Intense clearly hasn't been taking a breather since shifting their focus to new carbon frames, with the 2018 Carbine shown below being yet another new addition to their ever-growing catalog. The fresh Carbine is all-new front to back, and the 155mm-travel, 29'' wheeled machine has been designed for all-mountain riding and enduro racing, a category of bikes that seems to be getting more and more competitive each and every day. The press release details from Intense are below, but the gist is that it features revised geometry, an updated leverage curve compared to the previous iteration, and a single travel setting via the 'JS Trail' dual-link suspension layout.
Intense is offering the Carbine in five variations, starting at $3,999 USD for the 'Foundation Build' model that's assembled around the standard frame with an aluminum link. At the top of the hill is the $10,399 USD 'Factory Build' that sports a 12-speed Eagle drivetrain and a Lyrik RCT3 fork bolted to the lightweight SL frame that includes a carbon link. And, in a first for Intense, the new bike will be available as a frame-only option in two flavors: the $3,399 USD SL model that weighs less thanks to a revised carbon layup and carbon link, and the less expensive standard frame that goes for $3,099 USD that has an aluminum link.
A lot is expected of a contemporary all-mountain bike these days because riders are doing a lot with them. Some people buy bikes in the this category for all around use on terrain that's no overly demanding, while others are looking at this travel bracket for an all-out enduro race bike. You'll be able to read a review of where and how the new Carbine performs on that spectrum soon, but for now you can find all the details and photos from the press release below, as well as first impressions from RC's time on the Carbine in Sedona, Arizona. - Mike Levy
RC's First Impressions
I rode the new 29-inch-wheel Carbine this Spring at the Sedona, Arizona, launch. It was the top-drawer Factory build based around a 12-speed SRAM XX1 Eagle component group, and I was happy to be on a 29er – that was a given. Sedona is a perfect match for big wheels because, without them, there is less hope of maintaining momentum over the endless chatter of slick rock and rubble that makes up the trail network there. What I was more curious about, was how the Carbine’s new Cero-Design rear suspension was going to climb, and if its longer, slacker chassis would mesh happily with the fast-break grade changes and do-or-die decision making that I would face on Sedona’s tougher lines.
Fearing a repeat performance of the 2017 Tracer 275’s sullen climbing feel (its Cero-designed suspension kinematics ripped the downs, but resisted strong climbing efforts) I immediately put the new Carbine to work on back-to-back climbs. The first - a relatively smooth, fast-paced leg sapper, punctuated by short, technical steeps - was a lot more pleasant than I had imagined. You’ll want to engage the climb switch to keep the pedals feeling fresh, but it rolls uphill in an encouraging manner. I also found that the Carbine’s longer front center and stretched wheelbase kept the chassis from dropping into holes and getting hung up on ledges.
Climb number two was tighter and doubled down on the technical side of the gauge. Steering felt a bit slow, but not heavy at the handlebar, and I had trouble guiding the long-feeling chassis up, around, and over stepped corners, or anything that required precise steering in tight quarters. The tradeoff for its nerdy manners in the tight stuff, however, was how easily the Carbine leaped and clawed its way up big, vertical step-ups (which are a Sedona signature move). I rolled up a handful of boulders that had been my undoing on a number of different makes.
Climb all you want, the real reason that the Carbine was redesigned was to give it the strength and the resolve to tackle meaty downs. In that capacity, the 2017 Carbine made Sedona’s step-downs, vertical rock rolls, and Hail Mary gravity lines seem like they were a lot bigger last year. Evidently, the Carbine’s designers have been swept up by Enduro racing’s influence. That’s the word that kept popping into my head as I explored tougher lines on once familiar trails.
Since the Carbine was first launched, Intense has struggled to define its existence. The previous Carbines were too dainty to play rough, but a little too dull to dance at cross-country trailbike clubs. This one has the muscles to handle technical descents, and just enough pep to maintain pace everywhere else. If you are searching for the old Carbine, but with a more aggressive chassis and an appetite for technical climbs, Intense’s Primer is the better option. If you are a downhill-dominant fancier of enduro, you should enjoy the new Carbine - RC