Intense has been on the move, cranking out carbon superbikes for almost every category – that’s no secret – but it got me wondering about what the boys and girls over in Temecula, California, have been up to at the home factory, a facility completely devoted to aluminum frame production. When I got a call from Intense to review their latest bike, the first image that came to mind was a faithful aluminum copy of their sell-out, Tracer 275 Carbon. What I got was the Spider Pro, a 130-millimeter-travel trailbike with a lightweight build and fast-rolling Maxxis Ardent 2.25-inch tires. I’d have to admit that the Spider came as a surprise, considering how many mountain bikers are clamoring to buy burly enduro racers with at least 160-millimeters on each end. “Either this bike is something special,” I thought. “Or, this review is going to be very short and to the point.”
Meet the Intense Spider Pro
Intense bills the Spider as a trail bike, plain and simple. It looks long and low, with one water bottle mount in the right place, and a component spec on the lighter side of all-mountain that squeaks the medium-sized Spider Pro off the scale at 13.16kg – just under 29 pounds. The Spider’s aluminum chassis follows the storied bike maker’s tough-is-better rule of design and construction, with oversize butted and hydro-formed tubing throughout, connected by the company’s signature CNC-machined linkage hardware and frame junctions. New for the Spider are serviceable, collet-type pivot axles and the “i-Box” - a rigid box-section, machined into the bottom bracket structure that anchors the lower rocker pivot to the main frame. Rear-wheel travel can be set at the upper rocker link for either 115 or 130 millimeters without altering the frame geometry, which is optimized for a 130-millimeter fork.
Intense offers the chassis in three relatively affordable builds: The $5999 SRAM X01 based Spider Pro that we review here, and the $5650 Shimano XT based Spider Expert – both with RockShox suspension - and the $2999 Shimano SLX based Spider Foundation with an X-Fusion fork and shock. Colors are Flo Red (Day-Glo orange) and Silver Flake powdercoat finishes. All models share the same chassis, and Intense offers legitimate small, medium, large and X-large sizes.
ISCG 05 chain guide mounts hint that the Spider is intended for much more than weekend trail rides. There is plenty of room for larger rubber for big days on the mountain.
Grease fittings ensure that the Spider's lower link will live a long and healthy life. The link pivots inside the rigid i-Box bottom bracket structure.
No surprise that the profile of the new Spider follows that of its recent predecessors and that it sports a VPP dual-link rear suspension. Intense has spent a lot of time perfecting both. The rest of the Spider’s design is all over the map. The party starts with two key design elements: very short, 16.5-inch chainstays (419 mm ) and a long, stem-corrected top tube (597 millimeters or 23.5 inches for a size medium, if you are curious). The head angle is on the steeper side of current fashion at 67 degrees, and those who think that isn’t slack enough, may want to skip to the end before passing judgment. Another key element that could be a performance booster it its slightly slack, 72.5-degree seat tube angle, which reigns in the front center of the bike and prevents the addition of a long top tube from over-extending its wheelbase.
Details throughout the chassis stand out, like its 142/12 taper-lock rear axle, grease ports on the lower link pivots, ISCG chainguide tabs, a rubber port for the dropper post housing and a flattened top tube to mute the “effects” of a slipped pedal. Intense chose to keep the Spider’s cables and hoses on the outside of the frame, and routes them all on the upper surface of the down tube on three not-so-good-looking weld-on guides. I heartily agree that exposing brake hoses and control housings to mud and rocks on the bottom of the down tube in the interest of beauty is a bad call, but the Spider’s cable routing is a visible panty line on an otherwise beautifully dressed machine.Suspension
Spider Pros sport a 130-millimeter-stroke RockShox Revelation RCT3 fork, which is a notable performer among sliders that still have 32-millimeter stanchion tubes. The Revelation’s eight-position Motion Control compression and Floodgate adjustments are proven tuning aids. The shock is a RockShox Monarch RT3, tuned for a firm feel in the mid-stroke. The Spider pedaled so well that we left the shock in the upper, 130-millimeter, location on the link and never bothered to try the shorter, 115-millimeter suspension option. Those who want a firmer pedaling platform can flip the Floodgate compression lever to the second position, which is easier than most to operate on the fly, because it snaps into place with a loud “click.” Forget the lockout option unless you ride the road a lot.
|Being a smaller, maverick bike brand gives Intense some freedom to pick and choose the components it actually wants on its bicycles, rather than bending to pressure from prominent component makers for complete spec on particular models.|
Being a smaller, maverick bike brand gives Intense some freedom to pick and choose the components it actually wants on its bicycles, rather than bending to pressure from prominent component makers for complete spec on particular models. So, the Spider Pro gets Shimano XT brakes with ICE pads and rotors, a SRAM X01 and X1 eleven-speed drivetrain, Stan’s NoTubes Arch EX wheels, a Thomson stem with a Renthal Fatbar handlebar and a KS LEV dropper post, topped by a WTB Silverado saddle. Intense’s specifications may seem like a mixed bag, but those who put time on the dirt and buy their own parts would probably agree that the Spider Pro is thoughtfully appointed for a fast-break technical trail bike.
The Spider's custom-tuned Monarch RT3 shock worked with the VPP suspension to provide a firm, supportive suspension platform.
We didn't think that the 32-millimeter-stanchion Revelation fork would be up to task, but it pulled its weight. Full Specs for the Spider Pro, Expert, and Foundation