Sold as a big-mountain bike, the Intense Uzzi VP is more like a downhill bike that’s been put on a serious diet, with up to 7in of travel at either end. Travel and geometry tuning options come built into the highly adaptable frame.
Ride & handling: Technical star with unholy levels of grip
The full 1 1/2in head tube allows the use of any steerer, and the Cane Creek Angleset fitted here knocks the head angle back to a very slack 64 degrees from an already relaxed 65 degrees.
The Easton Havoc Carbon bar and dinky 50mm stem mean that, despite this choppered-out approach, it’s easy to shove the bike about. In fact, it’s a surprisingly lively handler, especially when wound up to a suitably high speed. On our rugged, rocky descent, this composure meant that, where other bikes floundered, the Uzzi ploughed on.
Uphill you pay for the extra travel, and climbs are definitely endured rather than enjoyed, especially as the rear shock can’t be firmed up without using tools. The double chainset does mean there’s a low winching gear at least, and if you’re building an Uzzi for all-mountain adventures we’d definitely recommend it over a single ring.
The tough and precise Easton Havoc tubeless wheelset is a high point, but we were cursing the lack of a dropper post, though the frame has the necessary guides to take the hose.
Our Intense Uzzi test build
Frame & equipment: Handmade USA heritage, and a price to match
UK distributors Extra don’t do complete builds for the handmade-in-the-USA Uzzi frame, so our Brit test team asked them to put together a suitable build – as you’d expect with a custom, it didn’t arrive cheap. If you were to match this spec you’d be looking at the wrong end of £5,000.
It’s all top-drawer kit, with an air-sprung Fox 36 fork with 180mm travel, plus separate high- and low-speed compression adjustment on the RC2 damping cartridge. Despite being so long for a single crown fork, it blows the 34mm stanchion fork into the weeds for tracking stiffness and pure bump-swallowing control.
The 20mm thru-axle helps too; Fox 34s have 15mm axles. On the downside, plugging in a 160mm you may already have isn’t wise – the geometry is based around the longer fork.
Out back, the sturdy swingarm drives a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock, which allows a whole world of tuning options thanks to the independent high- and low-speed adjustment for both compression and rebound damping.
While the Virtual Pivot Point suspension is incredibly supple and provides a mass of traction, it can be hard to balance responses at the extremes of travel. Careful knob twiddling will get you there, at least, which might not be the case with a less adjustable model. Just be prepared to work on setup.
The versatility of this frame means you could build it up with generally less burly gear – and shorten it to 160 rear/170 front – to make it more versatile. The smart features mean your options aren’t limited either way. And that’s the beauty of a custom build – just don’t expect it to come cheap.
- Wheels: Easton Havoc rims, Easton Havoc hubs (20mm front, 135x12mm rear)
- Tyres:Hutchinson Cougar Hardskin, 2.4in
- Fork: Fox 36 Float Factory FIT RC2, tapered 20mm, 180mm
- Chainset: Shimano XT, 38/24T
- Shifters: Shimano XT, 10-speed
- Derailleurs: Shimano XT (F), SLX Shadow Plus (R)
- Cassette: Shimano HG81, 11-36T
- Brakes: Formula RX, 203mm rotors
- Other stuff: Easton Havoc 760mm bar, Easton Havoc stem, Fi’zi:k Gobi XM saddle, Fi’zi:k Cyrano post
- Weight: 14.5kg (32lb)