Intense keeps the pace high and introduces another new 2017 model after their plus-sized ACV and their awesome short travel 29er some weeks ago. Here we have their latest offering in that of the medium-travel 27.5″ Recluse (pronounced “wreck-loose”) named after a poisonous Spider; this being a model a tad more aggressive than their Spider 275C.
We have to admit, of the three new models so far, this Elite model of the Recluse has to be the sexiest looking bike so far, also sporting some hot new components setting it apart from the others. This is a trail bike at heart, but definitely verging over towards the Enduro market too, with it’s 66° head angle and short 419 mm chainstays. This model certainly stands out like a sore thumb, but what does it ride like?
Intense Recluse line-up
This Elite build stands as number three in the line-up, with specs and prices working their way up in the order of the Foundation € 4,887 (£ 4,200), Expert € 4,887 (£ 5,300), Elite € 7678 (£ 6,600), € 6,748 (£ 5,800) then the Factory € 10,121 (£ 8,700). What excited us about this model is its use of the new Intense carbon rims and Fox’s new Performance versions of their 36 Float forks and X2 Float shock; we were intrigued to find out how all these new components performed.
Specification of the Intense Recluse Elite
As mentioned this model comes with Fox’s new Performance suspension hardware front and back. Intense’s new 30 mm (internal width) carbon rims are laced to a set of DT Swiss 350 hubs, sporting boost 148 x 12 mm rear and 110 x 15 mm front axle sizing. Tyres are a great choice, with the use of Maxxis’s 2.3 EXO TR High Roller 2 on both ends and the drivetrain is SRAM’s tried and tested 11-speed XO1, with Race Face’s sexy Next carbon cranks. The comfortable Scoop Radius Elite saddle sits upon the latest Rockshox Reverb stealth 150 mm dropper post. Up in the cockpit, we are talking Renthal’s alloy 760 mm Fatbar, a 50 mm Thomson Elite stem and finally SRAM’s Guide RS brakes to do the stopping.
Geometry of the Intense Recluse
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Feel of the Intense Recluse
Sat upon this large sized bike, our 178 cm tester felt the sizing to be just right and after inserting 85 psi in the (150 mm travel) forks and 180 psi in the shock it was ready to go. Initial testing showed that the rear shock felt just as supple as the Factory version, but the forks fitted with the new GRIP damper definitely felt like they lacked that immediate buttery feel of their Factory counterparts.
Climbing on the Intense Recluse
Flick the switch on the Performance X2 Float shock and you are immediately aware of its great suspension stiffening abilities as the back end of the Recluse goes into uphill mode. Also, the Performance 36 Float forks sport their own unique large climbing lever, this too is highly effective in stiffening up the action of the forks for those longer climbs, however, our tester prefers not to use a climb switch on the forks for anything other than fire-road or long road climbs. With the Recluse’s 66° head angle, 460 mm reach and 1196 mm wheelbase, the bike climbs very well, with the front end feeling firmly planted even on the steepest of climbs and showing no signs of vagueness on the tighter of uphill corners. The Recluse weighed in at 13.1 kg (29 lbs) with pedals fitted, so would be classed as right in the middle when it comes to weights of a well-specced trail/enduro bike.
Descending on the Intense Recluse
With climb switches flicked back over to fully open and the bike pointed downwards several key points are noticed; mostly good with one not-so-good! Like the ACV and Primer we have had on test, this bike too is a rocket ship when fired down a hill, these new breed Intenses do instil confidence in the rider. The suppleness of the rear shock mixed with the real short 419 mm chainstays makes for a playful bike that begs to hit corners and jumps hard and fast. Plus the incredible stiffness of the non-deep-dish Intense carbon rims and boost hubs make for a very flex-free feel indeed. There is only one thing that lets this bike down as the speed and roughness of the trail goes up and that’s the forks. Whilst we would go so far as to say the Performance X2 Float shock really doesn’t feel any less capable than the Factory X2 Float, the Performance forks differ massively to their more expensive Factory siblings. Feeling a lot more like a budget fork than a 36 Float, these forks seem to completely lack that incredible high speed and low-speed damping ability of the Factory fork, making the bigger hits and stutter bumps feel a lot more noticeable through the hand and arms.
When it comes to the stiffness of the Recluse, then the newly improved larger bearing fitted to Intense’s JS-tuned suspension platform mixed with the Boost front and rear end makes for a very sturdy bike that really feels like it could tackle bigger terrain than the 140/150 mm travel would suggest.
Improvements we’d like on the Intense Recluse
So I’m sure we don’t need to spell this one out to you, we would definitely fit the Factory 36 forks or a cheaper option could be to get your local Fox dealer to change the internals for those of the Factory forks, an option Fox shall be offering for these 2017 forks for around € 280. With this upgrade or just going for the higher specced model, we feel the Recluse would be and is definitely another ‘top drawer’ bike from Intense.
Should I buy the Intense Recluse?
Well, Intense certainly are throwing a lot of new models into the game, with a new Tracer and Carbine rumoured to be a bit further down the line. They seem to have all options covered in the form of bike categories. If pushed to categorise this bike we would probably describe it as an all-day mid travel fun and comfortable trail/adventure bike. But this bike would quite easily hold its own at the races when it comes to multi-stage enduro, but if you wanted to go Intense then the choice just seems to be endless when it comes to models and their build variations; could they maybe have too many to choose from?
Bottom Line of the Intense Recluse
Intense certainly seem to have raised the bar again with this beautiful-looking bike and it’s incredibly unique colour scheme. With them now having brought their own rims into the mix as well for that truly unique look, we think they have a great looking and feeling bike here and we feel Intense certainly are back in the game when it comes to the boutique brands.
For more information head to intensecycles.com
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Words: Photos: Doc Ward