Light the blue touch paper and stand well back, this is one seriously explosive 29er
Need to know
- 29er trail bike with adjustable travel
- 115mm or 130mm travel with carbon upper link
- SL frame saves 300g with titanium hardware and high-modulus carbon-fibre
- Lower link incorporates grease ports for easy maintenance
With four new models released this year, there must be matchsticks under the eyelids of everyone in the design and engineering departments at Intense Cycles.
So where does this new model slot into the range, and how does it compare to the other bikes released this year?
With 29in wheels and 130mm of rear wheel travel, the Primer wriggles in below the enduro-orientated 140mm Carbine 29, squeezing out the old Spider 29C in the process, while sharing the same trail-riding attitude as the 27.5in Tracer.
However, it’s not quite as simple as that.
The Primer front triangle actually comes out of the same mould as the ACV Plus bike. It also gets identical travel, and very similar geometry. The swingarm, though, is completely different. Using a single spar upright, it’s lighter than the ACV’s back end, but lacks the ultimate stiffness (and clearance) of the Plus version.
Intense claws back some of this lost stiffness with a locking collet Boost 148mm axle, which makes removing the wheel a long-winded process demanding two different size hex keys. You can use a simple screw-thru axle instead, but then you forgo the stiffness gains.
So why didn’t Intense simply release the ACV in two versions — seeing as they are effectively the same bike — and enjoy the option to run it as a Plus bike or a 29er, along with enjoying the benefits of a simpler, stiffer swingarm?
Intense says it wanted to create two dedicated models, rather than a single bike with compromises in either wheel size.
That’s a fair point, and the Primer is certainly the lighter of the two, as well as offering greater versatility with the option to run a front derailleur.
On the other hand, consolidating the ACV and Primer would have given cost savings on the manufacturing front, and created a more streamlined range without reducing its breadth.
Interestingly, the novelty of the Primer also shows up the age of the Carbine 29. Although this is pitched as Intense’s big wheel all-mountain/enduro machine, when we measured our Primer it actually boasted a slacker head angle, longer wheelbase and (much) lower bottom bracket.
What was crystal clear, from the very first moment we pedalled off on the Primer, is that this is one seriously fast bike. At just 11.4kg (25lb) in size large (helped, it has to be said, by those 1,500g DT Swiss carbon wheels), it flatters your fitness and responds almost telepathically to even the subtlest input.
With a steep seat angle and ruthlessly efficient pedalling characteristics, you’ve got no excuses on the climbs — and little use for anything but the open shock setting — but the well-balanced geometry, purposeful cockpit and stable Fox suspension makes it an absolute weapon on fast, flowing singletrack too.
Sure, you can throw it into steep, techy turmoil with no problem, but this is a bike that really feels most at home when the speeds are high and the trails flow like white water. Just turn on the taps…