Intense Spider 29 Build Report

by FatBob on September 2, 2011

The Spider 29er is a handcrafted beauty that any bike geek will drool over. Beyond the looks is a frame designed to perform. Lucky for us, Intense Cycles sent us a redesigned Spider 29 frame as a test frame. One of the last frames manufactured in the United States, it is designed from the ground up in California and obviously lovingly welded in-house. American made love does not come cheap, the frame and shock list for $2,149.To give some perspective many overseas frames cost more then the Intense does. I say this so you know that I am not whining of abnormal cost. This is a pretty average price for a high end frame

Jamie Spec Epic 088 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

The first noticeable feature is the striking, red paint job. I am not usually a fan of red bikes. However, when I saw Intense’s pre-production photos posted online, I secretly started becoming a fan. The “works red” allows a subtle raw aluminium to show through. The paint is immaculate. As usual, I am also more inclined to purchase a bike that has anodizing or is raw, as these finishes are typically more durable and, as an added bonus, weigh less. Speaking of the weight, our medium test frame with paint weighed 6 pounds 15 oz (3.16 kg). This weight puts it a little heavy for a cross country race bike and a little light for a trail bike when compared to competing models in these disciplines.
Jamie Spec Epic 055 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
The Intense Spider 29 is designed to span a wide variety of riding styles and can grow with you as you add new skills and terrains to your riding. I’ll add, it can change between functions on the fly with a well thought out kit. Intense designed the Spider 29 to be run with 100-120 mm (3.9”-4.7”) travel forks. They have frames built heavy with 140mm forks as well. So, we can see the diversity this frame can provide. We will be focusing on this bike run with 100-120 mm travel forks, but will spend some time with this frame running a 140mm fork as well.

Jamie Spec Epic 097 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

Here are some important measurements and details if you are considering a build with this frame. The headset is an external 1.5” lower bearing and a 44mm direct set upper. This is one of the variety of tapered head tube configurations available. The direct sets allow the front end to stay nice and low (stack height). While tapered steer tubes are becoming the 29er norm, the headset will more then likely have to be ordered from your shop, unless your shop happens to be very well equipped. The extra stiffness added to the fork and the extra surface area to weld the front end makes for a frame that does not twist under load, and is very strong.
Jamie Spec Epic 062 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
The bottom bracket width is 73mm. Mostly, this does not cause bottom bracket compatibility issues any more, but check with your bottom bracket maker to see any details about installation. Spacers will be included with your bottom bracket(out board bearing models)
Jamie Spec Epic 061 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
Again, Intense gives its customers the ultimate in versatility by offering the rear axle spacing appropriate to both a cross country and a trail bike. 142x 12 (my favorite) 135×12 or the open drop outs most readers are used to. If you are building from scratch, I strongly recommend using the 142x 12 set up. It is very easy to use and adds a substantial level of stiffness, especially in the wheel. The Spider 29, when run with the open drop out set up, does have compatibility issues when installing the rear wheel due to the quick release skewers female end. This is true of the Easton rear skewer we are running on this bike. You may or may not have problems with the rear skewer you are running. Just be aware, or better yet run a 142×12 rear drop out configuration, and skip this last statement completely.
Jamie Spec Epic 073 300x214 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
It is not our style to draw lots of conclusions about how a bike will ride due to its geometry. The Intense is a sum of all parts. Until we ride it, we won’t speculate on geometry or suspension performance. I will say that Intense utilizes the patented VPP (Virtual Pivot Point ) suspension type. Intense licenses this technology from Santa Cruz Bicycles who bought it from a company called Outland. After Santa Cruz bought the technology, the first VPP bike I saw was from Intense. They have over a decade of experience with the VPP design, spanning from cross country bikes to down hill bikes. It is also notable that they were the first company to put out a VPP 29er. Added to this, they are one of the first companies to put out a full suspension 29er period (Intense Spider 29er, first generation). All in all, sounds promising.
Jamie Spec Epic 083 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
The stock shock that was sent on the Spider 29er is a model that I am unfamiliar with called the Fox RPL. It is a large volume air can and has an open setting, a pro-pedal setting and a lock-out. There is a blue lever on the shock longer then a RP23 pro-pedal lever. It really matters where this is. The lock-out is performed when this lever pushed straight out towards the front of the bike. For some reason it kept inadvertently going into this lock-out position. It may take time to get used to this. If this shock isn’t your bag, Intense will ship the frame with a different rear shock, like the Fox RP23.(Edit It seems as though the RPL is the only shock Intense is equipping this bike. Later this year we should see a Cane creek Double Barrel Air that will work on this. Sorry for the confusion )

Beyond what is outlined already are small details like a 31.6 seat post diameter, International Standard rear disc mount, direct mount front derailleur. This type of derailleur mount allows for shorter chain-stays and twist-less/ stiffer interface and, I will add, a pain to set up. It’s not that bad, but a little annoying.
Jamie Spec Epic 070 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
Build Notes:

Grumbling about the front derailleur aside, the Intense built up smoothly. Intense graciously rushed this bike to us as I was leaving for Lake Placid, NY so I could get a jump start testing, especially since I would have an opportunity to try it in a different region than where we usually ride.

The seat tube is reamed perfectly. The head tube didn’t have paint where the headset cups interface (good) and the disc brake mount was clean and straight. The pivots are tight and tolerances are tight. The first ride on the bike clearly shows how stiff and clean this bike is manufactured. The welds are as perfect as I have seen. There is obviously a lot of pride put into the construction of this bike. There is pure quality from the shape of every tube to the hardware and there is a reason for everything. All that, and it still manages to look awesome.
Jamie Spec Epic 102 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

Jamie Spec Epic 104 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

Negatives:

Again, keep in mind the rush to get us this frame. I am pretty sure they didn’t have much time to prep this frame because of my time constraints. That said, the bottom bracket threads were tight; tighter then I am used to. There were tools involved from thread one and a bit more resistance then I would like to see.

Jamie Spec Epic 074 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

The rear tire clearance is appropriate for a cross country bike or a dry condition trail bike. Our Specialized Purgatory 2.25 rear tire has some tight clearance.

Third and last thing is, while building, I ripped a nail and cut myself on the shoulder bolts. There are some sharp edges on those bolts. Big deal? No, but it’s worth mentioning as Intense is a premier builder and the frames cost enough to justify high expectations.

Jamie Spec Epic 094 300x168 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

Over the next couple of months we will be testing the Spider 29. It will be set up and tested as a cross country bike and adjusted and tested as a trail bike. We will be really focused on the versatility of the Intense Spider 29. If you have any specific questions that are holding you back from purchasing the Spider, please ask through the comments section. We will do our best to answer them as quickly as possible. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

Jamie Spec Epic 105 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report
Jamie Spec Epic 0721 168x300 Intense Spider 29 Build Report

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

lars September 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Tire clearance seems tight :-(

I’d like to run big’ass tires on a bike like that… Would 2.4 racing Ralph on stan’s flows fit?

Anders Lund September 5, 2011 at 7:06 am

Which fork will you be running on this?

FatBob September 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

Hey Anders, we started out testing this bike with a Marzocchi 44 ATA in 120mm mode. I just switched it over to a Fox F29 RL which is our stock fork for test kits.

I am supposed to be getting a Manitou and another Marzocchi in October and a couple of wild cards in January. We will be trying as many forks as possible on it.

After my initial ride on it I feel like I don’t want to ride it with a 140 fork. If a 140 mm fork is what you want I don’t see a reason to not run a Tracer 29 instead as it is a 1 pound weight penalty, pedals very well with a RP23 shock, and comes with appropriate angles for the longer travel aggressive crowd.

Given enough requests I will run a 140 fork on it even if just for a couple of weeks just to be thorough.

Anders Lund September 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

I just bought the frame this weekend and am mostly interested in hearing how it performs with 120 and 100 mm travel both front and rear :-) i will be putting the Reba 120 on it but but it is internally adjusteable to 100.

FatBob September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

Hey Anders. I rode it with a 4″ rear but most of my time has been with 120mm front and rear. It pedals so well in 120mm mode I dont really know why you would run it in 4″ mode. However we will try it at some point during our test just for the perspective.

Iain Masters September 14, 2011 at 8:58 am

You say in your review that Intense will ship the frame with a RP23. So I called them and they said that they can’t do that. I was wanting to run the new Factory RP23 with the inproved pro-pedal. I don’t like the idea of a lock out. As for forks I was looking at running a Fox Talas 140, because I can shift between 120mm and 140mm. What do you think?

FatBob September 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

Hey Iain, first things first, I am going to find out what shocks Intense will ship with. Second, I am going to update the site. Please hang tight and I will answer your questions with accurate information.

Anders Lund September 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Hi FatBob,
Could you tell about how much air pressure/sag you run? I have just put mine together and with only 120psi I achieve 10mm sag and I weigh 170. Dont know if Float is acting strange.

Tony S October 12, 2011 at 10:37 am

I heard on another site that you should run about half your body weight in that Fox RPL.

FatBob October 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Hey Iain. O.K you are in fact correct. Intense is only offering the Fox RPL shock provided on the Spider. No RP23 offering. However the Cane Creek double barrel air is going to work for this frame. Intense cycles is going to try to get us one.

As far as the fork. You could run a 140mm fork but to me this bike is better suited to a 120 as the suspension has a racier strut type feel. The slacker front end due to a higher axle to crown wont hurt but raising the BB on this bike wouldn’t be my first choice. If you are thinking of running a 140mm fork why not the Tracer 29 instead with a TALAS fork that lowers the front end to 120 . the T29 rides great with a 120mm for and is a great descender with a 140mm fork..

We will be receiving a Marzocchi 44 micro ti 2012 version in 140mm mode. I will to get some time on it with the 142 x 12 Easton Haven rear wheel. See how adaptable this frame can be. Sorry to take so long to respond, as you may have noticed we have been very busy.

FatBob October 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Hey Anders, Just got back from France so I have not been able to answer comments as attentively as I would like. We are having similar problems with our RPL. We put 10 PSI extra in and we get 10 percent sag. 10 LBS less and we get 40 percent sag. I thought it was a fluke because Camye is so light, but when Jamie at 180 LBS had the same issue last week when we set him up all I could do was scratch my head. I will contact Intense and see what we can figure out. I’ll update as soon as I can.

Anders Lund October 20, 2011 at 12:18 am

Hi FatBob,

Thanks :-) even though the shock is acting a bit strange the bike rides really nice. I seem to have found a sweet spot around 100 psi.

Please let me know what Intense says since I am a bit curious about this :-)

Lars V October 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

Hi there,

Looking forward to the reviews. Earlier i posted some questions about the VPP system. I expect to read all about it in the review ;-) .

until that, some further questions about the build:

Is the bike triple ring compatible when running big tires? Thinking about a 22/30/40 combo.

I’d like to run wide rims and big tires on this bike like that. Reading the note on tire clearance: Would a Schwalbe NN 2.35 /Stans Flow combo fit?

FatBob October 26, 2011 at 8:55 am

Hello Lars. Jamie has been testing the Spider 29 and loving it ! We just switched from a light weight Stans crest wheel set to a set of Easton Havens with the 142 x 12 rear axle. We are running the same tires between both wheel sets so clearance obviously isn’t a problem. I will however try a few bigger casing tires on it with the wide Easton Haven wheels just to see how it does.

Jamie is all about light . After his first ride with the Haven wheels and 142 x 12 axle he immediately called and said he prefers the heavier set up. He said it tracks much better and traction was improved with the wider footprint, tire pressures being exactly the same. It is worth the weight penalty !

The Spider is a really capable pedaling bike with lots of comfort, but still feels connected to the terrain you are on. I’ll update when we get bigger tires in. As of now it seems the Achilles heal of the Spider 29 is that mud cakes up in the linkage and is very hard to clear. I have got pebbles caught in the linkage as well.

The bike is easily triple ring compatible. We are running a 22-32-44 ring combo with outboard bearings and only on 2 occasions have we had a problem. Both times were when Jamie has been riding and both times it was going through a deep trail depression that causes any suspension bike to compress deep into its travel, while simultaneously pedaling at a slow cadence.Both times the chain had to be manually removed from between the linkage and crank set.

It is also worth noting that we are not cleaning the bike every ride. We are trying to mimic what most riders will do to their bikes.

hope this helps

Lars V October 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

Hi Bob,

thank’s a lot, that is very helpfull. Looking forward to the updates and the full review!

Big tire clearance and triple compatibility is a must for me.

How is the bike compared to the RIP, by the way?

And do you happen to have experience with the “Bruced”30-40 rings?

Anders Lund October 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

When will you post the final review?

FatBob November 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Lars, sorry no experience with the Bruced rings. I’ll look into it though.

The Spider 29 is still with a tester. We just upgraded to the 142 x 12 rear end and went with a heavier wheelset. I am also waiting for bigger tires to come in. It is still really early in the year and availability on some of these parts is soft. Be patient please.

Compared to the RIP9. This is hard. The RIP9 is a favorite for us here. I would say the RIP9 is a hair plusher feeling, but traction is dead even between the two. Neither system really bobs much at all.

Build Quality, the Intense is beautiful and hand made domestically. The RIP9 is much more utility. That isn’t to say poorly build, just not as pretty.

Steering is a little more aggressive on the Spider 29 I would say. The RIP9 isn’t as responsive. The endurance racer will take the Spider 29 I would say. It allows you to feel more then the RIP9 and handles a little sharper. I will hold off on the rest as I need more time with various testers and myself before I can get to into it.

As far as posting the final review ? Jamie will be done with his in a week or two. Video takes a long time to get and we are doing things to improve what we have.

Anders Lund November 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Please also in your review include thoughts about whether the Spider 29 work best with a chainring 22-32-44 setup or if you could run a dual setup :) I run a triple setup but am considering going for a dual setup :)

Alaska Sledder December 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

Hi, how are things going with the review? Im on the fence ordering and would appreciate some of your thoughts of this bike..

LarsV December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

Hi there, how’s the riding, having fun? :-)

At the moment it seems like the availability of this frame in the Netherlands will be zero.

Still looking forward to the review though :-)

FatBob December 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Alaska Sledder, The Intense is not receiving any critical feedback. we love it. It handles well in every situation that we have encountered. This is a very well rounded trail bike with what seems like an emphasis on all day riding in a variety of terrain. If you are looking for a super aggressive descender then you will be better served with a Tracer29, for everything else the Spider seems ideal. Our endurance riders are raving about it and we built it with a very moderate parts kit so it can be built much lighter or heavier depending on the riders needs. there are alot of details that we will talk about in our final review.

One tip for you, go with the 142 x 12 rear drop out system even for endurance riding. It makes for a much more solid feel and is easy enough to use that there is no good reason not to use it unless you own wheels that are not compatible.

Hope this helps. We have alot more coming but our process is very involved. One question that has come up is tire compatibility. The bike is being used now but when I get it back I will be measuring this.

FatBob December 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Bummer Lars, can you order from a mail order company from the USA or England ?

Thomas December 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Can you compare this to a Niner Jet 9 RDO?

I have a J9C on order but it’s not set to arrive till Feb/March so theres still time to change my mind. It was a real toss up between the Spider and the Niner. The Niner won out because of weight, getting a few good rides on one and finding lots of good info online about it. So far this is the only site I’ve come across with any ride experiences with the Spider.

The plan is to build either bike with a Talas 120/95, and weight conscious build that will put the J9C at sub 24lbs and the Spider well over 25lbs. I’ll be using it for XC racing, super D and general all around trail riding. I’ve owned hardtails my whole life so this is big step for me! Curious if the weight penalty and saving a few extra bucks for the Spider over the J9C will be worth it? Clearly I’ve decided it isn’t, but I’m still fence sitting. Any comments appreciated!

FatBob December 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

Hello Thomas, We should be getting a JET9 RDO in January. I would be absolutely speculating as of this point . Both companies are excellent and both are very supportive of our mission statement.

Sorry I cant give you more. We are excited to get the RDO as well. I’ll start bugging Niner to see if we can get one earlier.

larsv December 10, 2011 at 1:53 am

Strange thing is:
the dutch distributor tells me XL is out of production
CRC only lists up to L

I posted on mtbr, but no reaction from Intense yet…

online ordering from the usa wil be much to expensive.

Iain December 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Lars I bought my spider thru JensenUSA and had it sent to a friend who lives in the states. He then forwarded it on to me here in Australia. I got the size that I wanted which was L, the Aussie distributer said I had to wait like 3-4 months for an order. I got mine in like three weeks and about $500 cheaper.
You guys say the 12×142 axel is the best how does 12×135 rate. I ordered 142 but when I got it I noticed the DT axel provided was longer. So I measured it and it came up at 135 mm.

FatBob December 18, 2011 at 6:08 am

Hi Iain, Congrats on the new bike ! As for the difference between the 135×12 and 142×12, I doubt I could tell the difference. i rode a Niner WFO9 with the 135×12 Maxle rear axle. I think where the differences come for me is in ease of use. I didn’t love the Maxle setup and found the Shimano/Syntace/DT-Swiss/Specialized style 142×12 axles we are using now to be easier to use. Add to it we broke the Maxle cam lever. Working with Rock Shox warranty and my local shop ended up not being worth the trouble. I ended up spending the $40 for a replacement axle but had to wait about a month for availability. In short my experience with 135×12 was not great.

I am sure that the Maxle stuff is worked out and DT_Swiss makes a great system. Our Roval Wheels we are now using on our test bikes are coming with a 135×12 axle adapter. Here comes the real information. There just are not many bikes using the 135×12 standard. It seems more is available for the 142×12 set ups. This in my mind will make it easier to service should I have problems later down the road.

The 135×12 and the 142×12 side by side, Like I stated earlier, I couldn’t tell the difference. I would use what I have. If you are starting from a blank slate, I would use 142 plus preferably with DT-Swiss Axles.

Mike December 26, 2011 at 4:37 am

I just demo-ed a Spider over the weekend on a couple of my favorite trails. I’m a newbie to 29ers, and all I can say is wow! This bike (with a low-end build and beat-up from too many demos) just did it all – the 120mm front fork felt like 140 going downhill while the traction and geometry made it climb better than my 26 xc bike. The steering was very responsive and it turned tighter than my 26 bike does. Now all I have to do is rob a bank in order to afford it :)

Anders Lund January 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

Hi,

When have you finished the review of it?
Anders

FatBob January 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

Anders, we will be wrapping up the main part of our review shortly. Our third tester is about 1 1/2 weeks into his review. From here it is filming comments. Our process is involved but thorough.

When the bike gets back to 29eronline, I have to check tire compatibility as we have some requests, outline our build with updated specs, check the frame out to see how it held up, along with some other ideas that we came up with. So it takes time but we feel it is the best way to service everyone.

Again, feel free to ask specific questions so we can be sure to answer them.

Obie458 January 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Did you ever try the spider 29 with a 140mm fork? What did you think? I’m looking for a good do it all trail bike that will handle relatively rough terrain well. I was hoping the 140mm fork would work well. I feel like tracer 29 is a bit too big and heavy for me.

FatBob January 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Whats up Obie, how are you doing ? I heard of some bad news earlier this year. Hope you are well.

We have not tried a 140mm fork yet. We have spent a good amount of time on the 100mm front and rear configuration. Most of our time has been in 120mm mode front and rear. We will be getting a couple of long travel forks coming up. I still have to check rear tire clearance as well. In truth this is a bike I have to chase down and get people to give back. No one is in a rush to give it back at the end of their test period !

If I remember correct you are in Cary NC . If you still have my email, lets get up and I will let you ride the Spider 29 before I send it back hopefully we can answer your question from experience. It is a medium. I know you ride a Large. Still you could at least get an idea. Email me and we will arrange it if you are interested.

Leonardo February 25, 2012 at 5:39 am

When is the full review going to be released? I need it before I pull the trigger on my 120mm full 29er. I’m between the Spider and the Ellsworth Evolution (with angleset).

FatBob February 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

Try this link

It has been up for a week or so.

Manitou April 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I built up a small works red last November and got in a few shortish rides before putting the bike to be for the winter. I built it up with a RS Reba RLT Ti 140mm fork, a Cane Creek Angleset head set slacked 1 deg., 120mm rear travel with 2×10 SRAM 26/39, I9 Enduro wheels/ Stans Flow and love the bike. It has taken me some changes to find the right tires and I’m running Nobby Nics TR SS 2.35f and 2.25r and they are perfect for the bike. It is still fairly quick handling at 68.5 deg HA, 13.5″ BBH. It’s more trail bike like which is what I was aiming for, very flickable and comfortable in the air but will climb anything I want it to without issue! This build is just under 27 lbs. with pedals. I am also going to do a XC marathon race build with it, I9 UL wheels 2.25 Racing Ralph’s and Sid XX WC 100 fork. This will build up around low 25 lb. range and be quicker handling with a 70.5 deg. HA 13+” BBH. I do love this bike it’s very chameleon like and a great all around trail (burly XC) bike just what I had hoped for. I also feel the Fox RPL shock is just fine,maybe slightly over damped but it does not blow thru it’s travel on bigger hits.
Cheers!

Manitou April 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this but I checked in with Jeff Steeber/ Intense HH about how I was going to build the bike with the 140mm fork etc….they had one in demo with a 140 Reba and he said he really liked it with a 140mm fork.
Ride On!

Mike April 25, 2012 at 5:39 am

Wow, from what I am reading the Spider looks like another bike to seriously consider. I have always been partial to Ellsworth and the Spider sounds like it will fit right in the middle of the Evolve and Evolution. I have always prefrerred a bike that is a set and forget (shock setup) without having to worry about activating propedal mode. I will have to go to my shop and check out the spider and see if I can ride it around a little.

Mike April 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Mike – I’ve been riding a Spider 29er for a month and a half (600 km of fun!). The only time I touched the pro-pedal lever was on a couple of long, paved climbs, and even then I wasn’t really sure that it was really necessary. As for setup – stock (the vendor set it for his weight, and I haven’t seen the need to touch it). I highly recommend this bike.

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