First Look Review : Pete’s Intense Primer Expert 29.

The cheaper version of the Intense Primer Pete tested last year, can the Primer Expert prove its worth as a do-it-all machine?

With the Intense Primer Pro falling out of the range, your options now are the Expert and the S. Pete gives his first impressions of the base model Intense trail machine.

Photos by Pete Scullion.

Key features:

  • Fox Performance Float 36 150mm fork
  • Fox Performance Float X shock
  • SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drive
  • TRP Trail EVO 4-piston brakes
  • Intense Recon dropper
  • £3,999.00 RRP
  • UK.IntenseCycles.com

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.

Geometry

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.

Opening moves

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.


  1. Hey Pete. I’ve been interested in your Primer reviews since you reviewed the S last year. I have the same Primer 29 Expert that you are reviewing here. In last year’s review, I read that you are 5’3″ but can manage the size Medium comfortably. I am 5’4″ and my Medium 29 feels really good. The reach feels good. My inseam is a little short, but I can still stand flat footed over the top bar without being scrunched up too much. I can handle switchbacks well even with the long wheelbase. But I never got to try the small. I wonder if you think I would have been more comfortable in a Small, or is it just all in my mind? I demo’d a small Trek Fuel EX and it felt a little too compact in a switchback where the handlebar would almost get a little too close to my stomach in a tight turn. Geometries between the two bikes are similar.

    1. Hey John, thanks for getting in touch.

      I think the chainstays being the same size across the board would make the rear centre of the bike feel very long on the size small Primer 29. They feel long enough on the Medium but in a good way.

      Rarely have I picked a size of a bike based on standover as modern bikes don’t tend to have ridiculous numbers like they used to in this department.

      The fastest bike is the one you have and in my experience, a good switchback ride is more down to the rider than the bike. Not too many of them in Scotland though.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

  2. Thanks Pete! I’ll stick with my Medium. Love your articles, and hope to keep seeing more reviews from you, especially on this Primer Expert.

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