Intense have made the jump to carbon fiber for 2012 with three new models – the Carbine and Carbine SL trail bikes, plus the Hard Eddie 29 hardtail – but the bike that company founder Jeff Steber seemed most keen to talk about at this year's Interbike show was the latest iteration of the Uzzi.
While the carbon bikes are amazing performers, they take a step away from Steber's hands-on approach to building bikes. Yes, Intense design them, but they employ the German design firm SEED Engineering to handle the layup schedules and, like all good carbon, the hands that touch the material are over 6,000 miles away.
In contrast, Steber built the new Uzzi that he brought to Interbike himself – he put the torch to the metal, the week before the show. The new bike has an updated tubeset and geometry, and it's welded in Intense's shop in Temecula, California, like all of the brand's alloy models.
Made in the USA: Intense Uzzi 2012
"The new tubing is stiffer, which makes for a more capable bike," Steber told BikeRadar. "The improvements are made through shaping and tube wall spec. We've improved the rigidity and kept the bike in the same weight range."
The head angle is now a degree slacker in its low position: 65° with a 180mm-travel fork or 66.5° with a 160mm fork. "[These days] people are willing to be a little more cautious when pedaling for the benefit of better handling," Steber explained.
The new Uzzi has a high-direct front derailleur mount
The Uzzi continues with Intense's adjustable travel VPP suspension design, which allows for 7in or 7.5in of travel. Despite the slack angles and generous travel, the Uzzi is meant to be pedaled and comes with both ISCG tabs and a high-direct front derailleur mount.
The new bike pulls many of its feature updates from the Tracer 2, including the collet-bolt pivots and straight 1.5in head tube, which gives the rider control over what fork and steerer configuration they'd like to use.
Out back the Uzzi is compatible with just about every rear axle standard available through the G3 adjustable dropout system; it'll accept 135mm and 142mmx12 rear through-axles as well as a 135mm quick-release, and even a 150mm through-axle. As Intense claim, the bike is ultimately versatile. It'll be available from December and cost US$2,200.
Carbon: Carbines and Hard Eddie
Intense's new marketing manager, Scott Sharples, who's a former professional downhill racer, described the Carbine as an amazing all-round trail bike. Its 5.5lb weight is south of anything that can be made in alloy, especially considering that it sports 5.5in to 6in of adjustable travel.
The bike uses Intense's patented VPP suspension design and incorporates all of the latest trail bike features, including a tapered head tube, BB92 press-fit bottom bracket, down tube impact protector and cable routing for a dropper seatpost. It also sports grease fittings on the lower sealed pivot bearings and Intense's G1 adjustable dropout system that accepts 135mm quick-release and 142x12mm through-axles.
The Carbine SL offers chip adjustable travel between 5.5in and 6in
The Carbine SL takes the features and geometry of the Carbine and shaves another 3/4lb off through the carbon layup and material grade. Sharples said that the SL version is slightly more compliant too, making it more of a true trail bike, and slightly less versatile than the standard Carbine. To illustrate this, Intense clear Carbine for 150mm- and 160mm-travel forks, while they recommend the SL variant be paired with a 150mm fork.
Because the Carbines come with press-fit bottom brackets they're incompatible with traditional fully-captured chain guides, but Intense are working on a custom guide to fit the new bikes; at Interbike they offered no word on how it works or when it'll be available.
The Hard Eddie 29 completes Intense's 2012 carbon line. It's a straightforward carbon 29er hardtail with a tapered head tube, internally routed cables, BB30 bottom bracket and Intense's G1 dropout system. The Hard Eddie 29 is meant for racers and those looking for a light, stiff 29in hardtail.
Hard Eddie 29