The only round tube on the 6.6 is the seat tube. A heavily manipulated Easton Taperwall down tube forms the backbone of the 6.6 frame, where a monocoque top tube envelops it at the hourglass 1.5in head tube. The oversized head tube forced us to deviate from the specified spec as we had to use a Cane Creek reducer headset instead of the S8. Alternatively we could have used reducer cups or, if you are building the bike up from scratch, you may want to consider the 1.5in version of Lyric U-Turn. The choice is yours.
All pivots glide on cartridge bearings but there is no additional sealing or dust covers — fine for sunny California but not ideal for the UK. Tyre clearance on the swingarm of the Intense is also pretty tight.
Cable routing on the 6.6 is along the underside of the top tube and well away from mud but you have to use extra zip-ties to stop the cables bulging out when the suspension compresses.
The 6.6 takes more fettling than the Nomad to get the rear suspension set up properly. You inflate the shock to what you think is giving you the correct amount of sag, then you ride off and then quickly realize that the suspension is way too soft. We found that we typically had to run 220- 240psi for an 80kg rider. We also ran the minimum Boost Valve volume on the Fox DHX5.0 shock to increase the progression of the suspension in the mid to end stroke. The higher shock pressures than the Nomad are primarily due to the shorter stroke shock, but the orientation of the links are also different, making the 6.6 more pressure sensitive. Which is why you can’t use shock sag to adjust the geometry. So while running the shock softer would reel in the 14.5in bottom bracket height, slackening off the head angle a touch while increasing the wheelbase — the catch is that the suspension doesn’t prop you up enough in the mid-stroke, making the bike unrideable on anything other than steep descents. In a nutshell, you are pretty much stuck with the geometry.
Because the Intense 6.6 has a steeper lower link than that found on the Nomad it has a more rearward initial axle path, which increases chain growth. As a result, when you’re climbing in the granny ring, and to a lesser degree the middle ring, the 6.6 has a lot of pedal feedback. Considering how far suspension has come in recent years it’s surprising that this cutting-edge take on a VPP design doesn’t feel that dissimilar to an old-school high single-pivot.
Also, because the suspension on the Intense 6.6 has a linear mid-stroke it doesn’t just kick back on a single hit but, as the suspension oscillates about the sag position, you get an interrupted pedal stroke for a couple of bike lengths after the initial impact while the suspension settles down. All of which makes perfect sense to us, but what we can’t explain is why the 6.6 is so slow — it just doesn’t carry speed. And remember, it had exactly the same spec as the other bikes here so it’s not about the wheels, tyres or forks. Could it be the suspension?
The steeper angles should make the Intense a good climber, but the sky-high 14.5in bottom bracket, short 43 3/4in wheelbase and tight back end perch the rider on top of the bike, making the front end very light while climbing. Granted you’re never going to clip your pedals (and we tried to), and the Intense 6.6 is great on tight switchbacks, but we feel that those small gains aren’t worth compromising the handling of the bike.
MBR RATING: 6/10