Les is Intense

Okay, that works on a descriptive level, but technically, Les is to Pivot, as Spider is to Intense.

Get it?

Alright, so it's lame. Shoot me for trying.

There is something about the best laid plans. Last night I was fully intending to go out to Irvine Lake for the second day of Spookycross. By the morning, the Ibis demo out at Jenson USA in Riverside had risen to the top of the option list, but as I squandered away the morning reading the paper and drinking coffee a third option, the Demo Days event hosted by Incycle, suddenly looked increasingly attractive.

As it turns out the early bird does not always get the worm, and all my morning laziness, and late-to-get-going attitude worked out for the best. The Demo Days event, at Bonelli Park, gave me the opportunity to test out multiple machines, made by multiple manufacturers - Intense, Pivot, Santa Cruz, Cannondale, Specialized. Additionally, DVO Suspension was there showing their forks as well.

I could have easily taken tests spins on rides from each of those manufacturers but, given my late start, I focused on two that I had particular interest in after seeing them at this years' Interbike - the Pivot Les, and the Intense Spider, both in their 29er versions. Small bicycle media guys (and gals) like myself, don't really attract the attention of the big bike makers, rarely get product for review, and so relish opportunities like this to check out the good stuff, swing a leg over, shred some trails, and then write a little about it.

Getting my Les ready.

The Les, by Pivot, is an incredibly light bike made for riders who race cross country (XC) or those who love to jam on XC-style trails. It is also stiff and very lively without being the least bit twitchy. The bike I tested came geared with a 1x which, as I expected, had me spun out in no time. You already know I am not a fan of the 1x set up, but with the Les this is not a problem since you have the option to throw on a front deuraileur and a second larger chainring. As it was, this bike climbed like a dream, and its lightness and thus ability to maneuver quickly gave me a lot of confidence through some of the, slightly, more technical sections of trail I took it on. There is not a local trail that I wouldn't rip around on with this bike.

The Spider, by Intense.

The Spider is a different monster than I am used to riding. Even though I have a fully suspended "all-mountain" bike in the stable, it is a different geometry. The Spider I would categorize as residing on the DH-side of the all-mountain spectrum. As a result it took me a little more time to get used to that more relaxed geometry. As I put the bike through its motions, I sensed a heaviness up front, at least in comparison to the first bike I tested this morning. I didn't see any reason that it should be heavier, so I think it may have been, again, the difference in geometry. Once I got used to the difference, and let the bike run more, do its thing, it became super fun, smoothing out all the little ruts and rocks I ran it over. One curiosity about this bike - my right calf would frequently brush against the rear triangle, not a problem mind you, just not something I have experienced before, and something I attributed to the swept back saddle position you might notice in the photo above. I would take this bike up to Mammoth, Northstar, probably some Big Bear trails too. Oh, and this was my first time riding with a dropper seat post; they are as cool as everyone says, adding a whole other level of versatility to a bike.

If you missed Demo Days, fear not, there will be a second one hosted by Incycle on the twenty-first of November. If you are thinking of a new bike, it might either help you decide or make your decision more difficult.