On the world stage: Jeff says that Shaun Palmer’s 1996
World Championship silver-medal-winning ride and the
Intense M1 he did it on truly put the brand on the map.
factory racing team that would help
take the brand to the top of the sport.
Motocrosser Mike Metzger was a
friend of Intense and, along with racing
some NORBA Nationals on the team,
introduced Jeff to motocrosser and
snowboarder Shaun Palmer. After his
first race aboard the M1, it was apparent that Palmer had some serious talent
and joined the team.
In 1996, Steber got a box van and
sent Randy Lawrence and Palmer on
the road to do the NORBA Nationals.
“There was a point when Shaun would
show up to the World Cups and be
working out of the parking lot more
or less against bigger, more established teams and be the top-placing
American,” recalls Steber.
While they were getting race results,
Palmer and the Intense team were also
making waves in other ways. “When
we showed up to races, we looked
totally different. Our riders were
wearing motocross gear that they had
modified. So, at the same time, we were
kind of changing the whole face of
downhill racing,” says Steber. Palmer
winning the silver medal at the World
Championships less than a second off
the winner’s time highlighted that year.
The next year Intense lost Palmer
CHOOSING TO, AND
to Specialized, but at the same time
picked up a slew of new riders who’d
be riding aboard the M1. With the M1
being so far ahead of its time, many
of the top riders—names like John
Tomac, Leigh Donavon, Brian Lopes,
Toby Henderson and Greg Minnaar—
wanted to be riding Steber’s creation.
The catch? Most of the M1s would be
badged with other brands’ paint jobs.
But, despite the difference in logos, the
unique shape of the bike was undeni-
able on the track. For good measure,
Steber required that they leave the
Intense logo visible on the chainstays.
NOT TO, CHANGE WITH
While Intense built a following in
the downhill world, they also expanded
their product line into nearly every
mountain biking segment, building 10
different models from the ground up
in their California factory. However,
in the mid 2000s, the rise of carbon
fiber began to change the landscape of
the high-end mountain bike market.
“When carbon fiber came along, it took
the high end and pushed the price point
Sweat the small stuff: The guys at Intense
know that every piece of the puzzle is vital.