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Palmer and Intense: together again

Published September 9, 2014
Palmer at the OutDoor Demo on Monday. Photo: Bob Huff.

LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — For some of those who came into the sport of mountain biking in a certain era—the second half of the 1990s—rider Shaun Palmer and bike brand Intense Cycles will always be linked. This week at OutDoor Demo, it was the '90s all over again as Palmer showed up to ride an Intense with dealers.

Intense has hired Palmer as a full-time employee. He will manage a new developmental race team, collaborate on suspension product development and appear at dealer and consumer events. Palmer, 45, hasn't ruled out jumping into an occasional DH race himself.

Intense is planning a welcome-back party for Palmer at its Interbike booth (5135) Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Palmer is renowned for his multi-sport talents: He competed at an elite level in snowboarding, mountain biking, motocross and skiing. He's also known for his brashness and occasional after-hours bad-boy antics.

But Andrew Herrick, who took over as Intense's new CEO in January, said Palmer's love of riding and his equity with riders and retailers of a certain age made his return to Intense a logical move.

"He was Michael Jordan and Keith Richards at the same time," Herrick remembered. "He was just an incredibly gifted athlete on the one hand and rebellious on the other hand, as we all remember."

After starting his mountain biking career with Intense in 1995, Palmer switched to the Specialized Mountain Dew team for a reported $300,000 salary. But for many, he will always be remembered for his time with Intense, especially his second place at the 1996 Downhill World Championships, when he lost the gold to Nicolass Vouilloz by just 15 hundredths of a second.

"What we didn't know, and what I didn't know until I spent some time with him, is how much he just loves to ride on the mountain and to get out and meet people," Herrick said. "We just want to get him out there as much as we can, to ride with shops and kids and young riders.

"We're really moving fast at this company. We're doing new bikes, new product development, new marketing. There are a lot of things new, but a lot of what makes Intense special is the heritage, and that involved Shaun. ... He hasn't been here in 16 years, but people still connect him to the brand," Herrick added.

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