Like Spidey-Sense For The Trail
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
While it shares its name with the aluminum Spider, the
Spider Carbon Comp is a completely different bike built to
be highly versatile. It sports more travel and a much slacker
geometry that’s capable of tackling steeper and rockier trails.
With a claimed 5.5-pound frame weight, this bike could be
built as a very fast cross-country racer, but clearly it was
designed for more.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Spider sports full-carbon construction that was
designed with the help of SEED, the German carbon specialists who have helped with all of Intense’s carbon projects.
The frame also sports a VPP Generation 2 suspension system
with 4. 5 or 5 inches of travel that’s easily adjusted by moving
the shock mount position. The frame is held together with
aluminum rockers and hardware that’s entirely designed,
machined and assembled at Intense’s world headquarters in
Temecula, California. The frame also uses Intense’s G1 dropouts with a 12x142-millimeter rear axle, tapered head tube,
PressFit bottom bracket and ISCG tabs, should you choose to
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Intense puts together a smart package that’s full of trail-proven components. The Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes
are workhorses that have yet to give us issues. We also
applaud Intense’s decision to go with a non-travel-adjustable
fork, such as the Fox Float CTD; we never felt the front end
wander, even on the steepest of climbs.
The icing on the cake is the vastly improved cable routing
compared to Intense’s first few carbon projects. The internal
routing is well thought out and virtually eliminates the cable-
rub issues we experienced while testing the Carbine 26 and
27. 5 bikes.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Like most 29ers, the Spider’s sizing tends to
run big compared to its smaller-wheeled brethren. With most
of the wrecking crew standing over 6 feet tall, we almost
always test large-sized frames, but with the Spider, we were
perfectly comfortable on a medium. Be sure to look carefully
at the measurements to determine the right size for you.
Setup on the Spider is remarkably simple, thanks to the
single air-pressure adjustments on the Fox Float
suspension. We simply set the fork and shock
to 30-percent sag and hit the trails.
Pedaling: With a relatively steep
73-degree seat angle, the Spider is clearly
designed to knife through turns and
pedal to the top of any hill. This bike
puts the rider in a strong position
right over the pedals. The rear sus-
pension is efficient, and we rarely
found ourselves reaching for the CTD
lever for a firmer pedaling platform.
If you’re pedaling on pavement to the
trailhead, though, you will appreciate
that this lever is easy to reach.
Climbing: This bike isn’t the lightest,
which might make climbing purists cringe;
however, it hides its weight well and feels svelte
on the trail. Of course, if light weight is your ultimate
goal, the Spider Comp could easily be put on an inexpensive
diet to shave weight and improve its already-snappy climbing
Cornering: Here’s where the Spider really shines.
Whereas other 5-inch-travel 29er bikes can feel like you’re
driving a school bus down the trail, the Spider hides its big
wheels and feels much more nimble than a long-travel 29er
should. The VPP suspension allows Intense to tuck the rear
wheel in closer than other suspension designs and keeps the
chainstay length very short. This means the Spider can rally
switchbacks with ease.
While the dual-link design exhibits a tiny bit of flex in the
corners, it’s all but covered up by the incredible stiffness of
the carbon chassis. Simply put, this bike rails corners.
Descending: The short chainstays and lively feel of the
Spider mean that Intense didn’t have to steepen the head
angle to keep this bike in check. Instead, the designers were
free to keep the front end slack and stable. We found ourselves floating over obstacles with ease, especially at speed.
Striking a solid balance with adequate travel, big wheels and
dialed geometry is a very elusive goal, but Intense has done it
with this bike.
Suspension feel: The VPP suspension on the Spider has a
very controlled feel that will satisfy just about any trail rider.
While the top end of the stroke has just a bit of pedaling support, the middle of the stroke is extremely active and effective at leveling trail chatter. The end of the stroke also offers
just enough bottom-out control to keep the gravity junkie in
all of us happy on small- to medium-sized drops.
The Spider Comp is the fourth bike in Intense’s line of carbon bikes, and while it’s designed mainly for cross-country and lightweight trail riding, it’s packing
some surprises for riders who prefer to ride the whole mountain rather than stick to tame and smooth terrain.
Intense Spider 29er Carbon Comp