I have enough rides on the Spider Comp to provide a review. I was reticent write one without having enough time on it in varied terrain to give an honest assessment.
Quick note on setup. I have a Fox 34 Float on the front reduced to 130mm. I measured a 67.5 degree head angle with this fork setup, 110 headset and slightly taller front tire. I run the rear in 130mm travel as well.
Best climbing bike I have owned bar none. Take this with a grain of salt as my stable has usually been 160mm AM bikes or hard tails. No surprise it climbs better than the AM bikes, but the hard tail superiority surprised me a bit. The exception here is the hard tails climb better when the trails are pretty smooth, as expected.
This incarnation of VPP has almost zero pedal feedback in the granny ring. A vast improvement over every VPP I have owned previously. This lack of kickback did not come solely at the cost of the venerable VPP rollover feel when descending which I will cover below. The suspension is relatively stiff off the top of the travel making it sit a bit higher in the travel than my other VPP bikes - which aids the climbing ability. With the 130mm Float and have never found the front end to wander on steep climbs or switchbacks. The slightly longer chain stays on 29ers aid in this respect. The Float far outperforms any Talas I have tried so I am happy with that decision. I have Enve wheels on the bike which also aid the climbing to an extent due to the light weight.
The negative on climbing is I do have to muscle it around tight uphill switchback more so than my 26ers, but that is an indictment of the wheel size and really isn't an issue. Overall, A in this category.
I love the long climb or ride and consider myself an all around rider, but I am a descender by background and is why I ride. Where I can accept an average climber, I cannot accept a subpar descender.
As I mentioned in a post the other day, the best barometer I had on this bike is a ride I did the other day with two buddies of mine who race Enduro and quite successfully. I can ride their rear wheels if I decide to hang it out that day but usually let them drop me ever so slightly. Riding a steep, technical single-track the other day, I was riding their wheels like I normally ride when I get slightly dropped. It was surprising and impressive. Actually, my buddy mentioned to me after the ride that he was shocked at my riding that day and chocked it up to new bike stoke. Whatever you chalk it up to, I am faster downhill on this bike than I am on my Uzzi in moderately technical and steep single-track.
Anecdote aside, here are my more technical thoughts.
Compared to what I am used to with my AM bikes, it has a decidedly racy feel to the rear setup. More DW like in firmer off the top, travel disappears in mid-stroke with nice ramp at the end. Granted, I have not sent it yet on a big drop but have not bottomed it out hard to this point. As mentioned above, there is still that nice rollover feel of VPP although not as pronounced as on my Uzzi, Tracer, 6.6 etc. That said, I am enjoying this firm setup as you really feel the trail beneath you vs a more muted ride on my longer travel bikes. The travel will be sufficient for all non resort riding in Colorado and will be perfect for all of Moab, with the exception of the Whole Enchilada. Also, the quality of Intense pivots have been their weak points on previous bikes, not on this one. Looks like they copied Santa Cruz's design and it is executed beautifully.
The traction on this bike is incredible (Hans Dampf front) and the more you lean, the more you are rewarded. The traction is never ending and is an impressive attribute of this bike. The potential negative I can see for smaller or less aggressive riders is it doesn't fall into a lean as easy as my Uzzi or other bikes I've owned. If you don't have aggressive leaning tendencies or are afraid to weight your front, you will find yourself under steering. Lazy steerers should not apply. That said, if you ride it in an aggressive fashion, it is as, of not more, fun in tight single-track as my Uzzi and leaves it in the dust on sweepers. Also, this is the stiffest Intense frame I have owned which also contributes to its positive handling attributes.
The slack head angle and large wheels perform exceedingly well in chunk and at high speed. Not need to elaborate here as this is the presumed benefit of a slack 29er.
Jumping / Playfulness
You can ride this bike like a 26er pumping and jumping the trail, but it feels different. You get a slightly more stable, sailing effect. It is a different feel to a 26, not necessarily better or worse unless your sole intent of jumping is to cross it up on every launch. It is more confidence inspiring while in the air which could be a benefit for a newbie. The short stays and slack angle on this make it feel much more playful than the LTc or Rip9 I demoed last year. Unfortunately, and honestly, I think the SB95 I demoed might have a minor advantage in this area, although very minor. The biggest negative I can see with the 29er platform and the Intense is the manualing. Yes, you can ride the rear wheel but it is not as intuitive as on the 26er. Given the other advantages, and the fact it can be done with just more effort, it is worth the tradeoff.
Things I would improve. The adhesive on the downtube and chainstay protector kind of suck. I think it will last a year or hopefully two but they are peeling in areas along the edges. Even shorter stays! Intense was on the bleeding edge with Yeti, Kona, et al until the Enduro announcement. It might be tough to get them any shorter with the mini links, but I think it would help the manualing even more. At odds with my last request, a bit more room vertically for tires. I am running a 2.3 specie with plenty of room but the 2.35 Nobby Nic was tight.
Overall, great purchase and my favorite bike to date. That's saying a lot as I have been MTBing for 20 years. More importantly, it puts a huge smile on my face when I ride it which is different from most 29ers I have demoed (SB-95 and this head and shoulders above the others I tried). Also, I would say this bike is faster up and down the hill than my Uzzi in anything but very chunky terrain. The caveat there is you have to be willing to ride it aggressively and muscle it around. If you like to ride lazily, the 26er could very well be faster down.
However, I won't be selling my Uzzi or hardtail anytime soon as they all ride different and can make the same trail a completely different experience. Variety is the spice of life.
Excuse my two beer rambling review. Enjoy the ride!
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Thread: Spider Comp Review