2021 INTENSE PRIMER 275 PRO REVIEW
Words & Photos by Cole Gregg
Long before I got this 2021 Intense Primer to review, I had a strong fascination with Intense bikes. I grew up racing the Fluidride Cup in the PNW, which later became the NW Cup. I saw Intense logos and bikes all over the place. This was the heyday of the M3, a bike I saw under many of the top riders and even some of my luckier friends. From then on, I had always wanted to ride an Intense. Fast forward ten plus years and I had yet to throw a leg over one. That all changed when the 2021 Intense Primer 275 Pro showed up at my door at 11am on a Tuesday. By 1:30pm I was already out soaking up some epic PNW loam. Needless to say, I was excited to see what this 140/150mm mountain bike was all about.
The 2021 Intense Primer 275 has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to geometry. There is an adjustable flip chip that has a Low and Lower setting. In the Low setting you will have a 65.9-degree HT angle and a 75-degree seat tube angle with a 345mm bottom bracket height, keeping the bike snappy on tight switchbacks and agile on the climbs. The Lower setting drops the bottom bracket by 7mm to 338mm and slackens the head tube by .6 degrees to 65.3 as well as the seat tube angle by .7 degrees to 74.3. You also get a 10mm wheelbase increase in the Lower setting.
Our large test bike has a reach of 475mm, which falls right in the sweet spot of not too short and not too long. The Lower chip setting drops the Primer 275’s reach 6mm down to 469mm. At 6’1” I found this to be quite comfortable in all types of terrain, I never found myself wanting more or needing less, it was a good balanced feel. The Intense Primer has 440mm chain stays that give plenty of confidence through high-speed terrain while not sacrificing too much agility on switchbacks, the kick out on Scandi flicks was super predicable.
The Primer 275 frame features monocoque carbon construction technology with a dual strut rear triangle, the upper link is also made of carbon fiber, while the lower is aluminum. Holding all the frame bits together is titanium hardware, something we do not commonly see on OEM spec’d bikes and is a sweet bonus for those weight weenies out there. Speaking of weight, the Intense Primer 275 Pro complete bike comes in at just 30 pounds 15 ounces which is appreciated on longer days. The frame alone weighs just 6lbs 14 ounces. The internal cable routing has tubes for the shifter, dropper and brake cables, keeping this bike ultra-quite on the trail. There are also ISG05 mounts for those that want to run a chain guide.
The 2021 Intense Primer is offered in two build options Pro and Expert.
Our Primer 275 Pro model features a 150mm Fox Performance Elite 36 fork with the Fit4 damper and a 51mm offset. Out back there is a 140mm Fox Performance Elite Float DPX2 with the 3-position adjustment lever. This is a shock that I have been very impressed with and is a perfect fit for an all-around trail smasher, which this bike most certainly is.
Rolling stock comes in the form of 27.5-inch E*thirteen LG1 30mm Enduro race wheels wrapped with a Maxxis Minion DHF up front and DHR 2 out back. Both tires are 2.4” wide in EXO+ casings. E*thirteen also supply the crank and dropper post spec. The cranks are the TRS+ at 175mm in length with a 32-tooth chain ring. The E*thirteen Vario Infinite dropper comes in at 180mm for the large and XL models, and 120mm for small frames and 150mm for mediums. I would have loved to see 200mm droppers on the large and XL though.
The Primer 275 Pro cockpit consists of Intense’s own bar and stem combo, the bars are 780mm Recon Carbon Elite and the Recon Elite stem comes in at 50mm. The Intense grips were better than expected but for my hand size they were a bit thin. They did not cause any extra hand fatigue as they were plenty plush but took a few rides to acclimate to.
Stopping the Intense Primer Pro are a set of four-piston Shimano XT M8120 brakes with 180mm rotors. To keep you smashing through gears on tough climbs there is a Shimano XT 12-speed derailleur out back that worked flawlessly with the Shimano shifter. The XT brake package was a perfect fit for this bike. The XT 12-speed system worked without a hitch for the entirety of the test rides, I never once adjusted the barrel or any adjustments on the derailleur. I am a big fan of index finger shifting so that was a nice bonus as well.
When I think of how the Primer 275 rides, the first thing that comes to mind is traction. So much traction in fact that on long flat corners I was always able to push just a little bit harder on each lap looking for that breakaway point, and to be honest I never really found it. I ran out of skill before the bike ran out of traction. Transitioning through tight sections of trail came very easy for me while on the Intense Primer Pro. The bike is quite nimble when you need it to be but holds the line rather well at high speeds. It really performed best in tight, steep technical corners. The tighter the better. The 27.5” wheels made this thing a riot in the trees!
The Primer 275 also shined when it came time to charge high-speed, rough terrain. If I got on the bike blind-folded and was told it had 160mm of travel I would not second guess it. The JS Tuned Trail Link was great at eating up deep braking holes and big compressions with seemingly no loss in small bump compliance. I would hesitate to spend a few days in a bike park aboard most 140mm mountain bikes, but the Intense Primer is not one of them. It rides as if it has 20mm of travel hidden somewhere but does not sacrifice agility when it is needed most.
While the Primer 275 is ultra-stable and comfortable on rough terrain it did not have the most playful feel on smaller features. As someone that likes to pop and play on small features, I found myself having to put a little more effort to clear the trail side jibs other 140mm bikes fly over. The best way to describe this is planted. After a few days jumping the Primer I got used to the feel and it did not take any fun out of the rides, I just had to be conscious of giving a little extra preload and yank off the top. The bike was very predicable off steep lips and jumps well but to get some extra hangtime you definitely had to work for it.
That planted feel helped when it comes to steep technical climbs. I am by no means a good climber and any extra traction I can get is welcomed with open arms. In fact, during all my rides I never used the adjustment lever on climbs other than a long-paved road climb. Getting up and over wet roots was quite efficient, and the 75-degree seat tube angle allowed me to stay seated getting the power down without having the front wheel constantly lifting up.
The Wolf’s Last Word
To sum up the 2021 Intense Primer I would say that this is a bike that can give you confidence to charge hard and tackle terrain with ease. If you want to spend a few hours in the saddle grinding up to a rowdy decent that may be lined up with enduro bikes, this could be your rig. We found that the Intense Primer is not the most playful bike in the category, but it makes up for it in all around capabilities and comfort. If you do not ride like a Mexican jumping bean with ADHD, then this bike should definitely be high on your list as it’ll climb when you need it to and plow with the best.
Weight: 30.94 lbs
Frame: Monocoque Carbon, 140mm
Fork: Fox Performance Elite 36, 150mm
Shock: Fox Performance Elite Float DPX2
Brakes: Shimano XT M8120, 180mm
Shifter: Shimano XT 12SP I-Spec
Handlebar: Intense Recon Carbon Elite, 780mm
Stem: Intense Recon Elite, 50mm
Saddle: Fabric Scoop Radius Elite
Seatpost: E*thirteen Vario Infinite Dropper, 180mm
Wheels: E*Thirteen LG1 Enduro Race 30MM
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHR II WT Exo+ 27.5″x 2.4”
Bottom Bracket: E*Thirteen 30MM
Cassette: Shimano XT 12SP / 11-51T
Cranks: E*thirteen TRS Plus 12SP / 32t / 170MM
Derailleur: Shimano XT 12SP
The Build Kit
Ground hugging feel
Grips are too thin
Not very playful on jibs
Would like a longer dropper
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