This past weekend, the crew from Intense Cycles came up from Temecula to ride bikes up here in Mammoth. They brought the Sprinter Van full of hearty steeds to Footloose Sports, for some test riding. What an awesome line-up they have. I was interested in a bunch of their bikes, most specifically their new Carbine 275 (which I did ride a little, and loved… but this blog is about the bike I REALLY rode). They also brought up the usual suspects – M9’s, 951’s, Uzzi’s, etc – but the bike I’ve specifically had my eye on and made sure they brought one up in my size, is the “Hard Eddie Carbon 29er“. It’s Intense’s first stab at a hardtail, XC race machine. I’ve been peeping this bike out for a little bit now, so I jumped at the chance to thrash it.
As the name states, it’s a carbon hardtail. Geometry is very similar to the Niner Air 9 Carbon, and weight is also very similar (around 2.5lbs frame). All the gucci stuff like internal cable routing, blah blah… super sexy looking. I rode the nude carbon/red, and it also comes in a nude carbon – both look sick! Intense also makes a tapered carbon rigid fork that looks gorgeous, and I’m sure performs pretty dang well (the bike I rode was spec’d with a squish fork). What attracted me to the this bike is the option for sliding rear dropouts coming out in Winter… duh, so it can be converted to a SINGLESPEED!
As it was, this test bike had a sweet 2×10 drivetrain (shifting is somewhat foreign to me these days – so I just stayed in the 40t ring and bottom half of the cassette). It also had a super plush Fox Float 32 fork, cushion which is also somewhat foreign to me these days. It was a fun departure for a day of trying to beat this race beast into the ground. As it was, with some Crank Bros Eggbeater 3 pedals, a 2.2 Nevegal in the front and a 2.0 Small Block Eight in the back, the bike weighed in at just under 25 lbs. Swap out the forks and a couple more lightweight components and it would be as light, if not lighter than my SS. Not too shabby.
I took a quick lap on Downtown to Shotgun to warmup and get a feel for the bike. Felt great. So did my legs. So I took it up Chair 2 and hit Recoil to Chainsmoke – I was conservative on Chainsmoke, especially since I leave to 24 Hours of Moab in a couple days, but still rode all of the trail except for one section. Then I hit Pipeline, and got over to Big Ring which is more what this bike is suited for- xc racing. Did Paper Route, Brake Through, Follow Me, a pumice run behind Chair 8 and climbed up Uptown a bit. I rode for about 3 hours straight, and then called it a day since I’m technically “tapering” for Moab.
Man, this bike rode great. Almost too great (I didn’t want to give it back). It handled some gnarly techy rocky descending on Chainsmoke, soft sand on Follow Me and whipped through some pretty big jump lines on Pipeline, and hung with my homie riding a 951 through the pumice run. Where it really counted, like climbing and carving through flowy XC singletrack, it was even more bomber. Precise steering, super steady at high speeds, and lots of punch in the climbs. The stock Sun Ringle Black Flea Pro wheels/hubs were solid, and the hub engagement was fine, but it also made me realize how amazing the engagement is on my Chris King Singlespeed hub 🙂
Anyhoo, I just wanted to throw a shout and quick thanks to Jake and the guys at Intense as well as Matt at Footloose for coordinating. Although Intense isn’t synonymous (yet) with ultra endurance mountain bike racing, I could definitely see myself on a Hard Eddie next season… Hmmm 🙂