Our very own Chris Kovarik spotted these two guys and saw that they had talent on a bike, but also just as importantly, they had the attitude to go with it. Chris got them onboard with us here at INTENSE.
What we have here are two almost identical INTENSE M29 DH/Park bike builds. They look pretty similar but there are a few subtle differences. Read on to find out more about Max and Ryan and the M29s.
How would you describe each other’s riding styles?
Max: Ryan has a unique riding style and the bike is always moving around underneath him. If there’s a gap on the trail, even if you don’t see it he’ll be trying it.
Ryan: Max has a calculated ‘huck to flat’ type of style, an incredible ability to manual and a very unique type of bike control that complements his riding style.
Photo: Travis Bothner
How would you describe your own riding style?
Max: My riding style is flat out/over shoot/huck to flat and making gnar stuff look sketchy hahaha! I’m not afraid of amplitude!
Ryan: I see my style being very calculated and I try to be as smooth as possible. I’m told I have great style, but I don’t love watching myself ride in videos, I might be my own worst critic!
How long have you been riding?
Max: I have been riding since 2017, that’s when I moved to Whistler.
Ryan: I started riding bicycles when I was 3 and motorcycles when I was 4. I began racing moto at 4.5 and raced until I was 22. And transitioned to racing MTB at 21.
What’s your background in MTB?
Max: I was racing moto and when I moved to Whistler I needed to get into a sport and became hooked instantly. I started racing right away and tried to diversify as many MTB disciplines as possible. But pretty much stayed as DH “park rat”.
Ryan: I raced a couple races as a teenager, but did not pursue it seriously until I was 21... and the tracks were few and far between. Once I moved to Canada I had a lot more opportunity to progress with the terrain.
How did this whole deal come about with INTENSE?
Max: I had met Jarrod Hoskins at some of the BC Cup races and he had a INTENSE 'fam team' and had asked if I wanted to join. I said yes and got hooked up with a deal on a M16 at the time. I was a big fan of their bikes and kept riding and progressing and bugging INTENSE to fully sponsor me until they pretty much had no choice not too.
Ryan: Max and Chris (Kovarik) played a huge part. Max bought a bike off Chris and me and Chris became acquainted. Chris had been watching both our videos and thought it was a great idea to use our videos to promote the brand.
Tell us more about your story with Chris Kovarik?
Max: I had met Chris through Jarrod and ended up purchasing one of his old Tracers, so at this point I had two INTENSE models and the relationship was starting. Chris has always been a big help with bike set-up and line choice and mental prep before races.
Ryan: When I arrived in Whistler I actually had no idea who was who, and what was what, I was very green. I believe we met at a local Phat Wednesday race and Max introduced us. Having a lot in common and a similar sense of humor we hit it off right away. He has become an idol for sure once realized the calibre of rider he is.
Can you tell us a bit about your own personal M29s that we have here?
Max: My current M29 is set up pretty similar to Ryan’s, and we share a lot of feedback/info with each on preference and bike set-up. I have a few different sponsors (wheels/brakes) and I was able to find a drivetrain, unlike Ryan’s that is set-up singlespeed. It has been a very tough year to source parts so pretty much everything we didn’t get through sponsors we had to purchase on the buy/sell. Otherwise I think we would have identical builds.
Ryan: I loved this bike as soon as I sat on it. The biggest feature for me would be that I have a singlespeed set-up on it, and it’s geared very well. It makes it so quiet, reliable and fun to ride. This is actually the first VPP pivot I have owned and I was seriously Impressed with how effective the linkage is right away. A very fun, versatile and efficient bike for all types of riding.
At first glance they look pretty similar, but apart from the singlespeed what are the difference between the two bikes?
Ryan: We actually set our bikes up very differently. I run my bars at 760mm, Max is 800. We run our brakes opposite. And we run very different suspension settings... and Max has gears!
Do you both run the same size?
Max: We are very similar height and we are both on Medium bikes as it suits our riding style more and we aren't dedicated racers.
What about spring rates and suspension set up?
Max: I currently have a 450lbs Öhlins spring, which is not ideal and not really rideable for what we do. I’m looking to source a 550lbs or 600lbs ASAP.
Ryan: We just keep going heavier and heavier, so we are both around 550 but we run rebound speed a lot different.
And you are both on flat pedals?
Max: I am on flat pedals and I sometimes ride clips.
Ryan: I’ve always used clips. I love clips, they are one of my favorite parts about mountain biking. Being connected to the pedals allows more input from your legs.
Have you ever thought or tried going with a mullet set-up on these bikes, or are you happy with full 29?
Max: I have never tried the mullet set-up, but I think I would much prefer to run a mullet.
Ryan: I actually love the way the full 29 speeds up out of corners. I love to have different wheels to go back and forth on. But I haven’t tried a 27.5” on the rear yet.
How would you describe the riding you do on your M29? Is it your everyday park bike, laps, laps, laps, or race bike, etc.?
Max: Countless bike park laps and big hit features.
Ryan: I love trying everything. I love smashing park laps, expressing myself through riding has always been a huge part of my life and going as fast as possible is a way I challenge my ability. I really love sports that don’t have rules, so bike park for me is unchained and free and you can do it however you like, but racing the clock keeps you honest and tests your bike control. As I’ve always been a racer, I don’t think I’ll ever lose the bug to try and win.