In­tense Sniper XC Ex­pert

Span­dex or bag­gies? Yes.

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Matt Stet­son

Span­dex or bag­gies? Yes.

Al­though I usu­ally see more In­tense head badges be­ing loaded onto a gon­dola rather than ped­alled to the top of a moun­tain, I was ex­cited to find out what a cross coun­try race ma­chine was go­ing to feel like from the brand. When I heard the 100-mm travel In­tense Sniper was com­ing in for test, I reached for the span­dex kit and tore off my hel­met visor.

The gear se­lec­tion may have been a lit­tle pre­ma­ture, how­ever. The ge­om­e­try spec had me a lit­tle con­fused. With a 67.5 de­gree head-tube an­gle and 468-mm reach on my size­large test bike, I had the span­dex in one hand and the bag­gies in the other. The bike has foam grips, so def­i­nitely span­dex for me. It also has a drop­per post, so that had me look­ing back at the bag­gies. But the post only drops 125 mm.

Whether you pre­fer tight-fit­ting shorts or loose ones, the Sniper doesn’t judge. It will help you climb like an XC racer and de­scend like a sea­soned down­hill pro. The Sniper I tested was the XC Ex­pert ver­sion sport­ing 100 mm of travel front and rear thanks to the Fox Float 32 Per­for­mance Elite fork and Float dps Per­for­mance Elite rear shock. The ped­alling ef­fi­ciency of the frame is very good. I ex­pe­ri­enced very lit­tle pedal bob and felt that most of my en­ergy was be­ing trans­ferred into the rear wheel. The Sniper was also very good and soak­ing up bumps on steep climbs while still main­tain­ing trac­tion. The bike re­ally in­spires you to push hard on climbs thanks to its ef­fi­ciency and 73 de­gree seat-tube an­gle. I did find the ge­om­e­try a lit­tle slack for tack­ling very steep switch­back climbs and some slower-speed tech­ni­cal climbs, where I needed a lit­tle more mo­men­tum to keep the bike on its line. Rid­ing the Sniper down­hill, I’d for­get I only had 100 mm of travel. The ge­om­e­try is closer to a trail bike than a tra­di­tional XC race ma­chine and you can re­ally tell on de­scents. The Sniper is truly the down­hiller’s XC bike be­cause the only lim­it­ing fac­tor in how fast you can de­scend is the amount of travel. I found my­self push­ing a bit too hard on a few oc­ca­sions and hav­ing to dial back the speed to en­sure I didn’t need to make any trips to the wheel­tru­ing stand.

Af­ter a few rides on the Sniper, I still wasn’t sure which shorts I should be wear­ing. I’m OK with that. The bike can have two iden­ti­ties. You could take the Sniper to your lo­cal XC race where it won’t hin­der your per­for­mance at all. Or, put some ag­gres­sive trail tires on it and tackle a tech­ni­cal down­hill. Al­though it may not be the weapon of choice for purists of a par­tic­u­lar moun­tain bike dis­ci­pline be­cause of its XC build and trail ge­om­e­try, it is cer­tainly a bike for rid­ers who like to pedal fast and at­tack trails with the pre­ci­sion only a Sniper can achieve.

“Rid­ing the Sniper down­hill, I’d for­get I only had 100 mm of travel.”

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