He was riding an Intense 951 – bringing back memories of his mid-90s heyday when he stormed onto the scene aboard his Intense M1 in his baggy motocross gear and helped redefine the sport.
“It’s come full circle. It’s like deja vu. He made his start on Intense and we’ve been buddies ever since,” said Steber.
Steber said Palmer was instrumental in designing the M1, the frame that ruled downhill courses around the world from the mid to late nineties. “Palmer is pretty techie,” he said. “He knows what he wants [in order] to get performance out of bikes.
“Something that not many people know about Shaun is that he is really technically savvy. He understands what works and can give specific feedback on how to improve the bike’s performance. He is a great R&D guy and I’m really excited about working with him again.”
Palmer is planning to use mountain bike racing as training for his attempt later this year at a spot on the US Olympic bordercross team. It’s also a chance to see old friends like Britain’s Steve Peat.
“I’ve always done better in my sports when I stayed involved in two or three at a time,” he said. “The worst thing for me is for my bad brains to sit around idle. I have to stay busy and the panic of racing downhill will keep me sharp and help me to achieve my Olympic dreams.
“Of course, I miss being at the races and I miss the fans, but mostly I miss hanging out with my friends, especially Peaty.”
As well as the 951, Palmer is rumoured to have tried out the new Evil Revolt. He chose to ride the Intense because of his relationship with the brand and Steber’s ability to build anything he wants in a bike. “Plus, I’m 40 now and I want to be involved with a brand that will allow me to use my design abilities now and in the long run,” he said.
Palmer earned the nickname ‘Na-Palm’ on the race scene due to his aggressive style and bad-boy image, but Steber said he has mellowed with age. He said Palmer would be an asset to up-and-coming teammate JD Swanguen, with whom he gets on well. “[Palmer] gave it 200 percent,” said Steber. “When he crossed the finish line, there was nothing left.”
In their newsletter, Intense said: “If you think that sounds like a hint that there will be collaborations between Palmer and Intense in the years to come, you might be right. But for now, as Palmer simply puts it: ‘Let’s just haul ass this season without me smashing my nuts. See y’all at the races!”
The Privateer 951 FRO
Intense the privateer 951 fro:Intense Cycles
In other Intense news, the California-based company are offering a limited edition 951 complete bike called The Privateer for $4,951 (approx £3,000).
It features a mix of SRAM and RockShox componentry, just like the team bikes ridden by JD Swanguen, Bryn Atkinson and Shaun Palmer
Intense say the aim of The Privateer is “to give the weekend warriors the opportunity to roll the same setups as the pros”. This race machine weighs 38.5lb (without pedals). Here’s the spec: