Intense Cycles is a name that truly resonates with mountain bikers the world over, holding a unique place in the bike industry as an authentic, focused, high-end MTB brand run by enthusiasts who truly understand riders.
For over 20 years, the Temecula, California, based company has been at the forefront of the industry thanks to the brand's commitment to quality, its innovative designs and the outstanding performance of its bikes. The unquenchable passion of the Intense team, led by founder and designer Jeff Steber, has seen Intense grow from a small MTB concern into one of the sport's most famous names – and one that's still firmly rooted in the racing scene thanks to its own Intense Factory Racing Team.
The Intense story began in 1993 when founder Jeff Steber began building his first full suspension frame on his home patio in Lake Elsinore, California. The three-inch travel Spyder was designed for cross country but it was downhill riders who were taken with the design when Steber took it to Interbike.
The overwhelming reaction prompted the development of something to sate the appetite of downhillers looking for more fun and better performance. The project was catalysed by Steber teaming up with Mike Metzger and Shaun Palmer – big names in motocross and snowboarding respectively – who wanted to get into the sport and in 1994, Steber changed the MTB world forever with the launch of the M1, the first downhill-specific full-suspension mountain bike.
Shaun Palmer's 1996 World Championship silver established the brand as the most important name in downhill racing, the M1 becoming the sport's must-have bike. Such was the bike's ahead-of-its-time performance, that the M1 was regularly re-badged and ridden by several of the world's best riders, including Greg Minnaar in his 2003 worlds win; Mike King; Leigh Donovan; Gee and Dan Atherton; Andrew Shandro; Scott Sharples; Eric Carter; Mick Hannah; John Tomac; Brian Lopes and John Kirkaldie.
By 2001, Intense was in such demand that the company moved to its current home, a 20,000 square-foot facility in Temecula – a far cry from the 1,500 square-foot industrial space the brand had previously occupied. While Intense grew in size, the innovation continued with Steber teaming up with Santa Cruz to license and develop David Earl's Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) rear suspension system, a design that in 2016 has seen further improvement and innovation in its latest guise as JS tuned suspension, a proprietary Intense design.
In 2002 Chris Kovarik, who remains an Intense rider, rode the M1 to an unprecedented 14-second victory at Fort William. Meanwhile Intense continued to perfect the by then iconic M-series while also bringing innovating with new frame designs for trail and enduro. When Intense complemented its Temecula-based aluminium frame building with the carbon expertise of Asian manufacturing, the authentic Intense feel was maintained through Steber's continued development of the frames. Steber's designes gained the performance benefits of this must-have material while retaining the ride character that has made Intense so popular with mountain bikers around the world for over 20 years.
With a management restructure, Steber has been able to get back to his first love of designing better bikes with the result that the brand's newest models – the Spider 275C; ACV and Primer – have all received outstanding reviews from the worldwide mountain bike press.
In 2016, Intense restated its commitment to racing with the creation of the Intense Factory Racing Team, a new development squad including young stars of the future including Jack Moir (Australia), Luca Cometti (USA), Nik Nestoroff (USA) and Dean Lucas (Australia). The team has already built up to World Cup racing with Moir scoring a top-20 position in Lenzerheide.
Today the brand boasts a range of platforms covering light trail through to DH race and its incredible reputation as the cream of the MTB world makes Intense a perfect fit for Saddleback's elite performance portfolio.