Intense Cycles introduces the new Tracer T275 carbon, and continues its campaign to lead and elevate design and innovation for the sport’s enduro segment. The Tracer T275 represents the next step in both beauty and technology for Intense. While some things have certainly changed with the new Tracer, all of the fundamental features that make a bike Intense, have remained. We managed to get hold of one of the first to reach the UK and put it through its paces.
After a total conversion to 29er, with my current UK long-term test bike, the Intense Carbine, I was sure that no smaller wheeled bike could ever float my boat again! The Carbine is just so fast, so slack and made to be like the perfect racing bike for the UK. After an email from Simon at Extra UK (importers of the Intense brand) I was intrigued to hear about a special secret new Intense model to be released on the 17th of March. This was during February, with us and one other mag to take one arrival each of this new model two weeks prior to the release; we were sworn to secrecy, no pics and no words, end of! It was only with a bit of digging that we were informed it was to be the new Tracer carbon 275. Wow, the iconic aggressive Tracer was to go down the carbon route, how could I say no, as a freshly converted Intense fan the excitement was building, could this send me back down the route of the none wagon-wheeled bike?
I collected the bike from our local Intense dealer, and was immediately impressed. This thing looked the part from the word go, unlike the Carbine 650 and 29, the Tracer has a fully carbon rear triangle, not carbon pressed into alloy. This makes a difference to the weight, at 5.6lbs it’s 0.2lbs lighter than the Carbine 650, plus the clean smooth lines of the rear triangle gives it a stealthier look, especially in it’s bare unidirectional carbon and silver colour scheme (black and red also available) The look of the bike is also a real head turner, plus the glint of the open carbon adds to the usual Intense trickness.
At 5 foot 10 (1.78 mtrs) I’m riding a medium in the Carbine 29, but I have to admit, with this also being a medium it was too short for me really, if buying I would definitely favour the large, with a nice short 35mm stem. As for angles, this medium Tracer comes in with a 23” top-tube, 13.5” bottom-bracket height, 74.5 seat-angle and 66.5 head-angle, as opposed to the 23” top-tube, 13.7” BB, 72.5 seat-angle and 67 head-angle of the Carbine 650b. Looks are stunning on this bike and as word has it, with Intense having big changes at it’s American HQ, they see the massive sales generated by main competitors Santa Cruz and want a piece of that pie for themselves!!
This bike came with a pretty standard build, nothing too light, Stans wheels, X01, 160 Pikes, the brilliant under-rated Rockshox Monarch Plus shock, Renthal controls and XT brakes. Even without the light-weight build this thing still weighed in at 28lbs (12.7kg) with pedals and big chunky High Roller 2 tyres, surely a light build could take this thing down to a ridiculous 26lbs (11.8kg) now that’s light!
Build quality of the frame has the usual Intense quality, internal routed guiding tubes, for ease of fitting and smoother lines. Bearings are externally fitted for ease of maintenance and the rear brake is IS mount, so no tension on the carbon under heavy stopping.
Anyway, enough talk of stats and specs, lets talk performance! Eastridge was the place for the first big test, I had a couple of hours to spare and it felt well fitting of the bike, with its aggressive looks and 160 front 160 (adjustable to 140) rear travel. Going up the fire-road to the top it felt great on the climbs, if marred slightly by being a bit short for me. Up at the top and I was full chat, trying desperately to follow one of the UK’s top Elite racers, Neil Donoghue, who knows this place like the back of his hand. Obviously I’m never going to keep with the Don in a million years, but try to follow was the plan.
For those who don’t know Eastridge, the place is made up of roots, small, loose slippy rocks, dark peat with a fair bit of pedaling thrown in, but also pretty fast and rough as a bear’s arse! In the words of the Don “If you can ride Eastridge fast, you can ride anywhere quick” We did three pretty long Enduro-style stages, split by the obligatory crank back up the fire-road each time. Now usually following Donny, you hit one corner then the next time you see him is at the bottom of the hill, but things were a bit different this time. From the off I pedaled like there was a million dollar reward at the bottom, desperately trying to stay with him. The handling of this bike became apparent immediately, it was outstanding. I have never had such a confidence building ride at such short notice, the rougher and faster it got, the more this bike begged for speed.
The mix of the Pikes, Monarch plus, High Roller 2’s and that fabulous VPP suspension made for outstanding results. I felt like I was going into a new dimension of speed, obviously the Don got away, I mean I’m 43 and he’s a top pro Enduro rider, but I put up the best fight ever, I even stayed with him for maybe the first quarter of each stage, just about keeping sight of him on two of the three stages right to the bottom, holy shit I was buzzing!
I raced DH at Eastridge on 160mm travel heavy rigs of old in the late 90’s, this bike made their handling seem so pathetic and dated, with its plush travel and ridiculous ground tracking ability, if I had a time machine I would have taken it back to those days and cleaned up my category! At that moment, on that day of riding that Tracer carbon I was totally sold, convinced this was the new bike for me, I had never ridden so fast; that was until the following ride at Hopton.
A few days later we hit the said Hopton Woods, another local Enduro race venue, prior to the Hopton Enduro for practice. This place has some great jumpy, man made, now dried-out, hard-packed soil trails. But stages there are long, with some major climbs and flat bits to weed out the unfit riders. Here too the bike felt amazing, so fast and throw-aroundable. Again I felt like I was ripping, but after jumping back onto the Carbine 29 for the afternoon and following my similar speed mates, I realized something. At that place with its longer, smoother corners, it was just so much easier on big wheels, it just didn’t feel as fast and with the uphill bits thrown in, it definitely favoured the larger wheels.
It left me in a bit of a conundrum, as a racer of English Enduros, where pedaling and smooth, trail-centre type tracks are of the norm, I would tend to favour the Carbine 29 over the Tracer 650 for most tracks, but that is only as a racer wanting the podium. If I didn’t race and just did the type of other riding I do or Euro fast gnarly tracks, off-piste stuff and more up-lifts, then the Tracer wins hands down, its definitely the most fun, best looking and best handling 650 bike I’ve ever ridden, it installs so much more confidence on rougher tracks. Ideally with a lottery win a rider would have the two, but if you can afford one of these top luxury rigs, then the choice out of the two is down to what riding you’re into, but still a tough decision.
Price for frame £2799GBP
Here is the full press release about the new bike from Intense
Features like adjustable travel, patented VPP suspension, ISCG 05 mounts, internal cable routing for stealth reverb seatpost that have become synonymous with the brand remain intact, but other, new features raise this model up to the next level.
Most noticeable about the new bike is its form. It embodies the perfect balance of beauty and aggression. The carbon monocoque construction combines a solid one-piece front triangle that creates a sleek, contemporary look and delivers peak performance.
The new bike features proven modern, aggressive trail geometry. Integrated 142×12 dropouts mean fewer parts and offer a simpler approach and more pure design. Also noteworthy is a new internally-guided cable routing system that allows for flawless assembly and easier maintenance.
But Intense knows that raising the bar on technology means nothing without also stepping up the ride quality. “This bike is our biggest achievement since the M1”, says founder/designer Jeff Steber. “We combines our extensive experience in designing 27.5 bikes with cutting-edge technology to deliver a really magical bike”.
|Tracer 275 Carbon||S||M||L|
|Wheel Base||1124mm/ 44.25″||1149mm/ 45.25″||1175mm/ 46.25″|
|Top Tube Length||560mm/ 22″||585mm/ 23″||616mm/ 24.25″|
|Chain Stay Length||432mm/ 17″||432mm/ 17″||432mm/ 17″|
|Head Tube Length||100mm/ 4″||114mm/ 4.5″||125mm/ 5″|
|Head Tube Angle||66.5°||66.5°||66.5°|
|Reach||395mm/ 15.5″||416mm/ 16.4″||445mm/ 17″|
|Stack||594mm/ 23.4″||609mm/ 24.0″||618mm/ 24.3″|
|BB Height||343mm/ 13.5″||343mm/ 13.5″||343mm/ 13.5″|
|Seat Tube Angle (Effective)||74.5°||74.5°||74.5°|
|Seat Tube Angle (Acutal)||70.5°||70.5°||70.5°|
|Seat Tube Length||395mm/ 15.5″||445mm/ 17.5″||485mm/ 19″|
|Standover Height||792mm/ 31.2″||798mm/ 31.4″||802mm/ 31.5″|
For more information, visit www.intensecycles.com
Check out the Video: Chris Kovarik shreds the new Intense Tracer T275 Carbon Fiber
Text: Jim Buchanan Fotos: Doc Ward / Intense