enduro vs "all mountain" – what is the Intense Carbine?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum enduro vs "all mountain" – what is the Intense Carbine?

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    • #360755


      Im searching for an all mountain bike, but I want to make one choice instead of learning via my pocketbook.   I’ve been demoing what I think I want, but then one shop made a suggestion I had not considered.  would all y’all chime in with constructive thoughts please?

      Essentially I had narrowed my search to the XXL Santa  Cruz Hightower ,due to its stability and that this bike is positioned as an “all mountain” with no specialty  — thats where my interest lies.   folks on youtube and review articles report what I expect from the numbers and what I found on my demo:  its great on the downs, doesn’t climb like a billy goat, very stable, long and slack, a bit difficult in tight technical switchbacks, you sit “in” as opposed to “on” — all the usual images and adjectives.  pretty close to my interests.

      Then a local shop suggested Intense Carbine but I can’t figure out where this bike fits.  it appears to be a mini-enduro but then so is Hightower, but nobody compares the two.  what am I missing?  these two bikes appear to target the same riders but they are in different categories – everyone things Hightower is a really capable trail bike,  but Carbine is stuck in the enduro — well maybe a short travel enduro.  So I’m trying to evaluate the Carbine without riding it (none available in my area) while i’m anchored in the Hightower.

      anyone have experience with the Carbine?  Compared to the Hightower, would it really be more maneuverable, climb just as well,  and still give more travel to float over chunk?

      BTW I have a few years  compared to most, so not the strongest rider.   I don’t live to boost off of rollers and jumps aren’t important to me, but I’d take a little air, conservatively.  I doubt I would go to a bike park.     I bike for fun — local trails mostly, which can get some chunk.  I’ll climb because trails have hills not because there’s a stopwatch nearby.  I’m likely to use that 50t top gear.


    • #363653

      My personal *opinion* is that Intense thought that the Carbine would appeal to the Enduro crowd who wanted a 29er but it wasn’t nearly as slack as many of the bikes out there so it felt less like a sled hauling the mail going down. Their sponsored female rider that does very well in Enduro rides the 27.5 Tracer.

      I feel that the Carbine is more of an all-mountain bike, Intense’s version of the Ripmo (which of course came later). I have two friends onto Tracer and they both are very happy with it. One is 55 and while he used to ride “big” rides with us, he now rides occasionally with his wife so it’s actually more bike that he needs as he is touring the US by motorhome full time. The other guy will be 60 in September. He had a heart attack in April 2018 while riding his SC Tallboy LT. After 45 minutes of CPR on the trail and 10+ days in a coma, he survived to ride again after being given about a 5% chance of survival. The 2018 Carbine was his gift to himself in late 2018. He rides it all over and we just came back from 4 days in Hurricane where we rode blues to double blacks. The bike is VERY capable.

      I would *guess* that the SC probably has more updated geometry and of course SC comes with a great warranty and lifetime bearing replacement. They also have better resale value if you flip your bikes often. I personally like riding bikes that everybody else is not, plus most of SC’s paint and graphics choices are hideous to me. I’ve had multiple Intense bikes in the past and currently have a 3+ year old Primer that has been a fantastic, jack of all trades bike like the Ibis Ripley. I cane get a deal on a Ripley so I’m going to do a frame swap next month but wouldn’t hesitate to buy an Intense again.

      • #363923

        That’s really close to where i was going.  Interesting to me is that the latest Carbine is just not reviewed . The 2018 is … but classed as enduro, i suppose because its suspension travel is more than 140mm.  So  nobody notices that it can be an all mountain bike.    But its travel is short for an enduro suggesting its intentions are more all mountain and less “full on enduro”.

        The only comparison i found is a 2018 carbine  to the hightower LT  in which the author classed the carbine  as a point and shoot monster truck .  Which is weird to me because (in XL) the carbine is shorter (wheelbase) than the XXL Hightower.  In fact the geometry  numbers are all very close to todays Hightower.

        Three  things I want to know

        1. With 10% more travel than todays hightower, the catbune is pegged as a Monster truck but the Hightower LT was not.   Why? Both are fundamentally vpp.  Hightower is pegged as a trail bike that can keep up with the enduro crowd.  But with a Shorter wheelbase and 10% longer travel the carbine should be known as a trail shredder that can roll over chunk 10% better. Why isnt it?

        2.  Seat tube angle bugs me…. on the carbine.  Seems it places the rider further back (compared to hightower) which would reinforce the enduro classification.  they must have a good reason;   i don’t see it yet

        3.  Bottom line for me is does the XL carbine pedal and climb well and is it just as maneuverable as a XXL hightower ?   I don’t really want a point and shoot bike but on the other hand …compared to a short travel pop and playful bike maybe i do!

        Ive got a local shop that will build a carbine  for a lot less than the Hightower, whos retail channel and retail price is very well protected.


      • #363936

        Wait.  I found a 2019 review from revolutionmtb that praises the climbing capabilities…

    • #364124

      Travel, geometry, and tires determine how a bike is classified – XC, Downcountry, Trail, All-Mountain, Enduro, Downhill, Etc.  The Carbine has a little bit more travel than the Hightower but otherwise, the geo is similar and the tires are nearly identical.  I would expect both bikes to perform about the same.  So, don’t overthink it.  You will likely be happy with either bike.

      The bigger question you should be asking yourself is if these are the best bikes for where you ride 90% of the time.  Bikes with longer travel, slacker more progressive geo, and burlier tires descend better but they are less fun when you aren’t descending on the flats and the climbs.  In my opinion, 95% of Trail riders would be happy with 130mm rear, 150 front travel, 66 head angle, 76 seat angle, and 2.4-2.6 Trail tires.  The Commencal Meta TR is a good example.   Don’t get over-biked.   However, if you do ride a lot of steep and rough, then get a more Enduro-ish bike.

      • #365045

        I appreciate the insights and, for the most part I think its valid especially for young bucks who have stopwatches on the climbs.    In my situation, one can argue that climbing must be optimized,  but at the same time the difference between a 140mm bike and a 150mm  bike is less than 10%, and not all of that 10% is going to translate into a climbing disadvantage.  So, while it is certainly good to keep it in mind, I don’t really buy into the “avoid over biking” thing for me, because there are advantages to doing so — by a small amount.

        the concept of “avoid over biking” is appropriate for those who are really trying to squeeze the last ounce of performance, timing, popping and play for the riding they do most often —  and, if I may suggest — for those who have the coin to drop on more than one bike that is tuned for certain tasks

        My situation is a bit different. I’m deliberately over-biking by a small amount because, from what I have demoed so far,  I value the stability and composure  of slightly more  bike than one would normally prescribe, because I don’t have to boost off of every roller and play every berm.  Just to quantify what you rightly pointed out though — suppose that I am “over biked”  for 80% of the trails I ride,  If half of “the 80%” are easy loops (net zero elevation), then 40% of the trail is a don’t care (too much bike won’t matter).  If the other half of that 80% are difficult loops (harder climbs but still net zero elevation) , then only half of THAT 40% will matter, or only 20%!

        and all of that fancy arithmetic shows that one can  say “over biked for 80% of my trails” but still have the right bike, optimized for 80% of actual riding

        I also appreciate the suggestion not to over-think — thats good of course, but unfortunately I have to over think this because there are no XL Carbines to demo in my area and I”m trying to solve this problem from my arm chair.  So I’m faced with interpreting the riding reviews against the numbers for both bikes (hightower and carbine) and I’m astonished that the reviews of these two bikes don’t jive with the numbers.

        I dont get why the Carbine would be such a “point and shoot monster truck” when its wheelbase is shorter than the hightower and its suspension is only 10% squishier.  I guess I’m going to have to either bite the $5,200  bullet for a hightower, or find someone locally with an XL carbine that would let me ride it.

    • #374838

      It sounds like you found the bike you wanted and it is a great bike and then someone said but what if. Either bike is going to be awesome. Bikes like cars all have counter model by another company that is close to the same and very little will vary. I would suggest sticking with the great bike you picked out. You are going to ride it and love it. As you mentioned you are not racing the watch nor are you looking to put out YouTube videos freeriding every feature in the woods. I have got myself stuck in loops of trying to research every aspect and afraid I am missing out (FOMO). It appears you have the few essential questions for you in a bike answered. Go with the that bike.

    • #375190

      Your opening statement is largely correct  so i tend to agree — going with the bike that i know fits me will yield a better result.  Its like writing a certification exam….. don’t second guess yourself cause your first answer was probably correct!

      Ill also take this opportunity to affirm the value of test drives and full service shops, the latter expenses of which i was trying to avoid.  Now i can better see their value.   As interesting as  the latest trends in direct selling are  (i.e. YT and Intense) its the local  full service shops that  take on the cost of inventory and payroll and real estate lease etc.  so the customer can try before buying and make better choices


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