It may have a World Cup DH pedigree, but the M29 is really easy to get to grips with . Thanks to the really progressive nature of the linkage and excellent small bump compliance, chattery sections of trail where it can feel like you're losing speed are melted away underneath the M29, and tempo increases naturally. The bike accelerates really well under power, and barely bobs at all.
The suspension offers tons of support in the mid-stroke, which makes the bike incredibly responsive and maintains the ride height well without getting bogged down in the travel. This also lets the bike pop in and out of corners quickly and easily, as well as generating plenty of speed when pumping. Even though the progression of the bike reduces slightly through the travel, it still took on the big hits without issue, and I can't recall feeling a bottom out. This also makes the bike pop really high off jumps; if you are used to something much less progressive this can take you by surprise on the first few jumps.
Of course, being a super long and slack downhill bike, the M29 hauls around corners. It doesn't quite have the stability and achievable lean angle of the huge Banshee Legend, but is much more responsive and changes direction more easily. I also really like this bike under braking; the initial suppleness of the rear suspension means it sits easily into the sag point. The positive amount of anti-rise helps this, meaning that the geometry of the bike is preserved more under braking, and there is a reason why these bikes are designed to be long, low, and slack. The counter-argument to this is that the suspension is not as free to react to bumps, but I have found time after time that preserving the geometry under braking helps me to brake harder and with more control before locking the rear wheel. Part of this could be put down to me being a taller rider with a higher center of gravity, meaning more forwards weight shift under braking, so I need more help from the bike to stay centered.
What else does the Intense do well? Not dieting, that is for sure. Weighing in at 36.8 lb (16.7 kg) for the carbon framed sled, it is no lightweight, but for me, this strikes a good balance between stability and maneuverability. Again, this is bike dependent, and where the weight sits across the entire package is a factor, but for me, towards 33 lb (15kg) downhill bikes generally start to feel more sketchy, and over 39 lb (17.7 kg) a bit porky.
Standout feature? The carbon layup. The M29 looks like a chunky-tubed, super stiff race machine, but it isn't. Finding the right adjective is tough, but 'soft' is the best I can think of, although it's definitely not flexy. It's hard to describe how a frame feels, but it always tracks when you want it to and pushes back when you need support. Heading through a slippery rock garden it handles amazingly, landing sideways it soaks up the landing and puts you back on track - this is a unique trait and feel that I have not found on any other downhill bike.