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  1. #1
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    Carbine 1st impressions

    Finally dry enough to get out on some local trails here in Vermont and get a first ride on my new Intense Carbine. I thought I'd share some first impressions in case someone out there is considering the bike.

    This bike replaces my trusty SC Nomad which was a bike I loved for the confidence-inspiring handling, particularly on steep descents and drops. I also have an SC Tallboy as a comparison bike. The Carbine is my first Intense and I'm very impressed with the design and build quality.

    Handling-
    The first thing I noticed on the Carbine was the handling which was much quicker than both my Nomad and my Tallboy. I recycled a Talas 160 from my Nomad when building the bike so this difference in feel should have been limited to the frame characteristics I think. It could be the lightness of the bike helps it respond quickly but even with the Talas set to 120mm the Nomad tended to wander a bit more where the Carbine just feels super-tight! I found myself making adjustments to my line more often than normal mostly because the bike was capable of responding to input so quickly.

    Climbing
    No complaints at all here. The Carbine feels super stiff-more so than the SC models I've owned despite the similar VPP suspension. Interestingly, this stiffer feel when climbing doesn't seem to affect it comfort and control on the downhills. The bike feels very balanced fore and aft and I found the "sweet spot" immediately. Hookup was stellar! Roots climbs with some mud here and there and I didn't feel any slip. I didn't find I had to work hard at all to keep the front end down.

    Descending
    My first ride was a mix of very rooty switchbacks with some moderately technical climbs followed by a combination of fast and flowy interspersed with rocky/rooty sections. The Carbine just handles all of it with confidence! First ride of the season but I found myself riding this familiar trail faster than I can remember. Pick a clean line or don't, the Carbine doesn't seem to care and will see you through in one piece. There aren't many drops on this particular ride or real steeps so no feedback there but my guess is that the bike will be plenty capable. Oh, and this bike loves to manual. Front end comes up easily and quickly.

    650b
    I definitely noticed significant improvement in the roll factor when compared to my 26er. I know the numbers say the 650b should feel more similar to a 26er than a 29er but that wasn't my impression. My route took me through PLENTY of roots and, like my Tallboy, the Carbine smoothed out the ride and allowed me the latitude to be lazy when picking a line if I choose so.

    I'm running Schwalbe Hans Dampfs on I9 wheels and the combination works great! I'm used to a more open,aggressive tread than the HD's but I had no issues with traction or clogging. I will say this though. The HD's seem to really kick up a lot on loose surfaces. Playing with the bike in my gravel driveway I've never seen that many stones kicked up by a tire. Must mean good traction!

    The bike felt very familiar right out of the gate unlike previous bikes I've owned where I've had to adjust to the new ride. The Carbine just feels very natural, like you've owned it for some time. My bike came in at under 28 lbs. with an all-mountain build but while not as light as my Tallboy, it feels lighter than the scale would indicate. One ride in but I'm sold on the bike. Looking forward to a fun summer.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing. I can't decide on 26 or 27.5, but this is good insight.

  3. #3
    dwt
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    Carbine 1st impressions

    Very good review. You've got the lingo nailed. Save the post as a writing sample when you apply for a journalism job. (This is meant as a compliment, no sarcasm intended. Sometimes hard to tell on the interwebz).

    I assume your TB is the 120mm version, not the LT. I recently ordered this version in carbon for my quiver, saving trail or AM travel for 650b. My current 650b is a 2010 Jamis. Originally I wanted to upgrade the Jamis with one of the new 650b's, but nothing met my personal price/spec standard. Hence a light wagon wheel XC bike which has a better pricepoint and would not be redundant in my quiver.

    A lightish, agile, longer squish 650b has been pushed at least 2 years down the road in a (vain?) hope the prices will drop and the selection will be better.


    "I ride my bike to ride my bike"- Zen proverb

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    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  4. #4
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    Great review. I just switched back to 26 from a few years on 650 and boy I'm over it. My experience mirrors yours with 650 wheels on rooty stuff. I'm south of you with similar terrain.

    The carbon is sweet, eh? It's so nice to have a really stiff bike. And light! I would LOVE a Carbine with Tracer2 geo. I'm glad to hear that the bike manuals well. People ask me why I like 650 over 29 and it almost always comes down to the ability to manual. That says a lot about a bike. I think it's a crucial thing to mention in any review.

    It's a great feeling when you feel comfortable on a bike quickly. It's like meeting an old friend for a beer and losing track of time. I'm waiting for a few things to shake out before pulling the trigger on a Tracer2 275 and I hope I get the same feeling.

    I echo the positive review of your review. Helpful and insightful.

    And dwt, I love that proverb. It bangs around in my head all the time.

    Have a great season on the Carbine. I hope it's red. Red is the fastest color for bikes...

    mk
    TrailWerks Cyclery
    Trailwerks Suspension Service

    trailwerkssuspension.com
    trailwerkscyclery.com

  5. #5
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    I, too, love my 2013 Carbine 275 with the Fox 34 150, tubeless Hans Dampf front and NeoMoto rear (hate this tire. Too flimsy/rolly side to side, even with 35lbs psi (I weigh 185, 6' 1"), and climbing traction isn't stellar like a Purgatory due to the harder compound and long knob ramps, but it is a fast tire), and 740mm Havoc Carbon bars. I have half a dozen rides on it now, but it took me a few rides to get it dialed, unlike you, coming off my 26" 140mm 2011 Stumpjumper Sworks full susp. I lacked front end traction initially, but lengthening and lowering the stem and moving the seat forward fixed that, allowing me to put more weight on the front tire. It doesn't climb quite as well even with carbon rims, but I can live with that since it is more rigid and inspires so much more confidence hitting the same descents and steeps. It's not as snappy nor as quick turning, and I have to lean it a little more, but the added rake allows me to dive into loamy/sandy turns with zero worries of knifing like my Sworks would occasionally do. And the 275 wheels roll over sand whereas the 26" would sink and wander. The Carbine is so plush and simply makes most ruts and hack disappear. Manualing, like you mentioned, is much easier than my Sworks. That surprised me. The BB is .5 inch higher and I feel more "on" the bike than in, until I lower the seat and the trail turns down. Then it just goes where you're looking, with equal traction fore and aft. And I have yet to have a pedal strike. Landing off our normal jumps is a buttery feeling. Love love love this bike.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the review, that bike seems to be killer. Can you recommend some great places to ride in VT, I have ridden pine hill parking and want to check out the green mountain area. Thanks!

  7. #7
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    I just got a Carbine and have not yet decided on wheelsize. I am using a used Fox 36 and a pair of XT wheels for now, and have to decide if I want to go to 650 or not.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by epic View Post
    I just got a Carbine and have not yet decided on wheelsize. I am using a used Fox 36 and a pair of XT wheels for now, and have to decide if I want to go to 650 or not.
    Go 650. Almost zero penalty with all the upside. You just have to ride it a little differently due to longer wheelbase and rake. 26" is dead. All development is going into 27 and 29, even for downhill.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MntnMan View Post
    Go 650. Almost zero penalty with all the upside. You just have to ride it a little differently due to longer wheelbase and rake. 26" is dead. All development is going into 27 and 29, even for downhill.
    Can you explain to me how your wheelbase will change...or do I need to go back to skool and relearn my geometry? I'm assuming no changes in fork...
    Naysayers never apologize. Critics go to their grave thinking everyone else is wrong.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pau11y View Post
    Can you explain to me how your wheelbase will change...or do I need to go back to skool and relearn my geometry?
    The 275 dropouts push the axle back and up. Back = longer wheelsbase, up = a shade more rake/slacker front end.

  11. #11
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    Haven't been on MTBR for awhile so I'm just catching up. I run a Fox TALAS 160 on my Carbine and at the 120mm setting the front end totally settles down on the climbs. I like you, also changed out to a little longer stem than I normally run. Seems to be a better position.



    Quote Originally Posted by MntnMan View Post
    I, too, love my 2013 Carbine 275 with the Fox 34 150, tubeless Hans Dampf front and NeoMoto rear (hate this tire. Too flimsy/rolly side to side, even with 35lbs psi (I weigh 185, 6' 1"), and climbing traction isn't stellar like a Purgatory due to the harder compound and long knob ramps, but it is a fast tire), and 740mm Havoc Carbon bars. I have half a dozen rides on it now, but it took me a few rides to get it dialed, unlike you, coming off my 26" 140mm 2011 Stumpjumper Sworks full susp. I lacked front end traction initially, but lengthening and lowering the stem and moving the seat forward fixed that, allowing me to put more weight on the front tire. It doesn't climb quite as well even with carbon rims, but I can live with that since it is more rigid and inspires so much more confidence hitting the same descents and steeps. It's not as snappy nor as quick turning, and I have to lean it a little more, but the added rake allows me to dive into loamy/sandy turns with zero worries of knifing like my Sworks would occasionally do. And the 275 wheels roll over sand whereas the 26" would sink and wander. The Carbine is so plush and simply makes most ruts and hack disappear. Manualing, like you mentioned, is much easier than my Sworks. That surprised me. The BB is .5 inch higher and I feel more "on" the bike than in, until I lower the seat and the trail turns down. Then it just goes where you're looking, with equal traction fore and aft. And I have yet to have a pedal strike. Landing off our normal jumps is a buttery feeling. Love love love this bike.

  12. #12
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    Millstone Trails in Barre is fantastic. You ride up and around a bunch of granite quarries-very unique. Great place if you like more technical riding. Kingdom Trails in East Burke is much more well known and has something for everyone.



    Quote Originally Posted by LaXCarp View Post
    Thanks for the review, that bike seems to be killer. Can you recommend some great places to ride in VT, I have ridden pine hill parking and want to check out the green mountain area. Thanks!

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the kind words. I would like to try the carbon TB LT. I thought hard about that bike when I decided on the Carbine. I really like airing it out whenever possible and I never felt as comfortable on the 29er in the air so I went 650b..



    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    Very good review. You've got the lingo nailed. Save the post as a writing sample when you apply for a journalism job. (This is meant as a compliment, no sarcasm intended. Sometimes hard to tell on the interwebz).

    I assume your TB is the 120mm version, not the LT. I recently ordered this version in carbon for my quiver, saving trail or AM travel for 650b. My current 650b is a 2010 Jamis. Originally I wanted to upgrade the Jamis with one of the new 650b's, but nothing met my personal price/spec standard. Hence a light wagon wheel XC bike which has a better pricepoint and would not be redundant in my quiver.

    A lightish, agile, longer squish 650b has been pushed at least 2 years down the road in a (vain?) hope the prices will drop and the selection will be better.


    "I ride my bike to ride my bike"- Zen proverb

    Posted via iPhone

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