Cross-country (XC) bikes have changed a lot over the years. Long, low and slack is no longer just for the downhill crew, it’s the new normal. This fresh style and thinking is now perfectly at home on shorter travel bikes, and our INTENSE Sniper is leading the field. A super lightweight full carbon frame, rolling on 29” wheels, with either a 100mm (XC) or 120mm (T) travel option, the Sniper is all about off-road speed… both up and down. It is fast and fiery. It is true XC… INTENSE style.
Back in 1992 the first bike that INTENSE’s Jeff Steber (our founder and CEO) ever built in his garage in California, the ‘Spider’, could be seen as a very early version of the Sniper. At the time it was revolutionary, and here we are, almost 30 years later, with the latest incarnation of that bike.
A high-performance XC bike with the spirit of a downhiller
The Sniper is special to us here at INTENSE. At its heart it’s the modern day XC bike in its purest form. We believe that short travel bikes should descend like their long-travel siblings, so with the Sniper we've created an XC bike with a DH spirit – confident and efficient on the climbs – stable, controlled and direct on the descents.
“A brilliant tech-trail racer/ripper for aggro pedal heads after a responsive, interactive ride.” - BikeRadar
Long, low and slack
As the years have gone by bikes have changed, mainly because of the speed and type of terrain that we are now riding. Things have moved on. Ten years ago who would have thought that most XC riders would be riding around on 29” wheels!? As XC riding has become more aggressive and new wheel sizes have become the norm bike design has changed too. For XC style bikes the Sniper is leading that charge. When we first launched this new version in 2018 its progressive geometry really had people talking, and it left many of our competitors playing catch-up. Longer top tubes (reach 468mm on a size Large), with shorter stems (40-50mm), wider bars (760mm), lower bottom brackets (330mm) and slacker head angles (67.5º) all make for an exciting and balanced modern-day bike. The Sniper’s numbers are more progressive than any traditional XC race bike, with geometry and design that’s normally only seen on long travel trail bikes. But it works. Add into that mix dropper posts and 1x gearing and you have what we believe to be the ultimate XC bike.
Going uphill, but always with one eye on the descents
The Sniper is a thing of beauty, a work of art. It’s like a racehorse. Primed, poised, and ready to go. With sharp and crisp handling, and direct and responsive pedaling. You may think that the slack head angle would tell you otherwise, but the Sniper’s handling is exceptional:
“By adding aggressive steering geometry to its suspension platform, INTENSE has created a viscerally-involving bike that’s impressively light and good value too... A brilliant tech-trail racer/ripper for aggro pedal heads after a responsive, interactive ride.” - BikeRadar, Trail review
It’s all about the suspension
We talk about JS Suspension a lot. JS stands for Jeff Steber and put simply it is a refined suspension system using two counter-rotating links that connect the front and rear triangles. The links are specifically placed to allow for separation between the pedaling and braking forces from the suspension performance.
For the Sniper our engineering team put the focus on optimized pedaling performance, tweaking the shock to suit typical XC riding terrain. Here’s what Director of Engineering Thomas Harter has to say:
“Both links work in a way that when they receive forces from pedaling their movement compensates those forces by ensuring that the suspension does not move under pedaling, even when the rear shock is open and active. That’s a key point for an XC bike. However it still stays bump-sensitive to absorb any amount of rear wheel impact."
The suspension for the Sniper was designed for supple sensitivity on small bumps, mid-support for a hard pedaling feel and efficiency, and a good progression through the end of the stroke.
"The JS system is outstanding in suspension performance, as there is great independence between induced pedaling forces and the suspension activation. The way the shock curve is designed also gives the feeling of getting more out of the total travel, making the bike very capable, especially in rough terrain.”
It’s all about the ride
We know that riding the Sniper will fill you with confidence. The aggressive and innovative geometry is a game changer for XC. Climbing, descending or cruising along… it does it all with an efficient ease.
“Does this bike climb… REALLY climb? It’s like there’s a small motor tucked away down in the bottom bracket, or you’ve constantly got a tailwind pushing you up the hill... there’s no hint of twitchiness when you’re really ragging along. The way it covers the ground so quickly and effortlessly is intoxicating... this bike is nothing short of a revelation on the descents. It’s all due to the geometry and the equipment, including the dropper post, which gives this XC race bike trail bike-esque handling when it comes to anything steep and entertaining.” - PinkBike, XC review
The slack head angle will fill you with confidence on the descents, the super lightweight frame (just 1.9kg for a size medium) combined with the active response of the JS suspension system makes this bike ready to attack any climb – and when you climb you’ll feel every pedal stroke transferring directly to the rear wheel.
The Sniper is our XC thrasher, but don't be fooled, it's got the INTENSE spirit through and through. Whether you choose the XC model or the more aggressive T version we know that you won’t be disappointed. It’s everything you could want in a modern day XC/Trail bike.