Intense is known as a big-money boutique brand, so when the Californian firm announced the launch of its new, cheaper Foundation Build complete bikes we couldn’t wait to see how they performed. The Spider frame has been updated for 2015 too, with a change to 650b wheels and drastically revised geometry and suspension.
Frame and equipment: rock-solid Foundations meet unspectacular kit
Despite the Foundation Build moniker, Intense hasn’t skimped as far as the frame is involved. The alloy construction packs Intense’s usual handmade-in-the-USA quality and ticks all the standard boxes for a 130mm (5.1in) travel trail frame. There’s a 12x142mm axle out back, a 44mm head tube (which will accept forks with tapered or straight steerer tubes) and internal routing for a remote-operated ‘stealth’ dropper post. Grease ports on the linkages keep the rear end running smoothly.
As for geometry, the 67-degree head angle and short 419mm chainstays set out the hooligan intentions of the Spider early on.
The X-Fusion O2 shock is one of the spec compromises made in order to deliver the Spider at a slightly less painful price point
The Spider isn’t cheap for a bike with a budget build kit. X-Fusion’s Sweep RL fork is matched to its O2 shock out back, the 2x10 drivetrain is mainly Shimano SLX, so reliability won’t be an issue, and Sun Ringlé provides the wheelset, which is shod with Maxxis Ardent rubber. The bar and stem are both own-brand jobs, as is the seatpost. The lack of a dropper post is a sticking point on a bike at this price.
Ride and handling: awesome frame but build compromises show under hard riding
Jumping on the Spider, it’s obvious the frame is intended to be ridden hard. The slack (for a bike of this travel) head angle and short chainstays combine snappy handling with enough stability for the ride to remain fun, though the 70mm stem and narrow 740mm bar prevent you making the most of the frame’s aggressive potential.
Some more weaknesses in the spec started to show up on high-speed technical descents, with the lateral flex of the wheels paired with the thin sidewalls of the Ardents making it difficult to stay on line at times. The fork and shock aren’t particularly supple and they also lack mid-stroke support when pushed hard.
While the spec limitations can be uncovered, this is a frame that'll reward long-term savaging
Admittedly we were riding the Spider pretty aggressively for a 130mm trail bike. But it’s a shame that the kit lets the bike down when the frame seems happy to be ridden in a rowdy fashion.
On the climbs, the Spider pedals well in both chainrings, even with 35 percent sag out back. The non-dropper post at least has a QR clamp, and the lockouts on the fork and shock are very effective, though we didn’t feel the need to use them on our rides.