Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the same 15 minute loop to keep things even-steven. I focused this Demo Day event on 130mm-ish 29er Trail bikes from smaller companies and added one ringer from one of the big guys in the biz.
If there is a So Cal company that I associate with DH bikes it has to be Intense. So it was with interest that I got onto the new carbon framed (‘Comp’ stands for composite) Intense Spider 29 Comp. Some words from the website:
The fourth in Intense’s line of carbon fiber mountain bike frames, the Spider 29 Comp was designed for the XC/ light-trail segment and offers all of our signature features, as well as some new surprises.
“This model is the cumulation of a year and a half of design and engineering work with our partners, SEED engineering and is one of the most exciting Intense frames to date”, says Intense Designer & President, Jeff Steber. “We feel we have hit the nail on the head for this segment”
The Spider 29 boasts modern trail geometry while the combination of patented VPP suspension and 29? wheels are magical ingredients for maintaining rolling momentum through the rough stuff, as well as on the climbs.
It brings all the features Intense is known for: adjustable travel (4.5 – 5?), G1 dropout system, proven ride quality and exceptional esthetics, but also has some new tricks up its sleeve like internal cable routing, tapered head tube, special internal cable routing for the Rock Shox Reverb
Stealth dropper post and comes stock with the Fox Float CTD Kashima coat rear shock. Two travel settings allow the bike to really take on a dual personality. Use the 4.5” mode for an extremely solid pedaling platform or the longer 5” position to gobble up rocks, roots and chatter.
All this and still weighs in at 5 1/2 pounds.
Available colors -Naked Carbon and Naked / red
The VPP Spider was set up in the 4.5″ travel mode, selectable by a simple move of a bolt. Pedaling out onto the pavement, the the VPP Spider was dead neutral to any input at the crank and seemed like it was super supple, sucking up all the cracks and chatter on the path, both paved and dirt. Standing up in the middle ring and pedaling with some gusto was a big difference. That took the VPP rear suspension out of its comfort zone and exposed a bad habit of VPP…anti-squat. It was cycling through its movement with every drop of weight on the crank and was kinda comical to watch. Seated once again and it all went away. Weird.
As an experiment I ran the CTD shock through the platform settings as I had it on D for full open platform. On the ‘T’ setting it was much better and on the ‘C’ setting it was almost gone when standing and climbing. Well, that is what platform shocks are for so you might as well use them.
On the trail though, I opened it back up to the ‘D’ setting to see what it was all about in its real element. It behaved itself very well and I never closed it back down although I expect it would have been optimal in the ‘T’ settings for general trail riding.
So, you want supple? Do you want super tracking suspension feel? Here it is. Ledges just are absorbed. Chunk is muted to the point of irrelevance. The steering of the Spider was nicely in the middle of things. It was an agile bike with the 17.5″ CS length and the light carbon chassis. My impression was a frame stiffness that was in-between the Sultan and the Ellsworth and it seemed good. Down through the heavier sections of trail, the VPP was so smooth that it was kinda weird and the Fox fork could not even match it. I could not help but think of this bike paired with something like the old oil bath Marzocchi forks from days of yore. Magic carpet. I also got the feeling that I could climb anything while seated and in the small ring if I could just keep pedaling. Very good there.
So here is my take on the Spider 29 Comp. It will do a long climb and be fine, just sit and spin along. But if you are coming from a pure XC background then it may not meet your expectations. But if the uphill is just an excuse to go downhill or you like shuttles and big wheels, well then, check out the VPP Spider.