The first prototypes of Intense's Slopestyle project appeared on the website almost a year ago, with an invitation for riders to give their input on creating the ultimate set-up. The result is a bike that's far more than just a 'jump for the cameras' special, so ignore the name and read on.
The frame: short, low and slack
The Slopestyle is theoretically closest to the 6.6 long travel cross-country bike, but the similar outline belies a big difference in build. The new bike is much shorter, much lower and much slacker in its geometry. It's more than just a fancy full suspension BMX frame though, with enough room under the cranks for pedalling, and cable stops for a front mech if you need it.
Despite a tightly tucked back end there's room for big tyres, and the dropouts are interchangeable to take different axle types and widths or just provide crumple zone protection for the frame. The intricately shaped custom tubes and CNC machined sections look even more dramatic than usual in the raw 'works' finish. Every Intense is still handbuilt in their factory in California, putting them in an increasingly rare category and making the cost look even more reasonable.
The detail: wait and see
This is literally the first ride sample of the frame, so complete build kits are as yet undecided. This one, based around Shimano Deore XT kit, is probably pretty close to the mark though, and that's no bad thing. It certainly shifts very predictably even when you're hammering, and the increased power of the new Servowave brakes makes them proper stoppers, however much speed you have to hack off. An e.thirteen chain device keeps you ready to pedal, but we can see a lot of UK riders fitting a front mech and double chainset to fully exploit its low weight and pedalling potential. Having ridden the bike with both the meaty Deetraks wheels and downhill tyres and much lighter Easton AM wheels and Hutchinson tyres back home, we'd definitely say go heavy to survive the bike's hooligan tendencies.
The ride: prepare for lift off
The insolent ride quality is in your face as soon as you sit on the bike. With the frame slung low between your knees, the rear wheel tucked in close underneath you and serious stiffness radiating through fork and front end, there's no disguising the potential of this bike. Push the pedals and you'll feel it pull into its optimum sag point and then fire forward with genuinely astonishing acceleration and power delivery for a bike like this. No lag, no wallow, no digging out of mid-stroke softness, just punch the pedals and you're gone.
It's perfect for attacking sets of stunts, grabbing vital speed between jumps or just ripping the bike out of berms or slow speed sections. You'll get a bit of pedal kickback if you're on the power hard while taking a pounding, but the deeper into the travel you go, the less obvious the effect is. The way the effective pivot point of the Virtual Pivot Point suspension moves forward through compression also increases the linear feel of the shock. This predictably consistent control means you can make use of every bit of suspension.
The overall agility of the bike really helps here too, because you can place it so accurately or fire it further over stuff so easily that it rarely has to mop up bad moves. You'll find yourself extending your riding way into the vertical not just the horizontal, throwing in wall rides and turndowns wherever possible and finding berms on banks you'd never even looked at before.
Even the most flightless of our testers were hopping and manualling the bike within minutes and our local freeride crew went nuts for it. While you will clobber the pedals occasionally, and the compact frame means no breathing space, we were startled by how hard we could ride it on flatter singletrack sections. You have to really move around to get the steering working at lower speeds, but with the lighter wheels in, local trail rides were still a whole load of fun. Skillful riders might find it even more suited to short course downhill than the already light Socom too.