Project: Intense Socom FRO

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Intense Socom sitting pretty at sub 35lbs (click to enlarge)

Introduction:

In 2007, Intense introduced a new model to their fleet of bikes, the Socom FRO. The Socom went through a few variations in its naming (S.O.S. – Sea Otter Special, Sussi – 6.6/Uzzi, and more) but eventually got called the Socom. The Socom FRO has 8″ of travel and has similar static geometry to their M3. In 2008, Intense modified the Socom slightly from the feedback they received to bring you an even better bike.

So what is the point of the Socom? The Socom FRO is designed to be a lightweight downhill frame that combines the strength of an Uzzi and the lightweight 6.6 into a downhill package. The Socom FRO’s geometry is downhill inspired with 8″ of rear travel and Intense suggests a 180-200mm fork to mate with it. FRO is “For Racing Only” but it still carries Intense’s 2 year warranty so rest assured it’s not a throw away frame that the name might imply.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

all Intense bikes are built in the USA (click to enlarge)

The FRO badge isn’t meant as a daily bike necessarily but it does offer some additional strength over their standard offerings. They use weight optimized tubing (which doesn’t mean weaker necessarily) in addition to different weld specifications. Rick the welder expounded a bit more on the FRO techniques used and all tube junctions are double butted, or straight gauge. Similar to the Uzzi VPX, it is double welded at all joints. Like pipe welding, bead is applied on the inside as well as the outside.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

So with the introductions out of the way, our goal with this lightweight frame was to push the limits ever so slightly with what a “normal” DH bike weight might be typically construed as. With properly set up suspension, the bike should still track just as well as a heavier bike as the pilot is the one controlling what the bike is doing and not the mass of the bike or rider. Faster acceleration, more responsiveness, and increased agility are a few benefits of a lighter downhill bike.

With that said, some of the pieces we selected aren’t the typical “bombproof”. Realistically everything is fair game to get broken in a DH situation. We stuck to a lot of strong parts where we felt they were needed to keep this rig running smoothly without any major hiccups with some attention to detail in part selection to keep the weight down. Every piece on a bike counts. Saving 10 grams on every part of a bike seems insignificant in the short term, but makes a big difference in the overall weight.

Ready to see one of the sickest Socom’s ever created? We thought so! Full review later in the season, continue on to see the parts we picked for our build. You can read what Competitive Cyclist had to say about the Socom as well for more knowledgeable information and online purchasing.

[Intense authorized reseller Competitive Cyclist] [Socom Build Gallery]

Frame and Fork:

Frame – Intense Socom FRO (LG)

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

more pictures of the frame can be seen in the gallery (click to enlarge)

Why the Intense Socom FRO?

The Intense Socom has been of interest to us for awhile for a lightweight downhill project and we were able to get a hold of one to do this project. It’s one of the lightest downhill frames available and has proven to be quite strong in its first year. In 2008 with the small changes Intense made, it’s even better. There are plenty of other light DH frames that are even lighter than our Socom.

While a lot of people have built some really light Socom’s, the goal with ours was to be lighter than most of the one’s we’d seen (38 – 40lbs) while still retaining the downhill vitals (suspension, tires, drivetrain, brakes, etc). A lot of bikes tend to put on 2.35″ tires, singly ply tires, air shocks, single crown fork, XC rims, carbon fiber guides, and other easy methods to quickly lighten a bike that often compromises its strength and race-ability. Our goal was to maintain the coil rear shock, 2.5″ dual ply/UST tires, a solid DH rim, and a slew of other facets we felt were important in a DH bike that we’ll expound on further.

Socom Frame spec’s

  • 1.5″ headset
  • 73mm Bottom Bracket (allows for lighter cranks and more clearance)
  • 135mm x 12mm rear dropouts or 150 x 12mm dropouts
  • ISCG-OLD

Shock – Rock Shox Vivid 5.1

The Vivid is new this year and we’ve heard good stuff about it so we thought it was appropriate to incorporate one into our build. Teamed with an Obtainium Performance titanium spring, it’s a super light setup that maintains a light suspension platform and retains the feel of the coil rear shock that air often can’t compare to. The Obtainium TI spring is one of the few titanium springs you can get that will fit the Rock Shox Vivid. In addition to that, it’s possibly the best TI spring on the market now given their history, features, and materials. The spring is unique and you can read more about it in our Obtainium writeup.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

Fork – Pushed Rock Shox Boxxer World Cup

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

Why the Boxxer WC

The Boxxer was chosen for a few reasons. It’s by far one of the lightest dual crown DH race fork on the market at this time. It’s lightweight and it’s easy to maintain and troubleshoot. The Boxxer Team could be swapped in for some added weight (~1lb), but has less maintenance.

The Boxxer WC is light, real light. It weighed in at 6.2lbs. It has 32mm stanchions and offers 8″ of travel. It’s easy to adjust and with the air cartridge it’s easy to dial in. PUSH Industries did a few tweaks to the fork with more to come later to finish it off.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

Wheels and Tires:

Wheelset – Sapim CX Ray / Sapim Polyax Brass Nipples / Mavic 721 / King ISO

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Why we chose to build these wheels?

Wheels are an area where you don’t want to skimp on a downhill bike if you want them to last. You can opt for a cheaper setup (like Sun SingleTrack’s to Hope Pro II’s) if you’re looking for a setup that will last pretty good but is easy to replace should you mess them up.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

For the Socom we decided to go with a converted Mavic 721 rim to tubeless setup with Stan’s No Tubes. What Stan’s does is provide you with a kit to convert your non-tubeless rims to tubeless. There are other ways of converting standard rims to tubeless, but the Stan’s option is a pretty solid one in my experiences and offers benefits and less trial/error that most people often get overwhelmed with. With the conversion our wheelset is slightly lighter than a UST setup, inherently has some puncture resistance with the Stan’s solution, and still retains a lot of the benefits of a non-conversion based tubeless setup.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Stan’s No Tubes (click to enlarge)

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Stans rim strip detail installed (click to enlarge)

The spokes we chose are the Sapim CX-Ray spokes. These spokes aren’t cheap by any means, but I’ve had great experiences with these spokes. These are the lightest spokes that I feel confident using and it doesn’t get much lighter than these. Sapim spokes are also used by many top DH teams (Honda, etc) and they are some solid spokes in my experience with a good build. They’re easy to visually see spoke windup during buildup due to their aero design and the Sapim Polyax brass nipples hold the tension very well. Sapim’s also build up with higher spoke tension making the wheel build stronger. That being said, they’re not as easy to buildup, so it’s important to have a good experienced wheel builder assemble them for you like Chad @ Red Barn Bicycles.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

the aero cross section of the spokes (click to enlarge)

The 721 / Sapim CX-Ray / Sapim Polyax brass nipples wheel setup we’ve got laced to Chris King ISO hubs. The Chris King hubs don’t need much explanation as to why we chose them. They’re beautifully built with the level of detail you’d expect from Chris King. With 72 points of engagement via their RingDrive putting power down is easy in technical sections as well as in the flat. Chris King’s service and 5 year warranty are some of the best in business which is nice to know when being rough on parts.

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The wheels weigh in at 2044g (961g front / 1083g rear). The Stan’s kit adds a small bit on top of this (each wheel: 54g Stan’s solution, 69g rim strip, 17g Velox tape, 3g strapping tape) but the benefit is that you no longer have to run a tube which saves weight and no pinch flatting. We won’t lament more on tubeless and how it saves weight, but feel free run the numbers yourself and you’ll see.

Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 DHF UST

Tires are somewhat preferential and it’s hard to suggest one tire for everyone. We opted to go with the Maxxis DHF UST tubeless tire. Michelin makes great UST tires as well that seal up really nicely. If you’re going with a tubed version, you can still run these tubeless but you’ll need to add some sealant like Stan’s No Tubes. I would also only recommend 2ply tires, as everything else so far has been sub par that isn’t. When it comes down to a true DH tire that I trust, 2ply or UST DH tires are the only way to go.

The Maxxis 2.5 DHF UST tires weighed in at ~1250g per tire. Running tubeless UST tires has its benefits. There is less weight on the outermost point of the rim which helps them accelerate fast as well as offering increased traction, pinch flat protection, and lower rolling resistance.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Drivetrain:

Cables & Housing – Shimano SIS

Standard Shimano SIS housing was used in this build. It’s very lightweight and works great.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Regular SIS housing

Cassette – Shimano Dura Ace 11-12-14-16-17-19

For the cassette, we opted with a 6-speed custom cassette. It’s made from a 11-23 Dura-ace cassette and a 16t XT cog. We opted with this custom geared cassette as it provides a few benefits in our specific bike. It gives a small security zone (3 less cogs) which means the chances of getting a derailleur in your expensive wheels is drastically reduced. It also is a specific setup of gears that I use and like so there’s fewer big gaps that you typically see in a 9spd mountain cassette. No need to double shift that typically happens with a road cluster as the gearing on them is often only 1 tooh difference per cog. It may not work for everyone, but if you know what gears you need it makes sense especially if you’re gearing a bike to be a lightweight steed. The custom 6 speed cassette weighs in at 106g, which is more than half the weight of a standard Sram 12-26 pg970 road cassette. If the gearing is a bit to steep, adding two more gears (dura ace 21-23) only adds an additional 40g. In addition to the benefits outlined above, using such a small cassette allows for quick gear changes. Essentially you can traverse up the entire 6spd cassette in one full thumb stroke on the shifter enabling you to get that right gear that much quicker.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Chain – KMC X9SL

The KMC X9SL chain shifts well and is very lightweight. It’s a lightweight chain that doesn’t compromise quality where some other chains fall short. We’ve had no issues with these chains.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Chainguide – E.thirteen LG.1 ISCG Wide Backplate

The e.13 LG1 was chosen as their guides are almost defacto in the downhill community nowadays. They continue to improve their guides and are reliable. The LG.1 also now comes with a taco, so no need to hacksaw a supercharger bashring up to make one. The taco is a small bash that bolts directly to the e.13 backplate to give you a little bit of protection from impacts. The LG.1 is a lightweight chainguide and we’ve modified ours slightly with an e.13 wide backplate to help clear the VPP frame (clock the guide properly) and added a little custom unique plastic setup for now… until someone borrows that idea.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

custom black and white LG1 (click to enlarge)

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

stripped silver backplaste (click to enlarge)

Chainring – e.thirteen 36t guidering

Light and strong. The e.thirteen chainrings are great and it’s a no brainer picking this for me.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Crankset – Shimano Hone Double Crankset 170mm

I chose these cranks for a few reasons. Shimano has their cranksets dialed and it’s rare you’ll find someone that dislikes them for good reason. FSA’s or Race Face’s would be my second choice in cranks as they both make fine products. We could’ve gone with a super lightweight crankset like the XTR’s, but we wanted a little bit more security. The Hone’s combine the lightweight features of the XT/XTR crankset, but provide additional security in the steel pedal insert and washers that is seen on the Saint cranks. They don’t come in 165mm, so 170mm was selected. The weight penalty over the Shimano XT’s is only about 30g (~100g compared to XTR). Should you want a more bombproof setup, Saint’s are beefier but for our lightweight race build we felt it was important to seek a middle ground and the Hone’s are not too expensive as well so they fit the bill perfectly.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Pedals – Straitline / Shimano XTR / Wellgo MG1

For pedals, the Wellgo MG1’s are hard to beat. They’re not too expensive, and offer good grip. Alternatively, the Straitline pedals also are some of my favorite, so for sake of this being a lightweight build we opted to choose the Welgo pedals as they come in at a svelte 377g. Another option if you run clipless pedals is to run a XC clipless pedal. While it won’t provide you with the additional protection and room to sit on of a more caged design like the Mallet or DX clipless pedal, they will give you more clearance in corners and in rock gardens. Should you however catch an XC clipless pedal on a rock though, your chances of needing a new pedal will obviously increase as well as there being less room to rest your foot on in case you are not clipped in.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

Rear Derailleur – Shimano XTR GS M971

The Shimano XTR derailleur is smooth and solid. Shifting is pretty effortless and XTR derailleurs have been reliable for me for a long time.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Rear Shifter – Shimano M800 Saint

The Saint shifter is designed for gravity racing and it utilizes super short paddles to make sure you have ample room to grip the bars without interference. It doesn’t have a gear indicator on it and shifts are crisp and quick with it. It’s also a more knee friendly design as well and rarely does it feel in the way. The positioning of the shifter is vital with its shorter arms but its design is quite well for the intended purpose.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Brakes:

Brakes – Formula ONE

For brakes, I wanted a powerful setup but didn’t want a heavy brakeset. Formula came out with the ONE this year and they’re some impressive brakes. Long story short: XC weight, DH power. They come packed with features that are easy to use and appreciate, like the tool free adjustments for not only the lever position but also the pad contact. The levers can hyper extend a little bit to assist in protecting the vitals of the brake and offer other protective measure you can read about in our past article on the ONE’s. The 24mm piston paired with the 10mm master cylinder provides an even more controllable brake than the Oro/Puro series. Sintered pads paired with a 200mm front / 180mm rear setup have proven to be quite solid.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Our Formula ONE preview can be seen here if you’re looking for more details (click to enlarge)

, Project: Intense Socom FRO , Project: Intense Socom FRO
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Cockpit:

Grips – Sunline Half Waffle grips

These grips feel great and are light to boot. They’ve integrated the lock on mechanism into the grip itself so you get some weight savings in addition to some security (the grips don’t develop slop quite as easily). They’re a tad bigger than an ODI ruffian for comparison.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Sunline makes some of the lightest Lock-On grips around (click to enlarge)

Handlebar – Gravity Light 28″ (710mm)

The FSA Gravity Light bar weighs in at only 278g. While it’s not up to the standards of the 30″ + bar seekers, it has ample room for me to help control the bike. Gravity does however make an 800mm (31.5″) bar if you’re seeking a wide bar but it comes with some additional heft. Ideally I would like a ~29″ bar but the 28″ bar works fine for now and the Gravity Light bar delivers in this category.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Headset – E.13 Zero Stack and FSA IS2 bearings

Great headset. Low stack height. Lightweight. Smooth. The other option we would’ve gone to would’ve been the Hope stepdown but we wanted a deeper insertion headset for this build for a little additional security and the E.13 setup is a killer one that is just as light. Additionally, we are running the headset without a typical top cap and opted to use a few small spacers underneath the compression ring to keep the crowns low. This also allows us to not have to use a taller Boxxer drop crown.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

e.13 has revised the cups with indentations to allow for easier bearing removal (click to enlarge)

Saddle – Selle SLR

This saddle looks like a slice of pizza atop the Thomson Masterpiece seatpost but surprisingly it’s more comfortable than a lot of other saddles out there. This lightweight saddle isn’t the strongest out there but it can take a decent beating and hey, you shouldn’t be sitting down anyway right?

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Seatpost – Thomson Masterpiece

Hands down, Thomson makes some of the best seatposts in my opinion. It’s one of those great set and forget pieces that you never want to neglect but can because it’s made so great. It’s lightweight and strong, and the Masterpiece option is just the icing on the cake. Lighter than a lot of carbon posts but with the security and proven Thomson name. It’s almost a defacto that you’ll see a Thomson on all of our builds given their performance, weight, and elegance.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

find out more about Thomson’s seatposts here (click to enlarge)

Seatpost collar – Hope

Lightweight and reliable. The Hope collar weighs only 20g and is simple. The stock Intense QR collar weighs a little bit more and the Hope one fit our build spec’s nicely so it got the nod.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

Stem – Sunline Boxxer Direct Mount Stem

The Sunline stem bolts directly to the top of the Boxxer crown and it’s got a sweet shine to it as well as some nice lines. It’s solid and is one of the lightest direct mount stems out there at 171g. Since it’s a direct mount stem, you can also (optionally) cut your steerer tube just a bit more should you never plan on running a regular stem with your fork. The stem itself sets the bars pretty low and comes in 50mm length. We added a custom top cap to give it a little more flare / motivation.

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

(click to enlarge)

, Project: Intense Socom FRO

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Weights:

The weight of this bike came in at 34.88 pounds. Parts could be swapped around to make it even lighter if that was your ambition. Running a custom 6 speed cassette helped a good bit in dialing in this purpose built bike for going down only. Adding two more gears (21 & 23) would only add another 40g if the gearing is too steep for your liking but so far the current setup is working fine.

As always, the door is open for more weight savings, but at this weight and build spec, the bike feels great to ride and has a pretty reliable build spec.

The headings are sortable! Click on Part Name, Model, Year, Real(g) to sort by that column heading.

Part Name Model Year Real(g) Pic.
Frame Intense Socom FRO Large 2008 3230 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Fork PUSH Rock Shox Boxxer World Cup 2008 2816 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Headset E13 Zero w/FSA IS2(+43g) +cap/bolt(13g) 2008 131 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Front Brake Formula ONE 2008 239 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Brake Formula ONE 2008 252 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Front Rotor Formula 200mm 2008 181 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Rotor Formula 180mm 2008 136 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Front Adapter Formula 200mm 2008 20 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Adapter Formula 180mm 2008 23 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Axle Aluminum thru axle 2008 74 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Adapter Bolts Disc adapter bolts (6×4) 2008 24 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rotor Bolts Titanium Avid T25 2008 14 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Adapter Bolts Disc caliper adapter bolts (5×4) 2008 20 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Front Wheel Sapim / en721 / 20mm King 2008 961 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Wheel Sapim / en721 / 150mm King 2008 1083 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Crankarms Shimano Hone 170mm FC-M601-2 2008 646 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Chain Guide E.13 LG.1 (bolts +12)(Optional bash +57g) 2008 228 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Chainring e.thirteen 36t (+ring bolts 7g) 2008 51 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Tubeless Stans No Tubes Setup 2008 282 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Chain KMC X9 SL (-36g cut) 2008 229 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Pedals Wellgo MG1 2008 377 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Shock Vivid 5.1 (reducers +11g + 13g) 2008 484 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Spring Obtainium TI 350lb Spring (+18g spacer) 2008 327 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Seatpost Thomson Master 31.6 (-26g cut) 2008 165 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Seatpost collar Hope 34.9 collar 2008 20 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Seat Selle SLR 2004 140 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Front Tire Maxxis DHF UST 2.5 42 2007 1243 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Tire Maxxis DHF UST 2.5 42 2007 1267 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR M971 GS 2008 198 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Shifter Shimano Saint M800 2008 112 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Cables Shimano SIS (+ shifter cable) 2008 60 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Shock Bolts Stock Intense 2008 60 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Cassette Shimano DA (11,12,14,16,17,19) 2008 106 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Stem Sunline Boxxer Stem 2008 171 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Handlebar FSA Gravity Light 28″ 2008 278 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Grips Sunline Half Waffle 2008 93 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Bottom Bracket Shimano XT 2008 81 , Project: Intense Socom FRO
Total Weight 15822g | 34.88 lbs