 2
 @manchvegas: I was wrong. The 120mm Trail complete bike exists for both frameset. It's just a 165 x 45 mm shock option they toss on instead of the 165 x 40mm.
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: Also, should note that it's not 59 grams difference... it's over a 1/2lb difference. 4.05lbs for sl and 4.62 for NM. wish they would say frame weight with shock though... kindof a pain to try and find shock weights to see what complete frame weight will be!
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: also, it's still not on par with the yeti ASRC which is probably the most "FUN" xc race bike out there right now at 4 lb 5oz frame with shock...
  • + 2
 @manchvegas: Intense gave actual weights with shock on both bikes in this long thread. It's 59 grams difference.
Copied: Frame Weight: 4.67lbs for SL (with shock ) // 4.8lbs for NM (with shock)

.13 pounds = 59 grams
  • + 1
 @manchvegas: Can't buy a new ASRC. They stopped making them last year. There is an SI version coming out though. I doubt they'll be able to get the frame weight below this though. Maybe within 50 grams either way. Which doesn't really matter...
  • + 1
 @manchvegas: Unless you have boost wheels or don't like replacing the blown bearings which many asrc owners do on regular basis. The Kona Hei Hei is on par for "FUN" xc with its 68HA and 120 fork, and it doesn't suffer from flexy rear end or bad bearings like the Yeti.
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: i have kona hei hei dl 2017 and it is brilliant bike for me but the wheels bearings are horrible, not to metion the free hub and i already had to replace the rocker bearing.
  • + 5
 Good shot of El Cajon mountain in the background!
  • + 1
 @intensecyclesusa I'm happy to see it's coming with a 34T chainring since it has Eagle. I'd like to know what is the max chainring size it will fit? I'd probably run either a 34 or 36T oval, which would mean I'd need clearance for a 36T or 38T respectively. Looks great by the way, glad to see you back in the XC game.
  • + 1
 Can Pinkbike or Intense comment how many water bottles you can run on the Sniper? For an XC bike, it seems like a no brainer to have 2 water bottles, although it doesn't appear to have bosses on the downtube. As an XC rider, I never ride with a hydration pack, so having a bike that can carry two bottles so my jersey pockets aren't overloaded is essential. Intense put a lot of thought into developing a pretty modern XC bike that I would seriously but water bottles (or lack thereof) is a deal breaker for me.
  • + 3
 @intensecyclesusa Any reason why a inverted trunnion was used? It seems like an odd choice to make the climb aids harder to find for the people most likely to use them.
  • + 16
 There are three main reasons to go this route. Number one is to maintain a narrow and sleek top tube to keep your knees happy and keep the lines of the bike. Number two is the trunion system allows us to use two bearings each side of the shock to reduce rotational friction. Being that the pivot on the link has the most rotational movement, this is the most ideal placement. Third is that the majority of the mass of the shock lies in the body of the shock, thus, having the shock mounted in this direction reduces the unsprung weight slightly. Just a small benefit but all these components together make a more responsive and tunable platform.
  • + 8
 @intensecyclesusa: I love that you guys are on here and responding to (potential) customer questions.
  • + 2
 @intensecyclesusa: Makes sense. I quiet like that the link doesn't have the common tapered shape to go down to a 22.2mm shock eyelet and that it stays wide. About time someone made a bike that didn't weigh 30lbs no matter how much travel it has.
  • + 2
 @intensecyclesusa: So pumped on this bike! I think one will be replacing my trusty Spark. I see differing head tube angles listed for the trail in the article(66.5) vs. your website(67.5). Can you confirm the angle on the trail? Thanks!
  • + 2
 @JJBend591: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We are updating the HT angle listed on the Trail page on our website. The Trail is a 66.5 HTA.
  • + 4
 How is the stack the same between trail and xc frames? the trail has a 20mm longer fork and the same headtube length
  • + 2
 same would apply to frame reach right? rotating it a degree slacker would shorten it a bit on the trail models... Still a sick bike! nice job to intense.
  • + 1
 Probably just a typo in the geo chart.
  • + 1
 Man more companies need to do this. I have a cannondale habit right now and it was the closest thing to this I could find. Maybe we will see more short travel slack XC bikes.
  • + 4
 Wow 21 pounds, thats pretty awesome
  • + 0
 It's about time someone did away with those dorky XC angle and long upside-down stems. I went full XC for a minute but for someone my size and riding preferences I ended going with a hardtail with trail angles, a Pike and decent tires. It weighs in around 26lbs but is SO much more fun in every way and it still climbs pretty darn awesome.
  • + 2
 this is longer than the Primer! very bizarre how long they make the top tubes. and a slacker HA with a 10mm shorter fork also than the primer. very very strange.
  • + 1
 @intensecyclesusa: why did they make this longer and slacker than the Primer?

do you have a real geometry table for the Trail that shows actual reach numbers with the taller fork?
  • + 2
 I would also like to know this as I have just bought a Primer; Sniper would probably have been my first choice if I had known it was coming
  • + 2
 I have heard rumors that the primer is getting a redesign and due out summertime. They have been tinkering with this for 2 years now from the rumormill. I am sure top tube will be longer and HA will be slightly slacker. The primer is a sweet bike just needs the seat tube to be shorter to run a longer dropper for us short guys and longer top tube with slightly slacker HA. 140 on the rear would be a nice addition also but you can run a recluse link on the primer to make it 140.
  • + 0
 Why these long seat-tubes? 538 mm on the XL with only 490 mm of reach and a ridiculous low stack. Please bike-companies – get away from those geometries outdated already 5 years ago. A slacker headangle alone not makes a bike modern.
  • + 4
 593mm stack on an XL, is this a bike for ants?
  • + 4
 Tell us more about the new 192mm BB standard!
  • + 1
 Somehow the Q factor remains the same...
  • + 0
 Yes, what many have been waiting for.... Modern day geometry, light and looks the nuts... Only reason I actually have more travel at present, is because I wanted, long, low, slack... This is my next test ride!
  • + 1
 Can someone explain if there is any benefit to installing rear shock that way? (reservoir painting downwards, shaft up) I always do the opposite.
  • + 2
 More water bottle clearance & less likelihood of bumping shock dials when retrieving & replacing said water bottle.
  • + 1
 @bongpill: FYI Intense posted the answer an hour after you. Mentioning you so you see it.
  • + 3
 Same idea as a Kona hei hei/giant anthem minus the but ugly. I like it
  • + 2
 I happen to think my Hei Hei is quite attractive.
  • + 2
 @gdharries: The 2017 hei hei is nice. The Barney Purple 2018 race supreme color is a disaster.
  • + 1
 To my opinion you cannot compare anthem and hei hei. The Anthem us xc machine while kona is fun/trail machine. Their is no joy in anthem.
  • + 1
 @ZKBT: The Hei Hei Race Supreme frame is 100% XC race that can handle rowdy trails. The 29er version.
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: That's true. I have the 2016 and the 2017 looked good too. I actually don't mind most of the 2018 colours in the Hei Hei, but yeah the purple is a little out there. Definitely will catch attention though.
  • + 1
 @bikewriter: you are right. But it still fun bike due to the short chainstay. If you tried the anthem you would know the difference.
  • + 1
 Interesting that they're using the transition inspired 44mm offset fork on the 100mm version and standard 51mm on the trail...
  • + 2
 Hell yeah bikes named after guns! Love guns.
  • + 15
 Intense is famous for naming their bikes after guns and gun stuff. Uzzi, Carbine, Tracer, M1...
  • - 1
 @seraph: Boycott Intense! Their bikes are named after guns and stuff. And guns are bad. Therefore, Intense is bad and supports the NRA and should be shunned. And while we are at it, we should boycott whoever does their shipping. and maxxis. and fox. and anyone else who gets their kit installed on these bikes.
  • + 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: oh look a genius who can interject politics in a non political review.

Shouldn't you be commenting on a fox opinion piece and back slapping while you blame everything in the Clintons and Obama?
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: or do you lack the common sense to see the difference between naming a bike after a gun and funneling money to a gun lobby group who's only purpose is to pay politicians to pass or block legislation that benifits gun manufacters?
  • + 0
 @reverend27: No different than boycotting a company that makes guns and backpacks because someone someplace else bought a gun from a different manufacturer, went off the rails and killed a bunch of innocent kids. To me, it is literally the same idiotic knee jerk reaction.

If an individual is so concerned about anything that has to do with guns, then certainly they shouldn't support a company that glorifies them in the naming of their bicycles.
  • + 3
 @Poulsbojohnny: guess you didn't really read my post. Let me say it again
1. Gives money to gun lobbiest who works for gun industry who oppose anything that results in less gun sales.

2.The other names a bike after not a gun but a military role.

You try to say both are same.
So you can justify your comment.

Pretty cut and dry.
  • + 1
 How do you keep the bike stood up like that in the first photo?

Serious question.
  • + 3
 Someone holds it at arm's length, then lets go for a moment while the photog snaps away.
  • - 2
 Yeti's new SB4 is going to crush the 100mm trail bike market or at least be right on top of it with bikes like this Sniper. Especially since it will be similar to he SB4.5, which is a waaaay more capable of a bike than I would have ever thought for a 115mm bike with these angles. Beautiful all-round riding bikes.
  • + 3
 The yeti is most likely going to be a lot heavier though with the Switch Infinity suspension design.
  • + 2
 I heard the geometry would still be similar to the ASR-C. I'm looking forward to seeing it though.
  • + 1
 Make an aluminum version, in an expert build, and my cash is ready, Intense.
  • + 2
 I may be in the minority here but that color scheme looks fugly.
  • + 3
 Which one? There are 4 different color schemes to choose.
  • + 1
 Thankfully they have 3 other color options.
  • + 0
 @creativefletch: The vomit bag on the headline.
  • + 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: - I was struggling to find the words but you nailed it.
  • + 2
 I'm ashamed to say this makes me moist
  • - 1
 In your vagina?
  • + 0
 look a wagon wheel article... by RC...

Im waiting on an FR or DH article by RC...

but then again i dont see that happening before my sons start FR &DH
  • + 1
 Will a 29x2.4 fit?
Whats the max insertion depth for a dropper?
Looking forward to demoing one in san diego.
  • + 1
 Doubtful, but hoping. Max width is 2.3 but that obviously depends on mfg.
  • + 0
 I wonder how Cesar Rojo of Unno bikes feels about his pioneering designs being copied by bigger companies?
  • + 0
 Come on Yeti - when is the new Switch Infinity ASR coming? Don't make me buy an Intense, because it's looking tempting!
  • - 1
 I like everything about this except the tire clearance. I was kinda hoping the "Sniper Trail" might have a rear swingarm capable of 29x2.6 or 275x3.0 tires, but no dice.
  • + 1
 Not even superboost or 28.99!
  • + 4
 They actually are using DUB BBs
  • + 1
 Interested in what trail @R.Cunningham
road the bike on? Noble Canyon?
  • + 1
 Beauty!! Took them long enough though.
  • + 1
 Just in time for my XC bike purchase in May.
  • + 1
 This is basicly what the tallboy v3 should have been.... Way better!
  • - 3
 $4500 USD is hardly 'affordable'. For Dr's, lawyers, dentists etc. sure. Not for average Joe, unless he has good credit and doesn't mind a strict diet of ramen noodles and regular trips to the food bank.

Nice bike, too expensive.
  • + 0
 the downside of carbon-only frames.
  • + 3
 I'm not a fan of super expensive bikes, but their price point to weight is pretty incredible on these.
  • + 1
 Dude! That's my life! ????
  • + 3
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: It's the downside of the human psyche. Manipulated by years of great marketing, and combined poor consumer choices we find ourselves where we are today in the world. Content to be treated by our 'masters' like mushrooms; Kept in the dark and fed shit. Farmed like worms. For profit.

"The masses are obsequious contented in their sleep"
  • + 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: I don't share that opinion.
  • + 0
 it has the word sniper in it - boycott it right pinkbike?
  • + 1
 Yeti... Your up!
  • + 2
 Yeti's asrc replacement is in the wild, but you know it's gonna cost $3500 or more just for the frame. And with Scott's RC frame/fork going for $5000, it makes the Primer a "deal" relatively speaking.
  • + 3
 @bikewriter: The Yeti will also be quite a bit heavier with the Switch Infinity.
  • + 1
 Spec links don't work.
  • - 1
 I'm catching a whiff of the Mach 429 series... Which is good.
  • + 2
 Except the 429 series have extremely short reaches and slack seat angles.
  • - 2
 The Sniper Trail looks awesome but they need to chop down that seat tube by at least 30mm. And name it the Trail Snipe.
  • - 1
 Bet that rear end flex’s like a mother
  • - 1
 But can you go real crazy and put a coil on it like other Intense models?
  • + 1
 Lol I'd do it
  • - 1
 This looks great but for god sakes please fix the paint job.
  • + 3
 Love the paint job.
  • - 3
 Looked awesome until I saw the PFBB.
  • - 2
 I'd put trek stickers on it
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