My first experience with the Intense Primer back in late 2020 was a mixed bag. A light frame with a great linkage and excellent dampers was utterly hamstrung by a Magura MT7 Pro brake that simply refused to act as a brake.
Fast forward a year and this time around I’m hopeful that the Primer Expert can save the day and prove that the Primer platform is indeed a flyer. With the Pro spec no longer being an option, and likely the one that I’d have put my money on, it’s up to the Primer Expert to step up.
For your pound shy of four grand you get a full carbon fibre frame, SRAM NX drive train, Fox Performance 36s and a Float X, TRP Trail EVO 4-pots and a solid dollop of Intense’s own kit handling the hubs, dropper and cockpit.
The Intense Primer is available in Small, Medium, Large and XLarge.
The Medium tested here in the ‘High’ setting features a reach of 442mm with a seat tube of 431mm. Head tube angle is 65.7 degrees with a seat tube angle of 75. Chainstays are 440mm with the wheelbase on the Medium being 1200mm.
The ‘Low’ setting drops the reach to 435mm, drops 0.6 degrees off the head angle to 65.1 and takes a degree off the seat tube angle at 74 degrees. Wheelbase grows by all of 1mm.
Fox’s Performance dampers only offer rebound and compression so it’s much a case of setting sag and getting the feel right then off we go. I opted to run the previous Primer fast on the rebound side and did much the same this time too.
The Primer feels light from the off, and the Float X offers more pedalling support than the Ohlins coil of the Primer S, which is very welcome indeed. You can also flip the compression switch to ‘Firm’ should you want better climbing support. The Kenda Pinner tyres are neither here nor there when it comes to rolling speed.
I’m going to say it’s coincidence but the rear brake feels spongy at best, while the front brake feels sharp and powerful. It’s my first experience with TRP brakes and the most obvious thing is that the levers will not come in far enough for my hands. They’re at the limit of what I can manage, and the spongy rear brake doesn’t help this.
As soon as you’re onto the trail though, the Primer comes alive. The bike feels lively yet predictable, taking everything from the chatter to the bigger hits well. Intense have got their damper tunes right on the Performance Fox units, meaning you’ll need to be picking holes in them to find anything much wrong with what they’re doing.
The Kenda Pinner do a decent turn with more wind in them than I’d like, which is the opposite of what I was expecting, and makes the bike cover the ground that wee bit better. I opted to switch the grips out for some skinnier numbers too.
There’s a real urgency about the Primer that I haven’t felt in a bike in quite a while. As soon as the ground tips downwards, it’s picking up speed fast. That speed is only tempered by the vague rear brake. I can’t say I’m overly convinced by the front unit either. Hopefully with a good bleed of the brakes the Primer will really be unstoppable. Watch this space.
You can check out the Intense Primer Expert on their website here.