My early experiences on a Mtb were XC riding and racing in the early thousands with a one dimensional go fast up hill , straight aways and manage the down hills type of riding. In 2010 I caught the all mountain/trail bike bug and got my 1st Intense Mtb used from a buddy. The XC bike started to collect dust because I had caught the all Mtn/trail bike bug. The bike was a 1x10 160mm Intense Tracer and I was just blown away how well it handled and this dropper post thing was the greatest things since Instagram. Something was missing still and I would occasionally race XC or endurance events because I loved that suffer type of riding.
Intense launched a Hard Tail XC/Commuter bike in 2011 called the Hard Eddie and I was quick to build one up and have kept one in my quiver ever since. I would race a handful of events on it as well as use it for a training tool but that 29er hard rail always left me wanting more. Here we are in 2018 and Intense just launched the all new Sniper. The full suspension 29er is what I’ve been waiting for from the brand. As much fun as riding my Tracer is I’ve been longing for a XC bike that I can have just as much fun on with more mellow terrain.
The build... I ordered the Sniper Elite Build online and picked it up from my local shop Jax bicycles Murrieta and brought it home to assemble myself. This process was very simple and I was absolutely blown away with the tool kit they give you to put the bike together. I know torque specs are very important but my torque wrench for my dirt bike doesn’t go low enough for most Mtb specs so having all the tools given to me with a top quality torque wrench was a nice touch. The bike went together very simple with a few minor adjustments to the derailleur it seemed ready to go.
My first ride on the Sniper was at my local XC loop that has a variety of terrain with small jumps, berms and punchy climbs. I set a personal record on the loop on my very first ride due to the stability of the 67.5 head angle and the acceleration of the Sniper. I was able to drop the 125mm Lev Carbon seat post when I needed some confidence for some steep faster sections. The trail mode was very efficient when climbing with ample traction when I was out of the saddle but I will say the lock out lever for the shock is hard to get to when you want to go full open or locked out. The XO 1x12 drivetrain speaks for itself and I’m looking for nothing more from that drivetrain. One thing I was very happy with was the XT brakes. I have been a Magura or Sram Brake Guy for years, but with all the problems bleeding them I was happy to make the switch to Shimano brakes. The Carbon Intense wheels and bars are also great branding touch but I would change the bar bend on the bars with a little more rise on them.
It’s been a little over a month now that I have been riding the Sniper and at first my main purpose for this bike was to be my 2nd bike and as a training tool for my Enduro Racing. After spending ample time on the Sniper I think this is going to be my go to bike unless I ride big mountain riding. I’m really enjoying the efficiency of the bike and how easy I can cover a large amount of miles, while being comfortable and hitting technical terrain. The team at Intense hit it on the mark in my opinion. I rode a Scott Spark back to back with Sniper and have to say the top tube felt really short on the Scott Spark where the Instense Sniper was more comfortable. As far as pedaling the Spark was a touch more snappy but the gain wasn’t worth the lack of confidence I had in the geometry of the bike. So the verdict? How can a gravity brand bring a xc bike to market with out losing it’s core reputation in the market? You build the Sniper! It feels like my Tracer it looks like a world cup DH bike’s graphics but accelerates the moment you think about putting the power to the ground. I want to ride a bike that says something and this Sniper says I like to shred but I want to go fast and suffer while I’m doing it. I look forward to seeing where this bike can take as far as new adventures and locations that require long days in the saddle.
Fast forward a few months I have had an ample amount of time on the Sniper I have done a lot of different riding on the bike to have a great overall opinion. Since having I raced three XC races two at The Over The Hump rounds in Orange County California, one at the Quick N' Dirty in San Diego County. My racing results have been much more improved from my old hard tail finishing in the second group of the cat 1 class around 8th - 12th position. I have to say that my riding experience around the local mountians has improved by leaps and bounds. I like to ride Idyllwild a lot but my Tracer was a little to much bike for the amount of miles I wanted to cover and the hard tail wasn't good when I needed stability. The Sniper filled this gap completely with a very fast bike that is stable and comfortable on descents because of the head angle and dropper post