Intense Sniper Trail Expert review$4,499.00

Addictively responsive yet impressively confident ride

BikeRadar score4.5/5

By adding aggressive steering geometry to its interactive suspension, Intense has created a viscerally-involving bike that’s impressively light and good value too.

Intense Sniper Trail Expert frame

There are two Snipers: the steeper-angled, 100mm-travel XC and this 120mm Trail version. Both have full-carbon frames built around Intense’s ‘JS Tuned’ twin-link suspension system, with an upper link hanging off the top tube/seat tube junction and a lower link that curves round the back of the bottom bracket.

Reach is a reasonable 445mm on the medium and a progressive 468mm on the large.

Reach is a reasonable 445mm on the medium and a progressive 468mm on the large
Reach is a reasonable 445mm on the medium and a progressive 468mm on the large

Intense Sniper Trail Expert kit

Selling direct means impressive kit value, considering the frame is £2,499 on its own.

The Fox 34 FIT4 fork and DPS shock are consistently well controlled, the 30mm DT Swiss wheels are tight and wide enough to increase confidence in the fast-rolling Maxxis Forekaster tyres, and the KS post is a lightweight carbon offering, albeit limited to 125mm of drop.

While you don’t get all the benefits of buying through a shop, Intense UK will set the bike up for you.

Intense Sniper Trail Expert ride impressions

At 12.28kg, the Sniper Trail is noticeably lighter than most trail bikes and its suspension also firms up obviously when you put the power down, so it loves to unleash explosive acceleration at every opportunity.

The relatively long chainstays stabilise the bike up climbs, although the 73-degree seat angle means you have to sit on the saddle nose for really steep sections.

It’s awesome for hustling really hard up, down or along techy trails
It’s awesome for hustling really hard up, down or along techy trails

You can get the unbraced back end to twist under max torque, which race savages won’t like, but this makes for smoother power delivery on loose surfaces and reduces the sting of harder hits.

While you have to time your power strokes to avoid pedal kickback, once you’re off the power the Sniper Trail is noticeably better at carrying speed through square-edged rocks and roots than bikes such as the Norco Fluid FS 1 and Giant Trance 29 2.

It’s awesome for hustling really hard up, down or along techy trails, with only longer descents eventually making the physicality of its ride start to feel tiring and hard to hold pace on.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

Related Articles

Back to top