While e-bikes have been available with mixed wheel sizes for a couple of years now and it’s taken off in the downhill scene too, Intense is one of the first brands to offer a ‘mullet’ bike as a fully-fledged trail package.
The idea is that the bigger 29in front wheel rolls more smoothly over bumps, while the smaller rear 650b wheel gives snappier handling and more clearance for your backside. As with its 29in and 650b siblings, the Primer S has 140mm of rear and 150mm of front travel.
Intense Primer S Pro frame
As with all of its bikes, Intense uses a carbon monocoque construction for both the Primer’s mainframe and its upper suspension link.
Gone are the two grades of carbon formerly used to differentiate between price points, with Intense now sticking to one grade (the same as its old top-end frames) across the range.
The short seat tube means you could size up to get a longer reach. Callum Philpott
Counter-rotating upper and lower links connect the swingarm to the front triangle, with a dual-strut design theoretically boosting rear-end stiffness. The upper link features a flip-chip to alter the shape of the bike.
Intense hasn’t gone mad with the geometry – in fact, some will see it as fairly conservative. However, the short seat tube should make it possible for most riders to size up to get a longer reach.
In its lowest geometry setting, the large size has a reach of 454mm, a 64.5-degree head angle, 73.5-degree seat angle, 441.5mm chainstays and a wheelbase of 1,228mm.
The finish is high-end, with neat internal cable routing, rubber frame protection and titanium hardware.
Intense Primer S Pro kit
A Factory-series Fox DPX2 shock controls the Primer S Pro’s rear suspension, while a matching 36 fork sits up front.
Drivetrain kit is a mix of SRAM GX and X01 Eagle, with carbon Truvativ Descendant cranks.
The bike rolls on e*thirteen LG1 Enduro Race wheels – 29in at the front, with 30mm-wide rims, and 650b at the back, with 35mm rims. These are shod with Maxxis tyres: a 2.6in Minion DHR II and a 2.8in Rekon+, respectively.
Shimano XT four-pot brakes, a Fox Transfer dropper and Intense’s own carbon cockpit finish off the build.
Intense Primer S Pro ride impressions
While the previous Primer was a bit of a mile-muncher, the change with this model is very apparent. Gone is the super-efficient, lightweight feel, replaced with more confident handling. The Primer is still adept at climbing, but is clearly intended to be a seriously capable bike when pointed down the trail too.
The rear shock has a reasonable amount of compression damping tuned in, so I ended up riding with its adjustable open mode left as open as possible. There’s still sensitivity to small bumps, but also plenty of stability.
Climbing hills, whether loose and technical or smooth, the suspension remains efficient. Stood-up sprints do generate some pedal bob, however, because the suspension sits further into its travel. Here, the three-position compression lever on the DPX2 comes in handy.
While the previous Primer was a bit of a mile-muncher, this new model clearly has capable intentions going both up and down the trail. Callum Philpott
Traction isn’t out of this world with the Rekon+ rear tyre, especially on scrabbly, gritty climbs, or when pushing through loose or muddy corners. That said, when conditions are smoother and dryer, the fast-rolling rubber does prevent the Primer from feeling sluggish.
Intense’s JS Link suspension is decidedly neutral on descents. The linkage and compression tune give enough support to help you load the bike into corners and lips, while the shock remains composed on bigger hits too.
I ended up running a touch more sag than the 25 per cent I started with. That worked well on flatter tracks with occasional jumps and drops, where it added support through the spring and gave a more reactive feel to pedal inputs. But on steeper, rougher tracks I let a touch of air out so the bike sat deeper into its travel, giving it a smoother, more confident feel.
There’s little to complain about kit-wise, other than the occasional scrabble for traction from the rear tyre. Being picky, a GRIP2-damped Fox fork would be preferable over the FIT4 version fitted because I’ve found the GRIP2 cartridge to be a little smoother and more composed over rocky ground.
Intense Primer S Pro geometry
Based on lowest setting:
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 64.5 degrees
Chainstay: 44.15cm / 17.4in
Seat tube: 45.1cm / 17.8in
Top tube: 64.1cm / 25.2in
Head tube: 10cm / 3.94in
Fork offset: 5.1cm / 2in
Bottom bracket drop: 3.23cm / 1.27in
Bottom bracket height: 32.65cm / 12.9in
Wheelbase: 1,228cm / 48.3in
Stack: 63.09cm / 24.8in
Reach: 45.41cm / 17.4in