Yesterday, the Intense Demo Tour along with BikeBling were at Daley Ranch in Escondido so I swung by to check out the scene. There were lots of folks buzzing around right from the start and it did not take for the 20 plus sweet demo rigs to be set free with test riders out onto the trails. I’m pretty sure that I saw the entire lineup of bikes go out at least twice while I was there.
There was more than just the production bikes there. There were some prototypes and preproduction bikes to kick around as well. Here is a Jeff Steber science project bike. This is a Tracer with a set of ISCG tabs welded onto the bottom bracket to allow for a Hammerschmit crankset to be used. (Production Tracers don’t have these tabs) This is an internal geared crankset that allows you to shift under full load, while coasting or even pedaling backwards. It is effectively a 22/36 crankset. The additional clearance this thing could give is pretty freaking crazy. This could also be pretty awesome if you had a bike that does not accommodate a front derailuer.
There were also couple of rigs they were setback for gawk and droll. One of those rigs was a preproduction UZZI in Works Blue. What an incredible looking bike. This one had the adjustable G3 dropouts set to the shorter wheelbase, a Rockshox Totem fork and the new (I think still prototype?) 2010 Fox DHX-A shock. I’m not sure how much the bike weighs but I guess around 34 pounds or so.
Later on in the morning the guys let me put some dirt on this thing and I have to say I was pretty freaking impressed. Daley Ranch is quite hilly but really does not have all the features to put this bike through all of it’s paces. There is enough there to establish an impression. If I had to sum up my thoughts of this rig into a single sentence it would have to be this.
A killer rig that will have you thinking you have much less than seven inches of travel when you are climbing and you will swear you have much more than seven inches of travel when you are descending.
I do very little shuttling or lift-assisted riding so a rig of this size would have to be able to climb for my usage. Daley Ranch is an excellent place to get your climb on, and I purposely picked a route that would meet my “threshold” for climbing. Basically if the rig could climb this route without undo pain, it would meet my criteria for a “climbable rig”. The sag on the DHX-A shock was not too far off for me so I only added air to the main pressure chamber to get the sag somewhere around 30-35%. So you know what I comparing against, my normal rig is a 6.6 and I have ridden it with an older style (15-click propedal) Fox DHX-A, a RP23, and most recently a Cane Creek Double Barrel shock. Right out of the gate I was impressed with the small bump compliance. I was taking the rockiest lines I could find and it felt really good. The propedal worked as it should, but I found that the climbing efficiency of the VPP design makes propedal not a major concern for me. The bike was setup in trail bike mode with the adjustable G3 dropouts setup for the shorter wheelbase, higher BB and steeper head angle. The slacker angles compared to my 6.6 with a TALAS 36 fork where noticeable on the climbs. I routinely drop my fork down on steeper climbs but you can’t do that with the Totem fork so adjusting your body position was required on the steeper stuff to keep the fork on the ground. This is something I find easily adaptable.
I worked my way to one of my favorite spots that has some rocks to play on that include some drops. I was pretty quite surprised when I hit the first drop. The rear shock felt freaking awesome. In the past I was never really able to get either the RP23 or the DHX-A balanced where I could have small bump compliance and not blow through all of my travel on drops. The feeling in the rearend of the bike on the landing was very similar to the progressive ramp up that you get with a coil shock. I was by myself, but still had to verbally say “WOW”. I spent a good chunk of time sessioning the drops and rocks just to keep checking out the feeling. This shock was not blowing through the midstroke travel like I had seen before in the older DHX-A on my 6.6. I have no idea what is going with the internal changes for the 2010 model but it is certainly a vast improvement. Now experience wise I’m still pretty new to the coil-shock scene, but I would have to say from a layman’s perspective this new DHX-A felt very coil like.
For the downhill stuff, Daley Ranch offers only small bits for letting this rig loose. When those spots came, the bike as expected shined. Holding lines, sucking up rocks and bumps, it was cool. I’m pretty sure this rig would be quite the Chunk Gnar-Meister. I’m betting that those G3 dropouts would be really awesome for some lift-assist action or someplace like Downieville where you could lengthen out the wheelbase, lower the BB and slacken up the headangle.
I sure hope the guys at Intense will be able to get off all the drool marks both I and everyone else left on thier bikes.