Intense M9 Frame Bearings

For years Intense Cycles has always had the latest and most progressive frame geometry. Most of their bikes ride great but so many of them had the stupidest quality control and design issues. We’re talking frames that get shipped with water bottle mounts completely missing. Like straight up empty holes in the frame. Frames with rear triangles that are completely misaligned. I mean like the wheel sits visibly crooked in the frame. And it’s not just a few of them that got shipped this way, I mean like up to half of them got sent this way and had to get sent back.  Anyway, in this post I tackle a stupid design issue. Let’s see what went wrong.

5A customer came to me complaining about his bearings getting dusted twice a season and prematurely causing massive play in the back end of his bike. I’ve seen this about 12 times before with Intense VPP bikes and I’ve had this particular fix for some years now. The only difference is I have a website and a photographer now so the world gets to see what I’ve been doing. But first let’s describe the problem.

Jeff Steber in his infinite wisdom chose to use preload adjustable bearings in the bottom link of all his Intense frames. That in itself isn’t much of a problem and there has been another company using a similar method for some years now with great success. When you have a preload adjustable bearing, the threads on the shaft that goes through the bearings must be very fine. Secondly, there needs to be a solid way of locking the shaft down once you adjust it to the sweet spot. Intense does nothing of the sort unless you buy their $300 upgrade. Stock, they have very coarse threads on the shaft that goes through the bearing (which everyone knows comes loose), but to add insult to injury, the only locking mechanism they have is just a tiny little grub screw that gets mashed into the shaft. There just isn’t enough holding power and the coarse thread was a bad idea to begin with. Here’s the cost effective solution.


What I needed to change is to spec conventional non adjustable full complement (Max Type) bearings for the lower part of the frame. Now that the bearings are non adjustable, we can crank down those coarse threaded shafts until they’re tight. None of this playing with preload anymore. Of course there was a key part I had to custom machine in order for the shafts to be cranked down tightly. This came in the form of the silver bearing spacer sleeve you see sitting beside the shaft in the picture above. The picture below shows the orientation of the parts once they’re inside the frame.



Here you can see the spacer sleeve sitting inside the bearing area of the frame. There’s already a bearing in the bottom and another bearing will get pressed in over top, covering the custom made shaft. The point of the spacer sleeve is to make contact with the inside races of both bearings so that cranking down on the threaded shaft won’t over compress the bearings. The design is similar to a BMX bottom bracket but many hubs also use this ‘sleeved’ design. And there you have it folks, an Intense frame with no slop in the rear end and one that’s going to stay that way for many seasons to come.

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