2014 Bible of Bike Tests Roundtable Reels: Intense Carbine 29

Why Was This Burly Brawler Such A Polarizing Bike Among Our Testers?

The Intense Carbine 29 certainly evoked some intense feelings from the testers who put this impeccably equipped 29er through its paces during our Bible of Bike Tests boot camp in Sedona, Arizona. Watch this video to find out what our testers’ highs and lows were. And don’t forget to note how senior editor Vernon Felton slurs his words after half a can of Tecate (and a long day of shredding in the desert sun)….


Price: $8,950 as tested (3,200, frame only)
Contact: http://intensecycles.com/
Direct Link: http://intensecycles.com/carbine-29/

Final Take: Beautiful big-wheeled brawler seeks strong speed demon for no-strings-attached fun.

Intense Carbine 29

Intense Carbine 29

Intense Cycles has a long lineage of experimenting with wheel sizes. It was one of the first companies to squeeze 29-inch wheels on a downhill bike and was an early adopter of 27.5-inch trail bikes. The big, beautiful, orange-on-black Carbine 29 proves that it hasn't given up on the biggest of wheels for trail bikes.

The carbon frame reconfirms Intense's confidence in this material, and it comes with all the bells and whistles. The cable routing is beautifully disguised, there are ISCG mounts for those who don't yet trust the black magic of narrow-wide rings, fixed G1 dropouts out back and the two ends of the bike are strung together with two short, counter-rotating links that make up the VPP system. It's a great-looking package, but the elegant lines of the carbon frame hide its true character.

The Carbine 29 wants to ride up and over stuff like it just isn't there. Our size large test bike had a gargantuan 47-inch wheelbase. Combined with fairly stretched out 17.75-inch chainstays and a lofty bottom bracket height of 13.75 inches the bike feels utterly single-minded in going forward. Some of the ledgier climbs on our test loop disappeared under its wheels, but parts of the trail that required finesse felt awkward. Going downhill was a thrill, but I don't think our test loop truly had enough speed to satisfy its hunger.

The Carbine 29 typifies the characteristics that give 29ers as many detractors as followers. It's a particular breed of beast that requires the right territory and rider to flourish. If you are a big-boned trail brawler who likes to keep both wheels on the ground, might not have the most delicate of touches, and who can maintain an average speed way up in the double digits, then the Intense Carbine 29 might be your match. –Seb Kemp

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Looking for reviews of the most promising mountain bikes for the 2014 season? Bike magazine's fifth-annual Bible of Bike Tests is the mountain-bike world's most comprehensive gear guide, with honest, balanced reviews of 34 new models. Each review is a consensus of our seasoned crew of testers, who put every bike through its paces on the challenging trails of Sedona, Arizona. We've also included a video of our often-heated 'Roundtable Reels' discussions on each bike to give you a clearer idea of what each tester thought. Expect the unexpected.