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Bike Check: Aaron Gwin's Intense M29 FRO

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Now that it's official news that the new Intense Factory Team will be Aaron Gwin, Neko Mulally, and Jack Moir, we can show you the M29 FRO that Gwin will be racing this year. As you can imagine, Gwin has been testing sizes and setups in the off season and one of the more surprising discoveries (for both Gwin and us) was that all three will be racing the XL sized frame. Moir, who has had the most time on the M29, is already height challenged, and actually runs a 40mil' rise handebar, with an additional 20 millimeters of spacers under the fork crown. Gwin, on the other hand is the shortest of the trio, so his setup is quite the opposite, with the smallest headset spacer he can run and 30 millimeter rise Renthal Fatbar.
Other than setups, the team are reportedly all on production M29s, and Gwin brought almost all of his key component sponsors with him. The glaring exception is that Kenda is the team's tire sponsor this season. All of the riders' bikes, including Aaron's, were fitted with Hellkat Pro tires on both ends, That said, however, Gwin has reportedly had contractual agreements with his tire suppliers that allow him to ride another brand until that maker can supply competitive rubber. Still, it has to be awkward that another brand is selling his signature Aquila tire design.
That's big news in itself, but there's more. TRP recognizes that larger diameter wheels put more stress on the brakes, so they developed larger, 223-millimeter rotors with aluminum centers to keep the weight to a minimum, Gwin's bike had them on the front and rear wheels.Intense Factory Racing will be supported by Fox suspension. The 49 fork is standard equipment for all and to keep the XL size bike as low as possible, Gwin's stanchion tube are raised 15 millimeters above the crowns. Gwin and Mulally both will use the Fox X2 RVS air-sprung damper, while Moir prefers the DPX coil shock. Gwin remarked that the M29's rear suspension felt so good that it made him think whether any of his previous DH bikes ever performed well. It will be interesting to see how he does with the Intense as the season progresses.

There are a lot of smaller items that deserve mention, like Gwin's new lock-on grips, the SDG saddle, and anodized titanium hardware from wheel to wheel. I especially liked the dedicated rear mud guard and number plate. The Intense M29 was favorably reviewed recently by Paul Aston on Pinkbike in the XL size, so if you are curious about its finer points, like geometry and handling, I'd suggest you give it read.