Intense, a brand known for its loam-shredding downhill and freeride bikes, has slowly become more and more relevant in the trail bike and cross-country segments over the past two years. But despite some genuinely tremendous trail bikes (looking at you Tracer and Carbine), Intense has remained on the fringes of XC and trail bike relevance — until now. With the release of a new frame called the Sniper, offered in both a trail and XC build, Intense makes a strong play to battle with the big brands like Yeti, Pivot, Specialized and Trek.

The Sniper is a 29er with either 100mm of travel front and rear in the XC version or 120mm in the trail version. Before you go writing off a bike that offers less than 140mm of travel, consider that the best bike I’ve ridden to date was the Yeti SB4.5 which offers just 114mm of frame travel, yet feels virtually bottomless out on the trail. The Sniper was developed first and foremost as a pedal-focused machine, but like all Intense bikes, it doesn’t shy away from a burly downhill. And if that still doesn’t convince you, the striking paint job should.

Today in Gear

The best way to catch up on the day’s most important product releases and stories. Read the Story