Intense has made some highly sought-after machines over the years. The new Spider 275C has been designed for no-compromise trail riding, but does it really descend as well as it climbs, and can its performance justify the lofty price tag?
Super light frame and bling componentry
The range-topping Factory model is made from Intense’s super-light, high modulus ‘Carbon SL’, which shaves 215g off the standard ‘Carbon’ frame of the Foundation Build bike to deliver a meagre 2,490g claimed weight.
Short 419mm chainstays are made possible by the i-BOX – a hollow in the seat tube that houses the lower link of Intense’s ‘JS Tuned’ suspension set-up (a twin-link layout similar to the VPP system Intense licensed from Santa Cruz until the patent expired last year) – and hint at the bike’s aggressive DNA, along with the 67-degree head angle and 1,178mm wheelbase (large size). Combined with Boost 148mm rear axle spacing, ISCG-05 tabs and a steep seat angle, this bike should be ready to conquer all.
Our test bike came equipped with some pretty bling components. A RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, Factory series Fox 34 fork and Float EVOL shock, SRAM XX1 drivetrain and Shimano XTR brakes leave little to upgrade. With beefy Schwalbe Nobby Nic rubber as standard, this bike is hounding for a pounding.
Lively, snappy ride feel
The Spider is very light at 11.4kg and as a result it picks up speed with ease and responds well to body weight shift. Sometimes lightweight bikes can be bumped around and pushed off line by the terrain, but we didn’t feel this when hitting rock sections and braking bumps. The carbon frame seems to take the edge off things, ‘polishing’ the trail rather than letting harsh feedback through.
When you crank the pedals there’s an urgency to how the bike moves forward. And while the frame may take the edge off trail chatter, that doesn’t mean it corners like a blancmange – it’s got plenty of snap and pop, resulting in a rewarding and exciting ride. When climbing there’s virtually no suspension bob and the steep seat angle puts you in a great position.
The JS Tuned suspension is also key to this bike’s lively ride feel, hitting a sweet spot that’s somewhere between bottomless and sensitive. It copes with sharp edges better than we’d expect of a 130mm bike and irons out smaller repetitive hits in an impressive manner. When monster trucking through the rough, it’s virtually imperceptible when the rear end bottoms out – though the same can’t be said for the Fox 34 fork.
What Jeff Steber and his team have done with the carbon layup and suspension on this bike has definitely worked. It would be interesting to ride a lower specced model to see if it has the same feel. If it does, Intense is clearly onto something.