What is it?
The Intense Primer 29 is Intense's latest entry into the burgeoning 29er trail bike market, the rad bikes that the majority of us actually ride. Sporting 130mm of front and rear travel, it is designed to climb well and descend even better. Standard spec'd is 1x11 or the new 1x12 SRAM Eagle, but it can also accommodate a front derailleur.
Designed for the rider who prefers the speed and stability of 29er wheels, the Primer 29 sports modern geometry with a 67.5-degree head angle and 75-degree seat angle. This bike is really designed with dropper posts in mind with the steep seat angle made for climbing, while the dropper post will get the post out of the way during descents.
Chainstays are at a 17.25" and BB height 13.25". Reach is 431 mm for a medium. Hub spacing is boost front and rear, but it's not convertible to 27.5 plus because there's not adequate clearance for 3.0". Instead, Intense chose to optimize its frames, the ACV handling plus duties.
Another prominent feature of the bike is the ability to adjust from 130mm of rear travel down to 115mm if, for instance, you're lining up for an XC or endurance race. The high end build's carbon frame construction, combined the DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheels, provide a comfortable ride that is light and nimble. The bike features internal cable routing, disc brake post mounts, and protective integrated frame guards.
The suspension for the Primer is a significant refinement over previous generations, as the lower linkage is now tucked inside the frame rather than underneath it. It is a much cleaner interpretation, with the linkage out of harms way.
The suspension has been tuned to be more supple and we definitely felt that on the trail. Initiating movement is a much easier affair, even under full power. As a result, the bike has more traction during tech climbs and entering rough corners. This is definitely the best performing suspension we've experienced on an Intense bike.
Due to an elegant looking support tube running from the top tube to the seat tube, the seat tube seems longer than it needs to be at 18" for a medium bike. This wasn't an issue before, but it definitely gets in the way these days, as it limits riders from running longer dropper posts. At 5-foot-8, with a 30" inseam, 125mm was the longest post we could run on a size medium bike and we had no exposed seatpost.
Continue to page 2 for first ride impressions »
How does it ride?
As we already said, this is one of the best performing Intense bikes we've ridden. Suspension is supple on the initial stroke making the ride a delight on the tech climbs of Sedona and on the rocky descents of Demo Forest in Santa Cruz.
Our test bike was equipped with a SRAM 1x11 set-up, but production versions will come with SRAM's new 1x12 Eagle group. With the bike weighing in at 25.9 pounds with pedals, this rocket will achieve new heights with the smooth shifting SRAM Eagle.
The 760mm carbon Renthal bars was a good match for the bike, as was the short stem. The Fabric saddle was a delight as well, sporting wide, supportive padding with no seams to get in the way.
Unlike some of the other new-breed 29ers (Santa Cruz's Hightower, Pivot's Switchblade) the Primer 29 cannot accommodate plus tires. "Not enough room," said bike designer Chad Petersen, adding that Intense opted to optimize this bike for a specific wheel size, not as a do-it-all rig. For 27.5 Plus fans, Intense recently introduced the Intense ACV, detailed here.
On the wish list
Our test bike sported Schwalbe Nobby Nics and they seemed to hold the bike back a bit. Meatier, more durable front knobs would really unleash the potential of this bike in aggressive terrain like Moab, Downieville, or Lake Tahoe.
The seat tube on this bike is long so we were limited to a 125mm dropper on a medium bike. Most new bikes allow for 150mm or even 170mm dropper posts, so we'd love to see a shorter seat tube on this bike, too. Taller riders are not affected by this issue of course.
Primer Factory Build
- Gloss orange/gloss grey: $9499
- Frame: Primer 29 SL Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, Carbon Top Link, Internal Derailleur Routing, Integrated protector, Ti Hardware, w/ 148x12mm spacing, 115mm-130 mm travel
- Fork: FOX Factory 34 FLOAT, 3 Position Lever w/Open Mode Adjust, 29" boost
- Shock: FOX Factory Float, 3 Position Lever w/ Open Mode Adjust, SV EVOL, 200x50 mm
- Hubs: 28 Hole DT Swiss 240
- Front Hub; 148x12 boost Rear Hub w/ XD Driver, centerlock
- Rims: DT Swiss XMC 1200 SPLINE 29" Boost, Tubeless Ready
- Shifters: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12 speed
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM XX1 X-Horizon Carbon, Eagle, 12 speed
- Cranks: SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12 speed, 34T
- Cassette: SRAM XG 1299 EAGLE 10-50T, 12 speed
- Saddle: Fabric Scoop Radius Pro
- Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6mm x 420 mm, zero offset, 125 mm of travel
- Bars: Renthal FatBar Carbon 20mm - 760mm
- Brakes: Shimano XTR Hydraulic Disc, 180 mm front and 160 mm rear
- EXPERT build - Gloss yellow/gloss grey: $5899
- FOUNDATION build - Gloss grey/gloss black: $4599
Bottom line, this is a stunning bike that delivers the riding prowess most folks are looking for today. It can take the adventurous rider on many epic rides and handle rowdy descents. And at under 26 pounds with the spectacular DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels, this is one fast and agile steed. $9500 is a bit too much for most so it's good to have the $5900 Expert and the $4600 Foundation builds.
For more information visit Primer bike on Intense website.