In partnership with Santa Cruz (the owners of the VPP Patent), Intense Cycles has been employing the VPP design throughout their lineup of bikes. They have also been focused on slicing and dicing the market to get just the right bike to the right rider. The new Intense 6.6 is the love child of the 5.5 EVP and the Uzzi VPX and though it may seem redundant to other bikes in the Intense lineup, it makes perfect sense to me. For those unfamiliar with Intense’s bike line, the 5.5 EVP yields, you guessed it, 5.5 inches of VPP travel. Well, the VPX shows off to Mama with 7.75 inches of bump-absorbing squish. Now, the hair has been split with the new Intense 6.6 frameset with 6.6 inches of travel, which might just be the best configuration yet.
Intense is one of the premiere custom bike manufacturers in the world. You don’t see many of them around, but when you do, it’s always one of those enamored encounters that brings you back to those infatuation days of Junior High. It catches your eye, you can’t stop looking at it, you drool, then you slowly approach the bike’s owner to start up a street-level conversation. “So, how do you like your bike?” you say. Then it goes from there and soon, the owner has to peel you off his steed and you ride away bleary-eyed on your Trek dreaming of better times ahead.
Intense 6.6 Details
As stated earlier, the new Intense 6.6 offers just over six-and-a-half inches of travel via the stellar Fox DHX Air 5.0 shock. This new shock platform was just about the only shock I rode all day on several other bikes and I didn’t ever feel like “I wish I had a Fox Vanilla” instead.
I was the first person to step on the 6.6 as it had just barely been built up. So, it was my job to christen her with the blessings from Nick Sunseri, Marketing Director for Intense Cycles.
This particular Intense 6.6 was decked out to the hilt with a full Shimano XT grouppo (including their funky dual control levers), Easton’s brand new Havoc wheelset (which was awesome), Intense 909 EX 2.35 tires, the new Fox 36 Vanilla up front and standard trailbike bits hung from the rest of the frame.
Without a scale on hand, I’d guess the weight to be in the low 30 lb. range. This was a stout build, but not overly burly so as to raise the poundage unnecessarily. I felt it was the perfect build combination for light weight and durability.
Intense 6.6 Review
The Medium 6.6 was perfect for my height (5-ft. 11-in.) with just the right standover and top-tube length. Immediately, I loved the continuous seat-tube without the need to worry about slamming it down and hitting the expensive Fox shock, it’s just one less thing to worry about on the trail.
My immediate impression of the bike was that it was quick, squishy, stable and well-mannered with the new Fox 36 Vanilla fork. The 6.6 is much more lively out of the box than the Uzzi VPX is for sure. Thanks to the Intense crew, the DHX Air was absolutely dialed in for my weight and riding style–something that doesn’t always happen at the Outdoor Demo.
The initial climb of a couple hundred feet on a gravel road was awesome. The Intense 6.6 responds with a smooth climbing action with acceleration to spare for short, steep sections or quick sprints. An important feature of the VPP design is the negative travel. VPP suspensions are set up with more sag than most bikes. That shock sag translates into increased negative travel for added traction and smoothness in all terrain. The Intense 909 EX 2.35 tires provided great traction on climbs, in sand, on rocks and during hard cornering. I was very impressed with these tires overall.
On fast, rocky downhill sections, I was blown away with the 6.6’s natural ability to absorb anything in its path. The best way to describe the 6.6 is “balanced.” I say balanced because right out of the box, the bike handled spot-on and fit comfortably like my old pair of GAP jeans. The Fox 36 Vanilla offers the perfect ride height and plushness for this rig. And, all things considered, the geometry is absolutely dialed with that fork as well because the bike felt nimble, responsive and stable all at the same time. Of all the bikes tested at the 2005 Outdoor Demo, the Intense 6.6 climbed straighter than any other bike tested. There is very little, if any, tendency to wander on long climbs, which is a relief considering the Fox 36 Vanilla doesn’t offer any travel adjustments to drop the front end down.
The Bottom Line on the Intense 6.6
I rode the Intense 6.6 more than any other bike in the demo–two long laps on the nearby trails. It really didn’t take me long to decide that the 6.6 was going to be the best bike of the day. It was somewhat disappointing to hop on other bikes after the 6.6 because it just felt so perfect overall–perfect amount of travel, spot-on angles and efficient yet plush suspension design.
If you’ve got the coin, the Intense 6.6 will honestly be the best bike you’ll ever own. If you like to bomb rocky descents and careen through high-speed turns but still want to hammer out an all-day epic, the 2006 Intense 6.6 is for you. This bike offers the best blend of trailbike, XC and freeride all into one incredibly versatile package.