With the Tracer 279 S, Intense Cycles are breaking new ground. While the Californian manufacturer is mainly known as a premium brand with premium prices, this carbon bullet is one of the most affordable bikes in our 2023 group test. Regardless of the smaller price tag, the Tracer looks incredibly elegant and, above all, damn fast! But how did it fare on the trail?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

Intense Tracer 279 S | 170/170 mm (f/r) | 29″/27.5″
16.5 kg in size L | € 6,999 | Manufacturer’s website

Straight away, the Intense Tracer 279 S makes its intentions clear: it wants to get rowdy! How can you tell? For starters, red is always fast and, on top of that, the 16.5 kg Tracer S comes equipped with a coil shock and downhill tires both front and rear. As the 279 suffix suggests, The Tracer 279 S relies on a mixed wheel configuration with a 29″ front wheel and smaller 27.5″ wheel at the rear – but is also available as a full 29er. For a long time, Intense were known as a boutique brand with boutique prices, and yet the Tracer is one of the cheapest bikes in the entire test field, retailing at € 6,999 for the top spec model!

The Intense Tracer 279 S 2022 in detail

The frame of the Intense is well protected against the elements. A huge TPU plate extends over the entire length of the downtube, a big mudguard protects the lower link and shock from flying debris while a generously sized chainstay protector extends all the way up towards the main frame, ensuring a tidy look and quiet ride. In addition, the frame features Intense’s proprietary “Chad Storage System” compartment, which is accessible from the lowest point of the down tube, preventing your contents from falling into the depths of the frame. The storage compartment is big enough to accommodate a spare inner tube, some tools and snacks, and comes standard with a small pouch, which prevents the contents from rattling against the frame. The cover is easy and intuitive to open and securely locks the compartment. However, since the opening is facing the ground, it’s constantly exposed to mud and dirt.

Appearances can be deceiving
The Intense looks like a rowdy ripper. However, the intuitive handling also makes it great fun on tight and slow trail sections.

The spec of the Intense Tracer 279 S 2022

The spec of the Intense Tracer 279 S is rather rare to find on a production bike, starting with the Öhlins suspension, which consists of a 170 mm RXF 38 M.2 fork and TTX 22 M coil shock managing 170 mm rear travel. The 180 mm E*thirteen Vario Infinite dropper post has an ergonomic remote, but has slightly less travel than the other posts in this test (190 mm on average), restricting freedom of movement on the bike. Although the Intense is the only bike in the entire test field to come equipped with MAGURA brakes, the MT7 stoppers deliver an impressive performance. Shifting is taken care of by a mixed, 12-speed SRAM drivetrain consisting of GX and X01 components. Renthal supply the 800 mm FatBar alloy handlebars and stem? while E*thirteen provide the LG1 Enduro alloy wheelset, which survived this test unscathed but have made for several unpleasant moments in the past. The rims are made of a soft alloy, causing the spokes to loosen far too easily. On the other hand, we’re really happy with the tires: Intense employ a width? MAXXIS ASSEGAI with MaxxGrip rubber compound and DH casing both front and rear, making it even clearer that the Tracer was conceived for rowdy trail sessions. However, the soft rubber compound and aggressive profile comes at the expense of pedalling efficiency and durability, especially on the rear wheel. A chain guide with bash guard protects the chainring and chain from nasty impacts.

Damn, Daniel
The MAXXIS ASSEGAI tires with DH casing pack a punch, delivering an excellent performance downhill but also swallowing up a lot of energy uphill.
Pros and cons
The opening of the Chad Storage System compartment facesis facing the ground, which makes it easier for mud and grit to accumulate on the flap but also prevents the contents from getting lost in the depths of the frame.
Short and sweet
The E*thirteen Vario Infinite dropper post is easy and intuitive to operate. However, at 180 mm, the travel is on the short side.
One of a kind
The Intense is the only bike in this test to come equipped with MAGURA brakes, employing the powerful MT7 model of the German manufacturer. Their performance is top notch!
Not in good conscience
The E*thirteen LG1 Enduro wheelset is made of soft aluminium, resulting in loose spokes and dented rims in previous tests. However, this time around we had no issues whatsoever.

Intense Tracer 279 S

€ 6,999


Fork Öhlins RXF 38 M.2 170 mm
Rear Shock Öhlins TTX 22 M Coil 170 mm
Seatpost E*thirteen Vario Infinite 180 mm
Brakes MAGURA MT7 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX/X01 Eagle 1x12
Stem Intense Recon 40 mm
Handlebar Renthal FatBar Alu 800 mm
Wheelset E*thirteen LG1 Enduro Alu 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, DH Casing, 3C MaxxGrip/MAXXIS ASSEGAI, DH Casing, 3C MaxxGrip 2.5/2.5

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 16.5 kg

Specific Features

storage compartment

The geometry of the Intense Tracer 279 S 2022

The Intense Tracer 279 S comes in a total of four sizes, S to XL, offering a suitable option for riders between 154 cm and 198 cm tall. At 475 mm, in size L, the reach is relatively short, while the 440 mm seat tube is on the long side, unnecessarily restricting freedom of movement on the bike. A flip chip in the lower shock mount allows you to switch between a high and low setting to adjust the geometry of the bike. We primarily used the low setting in this test, which delivers the best downhill performance, increasing the reach by 4 mm and slackening the head and seat tube angles by 0.5°.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 385 mm 418 mm 440 mm 465 mm
Top tube 557 mm 589 mm 617 mm 644 mm
Head tube 90 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm
Head angle 64.5° 64.5° 64.5° 64.5°
Seat angle 77.9° 77.9° 77.9° 77.9°
Chainstay 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 5 mm 5 mm 5 mm 5 mm
Wheelbase 1,193 mm 1,228 mm 1,257 mm 1,286 mm
Reach 425 mm 455 mm 480 mm 505 mm
Stack 618 mm 627 mm 636 mm 645 mm
Helmet Smith Session MIPS | Glasses 100% Glendale | Hip Pack CAMELBAK Podium Flow 4 | Jacket Rapha Trail Lighweight | Pants Mons Royale Virage Pants | Shoes Fizik Gravita Versor | Socks Mons Royale Signature Crew Socks

The Intense Tracer 279 S 2022 on the trail

As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the Intense Tracer 279 S puts you in a comfortable riding position that is neither too front-heavy nor too rear-biased. The suspension is relatively firm, making the climb switch superfluous even on long uphills. On steeper climbs, however, the front tends to lift off the ground and the tires show the dark side of the soft rubber compound and aggressive profile. Overall, the Tracer is a strong climber, lining up right next to the Hope HB916 and Santa Cruz Megatower – but the climb is still a means to an end.

The downhill casing on both the front and rear tire alone reveals the intentions of the Intense Tracer: being rowdy on the trail.

The suspension of the Intense is one of the best in the entire test field and has an answer to every riding situation.

Right from the first descent we felt extremely comfortable onboard the Intense. The handling is predictable and intuitive, inspiring lots of confidence on the trail.

Downhill, the Intense integrates you nicely between its wheels and encourages you with intuitive handling, putting you at ease from the get-go and allowing you to shred your way back into the valley safely, even after a long day in the saddle, forgiving smaller riding mistakes when you’re tired. With the weight evenly distributed between the front and rear, the Tracer responds to steering input willingly and precisely, making it easy to spontaneously change your line. The suspension is one of the best-performing in the entire test field and reminds us a little of the two SIMPLON bikes, providing tons of support and making it easy to generate speed through rollers and berms. At the same time, it generates tons of traction under braking and offers sufficient reserves to negotiate nasty huck-to-flats, preventing your ankles from folding under your weight. At the same time, the suspension provides plenty of feedback from the ground and always lets you know what’s happening underneath you. That being said, the Tracer tends to lack composure at higher speeds.

Tuning tip: Rear tire with harder rubber compound and less aggressive profile if you tend to climb a lot under your own steam

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Intense Tracer 279 S looks damn fast with its racing-red finish, and delivers an impressive performance on the trail with its downhill-oriented spec, which was chosen uncompromisingly for rowdy trail sessions – the DH tires alone say everything! With its excellent suspension, the Tracer is the ideal companion for rowdy trail sessions and doesn’t shy away from more technical sections either, where it cuts a fine figure with nimble and intuitive handling.


  • Very intuitive and easy to ride
  • Excellent spec
  • Awesome suspension


  • Restricted freedom of movement

You can find out more about at intensecycles.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)

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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger

About the author

Simon Kohler

​​Simon loves speed. He has many years of racing experience as a longboard downhill skater, blasting down alpine passes on his board. In the meantime, he’s swapped four wheels for two, charging down trails and bike park lines aboard his mountain bike instead. He’s savoured some of Europe’s finest trails on various road trips through the Alps. Having lived in Austria for some time, he knows the local Austrian bike parks like the back of his hand. He’s a tech nerd through and through, using the skills and know-how from his engineering degree and his attention to detail to put the latest bikes and components through their paces for our reviews. As an early riser and self-declared muesli connoisseur, he lives his life powered by oats and the strength of his legs.