Light the blue touch paper and stand well back, this is one seriously explosive 29er

Product Overview

Intense Primer Factory Pro


  • Staggeringly fast and ultra responsive. Dream build includes parts from Renthal, DT Swiss and Fabric.


  • Rear axle is a pain. Would like to see a removable front mech mount for cleaner lines.


Intense Primer Factory Pro first ride


Price as reviewed:


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.

We’ve already brought you first rides on the Tracer 275 and ACV Plus bike, and tested the 140mm travel Recluse, which only leaves this; the all-new Primer.


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.

Switching between 115 and 130mm travel doesn’t change geometry

Switching between 115 and 130mm travel doesn’t change geometry

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.

Rear axle is stiff but makes wheel changes a pain

Rear axle is stiff but makes wheel changes a pain

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.

Handy grease port keeps the lower link in fine fettle

Handy grease port keeps the lower link in fine fettle

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…


Frame only can be yours for £2,899


Frame:Full monocoque UD carbon, carbon upper link, 115/130mm travel
Shock:Fox Factory Float, Evol can
Fork:Fox Factory 34 Float, 140mm travel
Wheels:DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline wheels, Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29x2.35in tyres
Drivetrain:SRAM XX1 Eagle crank, shifter and r-mech
Brakes:Shimano XTR, 180/160mm
Components:Renthal Fatbar Carbon 760mm, Renthal stem, Fabric Scoop Radius Pro saddle, RockShox Reverb dropper post
Weight:11.4kg (25lb)
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Size ridden:L
Rider height:5ft 10in
Head angle:66.8°
Seat angle:72°
BB height:330mm
Front centre:748mm
Down tube:725mm
Top tube:622mm