Bike Check: Neko Mulally's Prototype Intense M279

Apr 25, 2021
by mack faint  



Neko Mulally has been riding a prototype Intense Factory Racing bike since the beginning of the 2020 WC season. Last year Neko and Aaron Gwin both raced the identically sized frames, but for this year Neko has his own custom size that is a little larger than Aaron's. The bike features a JS Tuned suspension system which is Intense's version of VPP, using a concentric bottom bracket pivot to keep a low center of mass.

Some of the geometry numbers on Neko's bike are a 480mm reach, a 460mm CS, 345mm BB height, and a 63-degree head angle. The bike runs a mixed wheel setup, and weighs in at 38.5 lbs.

Race plates for the Costa Rican Open of DH were based on UCI World rankings.

Fox handles the suspension duties with a 40 up front.


A DHX2 Coil in the rear.


Carbon Renthal Fatbars, 31.8 x 40 mm rise, 780mm wide.

Center cut tires for the mud on Kenda Gran Mudda's. Less rolling resistance and more predictability in the wet conditions on roots and rock were among the reasons for the switch from a non-cut tire.

SDG covers Neko's saddle with the I-Fly Storm for muddy conditions. The knobs on the seat are to add grip when sitting and pulling a tear-off/roll-off.


TRP supplying the braking needs with the EVO DH.

Ti bolts from Better Bolts.

More Better Bolts holding on a 223mm rotor.

Crankbrothers' Mallet DH are a staple on Neko's rig.

This bike is a hand-welded prototype, made by Intense founder Jeff Steeber for the Intense Factory Racing Team. This is the only bike of this size, custom for Neko, in existence.


The rear axle has a flip-chip, allowing CS length to be adjusted in 5mm increments from 455 to 465mm.
The brake mount position can be adjusted to work with any of the CS options.

Front fender installed and ready for the rain and mud in Costa Rica.





92 Comments

  • 207 0
 Pinkbike's once a month Neko prototype bike check
  • 25 1
 Haha was thinking the same thing. Intense Deja Vu
  • 17 0
 Who’s that other dude riding for Intense? He took up stamp collection I heard
  • 6 0
 Race season is right around the corner!! Both the bike and the rider are rad so I’m not mad about it!

Go Neko and good luck to everyone!!!
  • 1 4
 @PocoBoho: Aaron Gwinn?
  • 3 0
 looks like they fixed the seat tube angle!
  • 4 4
 @PocoBoho: The alpha male of MTB? the guy that needs no PR? the guy that just married a smoking hot chick?

yeah, that f*cking guy, right?
  • 1 0
 @conoat: Pretty sure he is referring to Seth Sherlock @PocoBoho
  • 32 0
 The Intense life of Neko Mullaly?
  • 6 1
 Shocking
  • 36 6
 Prototype or no prototype keep this made of metal!!
  • 2 0
 you know that won't happen, yeah?
  • 1 0
 @conoat: Shame, no need for the plastic
  • 27 0
 Minions on my seat please
  • 55 0
 Assegai Wink
  • 21 0
 Talked about bolts and fenders but not wheels or drivetrain? Weird bike check.
  • 4 0
 Neko seems to do well without a drivetrain, so does it matter?
  • 15 0
 I have images of unreleased rockshox suspension, where would I send those in to u guys???
  • 13 0
 Best bet is to get them to a fence, like tonkatruck, who will estimate the value, cut up the image set into singles and then sell them to different editors.
  • 9 0
 Vital
  • 9 0
 Check vital. Better just post it yourself in the tech forum
  • 12 2
 nsmb
  • 5 0
 Make sure you make it blurry and hard to see anything. Orherwise its a waste of everyone's time
  • 1 0
 Were you riding with Shane Mullins when you saw it?
  • 1 0
 Make a NFT out of those.Set for life.
  • 10 0
 He cuts the knobs off his tires and puts them on his saddle! Brilliant!
  • 6 0
 Been waiting for a long...LONG time for intense to produce new frame. Their stuff running 2016 geo still makes for a great bike. Just cut the seat tube. Cant help but love them, and Foes. Just classy racing stuff trickling down. Gawd i'm gettn old.
  • 8 0
 What is the difference with previous post about same prototype from month ago?
  • 13 0
 This one is in Costa Rica.
  • 5 0
 @mfoga: You can tell by the way it is.
  • 8 0
 Mr Tape the artist is back...
  • 7 0
 That SDG saddle has its own safety feature MHIPS (Multi-directional Haemorrhoids Impact Production System)
  • 9 3
 Intense colab with No Curves
  • 6 1
 Too bad it will end up being just another carbon frame
  • 2 0
 Agreed Intense fell off as soon as they moved to plastic and every now and then they remind us of what they’re really capable of doing with these prototypes. Shame.
  • 3 0
 Digging that rear axle flip chip. That coupled with a high/low flip chip for geo should be on all frames. Versatility to run a few different configurations.
  • 4 0
 Didn't even need a spyshot on this one
  • 5 1
 Does this frame design violate Knolly's patient?
  • 2 1
 Seat tube does not connect to the down tube in front of the BB so I think no. It also isn't "straight" which I believe was one of the parameters.
  • 4 1
 Nice to see a steep seat angle for an efficient seated climbing position
  • 3 0
 dropper post and we're good to go for enduro
  • 2 0
 What’s with the top tube. What am I, riding the chariot of the king of Atlantis?
  • 4 0
 beauty
  • 2 1
 My cranks look similarly abused. Love the knawed down grips, and if it was my bike I'd have a dropper post and a 50 tooth cassette on it. That seat angle is impressive.
  • 1 0
 No need for that "Muddy Condition Saddle". Everyone knows pulling tear/roll-offs happens mid-air! (looking at you, Brendan F.)
  • 1 2
 Intense's top 2 athletes are now not riding the 10000$US full carbon M29... that bike is certainly not as good as it was pretended to be. Gwin and Mulally prefer a good old retro-look aluminum forged bike. Interesting to see how companies return to aluminum frames after claiming that carbon was so much better (Trek, Specialized, Mondraker).
  • 1 2
 @lucb-jasmath did your mom have any kids that lived? have you not heard of prototypes? the mind boggles how you have survived long enought to be here today to make this comment.

the real pro move though, is a small bit of beeswax between the cup and cone to let them slide into proper alignment.
  • 1 0
 Dude, these are prototype custom bikes, once the alloy geo and specs are agreed upon all intense factory riders then they will put all the details into a carbon bike...Alloy is a tonne easier to work with hands on in house than carbon.
  • 1 0
 @conoat: Prototype or not, the fact is their top 2 racers choose not to ride the M29. They ultimately choose so because they don't believe the M29 can lead them to success (perhaps, they haven't been successful on it). When Gwin signed with Intense in 2019, he quickly turned away the M29 and forced the brand to do a prototype bike just for him (can you still even call it a prototype when it's been two seasons he's riding it). Same applies for Mulally now. It's just funny how Intense claims the M29 is the «best downhill bike ever made», but their own racing athletes rejects it (except for rookie Seth Sherlock). Fact is, the M29 is obviously not up to the task.
  • 1 0
 Intense's website mentions "the M29 is our flagship bike and the best downhill bike ever made"... Well, not quite if your top 2 downhill athletes choose to not riding it.
  • 2 0
 Better bolts make bike better?
  • 5 3
 One of those cone washer setups is upside down. And also, if you only put the cone washer setup on one side of the calliper, is there any point having one at all?
  • 4 2
 @jaame: Yes, it's necessary when using an adapter, because the bolt head is not parallel to the caliper's mounting tabs and therefore requires the cup & cone washers. But since the whole brake mount seems to be custom, it is somewhat odd that they're using an adapter. Seems like it would be just as easy to make a brake mount that does not require an adapter. I don't imagine Neko's ever going to run a 180mm rear rotor on his downhill bike.
  • 5 1
 @jaame: direction on them doesn´t matter and I see them under both bolts? They are there to allow the bolt heads to sit flat on the caliper when using adapter like that.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: I did not realize there was a correct orientation for the cone washers. Which is the correct set up and what is the logic behind it?
  • 2 0
 @anotherbikerguy: It looks like the mounted rotor is 220mm? I think thats whats going on; compatible with 200 (203)mm AND 220mm
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: It´s needed to make it work with 3 different CS lenghts.
  • 1 2
 @Zaeius: I was under the impression that the two hemispherical cones should sit at either side of the calliper, making a kind of ball shape when viewed together.
The cups would be outside the cones.
On this bike, one of the cones is on the calliper, and at the other side the cup is on the calliper.
  • 1 0
 @anotherbikerguy: Many of the tubes and frame parts are catalog items from Asian vendors. Had Intense made custom extrusion dies, hydroforming molds, etc. for a prototype, it would cost as much as a carbon mold!

Many parts are custom, of course, and this is probably a very expensive prototyping program. Maybe a production bike will be released in aluminum and use the custom parts.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: That would make sense. You're probably right--the front rotor is 220 according to the caption, and the rear looks like it's the same size.
  • 1 0
 @Mondbiker: @jaame there is no right or wrong. An argument can be made for aesthetics in making them the same, but they work the same in either orientation.
  • 1 0
 @conoat: Which is exactly what I said?
  • 2 0
 Top of inner grip flange nipped away (rather crudely BTW) for what reason?
  • 2 0
 Looks like an........................... Intense.
  • 1 0
 Well, might work like a charm, but that bike is not very pretty geometry-wise...
  • 1 0
 Those STFU chain dampers on his chain stay work well on a tonne of bikes I hear.
  • 2 1
 Two cockpit cables must mean only one thing... prototype AXS DH
  • 3 0
 In the second and third pictures we can see the shifter cable.
  • 1 0
 @AndrewHornor: you right, it looked like a single speed so i didn't even see that
  • 2 0
 His drivetrain is also trp, not sram
  • 1 0
 @seanb4: easy to miss that tiny little cassette!
  • 1 0
 The team has Mulally and Gwin, they don't need drive trains.
  • 1 0
 Sexy. I would ride that beast.
  • 1 2
 Yeah, nah... let’s make the standover height really low, then have a big whoosh, add a thing then a touch of YT before hitting it repeatedly with an ugly stick...
  • 1 0
 trp might be the only ones in the market that make decent rotors
  • 1 0
 Aluminum V10
  • 1 0
 hand welded, holy crap
  • 1 0
 Looks like a 951
  • 1 0
 I want it
  • 1 3
 Why is the top of the crank arm so scuffed up? seems like a weird spot for grinding/wear.
  • 9 1
 Shit happens when you ride rocky trails. I’ve always though it would be cool to have an iscg on both side to run a dual bash guard to better protect your frame and cranks.
  • 7 1
 Maybe he rides left foot forward so that’s actually the bottom side when he is riding.
  • 1 2
 @nickgarrison: That damage would be on the top if he rides left foot forward...
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: bash plates like 20inch trials bikes used seems like very obvious solution for that, they did have some drawbacks though.
  • 2 0
 Looks like his pedal took a hard shot too.
  • 1 0
 scrubbingly low scrub
  • 3 0
 @englertracing: I ride left foot forward
  • 3 0
 My cranks are scratched and scuffed on basically every surface.
  • 1 1
 Looks like a session
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