We Have A 2018 Intense Primer Expert On Test And The Paint Job Is Fire 🔥🔥🔥

by Wil Barrett 5

It would seem it’s all going on at Intense Cycles lately. The US brand has made a steady rise into the mainstream over the past five years as its range has expanded, with a new line of complete bikes filling a broader range of spec levels and riding types. There’s been the addition of new carbon models such as the Recluse and ACV, as well as new iterations of the classic Tracer, Spider and Carbine. Alloy frames are gone, and now it’s all about the carbon.

On top of this, Intense has launched what it’s calling its ‘Rider Direct’ program. In the US, Intense will still sell through its network of IBDs, though it will also be selling both frames and complete bikes online at the same price. Outside of the US (in the UK & Australia for example) Intense won’t be dealing with shops at all, and will now be selling direct to consumer. For Intense Cycles UK, that means it can now offer prices that have dropped an insane amount.

Case in point is this new Primer Expert. Having previously sold for £5300 in the UK, Intense Cycles UK is selling the new 2018 Primer Expert online for £3299. Yes. You read that right – two whole thousand pounds less.

intense primer
That’s a very bright colour for a Primer.

The Primer delivers all the benefits of a 29’er with the responsiveness of a 27.5. With the aggressive geometry and the efficient JS-Tuned suspension platform, the Primer may completely change your mind about wheel size. Equipped with shorter chain stays, slack head angle and steeper seat tube, the Primer delivers a balanced feel whether pointed up or down the mountain” – from Intense Cycles.

intense primer
The Primer is Intense’ go-fast 29in trail bike.

Intense Primer Features

  • 29er full suspension trail bike
  • Full carbon fibre frameset
  • Available in standard and SL carbon fibre frame options
  • JS Tuned virtual pivot suspension design
  • 115-130mm rear travel
  • Designed for 130-140mm travel forks
  • 67.5° head angle
  • 75° seat tube angle
  • 438mm chainstay length
  • BB92 bottom bracket shell
  • 2x compatible
  • Full internal cable routing
  • Integrated frame protection
  • Boost 148x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, & X-Large
intense primer
There are two carbon frame options, this one is the standard carbon frame.

The Primer is Intense’ 130mm travel 29in trail bike, and it uses a full carbon fibre frame that’s available in two versions; standard and SL. There are five build kit options, with the two cheaper options make use of the standard carbon frame, while the three higher spec levels use the lighter SL frame.

The Expert build is second from the bottom, though you can get into Intense-landia from £2699 for the entry-level Foundation spec. Want to build your own? The high-end SL frame option is also available on its own for £2299.

intense primer
A bigger 140mm travel fork kicks the angles back a touch.

We’ve had the opportunity to swing a leg over the Primer before. In fact, Barney published his exclusive first ride review a little over a year ago, when he tested the all-singing and all-dancing £8000 Primer Factory. Aside from the price (the Factory model now sells for £6799), there have been some changes to the Primer since then, which we’ll run you through here.

The main one is that the complete Primer is coming with a 140mm travel fork to give a little more oomph to the front of the bike, while kicking the head angle back a touch for more descending stability.

intense primer
The 2018 RockShox Revelation fork uses a Pike chassis with a Motion Control damper.
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Shapely one-piece carbon swingarm.

The rear end is an organic-looking one-piece carbon fibre structure. The solid rear triangle is locked down with a 148x12mm thru-bolt that sits flush in the frame. Two short alloy links join the swingarm to the mainframe, which Intense refers to as the JS Tuned suspension design. The counter-rotating links are an evolution of VPP (a patented suspension design that Intense used to licence from Santa Cruz up until the patent expired in 2015), and promise a balance between pedalling efficiency and smooth bump-swallowing goodness.

intense primer
RockShox Monarch RL shock sits under the top tube.

Suspension travel on the rear is 130mm, though there’s a secondary position for the lower shock bolt, which limits the rear travel to a more efficient 115mm, supposedly without altering the frame geometry. The rear shock is a Monarch RL from RockShox, with adjustable rebound and a blue lockout lever.

intense primer
Nice anodized green hardware!
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The JS Tuned suspension system promises efficient pedalling without need for funky shock damping.
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Flush hardware for the 148x12mm thru-axle.
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DT Swiss wheels feature on the Primer Expert.
intense primer
Eyeleted alloy rims and a tubeless ready design support the 2.35in wide Maxxis Forekaster tyres.
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There’s a 1×12 Eagle groupset from SRAM for shifty-clicky duties.
intense primer
Cranks are downgraded to a Stylo 6K.
intense primer
Not in popularity though.
intense primer
Internal cable routing is very neat, and is British-rear-brake-on-the-left friendly.
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Chunky alloy stem from Intense.
intense primer renthal fatbar
And British handlebars from Renthal.
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Intense puts Shimano XT brakes on the Primer along with SRAM shifting.
intense primer
There’s a Fox Transfer dropper post, complete with a 1x specific lever.
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You get 150mm of drop from the all-black Performance Series post.

The Intense Primer Expert is currently being put to the test on some punishing trails up in the Lake District, where it’ll be battling it out against two other bikes for an upcoming magazine group test. More details coming soon on that one.

In the meantime, you can read all of our current reviews on Intense models like the Tracer, Recluse and Carbine right here. If you want more information about the rest of the Intense lineup, or any of the other build kits, head to the Intense Cycles UK website.

intense primer
What do you think of the colours?

2018 Intense Primer Expert Specifications

  • Frame // Monocoque UD Carbon Front & Rear Triangle, 130mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Revelation RC, 140mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Monarch RL
  • Hubs // DT Swiss M1900 Spline, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // DT Swiss M1900 Spline, 28h, Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres // Maxxis Forekaster EXO 2.35in Front & Rear
  • Chainset // Truvativ Stylo Eagle GXP, 175mm, 34t X-Sync 2 Chainring
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
  • Brakes // Shimano Deore XT M8000, 180mm Front & Rear
  • Stem // Intense Recon Elite, 31.8mm, 50mm Length
  • Bars // Renthal Fatbar Alloy, 31.8mm, 20mm Rise, 760mm Wide
  • Grips // Intense Lock-On
  • Seatpost // Fox Transfer, 31.6mm, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle // WTB Silverado Race w/ Cr-Mo Rails
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes Available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Claimed Weight // 12.27kg (27lb)
  • RRP // £3299

Comments (5)

  1. Interested to see how that weighs in against the claimed figure. Nice bike at a nice price.

  2. Saddleback (AFAIA Intense’s current UK distributor) will surely be hit by this move?

  3. Nice looking bike but why use a finish where you need to warn the owners it may fade?

    Seems a bit daft to me.

  4. Watching with interest. Kinda hoping that one of the other bikes in the group test is a Hightower as I’m currently torn between the two while awaiting demos…

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