Intend Bicycle Components is one of the smallest suspension and component companies in the world, so it's understandable if the name isn't immediately familiar. The company, which is essentially a one-man operation, is headed up by Cornelius Kapfinger, an engineer who formerly worked with Trickstuff, the German brand best known for their beautifully machined, uber-expensive brakes. He's since branched out on his own, and now produces cranks, stems, disc rotors, and suspension components, like the Intend Infinity upside-down fork that's reviewed here.
Inverted, or upside-down (USD) suspension forks aren't a new development in the mountain bike world, but despite an ever-growing list of valiant attempts, they haven't been able to surpass the popularity of the much-more common right-side-up design. That doesn't stop companies from trying to crack the code, and Cornelius has tossed all of his engineering know-how at the Infinity to try and make his mark in the suspension world.
Intend Infinity Details• Intended use: DH
• Wheel size: 29", 27.5" or 26"
• Travel: Up to 215mm
• 20x110mm steel through-axle
• Adjustable rebound and low-speed compression
• Colors: blue or black
• Weight: 2,510 g / 5.5 lb (29")
• Price: €2,049
• 3 month delivery time
Available with up to 215mm of air-sprung travel, the Infinity's upper tubes measure 45 millimeters in diameter, and slide on 35mm stanchions. You can get the fork configured for 29”, 27.5”, or even 26” wheels, but there is a maximum headtube length of 140mm, including the headset. Why's that? It's because the Infinity doesn't use a traditional steerer tube – instead, a there's a small extension on each crown, and a threaded bolt, which is accessed from the underside of the lower crown, cinches everything together. That helps keep the weight down, and our test fork checked in at only 2,510 grams, which is roughly 100 grams lighter than a RockShox BoXXer, and 200 grams lighter than a Fox 49.
The Infinity is priced at 2,049 Euro, but be prepared to wait up to 3 months for delivery – each fork is hand-assembled after an order is submitted. For riders in Canada and the US, you're out of luck, unless you're planning a European vacation – due to insurance reasons Intend doesn't ship to North America. Design Details
The Infinity's air pressure is adjusted via a Schrader valve on the top of the left leg, which is the case with nearly every air-sprung fork on the market. The amount of end-stroke ramp-up can be adjusted by removing the top cap by using a cassette tool and screwing on a plastic spacer, or oil can be added to accomplish the same result. According to Intend, the Infinity's negative air spring volume is larger than most forks on the market in order to create a sensitive beginning stroke with plenty of mid-stroke support.
Rebound is adjusted on the top of the right leg. On my test fork, the rebound knob was 3D printed, and there weren't any clicks to help keep track of the position, which is a little inconvenient. The low-speed compression knob on the bottom of the same leg does have countable clicks, though, 14 of them to be exact.
The damper uses a semi-open bath design – a smaller diameter tube that's inside the stanchion is filled with oil, and the bottom of that tube is submerged in oil. The compression damper is located in that oil bath, but if you feel like tinkering with the compression shim stack all you need to do is turn the fork upside down and it can easily be removed from the bottom of the leg without any oil loss.
On the topic of oil, the Infinity uses 2.5W Danico Biotech Race Shok oil, which is produced from German grown sunflowers. I feel like Intend should include a sticker that says, “This fork runs on sunflower oil.” Installation
I installed the Infinity on a Kona Operator 29 that was in for testing (look for that review soon). Without any steerer tube to cut, it was a simple procedure to get it installed and ready to go. The brake line routing is a little rudimentary, and it's important to make sure that it's done correctly, otherwise there's the risk of the brake line getting pushed into the wheel when the fork compresses. I'd say there's definitely room for refinement in this area – zip-ties and plastic cable guides seem out of place on a high-end fork. On the Trail
All of my time on the Infinity was spent at the Whistler Bike Park, which is the ideal location to rack up a serious amount of vertical in a relatively short amount of time. Set-up was straightforward, and I ended up with 100 psi of air pressure for my 160 lb weight, with 7-clicks of low-speed compression and the rebound set according to my preference. The amount of range for the rebound and LSC isn't crazy – you can't make the fork return as slow as molasses, or feel like it's fully locked out – but it's reasonable, and I'd imagine that most riders would be able to find the sweet spot within the available settings.
The overall feel of the fork is one of controlled plushness – the travel feels bottomless, with just enough ramp-up at the end of the stroke to avoid any harshness. My hands welcomed the Infinity's trail-smoothing abilities, especially on high-speed, brake bumped filled straightaways. There was plenty of fore/aft stiffness on those straightaways as well, and the fork took whatever I plowed it through in stride, as long as I hit those obstacles head-on.
The downside to the Infinity's design, and the same issue that's plagued nearly every mountain bike fork that's gone down this route, is the lack of torsional stiffness. On sections of trail that required a lot of front end movement, that lack of stiffness became quite apparent. At times it felt as if there was a delay between when I turned the handlebar and when the front wheel moved, a sensation that was even more noticeable if there was a sequence of multiple quick turns. That's when it felt like I really had to use extra effort to get the front wheel to track where I wanted it to – it was like driving a car without power steering.
The flex felt detrimental when the trails were hardpacked and running fast, but there was one extra rainy day where the Infinity's potential shone through. The roots were slick and the mud was deep, but I found that if I relaxed and let the fork find its way there was much more traction available than I'd anticipated. I still had a few moments where it felt like the fork got hung up when I tried to force a direction change, but it was in those wet, slippery conditions, times where finesse is key, that the fork felt best.How Does It Compare?
The last upside down DH fork that I tested was 5 years ago, on a bike with 26" wheels, so I can't draw any direct comparisons between the Intend and another USD fork. However, I can compare it to the RockShox Boxxer World Cup whose spot it temporarily took. The Infinity is a little lighter than the Boxxer, but I can't say that I noticed that out on the trail. What I did notice was how easy it was to initiate the travel on the Infinity - its beginning stroke was more supple than the Boxxer's, and overall it felt more linear and 'plush', for lack of a better term, while the Boxxer was more supportive in the mid-stroke. Of course, that trait can be tuned to some extent on both forks with volume spacers.
The Boxxer does have a wider range of adjustments, along with externally adjustable high-speed compression, which makes it easier to adapt the fork to suit a track or personal preference. And then there's the whole stiffness side of the equation, which the Boxxer wins handily - the difference between it and the Infinity was very noticeable. Durability
The Infinity has seen a mix of dry and dusty days and some absolutely sloppy ones, and it's remained smooth throughout all of it. However, those muddy laps did begin to take a toll on some of the anodizing - the brake line rubbed through the blue in a few sections. Installing some clear protective tape ahead of time would be the best tactic to avoid this issue. How about those unprotected stanchions? They've survived without a scratch.
Plush and smooth travel+
Light weight for a dual crown fork+
You'll stand out from the crowd
Lack of torsional stiffness-
No built-in cable guides-
Expensive, not available in North America