Intense Cycles have been producing some very tasty machinery for over 15 years. Their DH bikes are legendary, partly because of their podium record, and also because of their association with snowboarder turned DH champ Shaun Palmer (notorious for sporting little more than piss pot, jeans and a Slayer t-shirt when the opposition were suited in full body armour).
The 2011 line-up features some fantastic looking bikes, from the new M9 DH rig, to the flyweight XC Spider 2. The new hardtail DJ / 4X Tazer looks nice too – in fact, it’s the nicest looking bike of its type I’ve seen in ages. However, it’s the Slopestyle 2 that is most interesting as far as my All Mountain needs are concerned.
The geometry of the 2011 SS2 has changed quite considerably from 2010, and appears to be moving very much into Mini DH territory – the head angle is slacker, at 65deg (vs 66.5), wheelbase is longer at 1181mm (up from 1162), with a longer top tube – the large now measures 610mm (vs 596.9mm on the 2010 bike).
With a head angle of 65deg, 2deg slacker than the Ibis Mojo HD, and nearly 3deg slacker than my Whyte 46, and 6cm longer than the latter too, the 2011 SS2 should be a bit of an animal when it comes to descending. It pretty much looks like a scaled down 951. Riding it uphill might be a different matter though – even if the VPP suspension means that pedalling is a doddle, it wasn’t designed with climbing in mind. A Fox Talas fork would probably help, but a bike like this really deserves a dedicated, no messing around fork – either a Van or a Float, or even a BOS Deville.
The seat tube on the original Intense Slopestyle was uninterrupted, which made things much easier if you wanted to ride uphill, and as a result it did develop a bit of a following as a super tough, quick descending trail bike. When the SS2 was released, the tube developed a kink, and saddle drop and extension became much trickier. However, with a Joplin post or similar, there should be room to achieve both a low descending position whilst allowing enough extension for effective uphill pedalling.
The Slopestyle tag is a curious bit of marketing. It seems to be a case of pigeonholing which is not entirely deserved. With a sturdy frame, 6″ ish of travel, decent pedalling abilities, and an AM to mini DH geometry, this really sounds like the perfect UK play bike.
EDIT: I think I confused the geometry of the Slopestyle VS SS@ above. I have since been led to believe that the SS2 has always had a 65deg head angle, and it was the original Slopestyle that used 66.5deg. The recently released Tracer2 looks like the best bet for more all round duties now – the SS2 being more of a mini DH play bike. I’ve decided to get a Nicolai anyway now, but it would still be fun to try these two out sometime…