While Santa Cruz have launched a trio of new bikes this year – the Highball and Tallboy Aluminium 29ers plus the 5in-travel Blur TRc – their VPP suspension rivals and fellow Californians Intense have been oddly quiet. It turns out that they haven't been resting on their laurels, but have instead been developing their first carbon fibre frame.
So, has it been worth the wait? Intense brand ambassador Scott Sharples certainly seems to think so, describing the new Carbine as "a very refined 5.5- to 6in-travel all-mountain bike that climbs like you cannot imagine". As well as being "mind-bogglingly good" uphill, he reckons it eats up "tight, poppy singletrack, jumps and corners" with equal gusto.
The new bike clearly shares its DNA with the existing aluminium Tracer 2 and, as on that machine, travel can be changed by swapping between the two shock mount holes on the top link. However, on the Carbine there's slightly less on tap – 140 or 152mm compared to the Tracer's 145 or 160mm. Damping duties are taken care of by a custom-tuned, Kashima-coated Fox RP23.
Frame features include a tapered (1-1/8 to 1-1/2in) head tube, direct-mount front derailleur, BB92 bottom bracket and Intense's G1 replaceable dropouts. These allow use of a 135mm quick-release, 142mm Syntace X12 or Shimano QR12 through-axle out back. There's cable routing for a dropper seatpost, a set of bottle bosses in the front triangle, and 'FLK-GRD' protectors on the down tube and driveside chainstay to prevent damage to the carbon.
Geometry wise, the Carbine has a 68° head angle, 73° seat angle and 13.25in bottom bracket height with a 150mm-travel fork, and a 67° head angle, 72° seat angle and 13.5in BB with a 160mm fork. The chainstays are 16.75in long. Claimed weight for a medium frame, with shock, is 5.5lb, and there's a choice of two colours: Naked Carbon or Intense Red. The frameset will cost US$2,579. There's no word yet on UK pricing or availability. For more information, visit www.intensecycles.com.