Bike Check: Chris Kovarik’s new Intense M16 Carbon

The famed Aussie downhiller explains his suspension and component set-up

27.5 DH
The Karver is an Aussie Hero and a Whistler Legend.

The Karver is an Aussie hero and Whistler legend (click to enlarge).

We caught up with Chris Kovarik at Mammoth Mountain for the launch of the new Intense M16 Carbon. In between throwing up roost, he took a few minutes to chat with us regarding the new bike, his personal suspension and component set-up, and more.

Read our review of this new downhill race machine.

The new carbon version of the M16 is light. Claimed weight for the frame is 6.61 lbs w/o shock, and the size M pro build tipped our scales at 35 lbs 7 oz (with ~400 g pedals).

The new carbon version of the M16 is light. Claimed weight for the frame is 6.61 pounds sans shock, and the size M pro build tipped our scales at 35 pounds, 7 ounces with ~400-gram pedals (click to enlarge).

Coming off the alloy version, which was heavier and had more un-sprung weight, Kovarik chose to soften up his suspension. On the carbon bike, he removed 5 PSI from the fork, and slowed the rebound down accordingly.

Our favorite custom touch on the Karver’s M16? This little catch for the front brake line. Those who ride dirt bikes regularly will be familiar with the trick.

Our favorite custom touch on the Karver’s M16? This little catch for the front brake line. Those who ride dirt bikes regularly will be familiar with this trick (click to enlarge).

Kovarik is currently running eight air spacers in the fork, with 75 PSI of air and four clicks of compression from all the way out.

FOX’s new SLS springs (which stands for Super Lightweight Steel) are lighter than most titanium coils and retail for significantly less. Too bad they’re only available in orange currently.

FOX’s new SLS springs (as in super lightweight steel) are lighter than most titanium coils and retail for significantly less. Too bad they’re currently only available in orange (click to enlarge).

Kovarik also takes advantage of FOX’s new SLS springs (which are available in 25-pound increments) to further fine tune his suspension. He went from a 550-pound spring on the alloy model, to 525 on the new carbon bike.

The removable G3 dropouts utilized by Intense in the past allowed riders to easily swap between different wheel sizes and axle standards. As wheel sizes and axle standards have reached an equilibrium in the DH realm, Intense has settled on 27.5” wheels and a 157mm rear end.

The removable G3 dropouts utilized by Intense in the past allowed riders to easily swap between different wheel sizes and axle standards. As wheel sizes and axle standards have reached an equilibrium in the DH realm, Intense has settled on 27.5” wheels and a 157mm spaced rear end (click to enlarge).

During the development of the M16 chassis, Kovarik worked with the engineers to lower the bike’s center of gravity. Intense accomplished this by reducing standover by an inch, shortening the headtube, and ditching the G3 dropouts that came standard on the M9.

The LG1R Carbon Chainguide weighs only 164g.

The LG1R carbon chainguide weighs164 grams (click to enlarge).

While we rarely drop chains with modern drivetrains, there’s no reason not to run a chainguide on a downhill bike — especially one as light as the LG1R Carbon.

Aussie brand Chunked had done some custom engraving done for Chris.

Aussie brand Chunked did some custom engraving done for Kovarik (click to enlarge).

Flat pedals win medals, at least in Kovarik’s case.

The SRAM X01 DH groupset only goes to 7.

The SRAM X01 DH groupset only goes to 7 (click to enlarge).

FOX suspension, Magura stoppers, and a SRAM drivetrain. It’s an interesting mix of components, but it seems to work well for the legendary shredder.

203mm rotors front and rear.

203mm rotors front and rear (click to enlarge).

Kovarik relies on Magura’s four piston MT5 brakes for stopping power and claims that the blend of power and modulation make them the best brakes he’s used.

Dog Tax.

Dog Tax (click to enlarge).

And on an unrelated note, here’s a picture of Intense Marketing Manager Jenn Gabrielli’s new trail dog in training.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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