Words: Mike Rose

Mountain biking is full of infuriating little labels and tags that people like to put on bikes – my least favorite currently has to be ‘analogue’ and ‘acoustic’! And I know that I am not alone here, but when I first heard the phrase ‘downcountry’ I hated it. Just another stupid phrase, but you know what, I’ve come to love it. Why? Because it explains perfectly what a certain genre of bikes is all about – an XC bike that loves to go down. A bike just like our Sniper T, a bike with cross country DNA that is built a little bit stronger and with the right components to enjoy (and indeed love) going down. If the Sniper is shaved legs and lycra, then the Sniper T is baggies and a beer (but only a small one!).

Over the last ten years XC racing has developed, race tracks have become more tech and challenging, and bikes have developed too. Full suspension bikes are now almost a necessity and are no longer a novelty. But a full-on XC bike is like a pure breed, highly strung, it has one goal in mind… to be fast. For many of us an XC bike is all we need, but only if it had a little bit know, just a bit more.

So we’ve taken our XC race bike (the Sniper) and beefed-up the rear triangle with the addition of an extra strut to improve the stiffness and rigidity of the rear end, added an extra 20mm of travel front and rear and given it a very particular spec. It has wider riser bars, a short stem, a dropper post and larger more aggressive tires. These few spec changes literally transform the bike from XC racer to trail shredder. You are probably not going to want to huck the Sniper T off a ten foot drop but for many people this is the perfect mountain bike for the 21st century.

‘Downcountry’ bikes have many similarities to ‘normal’ XC bikes: they are light, cover the ground quickly, are efficient on the climbs, lively with sharp and precise handling, but the spec changes on the Sniper T increase the bike’s capabilities and attitude. And that is important, the attitude of the bike is transformed, it really is more capable, and it is perfect for the kind of riding that a lot of people will be doing.

Of course you can still race the Sniper T, it is only a little bit heavier than the Sniper XC and will still rip around the place. It’s perfect for marathon type events, all day epics, or just generally blasting about. As we say, “It is fast, fiery and fun, a truly innovative XC trail bike… INTENSE style”.

INTENSE were one of the first brands to look at XC geometry and to try to reinvent it. We believe that long, low and slack shouldn’t just be for the downhill crowd. We want short travel bikes that descend like their long-travel siblings. With the Sniper T we've created an XC bike with an aggressive DH spirit, it’s exciting yet balanced… it’s a game changer. Downcountry, new-school XC, trail trasher… when bikes are this good you can call them what you like. For us the Sniper T is a pure speed machine, and a hell of a lot of fun too.