The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Intense bikes are the M models. From the legendary M1, through its subsequent incarnations to the contemporary M16, have always aroused curiosity with its high end design, hardware selection, weight – they just look fast as…. This time I came closer to look at the bike with a specificity, which is not so close to me, because in majority I use a downhill bike. The time has come to test the top model of enduro / allmountain from the Intense stall – Tracer 275C.
Before we get a closer look at all – full specs bellow.
Frame: 2015 Intense Tracer 275C – M size 145/160 mm
Front Fork: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 160 mm
Rear Shock: Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3
Handlebar: RenthalFatbar 760 mm
Stem: Race Face Elite X4
Grips: Intense Dual Density Lock-on
Headset: Cane Creek 40 Series, ZS44/EC49
Brakes: Sram Guide RS 180 mm
Saddle: Fabric Scoop
Seatpost: Kind Shock Lev Integra
Seat clamp: Intense
Cranks: Sram X01 32T
Chain: Sram XX1, 11 speed
Derailleur: Sram X01, 11 speed
Shifter: Sram X01, 11 speed
Casette: Sram XG-1195, 10-42, 11 speed
Wheelset: DT Swiss E1700, XD Driver
Tires: Maxxis High Roller II 3C
Few words about geo and size. If we speak in numbers, we’ve got:
Frame size: M
Top tube lenght: 23”
Seat tube length: 17,5”
Head tube length: 4,5”
Seat tube angle (effective): 74,5
Seat tube angle (actual): 66,5
BB height: 13,5”
Chainstay length: 17”
Rear wheel mount: 12x142mm
Front wheel axle: 15 mm
Weight (without pedals): 12,6 kg
First sight …
After getting the bike out of the box and putting it on the wheels, the first impression is a pleasant coloring – combination of gray and black with smooth lines, undisturbed welds on the branching pipe, here and there translucent carbon fiber, give the bike lightness. Noteworthy are the details of the bike, such as the asymmetrical swingarm with construction elements, axle fixing, internal routing (brake and derailleur). I can’t understand why there is no place for internal routing dropper post cable. Tracer is also equipped with attachments suitable for front derailleur.
Frame and suspension.
The tested model is equipped with Rock Shox Pike RCT3 fork and Monarch Plus RC3 damper.
The VPP-based suspension is very comfortable to use. It has large adjusting range and ability absolute lockout bike travel. Those features makes the bike stable handling on rough trails and is well suited to smooth uphill ride on steep slopes. The head angle of 66.5 degrees, 43 cm the distance between the center of the support and the chainstay, as well as the 34 cm support, can be considered as aggressive. 160 mm front wheel travel and 145 or 160 mm rear wheel travel allow for a versatile use of the bike, from climbing uphill with locked suspension to fast downhill rides and lots of jumps.
The tested bike is equipped with DT Swiss E1700 wheels, size 27.5 ” with Maxxis High Roller II 3C.
Front wheel weighs 860 g, has 28 spokes and the 15 mm diameter hub. Rear wheel weight is 980 g with 28 spokes and 12×142 axle mounting. Rear hub is equipped with 18 tooth clutches that allow the drum to coil every 10 degrees. This is a good stuff for those who don’t like quiet hubs :D. Hubs have also “straight” spokes, mounted directly in the hub body with position which increase the stiffness of the wheel.
DT Swiss E1700 wheels are very little and they look superb. Care about the details, both for the CNC machining of components and the selection of coloring sets, is a top notch.
When it comes to tires, I think I do not have to present one of the most popular and popular models available on the market. The tires used are made of a 3C compound, characterized by hard tread face and soft, sticky sides. The whole increases the durability of the tires, and gives them lot of traction on turns.
Tracer is equipped with a Sram 1×11 drivetrain. Sram XX1 derailleur, shifter, X01 crank, XG-1195 (10-42t)cassette and the XX1 chain. X01 crank equipped with 32T narrow wide chainring.
Wide range cassette with narrow wide chainring, Tracer is well suited for climbs, and I never complain about lack of gear ratios on the fast downhill runs. Smooth shifting despite such a large span of lace was excellent and undisturbed.
As a downhill rider accustomed to using a crank with a chainguide so the first thoughts drooped around the lack of confidence in the solution itself.
I was biased and I was worried about the malfunction of it. However, the first few stages full of roots and stones, where I need to push on to my pedals, confirmed me that this solution works! Even better, during the whole test chain did not fall down even once. All fears were resolved 🙂
Tracer is fitted with a set of Avid Guide RS brakes, based on two 180 mm discs. This set was very well done until the steep, fast sections with some sharp turns. Unfortunately, the overheating of the discs made the brakes more as slowing down brakes then heavy stoppers. As a reason for poor braking it can be stated that the brake rotors are too small for steep trails requiring more braking power. Especially for a rider of lesser weight with mine and with a slightly more gentle way of driving, the brakes will not fail.
Among all Tracer’s components, saddle “Fabric Scoop” deserves commending. It is very comfy and gives you plenty of room to move your ass around. Although not using shorts with pad, longer rides were quite comfortable.
Tracer’s cockpit is made of by the Face Face Elite X4, which has a major drawback, namely the M4 size screws, whose slots are so fragile that the tested ones were already bit worn.
Another part that should be mentioned is the factory grips – Intense Dual Density Lock-on which, after couple rides , I wanted to change for any other more comfy grips. Unfortunately the hardness of their rubber can only be compared with garden hoses
The advantages of a dropper post – everyone who uses it, knows what it’s about.
Impressions of driving.
As I am a downhill racer, the first few rides I spent on getting used to a bike that is shorter, has a narrower handlebar, lower cockpit and is lighter. After just a few rides , I recognized the capabilities of bike and my trust limitations, I could let go of the brakes and enjoy the ride.
– first jumps. Thanks to its low weight and suspension, the bike seems to be much more lively than the classic downhill bike. This made me to pass the landing several times, some of them was quite painful ;). As a Disadvantage, I can attribute the lack of stability in the air, Probably it is caused by the significantly less weight of the front of the bike.
– turns: Tracer bike is short enough to be reversible, but it is more uncouth than downhill bike
– rockgardens and rootgardens: I do not know if it is selfsuggestion or it really works, but the 27.5 wheels (I use 26″) lets bike to be more stable and made rider more confident The bike in difficult terrain does excellent work, making it in between the obstacles that we feel confident.
– climbing – thanks to classic solutions for this type of bike, ie dropper seatpost, suspension reducing the effect of pedaling and very efficient 1×11 drive in the range of 10×42, we get quite efficient equipment, Even those with a rather steep character. On steepy hills when you need hudge pedal power, you can clearly feel the small stiffness of the swingarm. .
– + 27.5″ wheels, jumping, weight, suspension work;
– – feeling unstable on the fly, feeling the little stiffness of the swingarm.
IntenseTracer 275C from the inside.
I like to know how equipment is built, so I decided to check the Tracer from inside.
I focused on the structural details of the frame. Tracer’s suspension is confusingly similar to the Santa Cruz V10. After removing swingarm and links, I accessed frame bearings which after less than a season of testing seemed pretty worn out and I would certainly recommend replacing them.
It is worthwhile to note the lower link of the frame, where semi-sealed bearings are used, with the opened inner side. The use of this type of bearings let relubricating them with grease nipples placed in the link body.
Additionally, in order to increase the life of the bearings besides the lubrication system, it would be worth considering the use of bearing sealing caps.
After descent cleaning and inspecting every single piece of bike, I noticed some abrasions of the washers (mounted between upper link bearings and frame and upper part of swingarm).
The reason for this may be either a very fine folding of the elements or using bearings with too small diameter, which causes the whole system to work and deform / bend. It may be somehow also the cause of the lack stiffness of the swingarm I wrote earlier.
Time spent with Intense Tracer 275C was something new to me. Thanks to this, I found out what are the disadvantages and advantages of the enduro bike. This is an incredibly versatile bike that gives us the opportunity to enjoy the most extreme routes, from bikepark trails to rough virgin trails. It should be remembered that like any equipment that has everything, it has its limitations and will not replace typical xc bike or a solid downhill bike.
The Intense Tacer 275C is a perfect bike for both visual and technical purposes. Its accessories and technologies make it one of the most versatile equipment on the market.