THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK
It’s a well-known fact at Intense that Jeff is obsessed with what he calls 'form and function'. Any time he's working on a new project, he is single-mindedly driven to ensure the bike delivers both a stunning appearance and incredible performance. A bike can’t just look good, or be fast – it must meet exceptional standards on all levels. It's Jeff’s preoccupation with 'combining form and function' that has brought us some of the boldest, most aggressive and innovative bikes in the history of our sport.
FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
An obsession with the minutiae of bike design, a quarter-century infatuation with racing and the unquenchable enthusiasm of Intense founder Jeff Steber makes us a unique company that’s grown in stature from grassroots beginnings without losing its heart.
“Something that’s really surprised me over the years, is the global brand equity we have. I’ve been doing Eurobike for a few years now, and it always surprises me with the feedback we get. We’re still a relatively small company – but manage to cast a big shadow…”
PROTOTYPING THE JEFF WAY
“I’ll fab up all the prototypes – I have my own system of doing that, which I think is very different from anyone else." says Jeff. “We basically have a full R&D shop that’s a full CNC shop. That is a big part of the DNA of our bikes. We can do this extensive vetting-out process through making these prototypes. It’s a very key thing – a big part of the joy I get out of mountain biking is actually building the bikes.
“The thing that drives me forward is when I can make a little change or figure something out that makes the product work better. It makes me more excited to go riding and these days, that’s my addiction to mountain biking. I’m probably so prolific with making prototypes because that’s my fix. I guess it’s a good addiction if you’re gonna have any because it does propel our product forward and we have the facility and the resources here for that.
“The other thing is that when those bikes launch, that’s where I get my validation. When I read the forums or the test results and people are stoked on the product, then that’s my personal reward. I think that translates through our whole team too. It’s an emotional thing, it’s a passion and hopefully that translates really well into our product and then to our customers.
"I feel each bike is getting better and better and that’s a big part of it. That filters all the way back to our ambassadors and our pro riders, who give us feedback. They can ride this product to its fullest potential and we listen to them. The product, in the end, is the sum of the parts of that collective effort."
"ROCKING THE BOAT FOR 25 YEARS... AND COUNTING"
"As a company, we have never shied away from making a scene. The Palmer years come to mind. The years of the M1 – when so many of the top riders in the world chose our bikes and re-badged them with their own sponsor's decals. More recently, the amazing 2017 season of IFR, and the M29 prototyping process, which was done unfiltered on race tracks in front of spectators, so that any issues that might have arisen would be immediately public.... we don't scare easily.
"Now, with Intense Rider Direct, we are at it again. Jumping off the edge when it would be much easier to stay home, and stay put. But that's not who we are. We are loud, brash and sometimes even obnoxious. But we are never boring."
“From when I was in high school, I’ve always seen myself as a designer-artist-craftsman kind of person, but very hands-on. So when I got into anything I always had to try and improve it, put my own spin on it, make it better. Whether it was windsurfing, hang gliding, guitars, you name it!"
J1 HYDROPLANE CIRCA 1972: Like many visionaries, his passion for design can leave a mess. When Jeff was in 7th grade, his mom grounded him for a month when he got paint all over the garage after finishing his wood shop project – the 'J1' hydroplane.
STEBER GUITARS: Steber moved to California as a musician and hang-glider pilot. It wasn’t until a decade later that he became interested in mountain biking and began experimenting with building his own bikes. In the early 90’s he chose to get serious and focus solely on the bike business. But his first love will always be guitars – designing, building and playing guitars – and, true to the Steber Doctorine - they look as good as they sound.
HIGH-TECH ARTISANSHIP DEFINED: Jeff spent some time on the phone with Tim Huenke before his recent Tedx Talk. Check it out here.