Review: 2016 Intense Cycles New Carbon – Spider 275C Factory, Foundation, Expert, Pro
Words: Jason Nixon
We attended the Intense Spider 275C launch in late January and got a chance to ride their latest new bike on some great trails with some great company. The Spider has been in the Intense lineup for some time and the Spider 275C does a nice job of moving the needle not only for Intense as a company but for the cycling community at large as well. The full suspension Spider 275C slots itself in a few categories that we’ll expound upon later but this 110-130mm (4.5” to 5”) bike is a weapon in a wide range of terrains and disciplines.
The Spider 275C Experience
After quickly settling in, dinner, and some general conversation our debrief on the new Spider 275C began. The Intense Team put in a lot of work to make this launch happen and it was clear that all employees and athletes present were glad to be a part of this special occasion.
Jenn Gabrielli kicked things off and was exuberant in announcing their newest bike, the Spider 275C. Chad Peterson and Jeff Steber also helped walk through some of the technical details of the four Spider models that have now officially launched today. This included walking everyone through the JS-Tuned suspension that was employed on the Spider. Previously Intense has used VPP suspension on their bikes but they’ve moved on to JS-Tuned now.
Brian Lopes has been instrumental in testing Intense bikes and he took to the stage as well on a few topics and videos. He graciously led us on a few rides during our stay. In talking with Lopes, it was clear the Spider 275C has been his go-to bike for most days and we quickly understood why after throwing a leg over it. You can watch Lopes on the Spider 275C in the video below.
Video: Brian Lopes
The Spider 275C is a full carbon fiber chassis, front and rear, with various tweaks to the frame and hardware depending on the model purchased. The top Spider 275C models (Foundation/Pro) feature a unique carbon layup in the frame along with titanium and the lower trims utilize an alloy linkage, steel hardware, and other cost saving features.
“Carbon front and rear triangles are the mainstay of the Spider 275C trail bike along
with the short chain stays and nimble geometry that help you whip the bike around on
flowing single track. Ideal for light trail riding and racing, the optimized wheel path and
efficient pedaling platform offer up an easy ride that won’t let you down on the long haul.”
We touched on the four models available (Factory, Pro, Expert, and Foundation) in Part 1 of this review so be sure to check that out if you missed it to learn more about the full range.
Spider 275C Details
Spider Frame Features:
4 Sizes – S,M,L,XL
Adjustable Travel: 4.5″ to 5″ (115mm-130mm)
27.5” Wheel size
Integrated BOOST 148 x 12 dropouts
5.96 lbs / 2,705 grams = Standard frame w/ alloy link, no shock
4.48 lbs / 2,490 grams = SL Super Light frame w/ carbon link, no shock
ISCG 05 Mounts
Internal Cable Routing
Internal Seat Tube Cable Routing for dropper posts
Monocoque front triangle
H20 / Water Bottle Mount
FLK – GRD Downtube and Chainstay protection
Tapered Head Tube
Direct Mount Front Derailluer
Angular Contact/Collet Bearing System with replaceable Grease Zerks
$9,499 – Factory
$6,799 – Pro
$5,899 – Expert
$4,599 – Foundation
$3,199 – Frame w/ Shock
The Geometry doesn’t change when you move the travel setting on the rear. The 110mm mode is designed for XC usage and is more progressive while the 130mm mode allows for a more linear all-mountain enduro feel. The rear travel settings on the Factory edition aren’t etched into the carbon like the Foundation and Expert are in the aluminum links but the 130mm mode is the top hole and 110mm for the bottom.
Build and Ride Details
Riding the 275C (Laugna and some slow-mo in Dupont)
The new Intense Spider 275C will be a quiver killer for many cyclists. The Spider 275C is light and nimble enough to take on an XC ride one day and can easily take on more burly Enduro-like terrain in the 130mm mode the next day. We really liked the geometry of the new Spider 275C as the top tube was lengthened compared to the new Tracer. With all of the tweaks they’ve done to the Spider, we have been impressed with it. While in the 130mm mode, the Spider rode uphill with ease and it’s clear why Brian Lopes spends so much time on this bike as it can cover a swath of terrain comfortably.
Our XL Spider 275C weighed in at a scant 24.75lbs (without pedals) and this really helped the bike push, pop, and float over all types of terrain with ease. The build spec on the Factory edition is impressive to say the least. Quality carbon parts across all areas including wheels, as well as the FOX 34 Fork and FOX FACTORY FLOAT EVOL setup that left us quite impressed. These bikes are spec’d well from the factory and it is a bike that will roll right from the shop to the trail without modification for a vast majority of the market. The Intense grips were also quite comfy.
Cable routing is internal except for a few egress points like where the downtube guard is and while there aren’t internal guides to help route the cables between the internal holes like the carbon Tracer, the Spider is a much more lightweight bike with a different set of design specifications.
All of the Spider models feature a 1x setup but have the capability to run a front derailleur or ISCG-05 mount if needed. The bottom bracket is a press fit style (pf92) which is lightweight but we’re still fans of traditional screw-in style ones if we have to be picky. The molded protection around the chainstay and seat stay are nice and show a refined state.
The Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s worked very well in a wide variety of terrain from California, the East Coast,as well as in the North Carolina Dupont / Pisgah area. Intense even spec’d a combination of a PaceStar and a TrailStar compound on the front/rear which many people often do to get good grip and extend the life out of a sticky tire.
The build spec includes Shimano XTR brakes that we found quite good and had a very consistent bite point for the duration of our test so far. The SRAM XX1 drive train worked flawlessly as well as the Reverb stealth dropper seatpost and Renthal cockpit.
There isn’t’ much we’d change with the Spider 275C but being a taller rider with big feet can sometimes make it difficult to design a bike around. The XL is a beauty and not an afterthought or gusseting nightmare. If you’ve got bigger feet (13) and run your cleats closer to the toes there isn’t a ton of clearance to float in the back through turns and terrain in stock trim with XTR pedals.
We’re a fan of the JS-Tuned suspension on this Spider. In addition to a quality ride, the links tuck in nicely compared to the VPP pivots that often stick below the frame that can make contact with rocks and other obstacles. The downside is this configuration can be a place for mud to get flung into in adverse conditions.
In the corners the Spider 275C carved its way nicely and we felt quite at home railing corners with it. The suspension didn’t ride too high or too low in the travel and the bike worked well without any odd feeling or sensations. Some bikes can use too much travel or not enough in a ride, but the Spider felt quite good at using its travel wisely and graciously when required. The Spider is a balanced bike and felt comfortable in the air, on the ground, or on its back wheel.
The Spider 275C pedals well that it can be used easily on an XC ride and feels just as home on the descents. The 3 position lock-out lever works well to adjust the Spider’s attitude on the ascendts and descents. When the rear FOX shock is in the locked-out poisiton, it yielded a very firm platform. The Spider 275C descends very well and the suspension just seemed to work well in all areas but we left the FOX shock in the middle setting most of the time. There’s no replacement for suspension travel but the Spider is a 130mm bike that can easily hang with longer travel bikes without being unsettled.
The all new Intense Spider is a bike that will have you smiling no matter if you’re going up, or down the hill. It can hang on an XC ride with its efficient pedaling while still having the Intense pedigree to descend like a bike in the 150-160mm category. Intense has come a long way in a short time and they’ve addressed a lot of concerns that continue to push their brand further each day. The included Spider 275C manual yields good starting recommendations for suspension settings, torque ratings, linkage assembly, and much more. Be sure to check out the videos, pictures, and Intense’s webpage for more details on their newest bike.