Of all of the bikes I wanted to test, the Intense Uzzi SLX was on the top of the list. Primarily because it has been nearly impossible to get a hold of — especially fully built up. Intense has arguably the best customer service and warranty in the business with an impeccable reputation for taking the Specialized rear triangle and making it the winningest suspension design on the planet.
The M1 is legendary in downhilling. You’ll find more top racers straddling an Intense M1 to the podium than any other frame.
The Uzzi SLX replaces and improves upon the monocoque Uzzi DH. The DH required an E-type front derailleur which delivers less accurate shifting. The new frame is based on the Uzzi SL frameset, but is beefed up to handle the 6-inches of travel and longer travel forks. The rear shock mount uses the monococque M1 unit to keep the rear-end stiff. Standard shock is the Fox Vanilla RC with the option of the Progressive 5th Element shock as an upgrade. The bike tested had the RC on it, which performed well.
According to those who have tested the Progressive 5th Element shock, it will become the new standard for rear suspension. Both Santa Cruz and Intense will offer it as options on their bikes.
Particularly impressive is the overall build quality — the welds are perfect, the paint flawless and every detail is taken care of. All pivots house sealed cartridge bearings to ensure a consistently smooth ride. Get this… if you’re a stalwart Intense rider, simply send in your frameset every year and get it painted, checked for any cracks and have the bearings replaced for a mere $125!
Guaranteed, Intense will stand behind this rig for as long as you own it. I talked personally with the warranty department and he knows what he’s doing. Intense is a small outfit that pays particular attention to quality and customer satisfaction.
On The Trail
After 30-minute wait to ride, I finally got a hold of a black SLX with a Rock Shox Psylo SL, disks and a triple-chainring up front. Immediately, the bike oozed smooth — with the suspension remaining supple and active under climibing and sprinting. I liked it immediately!
Overall, I feel the 4-bar linkage offers the best ride characteristics of any suspension design available. I’ve gotten used to pedaling 35 lb. bikes uphill, and this bike climbed as well as the Rocky Mountain Slayer I ride every day. Granny gears become your best friend and visions of bomber descents flash in your sweat-soaked head.
The SLX has all the right angles, perfect for pedaling uphill and amazing for going down. It becomes very easy to clear large drops and obstacles with this bike. Everything about the SLX is perfect for anyone wanting an all-around trailbike that can do literally ANYTHING! The thought of wanting a bike with less travel and lighter weight all but disappears once pointed downhill.
Because it is of the same pedigree of the M1, the SLX just screams on the downhill, yet is maneuverable enough to hop obstacles, weave through tight singletrack and do minor trials. Basically, this bike turned out to be the finest rig I rode at Interbike.
The Bottom Line on the 2002 Intense Uzzi SLX
The skinny on this bike is that it is the finest overall freeride bike on the planet. Granted, if you’re simply hucking off every drop in sight, the 4-bar linkage may take a beating, but guaranteed, Intense will take care of you.
For those looking for a long-lasting, drool-inducing freeride machine, look no further than the Intense Uzzi SLX! That is, if you can even get your hands on one. You’ll climb up anything you can on your hardtail, but you’ll descend with the prowess of a downhill expert. Believe me, you’ll NEVER want to ride anything else once you get one.