Full suspension 29ers ten years later

Ten years brings radical changes to the 29er

29er
Intense 29

Then and now full suspension 29ers.

As we stared at our latest test bike, the Intense Carbine 29er, we marveled at all the changes that have come about since the first Intense 29er we tested, the Spider 29.

Key side by side geometry figures for the Spider and the Carbine

Key side by side geometry figures for the Spider and the Carbine

Most notable of all the changes is the head angle so we dug up some old photos to compare the two. We photographed in the same setting to highlight the difference, the 2007′s head angle at 73 degrees and the 2017′s 65.5 degrees. This is truly dramatic since experienced riders know that even one degree of difference is noticeable. This difference of 7.5 degrees signifies how long we’ve come from the early days of full suspension 29ers.

Intense Spider 29

The Rockshox Reba dominated the 29er scene and catapulted 29ers into the mainstream.

Walk with us down memory lane as we chronicle what else changed and what stayed the same in this tale of two bikes.

Key Players

Niner, Astrix, Ventana, Ellsworth, Intense were the key players.

The Intense Spider was one of several bikes we tested in the treat 29er Shootout of 2008. Even back then, the Spider had the steepest head angle at 73. The slackest ones checked in at 71 degrees.

Intense Carbine

Fully decked out model uses carbon in all possible areas.

Today, the Intense Carbine is one of the slackest 29ers in the lot with a 65.5 degree head angle. They want to lead the charge and be ahead of the ‘longer and slacker’ All Mountain bike movement.

Intense Spider 29

Technical descents were always exciting much like the bikes of that age.

Travel for the Intense Spider was 100mm front and rear. It climbed fairly well but when things got steep and chunky, it was a handful indeed.

Travel for the new Intense Carbine is 155 rear and 160mm front. It is a bruiser of a bike that does well on the burliest terrain with the rider throwing moving all over the bike to transfer weight where it is needed

Intense Carbine

1×12 gearing is now found in all top builds.

The wheelbase and other geometry details

The other staggering difference aside from the head angle is the wheelbase. 47.4 inches versus the the old 42 reveals over a five inch difference between the two 29ers. That is a significant one indeed and it results in a capable tool that is ridden a little bit differently. The 2017 is not ideal for very slow, twisty trails but on a fast, narrow, chunky descents, the new Carbine will be able to thunder down with ease. More weight shift needs to be used as the rider needs to lean forward, back and throw the bike around sometimes. But it is a capable tool now that our styles have adjusted to the new geometry. The 2017 sports a stubby 40mm stem for quicker steering and a longer 52 mm fork offset.

Chainstay is shorter as well at 17.5 inches. This may not seem much shorter than the 2007 edition’s 18 inches but remember that the new one has 55 mm of rear travel at 155mm.

Intense Carbine

Maxxis Minion DHR is the common benchmark.

Other bits

The old bike had 680mm bars and a 90 mm stem while the new one has 800mm bars and 40mm stem. This reflects a radical movement towards longer top tubes, shorter stems and wider bars. This results in bikes that are more stable in descents and easier to control on technical descents. It is easier to put weight on the tires too when cornering with the additional leverage provided by the wide bars.

The new bike also sports a 150mm dropper post while the old one provides none. The dropper post has become an essential part of the system as it is almost impossible to ride a bike of this caliber effectively on the rowdy descents it was designed for.

Weight and price

Interestingly enough, the weight hasn’t really changed on these top end builds. The 2007 edition weighed in at 28 lbs and the new one weighs 29 lbs with the dropper post that weighs more than a lb. The new bike though is much stronger than the old as it features a carbon frame and wheels that will be ready to take on more stress and impacts 5 years into its life, unlike the aluminum 2007 Intense.

Intense Spider 29

Stem was 90mm and bars were 700mm.

Price is definitely higher at $10k for this top end Carbine compared to the $5k top of the line Spider. But the good news is there is a $4k 2017 Carbine available and we’ll attest that is a much better bike and value than the 2007 Spider.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the iconic Intense Cycles head badge. Intense has held true to form making leading edge full-suspension bikes. They’ve had highs and lows in the past decade and have had to retool for the winds of change in manufacturing economies and mountain bike trends. But they’ve evolved and are making excellent bikes to this day.

Intense Carbine

Headbadge is unchanged.


Check out our photo gallery to view detailed shots of both bikes.

Did you ride the old full suspension 29ers then and now? What are the most noticeable differences for you?

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • twindaddy says:

    2007 complete bike: ~$3000
    2017 complete bike: >$3000

    It’s funny reading some of the reviews from 2007. Folks were pleased with the 73 degrees. Made it feel more like the bikes they preferred at the time.

  • I'mRight says:

    I can’t believe someone is still riding a 10 year old FS bike. Must be pretty clapped out by now?

    • jc says:

      I’m sure there are some folks enjoying their 10 y.o. FS bikes. Photos here are from 10 years ago when these were the state of the art rigs.

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