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 suspension 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.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
While Shimano’s triple drivetrain certainly still has a
place, there is no reason why a 2x10 or even a 1x11 drivetrain wouldn’t complement the Spider Comp perfectly.
FSA’s SL-K flat bar is excellent if you’re looking for a
very stiff and lightweight carbon bar; however, it transmits
plenty of chatter that may have contributed to some armpump issues we had. If you’re racing the Spider, enjoy the stiffness and put creature comforts second. If you’re trail
riding, swap this bar out for one of FSA’s riser bars that
offers more compliance.
The Kenda Nevegal tires offer tons of traction and are
very versatile. If the Spider is feeling a little sluggish,
though, it might have something to do with the tire choice.
We’ve had excellent luck with Kenda’s Honey Badger 29er
tires, which would certainly drop ounces from the rotating
weight and liven up the pedaling and climbing manners.
We’ve sifted through a mountain of 29er full-suspension
trailbikes, and while many of them had traits we loved,
most of them also had flaws we deemed incurable without
either downsizing the wheel size or travel. The Spider has
broken this paradigm. Intense has done an excellent job
building a nimble 29er with enough travel to tackle tough
trails with confidence.
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