In­tense Sniper T 29 Elite

Go­ing big for cross coun­try and be­yond

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Terry Mck­all

Go­ing big for cross coun­try and be­yond

What is a cross coun­try bike? A few years ago, it would have been a su­per-light rig with short travel, a hard­tail with steep an­gles. A bike like In­tense’s Sniper T, with its 120 mm of travel and 66.5-de­gree head-tube an­gle, would have got sideways glances from any­one show­ing up at the ride in Ly­cra.

Times have changed. Mod­ern XC rac­ing re­quires speed down, as well as up in­clines. A bet­ter way to de­fine a cross coun­try ma­chine might be any bike that wants to cover big kilo­me­tres, up hills and down, fast. The Sniper T ab­so­lutely fits that bill. With a low weight and ef­fi­cient ped­alling, the bike en­cour­ages push­ing that lit­tle bit harder on the climbs and ac­cel­er­at­ing out of ev­ery cor­ner.

Once you crest a hill, In­tense’s long-travel XC bike ab­so­lutely flies on the de­scents. With slack an­gles and a more stout back end for 2020 model, the Sniper T has your back when the trail gets rough. While the purist, 100-mm travel Sniper XC model shaves weight with an asym­met­ric rear tri­an­gle, In­tense added a sec­ond ver­ti­cal strut to the rear tri­an­gle of the Sniper T to im­prove lat­eral stiff­ness. The added grams are worth it when you run into the un­ex­pected in a marathon XC race.

While the Sniper T’s pro­gres­sive geom­e­try num­bers – longer wheelbase and slacker head-tube an­gle – pay div­i­dends in speed and smiles on the de­scents, there is a trade-off. When it comes to the tight­est and steep­est of up­hill switch­backs, keep­ing the front wheel down re­quires some at­ten­tion. Un­less you only ride up cor­ners, the com­pro­mise is worth it. The Sniper T car­ries speed very well through all other turns and over rough trail.

The Elite model comes with the decked-out parts kit you’d ex­pect from a top-end bike. At $8,600, it’s not a l ow price tag, but the bike has com­po­nents you might ex­pect on a ma­chine that costs more. A Fox Fac­tory Float 34 Step­cast fork pro­vides enough sup­port for ag­gres­sive de­scend­ing, with a Kashima-coated Fox Fac­tory Float dps shock keep­ing things light out back. Car­bon-fi­bre xcx wheels from e-thir­teen and even a KS Car­bon lev Ci drop­per post match with a XX1/X01 12-speed Ea­gle mix from sram and Shi­mano’s al­ways re­li­able XT brakes. In the Sniper T, In­tense has made a bike that is light enough to race and fun enough to hunt koms on your lo­cal trails. Whether pointed up or down, the bike is made for speed. The added strength to the cross coun­try bike’s back end matches its pro­gres­sive geom­e­try and parts build, al­low­ing you to push the pace on the de­scents. While test­ing the Sniper T, I rode a large sec­tion of the BC Bike Race’s open­ing stage in the Cowichan Val­ley. It’s ex­actly this type of tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing marathon race, one that ven­tures well out­side the tra­di­tional stomp­ing grounds of cross coun­try rac­ing, where the Sniper T is de­signed to ex­cel.

“Once you crest a hill, the long-travel XC bike ab­so­lutely flies on the de­scents.”

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