2018 Intense Sniper XC Factory Bike

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Long, Low, Slack and Only 22 Pounds - Intense Launches Sniper XC and Trail Bikes

It's a great time to be a mountain biker. The variety of bikes and the technology available for all genres of riding is phenomenal. At Vital, we're always looking for bikes to take bigger hits and hit higher speeds downhill while seldom worrying about weight penalty or uphill ability, so when Intense invited us to check out their new Sniper XC bike, we were a little reluctant. 100mm of travel, FOX 32 Stepcast fork, light-weight tires; the bike didn't really feel like our cup of tea. Then they told us the geometry and cockpit figures. The Sniper wasn't stuck in 1997 so we perked up a bit and took them up on a First Ride.

Now, I'm not the guy who looks forward to going uphill. I ride up so I can get down, but I was interested to see just how a bike made for the uphills with modern

It's a great time to be a mountain biker. The variety of bikes and the technology available for all genres of riding is phenomenal. At Vital, we're always looking for bikes to take bigger hits and hit higher speeds downhill while seldom worrying about weight penalty or uphill ability, so when Intense invited us to check out their new Sniper XC bike, we were a little reluctant. 100mm of travel, FOX 32 Stepcast fork, light-weight tires; the bike didn't really feel like our cup of tea. Then they told us the geometry and cockpit figures. The Sniper wasn't stuck in 1997 so we perked up a bit and took them up on a First Ride.

Now, I'm not the guy who looks forward to going uphill. I ride up so I can get down, but I was interested to see just how a bike made for the uphills with modern geometry would work. I met with Chad Peterson and Chappy Fiene of Intense at one of the trails I frequent. It's a quick ride, not very steep, but has lots of fun corners, a couple short, high-speed sections and some rocks and ruts to keep things interesting for a spritely mid-day ride.

They pulled the Snipers out of the van. Like all Intenses, they were lookers. Every detail was refined and polished. One of the graphic treatments was loud, one was stealth, and the first thing I thought was how much they looked like a modern trail bike, specifically because of the short (proper) stem. Of course the first thing I did was lift the bike. WOW. Hovering around the 23-pound mark (with dropper post) it was a feather. Squishing around the parking lot, the bike was definitely felt different than my trail bike. The weight (duh) paired with the suspension feel and tires caught me by surprise a bit. Less travel and the lightweight FOX 32 felt minimal in stature and damping while the Maxxis Rekons (2.25, EXO) seemed to be on the "balloony" side of things. I knew, however, this bike was made for efficiency and the angles, however, felt right at home.

We discussed the bike a bit and then hit the trail. Chappy and Chad are fit specimens of humanity. In fact, the Sniper is Chad's creation because he rides a TON. He put down nearly 12,000 trail miles last year. And he's not riding fireroads or buffed-out singletrack 24/7, he's often riding in Laguna, which has some notoriously steep and rough pieces of trail. Chad says, "I really enjoy enduro bikes, but I really enjoy the all-day, long rides and the Sniper helps me get there." I, on the other hand, enjoy 1-2 hour rides as an escape from the computer and this website when possible. A 7-hour epic would literally probably kill me, so I don't mind lugging around a bit more bike for the short time I'm on the trail. I was, however, amped to see how this masterpiece of machinery would work with my dad-bod stamina on the trail.

Sniper XC Pro - $5,999
Sniper XC Factory - $8,499
Sniper XC Expert - $4,499

Sniper XC Highlights

  • Travel: 100mm front and rear
  • Wheel Size: 29"
  • Frame Weight: 4.05lbs (Size Medium)
  • Headtube Angle: 67.5 ̊
  • Reach: 421 mm / 16.6” (Small) // 445 mm/ 17.5" (Medium) // 468 mm / 18.4” (Large) // 490 mm / 19.3” (XL)
  • BB Height: 13-inches
  • Stem Length: 50mm

Complete Intense Sniper XC Factory build, spec and geometry

Sniper Trail Highlights

  • Travel: 120mm front and rear
  • Wheel Size: 29"
  • Headtube Angle: 66.5 ̊
  • Reach: 421 mm / 16.6” (Small) // 445 mm/ 17.5" (Medium) // 468 mm / 18.4” (Large) // 490 mm / 19.3” (XL)
  • BB Height: 13.3-inches
  • Stem Length: 50mm

Like I said, the trail isn't steep and we were hitting an abbreviated version of my ride due to time constraints. It has a few really short steeps that I usually chug through in the 50t on a SRAM Eagle setup (KAKAAH). Guess what? I never dropped in to that 50t on the climb. AND because this was a social ride, I had to carry on a conversation with Chappy and Chad while sucking wind. I noticed the svelte character of the tires on the way up a couple times. If I hit a rock in a less-than-square fashion, they would deform and rebound. The tires were bouncier and less damped than what I'm used to. The suspension kept the bumps in check though and the grip of the tires was just fine going up. Unless it's a fireroad climb, Chad and Chappy keep the shock open and I did, too.

Frame-only options available for $2,499

We get to the top and I was stoked I never dropped to granny and felt like I'd never gone up the hill that fast (which isn't rocket science considering I've dropped 8-pounds in bike weight alone). I was sweaty and panting but I felt less depleted than normal. Chappy and Chad didn't have a drop of sweat on them and were looking around as if this was the warm up to the start of the ride (ok, that's an exaggeration but they had to be in resting heart-rate still, ha). Time to descend.

Intense Sniper XC Factory #drool

We messed around filming a couple sections, and cruised down the trail. This bike is LIGHT. I could instantly feel how easily it was to move the bike around. I could also tell the bike only had 100mm of travel. The tires were considerably more lively than my trail bike with more bounce. I didn't, however, feel like I was going any slower or more cautiously on the descent: Line-wise, I didn't alter anything out of fear, as the bike felt predictable enough, which I feel is the power of the Sniper's modern geometry. The head angle (relative to the travel) is slack, the bottom bracket is nice and low and the stem length is familiar for those with descent-oriented backgrounds. The bike went through the same rocks and held the same off-camber, inside lines I'd normally try to hit. I could corner with nearly the same confidence of my trail bike, too. Pedaling out of corners was considerably improved with the nimble bike.

There are two sections of trail, however, that are faster and end in a hard corner. One section has a stack of braking bumps. This is where I noticed the FOX 32 and its fore and aft flex. I'm not a lightweight guy and the fork was probably panicked when it saw me, but riding an XC fork is a different, noodle-y feel compared to a FOX 34 or 36, especially when hard on the brakes or through the chatter of braking bumps. While different, it's not a deal-breaker and even though I felt that characteristic of the fork, I wasn't concerned, finishing the trail with a big smile at the bottom, just like I always do.

Sniper Trail Expert - $4,499

The biggest tease of the day was the fact that the Intense Sniper Trail version of this bike will be coming out in May. It's a 120mm version of the XC with 30mm width rims, 2.35 tires and FOX 34 up front. Now we're talking! I could easily see a bike like the Sniper Trail being a daily driver in my life over my beefier trail bike. The Sniper XC that I rode, however, was a really fun and eye-opening bike, especially for those chasing distance, adventure and a capable descender. While it may be a bit too waify for this guy at this point in my life, Intense has really completed their bike line-up nicely with the introduction of the Sniper.

Our Intense Sniper XC is going to be properly tested under one of Vital's hammerheads, so stay tuned for a thorough and longer-term review of this eye-catching carbon beauty.

The Sniper XC comes in four models, Factory, Pro (the bike I rode), Elite and Expert all with varying spec and price. The Sniper Trail will be available in Pro and Expert models. They will be available for purchase directly from Intense or from your local Intense dealer.

Visit www.intensecycles.com for more information or to purchase the new Sniper.

Specifications

Product Intense Sniper XC Factory Bike
Model Year 2018
Riding Type Cross Country
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 584mm 609mm 635mm 660mm
Head Tube Angle 67.5° 67.5° 67.5° 67.5°
Head Tube Length 90mm 95mm 105mm 115mm
Seat Tube Angle 74 (effective) 74 (effective) 74 (effective) 74 (effective)
Seat Tube Length 406mm 437mm 488mm 538mm
Bottom Bracket Height 330mm 330mm 330mm 330mm
Chainstay Length 439mm 439mm 439mm 439mm
Wheelbase 1127mm 1152mm 1179mm 1206mm
Standover 769mm 771mm 776mm 781mm
Reach 421mm 445mm 468mm 490mm
Stack 570mm 575mm 584mm 593mm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details SL Monocoque UD Carbon Front and Rear Triangle, Carbon Top Link, Magnesium Lower Link, Internal Derailleur Routing, Ti Hardware, w/ 148 x12 mm spacing
Rear Travel 100mm
Rear Shock FOX Factory DPS, Kashima, 165 x 40 mm
Fork FOX Factory 32 Kashima, 3 Postion Adjust 29, 44mm offset, Boost Kabolt 110x15mm
Fork Travel 100mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset Cane Creek AER Integrated Headset, Aluminum Bearing Series, IS41- IS52/40
Handlebar Enve Mountain RSR 760mm Carbon
Stem Enve 55mm
Grips Intense Nano Foam
Brakes Shimano XTR Centerlock, 160mm FR / 160mm RR
Brake Levers Shimano XTR
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM XX1 Eagle 12speed
ISCG Tabs No
Chainguide N/A
Cranks SRAM DUB XX1 Carbon Eagle Boost GXP 175mm
Chainrings SRAM 34t
Bottom Bracket SRAM BB92
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM XX1 Eagle 12speed
Cassette SRAM XG1299 XX1 Eagle 12speed, 10-50T
Rims ENVE 29 M525 Carbon Clincher, 25mm inner width, 24 hole front, 28 hole rear
Hubs DT Swiss 240 Classic, Centerlock, 110x15mm, 24 Hole Front / 28 hole 148x12mm, XD
Spokes DT Swiss Competition, 2.0/1.8/2.0mm
Tires Maxxis 29x2.25 Rekon Maxxspeed Folding, 120 TPI, DC/EXO/TR
Saddle Fabric Line Pro w/ Carbon Rails
Seatpost KS Carbon LEV Ci, 125 mm Dropper
Seatpost Diameter
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12x148
Max. Tire Size 2.3
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Grey / Raw or Red /Raw
Warranty 5-year limited
Weight 21.09 lb 0 oz (9,566 g)
Miscellaneous Weight size medium
Internal derailleur routing
Price $8,499
More Info

​The Sniper is a ground-up, dedicated, pedaling machine with two different travel versions, XC 100mm and Trail 120mm. Short travel rigs should descend like their long travel siblings and that’s what we’ve done. This is no “Twitchy XC bike”. With the 29” wheel size and progressive XC/Trail geometry, you get a stable ride that goes where you point it. Offered with a standard hard- ware package as well as a light weight SL package to shave some grams, the Sniper takes XC Race and Trail riding to the next level.

Key Features

  • Longer front center per-size and spec’d with a short 50mm stem gives you a comfortable  t 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 forgivingness and con dence 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.

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