The Intense SS - Versatile builds make it a Swiss Army knife of a bike

Dec 10, 2008
by Tyler Maine  
This season I have spent the vast majority of my riding days on one bike (which is unheard of for me) and I have to say that I've had a pretty great season. Typically I've had a small stable of bikes that accommodated a variety of riding styles, but this season I decided to try what most people have to do and ride the same bike all the time. The Intense SS was the frame I chose to start with for a variety of reasons, the biggest being its versatility in regards to build up options.

Have a look at the Intense SS in a Freeride and in a All Mountain build form inside:The first version of the Intense SS was built up to be a bike park and shuttle machine, with full SAINT components and RockShox suspension. The bikes that see constant vertical in bike parks need to be pretty robust and need to love braking bumps. Between bike parks and shuttles up on Vedder mountain this build held strong. Ok I had one issue with a wheel coming out of tension, but that had nothing to do with the components themselves. But I'll touch on how everything held up a little further down the article.

For anyone that missed the SAINT launch article and initial build up of the Intense SS, please visit this link to read about it all.

Dan riding the SAINT built up Intense SS in the Whistler bike park:

Intense SS with SAINT build kit:
Frame sizeIntense SS-Medium in Works Blue
Rear ShockRockShox Vivid 5.1
Fork2008 180mm RockShox Domain 318
HeadsetCane Creek 1.5" to 1.125" reducer internal, low stack
CrankarmsSAINT 170mm
Bash RingShimano
ChainringsShimano 36T
Bottom BracketSAINT
PedalsShimano DX flats
ChainShimano
CassetteShimano (11-28 9 spd)
Rear DerailleurSAINT Mid Cage
Shifter Cable/HousingStock
Shifter PodsSAINT 9 speed
HandlebarPRO 2" oversize riser
StemPRO 50mm 0 rise
GripsODI Ruffian Lock Ons
BrakesSAINT with 203mm rotors
Front hubSAINT 20mm TA
Rear hubSAINT 135x10mm
SpokesDT Swiss
TiresMaxxis Minion 2.5 Front and Highroller Rear 2.5 - both 3C Compounds
Front RimDT Swiss 6.1D
TubesStandard XC
Rear RimDT Swiss 6.1D
SaddleSDG Formula I-beam
SeatpostSDG I-beam Alloy
ExtraChromag Q/R Seat post Clamp
FSA Gravity Chainguide

After spending a lot of time on the newest SAINT parts here are some of my thoughts:

-the rear derailleur is pretty bad ass-truly one of my favorite new bike parts in the past year, but I'd match it to an XT shifter.
-don't like the ergos of the shifter nor how tough it is to shift. The XT shifter feels good on your digits, where as the new SAINT shifter pod felt like an older non ergo design and the amount of force required to make a shift seems high to me.
-cranks spun well all season, but if you are a rider who's feet rub their crank arms, eventually the graphics will be gone (Jordan rides this way, I ride with a wider stance on the pedals).
-the RockShox Domain did everything I wanted it to at the resorts. It may be an inexpensive fork, but for all around performance, it too is at the top of my favorite products for 2008 list.
-the SDG Formula FX saddle and my butt never got along, I prefer the Bel Air shape from SDG.
-the FSA Gravity guide worked well, but I prefer to have a dual roller set up to keep things quiet.
-hard to go wrong with Maxxis DH tires on a big bike, but bike parks eat soft tires pretty quick.

Weight for the build up was 38.7 lbs.

Links of interest:
Intense Bikes
Shimano Saint
SDG
RockShox




Since not all of my riding is done at resorts or shuttling, I had to have a second build that would be easy to swap between. This is where Race Face, Easton and a few other swaps came into play to make this bike more uphill friendly, but still ready for the descents. I swapped out the single ring SAINT cranks and Gravity guide for a set of Race Face Atlas FR cranks with a 24/36T set up and a front derailleur. This would still give me a bigger gear for the descents but the granny gear was always only a click away too, so it was a no brainer to run the dual ring set up. Weight was not effected by that swap.






The wheels only made sense to sway out though to a lighter set up. The SAINT hubs with DT 6.1D rims were removed and a set of Easton Havoc AM wheels put in their place. The 2.5 Maxxis DH tires were also swapped out for 2.4 Maxxis Advantage tires with folding beads-this is where the weight loss happened. I also ran a smaller rotor on the rear of the Easton wheel set. Click here to learn more about the Easton Havoc wheels.


More swaps were made to make the SS more trail friendly, like the 70mm stem and 1/2" rise bars. The SDG post and saddle was swapped out in favor of a Race Face Deus XC post and a traditional rail WTB Devo saddle. I soon found the Devo to be not my cup of tea for longer pedally rides and swapped it for my old Chromag Trail master seat and my butt was happy once again.







While the Shimano DX flat pedals are really light and have bomber axles, I had trouble getting used to the small pins on them and ended up swapping to my older Easton Flat boy pedals for overall feel. The Flat Boys are nowhere near the lightest pedals on the market, but damn they feel great.


Once all the primary swaps took place this is the built that I found myself most often riding on. Check out the specs and how I felt about it all further down the article.

Intense SS with All Mountain / Light Freeride build kit:


Frame sizeIntense SS-Medium in Works Blue
Rear ShockRockShox Vivid 5.1
Fork2008 180mm RockShox Domain 318
HeadsetCane Creek 1.5" to 1.125" reducer internal, low stack
Front DerailleurShimano LX
CrankarmsRace Face Atlas FR 170mm
Bash RingRace Face
ChainringsRace Face 24 / 36T
Bottom BracketRace Face X-Type DH
PedalsEaston Flat boys flats
ChainSRAM PC-79
CassetteSRAM (11-32 9 spd)
Rear DerailleurSAINT Mid Cage
Shifter Cable/HousingStock
Shifter PodsSAINT 9 speed
HandlebarRace Face Diabolus 1/2" riser OS, 27" width
StemRace Face Atlas AM 70mm 0 rise
GripsODI Ruffian Lock Ons
BrakesSAINT with 203mm rotor up front and 180mm rotor rear
Front hubEaston 20mm TA
28 spokes
Rear hubEston 135x10mm
28 Spokes
SpokesEaston
TiresMaxxis Advantage 2.4 - both 60A Compounds
Folding bead
Front RimEaston Havoc AM
TubesStandard XC
Rear RimEaston Havoc AM
SaddleChromag Trailmaster
SeatpostRace Face Deus XC
ExtraChromag Q/R Seat post Clamp


I took this bike all over the place with this build and really found myself enjoying the All Mountain set up. I know that it would have been capable at a bike park, but not nearly as fun this way with single play tires and a more XC orientation overall. A few clicks to firm up the compression on the fork and on the Vivid shock and you had a great climber and then reverse that process for the descents. Now that the season is complete in our neck of the woods, here is how the frame and parts fared to the wet riding and good times in the Fraser Valley:

-the RockShox Domain fork and Vivid 5.1 shock have proven to be the most painless additions to my bike this year. Once they were each dialed in to my liking, nothing odd happened and they worked like they were supposed to.
-having a dual ring front set up was great and facilitated a lot of rides.
-the bottom bracket bearings did not last the wet season and need to be replaced before I but those cranks on another bike.
-speaking of bearings, the bearings in the SS also died at the end of the season do to all the wet and muddy weather we experience. To me I wish that the frame bearings had not been effected by the weather as much as they have shown. Could be an area that Intense could look into.
-the 27 inch width of the Race Face bars took a bit to get used too as I run 28s on all my bikes, but the low rise felt fine coupled to the 70mm stem. I did try a 50mm stem a few times too, but the 70mm option was just more versatile.
-the 28 spoke Easton Havoc AM wheels held up amazing and never had any issues (even bearing related) during their use on the SS. I'm very interested in seeing their DH version next season.
-some called it frivolous, but my Chromag seat post Q/R is great. I have to put the odd drop of lube on it when it gets dry, but the thing keeps that post in place and is easy to open and close and has not bent or broke like many did before it came along.

Weight for the build up was 35.7 lbs.
This may not have been really light, but if you look at where the weight really changed it was all in the wheels and rotating mass is the easiest to notice. I'll leave you with a few pics to show that it saw some proper muddy use too:




Links of interest:

Intense Bikes
Race Race Components
Easton Components
Shimano Saint
RockShox
Chromag Parts

-Tyler "Brule" Maine


72 Comments

  • + 26
 wow. i hope father christmas sends me 1 of those!
  • + 4
 yea but witha totoem or a lyric not a domain
  • + 11
 Was that video supposed to suck? Why the XC riding action on a bike with WAY more potential?
  • + 6
 what does it matter,if the rider rips it hard on any terrain it's ok
  • + 15
 I bet 90% of these kind of bikes will be used in a similar way, people like the idea they are capable of SS tricks even though they won't be doing any. They should call them "fun do it all bikes" but SS is getting hyped alot recently.
  • + 10
 Well if you call that XC riding... a good bike is a bike that is used. This bike can be used in lots of different ways. That bike for instance can be used as a AM bike, FR bike, SS bike. It can also serve well on a DH courses for a skilled rider. U can go for a ride around the hood. Can Kona Cowan do that?! People buy DH racing rigs and then 99% of the time they ride on trails like these on the movie - the sense of that is to be considered!
  • + 3
 well put szefetbb , i know of 3 people with this bike and not one of them can even jump confidently let alone ride Slopestyle !!
  • + 8
 Psst I have a theory: Most PPL for 90% of their riding time (North Shore guys - U don't count, U are different!) ride in the terrain in which DH/XFR bike advantage over allround bike like Intense SS is minimal. At least 70% of those people aren't skilled enough to use the technical DH/XFR bike advantage, they would basically do the same on an Allround bike. 90% of this minimal advantage is DH/XFR bike's durability.

PEOPLE! START RIDING ALL ROUND BIKES FINALLY! It will improve your technique and stamina!
P.S. And buy more Lyriks and Foxes 36 so I can buy one from you!
  • + 5
 If you think that's XC you should try coming to Northern Ontario and finding a down slope longer than my driveway.
  • - 2
 Whistler bike park is XC now????
  • - 1
 no it's not all xc barely any and that isn't xc riding in that vid
  • - 1
 The last trail he was on was crack addict at whistler, double black diamond, i remember hitting one of those two trees he went between. i think the first trail was the new ninja cougar trail but i could be wrong. hardly XC riding but definately not what the bike was made for.
  • + 1
 so what is this bike made for?
  • + 4
 Question for all. Why are SO many people quick to discount Rock Shox Components for FOX Components?

NO disrespect intended, but I've tried out some FOX suspensions and I wasn't convinced regarding their hype.

After all, correct me if I'm wrong; isn't Rock Shox the originator of suspension components? That's got to be worth something when it comes to long term industry insight, and product R & D.
  • + 2
 Brule, can U compare intense SS with some other bike? For example INtense 6.6 or SC Nomad? Im wondering whether to change my nomad for it Wink On Singletrackworld they say SS is one of the most fun and versatile bikes ever, and so U can put up a 140mm trail fork or boxxer world cup and in each setup it's gonna be fun but in a different way off course.
  • + 1
 Very nice. I think you've hit on what makes a big $$ boutique frame like an Intense so worth the extra do$h....the versatility inherent in a well laid out tubeset that sits in the middle of the weight charts. I liked the Saint build the most, I thought the Domain fork fit that niche a little better.
Yay Intense! well done.
Are you on to a new bike for 2009??
  • + 0
 Shondo, Versatility was a big issue that I wanted to cover this past season and the SS and a few bikes like it really make all this possible. As for 2009, I am going to try some different styles of bikes out like a dedicated DH rig, been on the hardtail a lot, but a fully XC rig could be in the works too.
  • + 0
 The Intense SS is not intended to be used as an All Mountain bike. Directly quoted from one of the engineers at Intense Cycles, the seatmast was not designed with a high seat in mind and may or may not be able to withstand the stress from a seatpost height that would be used for All Mountain riding.
  • + 1
 I am sorry but that is total bs. If it can't handle a little stress on the seat tube, than how is it supposed to handle the stress of slope-style riding?
  • + 1
 hes right, thats why the new Uzzi has a split top tube. Theres a thread on MTBR or Ride Monkey were the designer is screwing over how he keeps seeing people riding the SS with the seat right up. Its deffinately strong enough, thats not in doubt, its just not designed for it therefore not its stated intended purpose. The rear end would deffinately snap befor the seat tube!
  • + 1
 It's not a matter of whether it was designed that way or not. Dowst stated "Directly quoted from one of the engineers at Intense Cycles, the seatmast was not designed with a high seat in mind and may or may not be able to withstand the stress from a seatpost height that would be used for All Mountain riding"

All I said was if it isn't designed to hold somebody's ass, I am sure as hell it can't take a 15ft + drop. To sum it up, I am sure its fine riding the thing with a high saddle.
  • + 0
 Both you and "dabomb" are f*cking idiots. The seatmast area was designed with a slammed seatpost in mind. If you want to object to what is said directly by the guys who DESIGNED the frame, well that's your prerogative, but you're really just showing how obtuse you are.

Your little comparison to 15+ foot drops is completely irrelevant.
  • + 0
 Wow great way to make yourself look intelligent by calling people "f*cking idiots."

Even IF it was designed around a "slammed" seat, doesn't make it any weaker having a raised seat. All I am saying is, if it can't handle a high seat, what makes you think it could handle big drops and jumps? Nothing negative will happen to the integrity of the frame from a raised seat. And please don't give me that shit about how the designers said it themselves. You could have easily pulled that out of your ass, its like me telling everyone online I drive a Ferrari 599 GTB.
  • + 1
 ok guys stop bitching, dowst, read what i said. i am not a "f*cking idiot" and dnt apreciate being called one.
foxmtbing, it is true, the designer DID say that. i would quote him but i cant be arsed to trawel through old threads to find it. and the basic laws of physics state that the longer a seatpost, the greater the leaverage on a frame. use some common sense. yes your right, it is strong enough for 15 foot drops and may well be for a high seatpost, but that doesnt mean it was designed that way....chill out!
  • + 0
 You both are missing the point. It doesn't matter if the designer said that or not. Sitting on the bike puts stress on the seat tube no matter how high the seat is. Dowst is making it sound as if he is trying to warn brule, by telling him to lower is seat if he wants his frame intact. And you shouldn't give me a lesson on common sense if neither you or him are using it. And besides, its not like brule is gonna go huck his bike off a huge drop and land on his seat, he's using it as a all mountain rig.
  • + 0
 you're dumb foxmtbing. having you're seat up higher DEFINITELY puts more stress on the frame. you don't have to be an engineer to understand that. and a frame can be designed to handle 15 foot drops and it can have nothing to do with the whole seat height argument.
  • + 0
 Don't call me dumb a*shole. This whole thing was settled until you brought yourself into it. I never said it didn't put more stress on the frame. It obviously does. I said no matter how high your seat is, whenever you sit on the bike, you are putting stress on the frame. It's obviously not a lot of stress, but its still stress. And about the "15 ft drop thing" all I said was, if it can take a huge hit, why are they making it sound like it can't handle a gob of seat height adjustment.

So don't come in between our argument you smug little f*ck.
  • - 1
 i'm sorry
you're actually a dumb, smug little f*ck
you did say it doesn't put any more stress on your frame if you're seats up high or not. which it does.
and designing a bike to be strong enough for big hits, can still have a seat tube designed only to be slammed, and therefore not as strong with the seat up high.
and that is why you are dumb
just trying to stop the spread of stupidity.
could i recommend a verbal profelactic?
we wouldn't want anyone else to become stupid what with you just spraying it all over the place with no care of who gets in the way
  • + 0
 Brule,

Just a comment on your views regarding coil Vs Spring, I can see where you are coming from and would never dream of having anything apart from coil on my DH / FR bikes...HOWEVER I have a RM Slayer SXC for my "all mountain" (which is what you are classing yours as?) and I run DHX air on it, maybe its the better suspension setup on the RM but it does feel fantastic up and down hills.

Before I get slated for suggesting that the RM has better suspension design than the Intense I just want to clear up that is MY opinion having rode both a fair bit, I am not asking everyone to agree with me.

Love the bike and the builds, maybe a bit out of the pricerange of many on here (thats a LOT of $$$ in parts to keep lying around) but good idea, I am considering selling my "big" bike and trying a season on just the RM (hitting the parks etc) maybe I will look at changing out some parts and trying it.
  • + 0
 correct me if im wrong but i think brule already reviewed a rocky mountain slayer with a DHX air and he just couldnt get it set up for his weight, i think thats one of the main reasons hes using coil.
  • + 0
 dabomb, you are correct and Robbie and I already chatted about our sizes and figured out some of the differences in bikes. Glad to see you are on it though in knowing what we cover. Have a great weekend,
  • + 0
 You say a plastic fender would have gotten wrecked on Greenstone...? Not following.
I make my own custom Moto style ones outta coroplast. It is like plastic cardboard, flexible and very light weight, pretty durable too. Keeps the shock and pivots from getting too gummed up.
  • + 0
 I worked @ a shop in North Van this past summer, and I got the chance to ride the crap out of the Demo Cannondale Perp 3. It was equipped with a Domain fork and I would have to agree that it is a nice simple fork.

I rode it all season while @ the shop in everything from the north shore to Williams Lake and I never once though the fork wasnt up to the job.
Im now riding an Intense SOCOM with a Totem, and while the totem is pretty cool. I wouldn't be upset owning or buying a Domain.
  • - 1
 See you understand the value of some parts. I rode a Perp last season for a bit with a Totem and really my Domain is doing the job really well and I'm not asking the same of it as I would a Totem on a more DH style bike.
  • + 0
 great write up! i have a bottle rocket, and find that the extra burly set up is ok to ride everywhere with, and if i find myself in a quarry or jump section, my bike is all good. its like the "old" concept of backcountry free ride...
just ride it, whatever it is, and jumpy bikes tend to be tough enough to really take an @$$ kicking. you know you are riding your bike if it gets an @$$ kicking!!
  • + 0
 dabomb, brule is correct we have chatted, it seems I am running a slighty different weight setting for the DHX than the "test" bike brule rode (medium vs my large) it seems to be working well for me even though brule and I weigh about the same...it just goes to show two people, two bikes different results!

I am, however considering going over to the "dark" side and throwing a coil on the RM and seeing if I feel the love, I will let people know how it goes (don't hold your breath..its winter and my bikes are nicely tucked up hibernating)
  • + 2
 He should swap that crappy domain for a fox 36 and rear to a dhx air. Those he got now seems a bit to cheap for the frame/build.
  • + 3
 don't believe all the hype about the DHX air. I see the logic in his choices. Coil and oil suspension rule the day and cost less too.
  • + 2
 Cool, because I see the logic in running air. Besides why go with cheap suspension on an Intense? Just like putting a Boxxer WC on a stinky.
  • + 2
 Fully disagree with you jinx. I am a bigger rider as is Shondo and we can both speak from experience that air suspension just doesn't feel as good for a bigger rider. Coil is consistent and that is most important for me. I like the 36 forks, they just don't make a 180mm version. And if someone chooses to run a high end fork on a lower end frame that is their choice and neither you now I should try to say other wise.
  • + 0
 Brule, I think I'm actually bigger than you buddy and my 5.0 DHX air is sweet. Jeff Steber agreed it's all in the set up, mine is run at 240 to 250 psi in the main and with medium rebound and I gotta say I find it just superb. It's not "plush" by any means, feels different to the coil equivalent of course, it's tight and solid but with enough give, exactly what I wanted to keep the ride fast and tight. I actually like it, and I wasn't sure I would to. Just my 2c.
  • + 1
 Brule, I'm an amateur body builder at 200lbs. Have friends a bit over 200 lbs and stille they can ride dh on air suspension. I agree that the coil is more consistant and more trusty, I wouldn't consider getting an air shock but that's just my opinion. A stunning bike, nonetheless!
  • + 0
 A xt cassette would shave a good chunk of weight off the rear wheel. I see a lot of guys build up a bike with light parts and than run the cheap cassette . Its almost a half pound difference.
  • + 0
 I was actually running a really nice SRAM cassette, but forgot to mention the model in the last build up. But you are correct, lots of folks skimp on the cassette and really a lot of weight is tied up there.
  • + 0
 Aw yes I assumed you had a cheap one as it was only ID as sram 9spd. Nice machine by the way very sensible build my shop sells Intense. Pinkbike star and edmonton raga music scene legend SHONDO got his 6.6 from us that is a stellar build and its red. The new tracer frame has new bearings and you axed for it grease ports on the lower links yippie. I cant wait to build one up should be a very serious trail weapon that can be hucked reasonably. I ride Marins quad xlt but if I had to I could learn to live with a slopestyle he he
  • + 0
 that's ragtime music man....ragtime....:-)
  • + 2
 Can we have an actual review of the bike? rather than the components? like...how it rides?!
lol
  • + 1
 He did review it , it was uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...........
  • + 2
 SS is sick, super fast, tight into berms, awesome on jump trails, pops like a poppy thing, light enough for AM, bomb proof, lowest centre of gravity you'll see on a bike, beautifully balanced, super manouverable, and looks just sick. Anything else? Oh yeah the low really BB can be a pain in the ass on rough trails until you get to know how to ride it. Expensive frames. One bike syndrome = get an SS
  • + 2
 haha, i already own one! i just dont see why this was published? it draws no conclusions about the bike, other than that you can waist loads of money on two sets of components..
  • + 3
 I think rs domain isn't the best fork for this frame ..
  • + 0
 Love the in-depth reviews and often make my purchases based on them but dude....you have got to work on the grammar and spelling. To and from grown men,it's brutal. Love your work as always...
  • + 0
 What did it weigh with all that muck in there?
Ever tried a fender to keep things from filling with crud? Was that the dial down Domain or the reg. Thanks.
  • + 0
 Nato,
Ya fender (as in plastic) would have got wrecked on Greenstone and the old rubber tube method would have jammed full too. Sometimes it is best to just let the mud do it's own thing-especially Kamloops mud. As for Weight-no idea, just really heavy and way less fun! The Domain is the 318 180mm version that remains at that travel setting.
  • + 0
 But did U choose Domain as best price/performance ratio, or you are just fully satisfied with it and U see no point to go for i.e. Totem?
  • + 0
 YOu have lots of questions Smile I chose to run a Domain and I have been very happy with that decision. It and a Totem are not the same forks, they do similar things, but you need to know what you are looking for and the style of fork I wanted was along the lines of a 36, Lyric or Domain and I chose the Domain for ease of use, the longer travel and you can't beat the price.
  • + 0
 Awesome frame! Don't care about Saint, would take it with Alivio! Come to daddy!
  • + 2
 You sleggin alivio mate Razz
The only shimano range to still make 8spd shifters :L
  • + 0
 8spds are far too much for rippin'Big Grin !
  • + 0
 that bike looks so nice!! id love to have 1, but i unfortunatly dont have enough money:/
  • + 1
 ya thats a big problem for alot of us!! so we have to watch other people ride em,, no fun!!
  • + 0
 Great stuff. You know I love that bike.
  • + 0
 I would still rather have an Orange 5 AM but this bike is tidy
  • + 0
 I WANT AN SS

dream bike

Smile
  • + 0
 it should have showed some slopestyle
  • + 1
 So u mean that was XC?
  • + 5
 In British Columbia it is.
  • - 3
 Well if in UR opinion that was a XC riding and intense SS is a XC bike that basically means that if you would own an allmountain bike it would have a monster fork up front or at least 888 and minimum 2,7 tyres. I'm affraid to talk about freeride... that would require a strengthened version of a Bender's Big Foot fork!
  • + 1
 was barley xc ridin!
  • + 0
 DIRT MONSTER! Smile
  • + 0
 I want.
  • + 0
 Sick bike by the way.

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