If the idea of a fork with one and a half crowns and one leg longer than the other seems strange, it is. But Intend have good reasoning behind it. If the concept seems strangely familiar, that's likely because Intend has already announced a fork called the Bandit
with the halfway house design, although that used an inverted layout. Today the one-man brand is launching the Ebonite Bandit, which again uses the longer left leg and 1.5 crowns, but in a conventional "right way up" layout, based around Intend's single-crown Ebonite
Intend Ebonite Bandit Details
• Intended use: Enduro, downhill
• Travel: 180, 170, 160, 140, 130, 120mm...
• Wheel size: 29"
• Axle: 15x110 mm
• Spring: Three-chamber linear air spring with IFP stroke limiter
• Adjustments: Main air pressure, ramp-up chamber pressure, piston stroke-limiter, compression, rebound.
• Based on Single-crown Ebonite enduro fork
• Claimed Weight: 2,450 g
• MSRP: 1,595.80 Euro (excl. VAT)
• More info: www.intend-bc.com
While the USD Bandit certainly wasn't every commenter's cup of tea, Cornelius Kapfinger, the brains behind Intend, says there was no shortage of demand for it; a year after its launch, he's still getting requests for more. This second incarnation of his 1.5-crown concept is based on the single-crown Ebonite, Intend's only "right way up" fork and the tool of choice for the Ibis-Fidlock EWS team. Basing his second 1.5-crown fork on the conventional design allows Kapfinger to significantly increase steering stiffness compared both to the original (USD) Bandit and the single-crown Ebonite.
Kapfinger says the half upper crown creates a useful (if niche) compromise between single- and dual-crown forks: offering some of the stiffness benefits of the latter without all of the weight. Sure, the steering will be somewhat limited when turning left, but as someone who's ridden a dual-crown fork on tight alpine trails, this is almost never an issue when riding. The primary reason for Intend to lengthen the left leg of the Bandit and Ebonite Bandit is not to increase stiffness, but to create more space for a longer air spring.
The original Bandit simply used the extra space to house longer positive and negative air chambers. This has the effect of smoothing out the air spring curve, making it softer at the start of the travel, more supportive in the middle and generally more linear - more like a coil spring.
With the new Ebonite Bandit, Kapfinger has gone one step further. It has a three-chamber air spring design, a bit like you'd find in a modern Ohlins, EXT, or Manitou fork. A floating piston sits inside the top of the air leg. To begin with, the air pressure above the piston is more than that in the main piston below, but as the fork moves into the middle of the travel, the air pressure in the main chamber builds to match the pressure above the piston. From then on, the piston moves upwards freely, keeping the pressures on both sides equal, so the two chambers act like one big one.
This means you effectively have a small-volume progressive spring curve up to around the middle of the travel, then a larger-volume and more linear spring from that point on. When compared to a conventional air spring. this further increases mid-travel support, without creating excessive ramp up later in the stroke. According to Intend, this allows their air spring to be almost perfectly linear, like a coil, through the first 80% of the travel.
But the Ebonite Bandit has one more trick up its sleeve. Usually, the pressure above the piston is the only way of adjusting the progression of a three-chamber fork, but Kapfinger has added a further adjustment mechanism.
An adjustable stroke limiter sets the maximum height to which the piston is allowed to slide; setting this limit lower reduces the volume and so increases the bottom-out force. Unlike adding volume spacers or pressure to the ramp-up chamber, this adjustment only affects the final 20% of travel. And according to Intend, the spring curve remains more-or-less linear up to that point, so it should behave like a coil spring with additional bottom-out control.
Both the Ebonite Bandit and the single-crown Ebonite will receive two further updates. Firstly, the bushings will now be individually machined to offer lubricating channels on the outside of the bushings. These are claimed to allow lubricating bath oil to be transported up past the bushings, thereby reducing friction, without resulting in those parallel marks on the stanchion that can be created by some internal bushing channels.
Secondly, the foam rings have been swapped to ones that hold onto the oil more strongly
because, according to Kapfinger, the old ones released the oil too quickly. This upgrade will be fitted to future Ebonite and Ebonite Bandit forks and will be offered as a free upgrade to previous Ebonite forks.
Intend will start preorders today with deliveries scheduled for March 2022.