by Rob Mitchell
October 18, 2016
Just how capable is a 130mm carbon trail bike? Crayons took the Intense Spider 275C Factory out for a play to see if the Spider bites back
I’ve seen good looking bikes before, that’s for sure. But right now, I’m struggling to remember exactly what bikes those were. Crikey moses, this thing is an absolute looker!
Until now, I’ve never had the pleasure of riding a full carbon framed bike, never mind one that runs carbon wheels, cranks and bars. To say that testing the Intense Spider 275c was going to be a learning curve for me was a bit of an understatement. However, it was a learning curve I was more than happy to engage in. You know, because…work right?
Well, as you may have seen in FGF 296 (here, if you haven’t), this is the Intense Spider 275C Factory Build – quite a mouthful really, so from here on it’ll be known as the ‘275C’. This is the newest iteration of the classic Intense Spider and what they’ve built is a bit special. Running 130mm of travel at each end as standard, the 275C has a pretty neat swappable shock position, meaning you can run the full 130mm or drop down to 115mm at the rear, depending on what you’re planning on riding.
Somehow, I was trusted with the top of the range build that’s called the Factory. Intense has a range of builds on offer for the Spider 275C, running from the £4099.99 Foundation build, all the way through the Expert and Pro builds, to the Factory build which we have here, running at a slightly eye watering £7999.99. Want to BIY? The Spider is also available as a frame only option, from £2899.99.
Intense Spider 275c Features:
- Adjustable travel: 4.5” to 5” (115mm to 130mm)
- 27.5” wheel size
- Designed for 130mm travel forks
- Integrated Boost 148×12 dropouts
- SL Spider is 300g lighter with titanium hardware, high modulus carbon fiber and carbon top link
- Internal cable routing
- Internal seat tube cable routing for dropper posts
- Monocoque front triangle
- H2O bottle fitment
- Downtube and chain stay flack guard protection
- Tapered head tube
- Direct mount front derailleur
- Angular contact/collet bearing system with replaceable grease zerks
- RRP: £2899 (frame only)
The frame design on the new 275C gives us a slicker and cleaner looking bike, to what we previously had, with its alloy cousin. Following on with the trends and demands of new formats, the 275C runs a boost 148 rear end and enough clearance to whack up to a 2.35in tyre on. Tidy internal cable routing and the option to run a front mech, should make the 275C an ideal bike for a wide demographic of riders. When on the bike, the top tube feels incredibly low, giving the rider plenty of room to move around over the top of the bike, or tuck in when the going gets tighter.
The Pro and Factory builds on the 275C, are treated to an SL tag along side the name. What does this mean? Well, if you’re all about saving weight, the SL framesets drop a whole 300g over the regular carbon frame that’s used on the cheaper build kit options. This weight saving has been achieved by Intense using titanium hardware, a carbon top link and a higher modulus carbon fibre in the frame, meaning that there’s less actual material compared to the lower two builds. Whichever frame and spec you go for, you’re going to be getting a hellishly light bike either way – with the Factory Build (in a large, without pedals) coming in at a rather ridiculous 25.9lbs, which for a 130mm trail ripper, is somewhat unbelievable.
That’s the fancy and very light frame out of the way, so what does the rest of the bike have to offer? Well, as far as the Factory Build goes, Intense haven’t held back in top draw equipment, with this build running a Fox Factory 34 fork, providing 130mm of travel upfront with a 3 position damper. This is coupled with a Fox Float shock out back, offering 115/130mm of travel, again, with a choice of 3 damper positions. Both ends are finished with Fox’s Kashima stanchion coating – very tidy indeed.
If you’re down with the trends and all that kit matching stuff, then this bike will tick all the appropriate boxes in terms of matchy-matchy. With the frame finished in black and red, DT Swiss, Raceface, Fabric and even Fox have all got involved to make sure the 275C looks as uniform as possible – and where I’m stood, I think they’ve got it pretty spot on.
Spec wise then, and the fancyness continues, with the 275C running a SRAM XX1 drivetrain, coupled with Raceface Next SL carbon crankset.
For that small issue of stopping, Shimanos XTR brakes are in charge, fitted with 180/160mm rotors and general holding on antics are looked after by a Renthal Fatbar Carbon and Apex stem.
It’s been treated to all the goods this thing, and for the price, you’d expect it to be that way. The ever competent and widely adored and regarded Rockshox Reverb dropper post helps you to make that transition from spinning uphill, to smashing downhill at the simple touch (push) of a button (trigger), and throughout the test performed to the highest standard. The new Reverb was recently awarded our ‘Recommended’ tag in the new issue of Singletrack Magazine, which you’ll be able to read all about very soon…
Onto the riding then
Getting to grips with the (severe lack of) weight, the 275C was pretty extraordinary right from the off. On the climbs, the bike skips and pulls its way up pretty much anything. On the steeper and more technical climbs, stopping the front end from pulling up was a bit of a battle, but once I got used to that and shifted my weight ever so slightly forward, the bike was embarrassingly efficient – to my surprise in some places, turning round and thinking, ‘well that was easy’. The settings on the Fox Float at the rear end give three options, for making life easier on the climbs. Out of the saddle climbing was a rarity, but when it did happen, flicking the shock into the middle position was the furthest I needed to go, with a very apparent lack of sag coming from the shock.
Going from a big 160mm travel descender to a 130mm nimble trail bike was a lot more refreshing than I was expecting. Having a bike that climbs so well and pedals like a treat, you expect there to be some sort of sacrifices in other areas. Short and sweet, there are no sacrifices with the 275C. This bike descends like a larger travel, metal bike, ploughing through everything you can imagine.
The only real issue I had was in the braking area. Subjecting smaller rotors to intense (no pun intended) and in some places consistent braking, did create a touch of brake fade, but this is an understandable outcome. If you’re looking to hit the steep trails hard on a 275C, maybe look at banging bigger rotors, or perhaps even bigger brakes on. The Shimano XTR stoppers are very lightweight, and something with bigger pistons would be useful for the high alpine riding I subjected the Intense to. For 90% of the time however, there were no real issues when it came to the more open and slightly less steep trails.
In June, I was bold and took the 275C to play in the Alps and in particular Morzine. You may have seen some shots in the magazine or across social media of the Intense covered in heaps of mud, along with myself. With our guide Jon from More Mountain riding a 170mm Canyon bruiser, I was a bit nervous when we headed out for a day session in Saleve. After a climb to the top of a huge quarry, with views popping off over Lake Geneva, we headed to some secret trails Jon had been waxing lyrical about on the drive over. In usual ‘new trail’ fashion, Jon set off with myself and the 275C close behind, really close behind, Jesus how am I still this close? Jon is a quick rider, on a big bike, on trails he knows. Blimey this thing is good.
With my mind blown, we lapped and lapped the trails, with the smile beaming wider and wider as we went. For a carbon framed bike, the 275C feels so solid and planted, yet as soon as you want to pop the front end up, or gap sections of trail, the bike lifts easily and is so manoeuvrable in the air. It’s a bike that wants to be ridden properly and at times does demand a little bit of ‘self preservation behaviour’ as it’ll take you all the way to the edge of your comfort zone/riding ability.
I always had the preconception in my head that longer travel bikes were more fun, and the shorter travel style bikes were for big days out on the trails, making sure you could climb well and ride all day. The 275C has shattered this concept for me, and I’ve got to admit, I could very well be converted to the shorter travel bike world.
Of course, the build on the 275C has a massive part to play in this. It’s an exquisite set up, based on a new approach by Intense, who now offers its bikes, specced to a level that all its staff would choose to ride. This could be accountable for the choice of Shimano brakes over the SRAM equivalents, especially running a SRAM drivetrain, but apart from understandable touches of brake fade, the choice is clearly one that has had some thought go into it. This level of rider based intelligence has proved massive on the trails and in testing and what Intense has no is a range of bikes that can be taken out of the box and given some proper treatment.
Intense Spider 275c Factory Build Specifications:
- Frame // Intense Carbon SL front & rear triangles
- Shock // Fox FACTORY FLOAT, 115-130mm
- Fork // Fox FACTORY 34 FLOAT, 130mm
- Hubs // DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline
- Rims // DT SwissXMC 1200 Spline
- Tyres // Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin, 2.35in front & 2.25in rear
- Chainset // Race Face Next SL
- Rear Mech // SRAM XX-1
- Shifters // SRAM XX-1
- Brakes // Shimano XTR, 180mm front & 160mm rear
- Stem // Renthal Apex 50mm
- Bars // Renthal Fatbar Carbon 760mm
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth 125mm
- Saddle // Fabric Scoop Radius Pro
- Size Tested // L
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
- Weight: 25.9lbs (11.77kg)