First Rides – All New Intense Sniper XC
Cross-country race bikes have been evolving quite a bit over the last several years, going slacker and longer. While most brands have stayed within a certain range in regards to geometry, Intense Cycles has pushed these boundaries way out with their new Sniper XC.
- Fox SC32 Factory 100mm fork
- Fox Float Factory DPS shock
- SRAM Eagle X01 drivetrain
- Shimano XT brakes (160mm rotors front and rear)
- Intense Recon XC wheels
- Maxxis 29×2.25 Rekon tires
- 125mm KS LEV CI dropper
We got our hands on the Sniper XC early last week and after one ride we realized that this isn’t “just another XC bike”. On paper the Sniper reads more like a modern trail or enduro bike with a slack 67.5-degree HTA (66.5 with 120mm fork) and a lower 13-inch bottom bracket height. Some of the magic they have built into the geometry is with the steeper 44mm offset fork.
There are two versions of the Sniper, a Race and Trail. The XC has 100mm of Steber Tuned suspension, but the Trail version gets a longer travel 120 rear and 120mm 51mm offset fork, while the race gets the 100mm 44mm offset fork.
Both versions use a UD Monocoque carbon fiber frame and rear triangle with Boost 148 spacing. The frame is designed around 29-inch wheels with tire clearance up to 2.3.
There are a few build kit options with all of them getting SRAM Eagle drivetrains. Our test bike has an Eagle X01 drivetrain with a 34-tooth front chainring. We did install a set of RaceFace CINCH Power Meter cranks on our test bike for long term testing.
Intense launched their own line of wheels last year and has their newest Recon XC hoops spec’d on our test bike. The rims are laced to a pair of DT Swiss 350 hubs with Maxxis Rekon 2.25 tires. The bikes come stock with KS LEV CI dropper posts with over the bar remotes.
We did an intro ride with the Intense crew earlier last week to get the run down on this new ripper. Seeing the bike at first, it was easy to spot that it is very progressive, especially for a bike in this suspension category. The frame tubing is sleek, putting the overall weight at about 22-pounds. There are a few key upgrades we could make that would drop the weight even more.
The Sniper pedals exceptionally well, just as well as any other XC race bike we have tested recently. Hitting the first climb the frame felt stiff and responsive, and the rear triangle felt like it was keeping up. XC racers and riders are always looking for an edge on the climbs and the Sniper so far is proving the have one.
Hitting our first descent the Sniper had us rethinking everything we thought possible about XC race bikes. The longer wheelbase felt very stable and the front end nimble yet predictable. Most XC bikes that we have tested in the past take a few rides to get used to, but the Sniper was very easy to adapt to. The progressive geometry makes the Sniper feel like it has way more than 100mm of travel.
We will be riding this machine at the True Grit Epic in Utah later this weekend, to see if it can handle 50-miles of techy single track. We will have much more on this machine later this week and in upcoming issue of MBA.
- Longer front center per-size and spec’d with a short 50mm stem gives you a comfortable fit with precise steering.
- Slack headtube angle coupled with the 44mm offset fork on the 100mm Sniper and 51mm offset on the Sniper Trail give these bikes the forgiveness and confidence of a big travel bike with the responsiveness of a short travel trail ripper.
- Long wheelbase is a huge asset in providing stability and traction while riding fast and rough sections.
- An ideal BB height of 13” on Sniper and 13.3” Sniper trail keeps your pedals out of the dirt and still maintains a nice low center of mass while riding.