Aaron Swan's Intense 5.5 - Bike Magic

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Aaron Swan’s Intense 5.5

My shiny not-so-new steed has been graced by a number of different owners. It has come together with patience and dedication to a fine budget. The frame is a recently purchased Intense 5.5 EVP from Ebay America, obtained at the lowly sum of £450 including a Push tuned shock and upgraded shock link. The forks are Pace Fighter RC41s, from British Ebay bought at the wafer thin value of £300. The bars and stem are Azonic and were free from a good friend. The transmission and Hayes Nines were from a Mongoose Teocali Elite I picked up complete for £500 (which is currently being sold to recoup some of the losses of buying a ‘new’ bike). The XT chainset was from Germany and cost about half the price of British RRP. In fact, the only components of the bike that have not been bought on the cheap were the wheels and tyres. The wheels are Hope XC and Mavic 619 rims; true, strong and light. Finishing kit includes the I-beam saddle and post from the Teocali and ODI lock-ons (which I unfortunately got at full price).

Well, how does a knock down bike ride? Err… Not so well right now. The forks, 60 miles in, need a service and hold a poor line thanks to the loss of rebound damping. The pistons on the Hayes are funky and do not hold the pads particularly well. The seat is knackered. The transmission however is fine. The frame seems to be alright (did I just say that? The curse of the mountain awaits…).

I entered the Dyfi Enduro recently and came bang in the middle. You might have seen or heard me – lots of people complained bitterly about the Mono Mini disc (which had to be borrowed from the local shop – thanks Revolution Bikes, Bangor, you’re life savers! – because the front Hayes lost all oil for no apparent reason) which squealed like a pig the whole ride. But, when everything works – and it has, if rarely all at the same time – it is an amazing machine. The forks are responsive and stiffer than the Vanillas off the ‘Goose. The Hayes Nines are far more powerful than the Mini. The wheels have always been my personal favourite buy. And the frame? Had me overtaking at ridiculous speeds on the sketchy slate and clay surface of the most technical descents on the Dyfi. It is plain excellent. Moving from the ‘Goose to the 5.5 is something of a leap in stiffness, responsiveness and light weight. This is truly a brilliant ride and is now the bike for me to keep forever and ever.

Is it worth the patience and hassle of finding cheap second hand parts? If you have the mechanical aptitude to service and build the bike, definitely. Price all in? A near £3,000 bike for the price of the frame alone. Can’t be bad…

Over to you

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