Intense Cycles 951 EVO Mountain Bike Frame - 2014 $2,899.00
An unfair advantage.
Perhaps more than any other discipline in cycling, downhill allows riders to literally buy speed. Whether upgrading to more powerful brakes, or dropping the cash on top-tier suspension dampers, minor improvements to your setup can turn into precious seconds saved when racing the clock. And with the staggering experimentation to be found throughout mountain biking's F1, it's somewhat puzzling that one of downhill's most arbitrary components, the 26-inch wheel, has been largely accepted as a constant. Thankfully, the gravity aficionados at Intense have been working tirelessly to show the world that big wheels have a place in downhill, and the American made Intense 951 Evo is the latest result of this grand experiment. We don't know whether larger wheels will continue to be UCI legal, but we do know that early back-to-back testing indicates that the 951 Evo saves multiple seconds per run over its smaller-wheeled competition. And that could translate into a lot of podiums in the hands of a capable rider. Or just more laughs at your favorite bike park. So, are you ready to redefine the meaning of "pinned?"
The especially tech-savvy among you may remember the Intense M29 prototype, which caused some serious waves in downhill circles. While it wasn't destined for production, the 29-inch wheeled version of the M9 was the world's first glimpse into Intense founder Jeff Steber's fascination with applying larger wheels to downhill race bikes. While the theory is sound, the M29 project made clear that a 29-inch wheel is just too big to make room for all the requisite suspension components, while maintaining the geometry needed for unbridled shredding. This makes the 951 Evo both inevitable, and arguably the best researched big-wheeled DH bike around.
Larger wheels provide an improved angle of attack, helping them to roll smoothly over uneven terrain. But the 951's speed isn't entirely attributable to its wheel size. The other part of the 951 Evo's ability to cover ground quickly lies in its VPP suspension design. VPP employs two aluminum counter-rotating links, which allows it to dissipate square-edged impacts at wide open speeds, without sacrificing pedaling efficiency when you need to get on the gas. The upper link provides most of the rotation as the bike compresses into the sag point. This yields a vertical wheel path, which you'll notice in the form of a firm feel during acceleration. As the bike compresses deeper into the suspension, the lower link activates, moving the axle path rearward. The rearward axle path is key to letting the rear wheel travel out of the way of square-edged impacts. And that travel is controlled by Cane Creek's industry-leading Double Barrel shock, which offers independently adjustable high and low speed compression and rebound, as well as a notoriously smooth stroke
You may be wondering if the 951 Evo is so fast, why is the M9 considered Intense's World Cup race bike? Well, while the M9 rolls on industry standard 26in wheels, its longer travel gives it a more planted handling feel, and the geometry is highly adjustable, making it more adaptable to the variety of tracks a privateer will see over the course of a season. By comparison, the 951 Evo's 8.5 inches of rear wheel travel strikes a balance of smoothing out hairy trails, and it's tuned to provide a livelier ride where fun, and not just speed, is factored into the equation.
A common point of confusion is the head angle. At 62.5 degrees, the 951 Evo is slacker than the M9's 64-degree neutral setting. Typically, that would point to the 951 Evo being less responsive, and more high-speed capable, but then you need to consider the impact of fork offset. You see, 27.5-inch downhill forks run a longer offset, which translates into less trail for a given head angle. And as the geometry-obsessed among us will already know, trail is far and away the largest determining factor in a bike's cornering feel. In other words, the steering feel of the 951 Evo is similar to that of a 26-inch bike at 64 degrees, with the added fore-aft stability that comes with a more relaxed head angle. Enhancing the "happy medium" feel are the 17.5-inch chainstays, which offer plenty of stability when bombing fire roads, while being short enough to turn quickly when the trail tightens up. The result is a bike that's ready to tackle pro-level race tracks, but with responsive handling, and a poppy suspension feel that mere mortals will appreciate as well.
Intense knows that the 951 Evo will, in most cases, do double duty on racetracks, and in bike parks, so reliability is essential. Intense's California-based fabrication team knows this better than most, and its burly aluminum construction hints at its aggressive nature. The use of a formed, seamless down tube ensures correct alignment, and the lack of seams makes it the strongest option for a section of the front triangle that is under tension when riding. The tube forming enhances its resistance to denting, be it from loose rocks, or exposed chairlift hooks. And by using a monocoque top tube, Intense is able to increase the weld area at the head tube far beyond what would be possible with tubular construction. That increased weld surface means a stiffer, stronger head tube junction, and accordingly, the steering precision required to stay on your line through rutted landings, greasy roots, and heavy braking bumps. The rear triangle is similarly burly, ensuring that the rear wheel stays in plane with the front wheel when you're hammering turns. And the use of artfully machined shock mounts, pivots, and links ensure perfect alignment, so your suspension cycles smoothly even under high loads.
The Intense 951 Evo Frame is available in three sizes, from Small to Large, and in the colors Flat Black, Works Raw, Flo Orange, and Intense Red.
|586mm Axle to Crown Fork|
Effective Top Tube
Head Tube Angle
Bottom Bracket Height