Bike Check: Chris Kovarik's Heavy Metal Intense M29

Jun 7, 2021 at 9:00
by James Smurthwaite  

Jack Daniels and Coke, fish and chips, Mike Levy and UFO podcasts - some things are just meant to go together and Chris Kovarik and Intense is exactly one of those combinations. Karver has been paired with the Californian brand for 22 years, and to celebrate they collaborated on this custom-painted M29 that charts their history and points to their future too.

Painted by Fresh Paints of Whistler, this is more than just a cool paint job. It contains references to Crankworx Dirt Diaries, significant places in Chris' career and reminders of the dangers involved in competing at the highest level. It's an incredibly detailed piece of art, so if you want a more in-depth look at how it was painted, click here.

Another cool feature of the bike is Chris' build that isn't just an excuse to hang some expensive parts onto a custom frame but has been thought out to be functional and suit his riding around the Whistler bike park. All the details are below.
Chromag Dagga Pedal
Rider Name // Chris Kovarik
Age: 43
Hometown: Whistler
Height: 183cm / 6'
Weight: 80 kg / 176 lb
Instagram: @chris_kovarik

Intense M29 details
Frame: Intense M29
Shock: Fox DHX2, 550 lb/in spring
Fork: Fox 40 Grip 2, 90 psi, 5 tokens
Wheels: e*thirteen LG1r, 29"
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF: Front - 29x3.0", 15psi; Rear - 29x2.5", 28psi; Tubeless, no inserts
Drivetrain: SRAM XO DH 7 speed, O Chain Spider ring, e*thirteen LG1+ 164mm alloy cranks
Brakes: Magura MT7 HC3, 220mm rotors
Cockpit: Chromag Cutlass bars, 780mm wide, 35mm rise; Chromag BZA 50mm stem; Chromag Palm skin grips; Chromag Overture seat; Chromag Kovarik Dagga pedals
More info:

bigquotesI built the bike up not to have the best or most expensive parts but to be functional and have certain components match the frame and fork colors.Chris Kovarik

Chris says the skull graveyard represents, "a reminder of how crazy our sport is on the limit, and you could end up there," which is about as heavy as all the bands featured combined.

Chris is running Fox suspension front and rear. His fork is pressurized to 90psi with 5 tokens.

Even Chris' Fox 550lb/in spring has had a new lick of paint.

A beefy 3" front tire inflated to 15psi sits on a 29" e*thirteen LG1r wheel. The rear wheel has a more regular 2.5" tire with 28psi. The chequered flag at the bottom of the fork leg represents Chris' World Cup wins and there are more flags on the downtube for California, Australia, and Whistler.

Chris ran 800mm bars in previous seasons but has wound it back to 780mm this year. He says the narrower bar allows him to ride more playfully and move around the bike more.

The brakes are Magura's MT7s with 220mm rotors. The STFU Cable Slider is another cool touch that is designed to stop front brake cables rattling against race plates.

If you have a signature pair of pedals, of course you're going to ride them.

The O-Chain spider is starting to appear on a lot of racers' bikes as it's claimed to reduce pedal kickback.

Here's to another 22 years.

The fun doesn't stop with the frame and Chris also has a fully custom matching helmet from Fox.


  • 34 0
 3.0 @ 15psi is an interesting choice (for a guy that pushes harder than most mortals into corners).
  • 5 0
 I want to know if he'd run the 3.0 in the rear if he had the clearance.
  • 6 0
 Also, how does he find the EXO casing in the 3.0 - is that adequate, or does he want a DH casing?
  • 2 0
 @aireeek: it was wholly inadequate on my hardtail but I’m not entirely sure I was ever able to find a tire in a heavier duty casing at that size
  • 1 0
 Probably been doing it since years back when tires had bugger all support, so a wt on fat rims will feel solid to him.
  • 1 1
 @aireeek: his riding style is very drifty so I would be surprised if he wanted something fat in the rear, think he likes to be able to break it loose
  • 5 0
 yall realize the bigger the tire width the less psi you need due to volume differences
  • 2 0
 A beefier tyre is sexy, except that it makes the Maxxis logo bigger and gives an even better reason to blacken it.
  • 1 0
 @pinegrove: Yeah, but I still wonder if the EXO casing is stiff enough. I'd be very curious to try a 29 x 3.0 in a DH casing.
  • 23 0
 Came here for the all new steel M29
  • 14 0
 Doesn’t have the most expensive parts. Well a fox factory and e-13 and sram xo and Magura is pretty damn expensive
  • 5 0
 Isnt running rev grips though so all the other stuff gets cancelled out
  • 15 1
 A truly murdered out bike
  • 7 1
 Absolutely F*cking beautiful. bike deserves a full walkthrough and or close ups in 4K
  • 5 0
 Is it just me or does this bike look like it's super slack? Like Grim Donut slack
  • 2 0
 look´s like 59`
  • 5 0
 It would be cool if it was a metal frame.
  • 5 0
 You know what's really metal? Metal. You know what's not metal? Carbon.
  • 4 2
 Everything is made with carbon even steel\metal.
  • 3 0
 Did I read that 15 psi in front tire right? 29x3.0! Some meat
Had to read that like four times.
Sic bike
  • 2 0
 I think this is a super cool bike Kovarik, your riding style is really cool and inspires me. Please ignore all these poor sods, who are envious of your new sweet ride.
  • 5 1
 15 psi in the front?!
  • 2 1
 That’s what caught my eye ?
  • 3 0
 I'm running about 17 with schwalbe SG in the front tubeless and it works pretty good if the trail isn't filled with sharp rocks. Loads of grip.
  • 1 0
 i have15-17 psi in the front with a 27.5x2.25
  • 12 1
 It’s a 3” tire, so 15psi isn’t unreasonable
  • 1 0
 @mior: if you push into a corner does it not roll? I reckon I could bottom out a 15-17psi tyre just on the flat by compressing?
  • 1 0
 @browner: it depends on the casing and volume of the tire. You can only get away with this with high volume sturdy casings. I would say minimum is super gravity
  • 1 0
 @browner: cant push into a berm if theres no berms to push into. also im 120 lbs
  • 1 0
 @mior: OK yeah that is gnarly
  • 1 0
 @browner: u need that socal grip
  • 3 0
 Sick. Stellar job by the painter too!
  • 1 0
 I'm a sucker for custom paint stories. Engineering+Art
Would have been next level to make the frame an actual rusty metal steel frame. Lol
  • 1 0
 Everyone is talking about the tires and I'm over here analyzing that HT angle which looks like it's just shy of dipping below 60 degrees... :-O
  • 3 1
 Came here hoping for more of a 'Heavy Metal' cartoon vibe
  • 2 0
 So sick! Reminds me of the limited run of Slayer bikes by subrosa.
  • 2 0
 Anyone notice maxxis was spelled “Maxxin”
  • 2 0
 Want to try these new MAXXIN tires, too.
  • 1 0
 where does it say maxxin
  • 1 0
 Basically a fat bike in the front lol. Maybe that is where we all will end up when we get older ahahah
  • 1 0
 @kovarik Great for ripping around the back of the Nerang state forest
  • 2 1
 This is more rock than heavy metal,'cause alu,not real steel
  • 2 0
 I’ll agree to that. No steel or iron noted.
Not to mention the band’s AC/DC, Rob Zombie etc aren’t really heavy metal. Light metal, as the frame, maybe. Haha

Let’s see steel and iron build materials with names like The Iron Son, Ice Nine Kills, Darkest Hour and As I Lay Dying… then I’ll fully agree to heavy metal. Lol

Pssssht, semantics.
  • 2 1
 Brakes moto style?? I'm confused.
  • 2 0
 on motos your front brake is on your right hand and the rear brake is by your foot, so by "moto style" they mean front brake on your right hand and your rear brake on your left hand
  • 1 0
 @mikeyegan: LOL. Yes, thanks mate, I knew that. I grew up racing. Wink
I'm confused though because in America we don't do our bicycles like that. I thought Canada was the same, but maybe not. I'm not really sure where he's from anyway. Thanks.
  • 4 0
 @mybaben: he's an Aussie.
  • 1 0
 @humoroususername: Oh that makes sense. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Rad. Got a list of the bands?
  • 1 0
 Looking at this all I can hear is Dimebag solos. \m/
  • 1 0
 Those "Cutlas" bars sure do say "BZA" on them
  • 3 3
 fork and shock details are reversed!
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 name a more metal design
  • 3 4
 Didn't someone already debunk the existence of "pedal kickback"?
  • 2 1
 Someone would also have to debunk the (completely real and scientifically proven) placebo effect in order to show the o chain thing doesn't in fact improve ride quality. I actually have no idea if it's bunk or not, pedal kickback does exist, but mostly at very, very low speed.
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: It could have a benefical effect due to the chain being tug around because of gravity and oscilation of the terrain. Not pedal kickback unless its a high pivot with broken idler or very very slow speeds indeed. It also could have more impact in an enduro application, instead of downhill.
  • 2 0
 Steve at Vorsprung did a short youtube video demonstrating that pedal kickback was only relevant when the rear hub pawls were engaged. In that sense, the faster-engaging hubs are more likely to experience kickback.
  • 2 1
 @Notmeatall: I don't know, the rider weighs ~350 times more than the chain. I don't think a chain slapping around is would make a noticeable effect.
  • 3 0
 @emarquar: He also made a couple of additional points: 1) slow speed big drops, and 2) high speed movement, but with braking, can cause kickback to be felt.
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: you mean "perceived ride quality". If you think your bike is performing better with a certain product, then you'll be more confident when riding it and possibly be faster. Or you'll crash from overconfidence lol
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: If you lose a chain during a downhill run you'll perceive that you have no chain anymore. The bike comunicates with you by your feet too, and we have great perception, we'll notice the effect. When I've gone from 3x9 to 1x9 with clutch RD there was a huge improovement in chain slap and noise. Even the suspension felt a little bit more supple.
  • 1 1

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