July 8, 2014
What bike for the Tweedlove Enduro World Series? Dan chose the Tracer Carbon, here's why
A few weeks back a few of us took part in the EWS in Peebles, Scotland. We thought what better place to do an enduro test than at the world series, so the bikes were picked and the stage was set. A Scott Genius LT700, a Niner WFO and the new Intense Carbon Tracer. Lucky for me the Tracer’s fully carbon, 27.5 inch, VPP suspension technology equipped enduro machine was mine to race.
To start off with this bike is beautiful, for me it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing bikes out there, a fluid yet aggressive looking frame with a no nonsense linkage. The grey on black colour scheme and graphic choice is sleek and flawless. Black Flow rims, black Reverb and Pike stanchions alongside the black Sram drivetrain adds to that awesome stealthy beauty. If Batman had a push bike this would be it.
The RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air offers 160mm charger damped goodness up front, working alongside the Monarch Plus RC3 on the back. Sram’s XO1 drivetrain makes climbing easy and descending quiet. An internal cable routed Reverb keeps the bike looking clean and offers smooth dropperness (maybe not a word but oh well) action. Shimano XT disc brakes provide crisp, no nonsense braking under high temperatures. Stans hubs on Flow EX rims have the wheels side covered, lightweight, strong rims on smooth running reliable hubs.
So a fully carbon 650B enduro weapon packed out with the best kit around, time to set it up and ride it.
Due to a lot of the trails being on the steeper side at the EWS, I went for a bit of a stiffer set up on the front end to stop the fork from diving on the steep compressions. I also tried to get the front end up higher so I could get a bit further over the back end. After getting it feeling good and set up to how I ride, it was time for practice. Long fire roads followed by muddy singletrack climbs were made easy (kinda) because of the big 42 tooth cog at the back but mainly by how the Tracer made you sit up on the bike, and have a comfortable climbing position. With over 50km of riding on the first day, having a comfortable climbing bike was so important. Finishing the day with no lower back pain or any discomfort, I was happy straight away on the Tracer.
The big test now was to see how well it handled the descents. With the seat down I was able to get a really good position over the bike, so I was comfortable on the steeper terrain as well as on the faster, flatter sections of the track, and also being able to pedal fast and efficiently on the stage sprints. I was really impressed with how well the Tracer handled a lot of the super tight sections in between trees and through sketchy root sections. The back end was so easy to move and flick around but at the same time it didn’t get away from you all the time; it did exactly what you wanted it to when you needed it to. A lot of bikes feel good to move around on technical descents but then carry on going and skip away from you losing traction; when actually what you want it to do is get a little loose but then regain traction and come back into control.
There were a few minor issues with the bike. First of all the VPP suspension linkage, it is one of the best, well thought out linkages out there however the amount of mud and grit that gets stuck in the bottom linkage is something that needs keeping an eye on. It doesn’t affect how the linkage works but it is a pain to clean and if you get a rocky debris stuck in there you’re going to have problems. The second issue was on two occasions the linkage bolts came loose, so for the bottom of one stage I had a rather horrific noise coming from the bike. However they didn’t come so loose that they fell out and then got lost forever. Unlucky? maybe, but it’s something that’s worth keeping an eye on. With all that said the bikes impressive performance and beauty completely overshadowed these easily addressed problems.
Overall for me the Intense Tracer is the whole package; with great beauty and design, backed up with a very complimentary spec, the Tracer is a well thought out enduro machine. Intense have set the bar high for a lot of other brands, the Tracer is back, and back with a bang.
Frame// Full Mountain Carbon Front & Rear Triangle 27.5 w/RockShox Monarch Plus RC3
Fork// RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air 160mm
Wheels// Stans 3.30 Hubs on ZTR Flow EX Rims
Tyres// Maxxis High Roller 2 (Rear) Minion DHF 2 (Front), Both Tubeless
Chainset// Sram XO1 32T
Front Mech// N/A
Rear Mech// Sram XO1
Shifter// Sram XO1
Brakes// Shimano XT
Stem// Renthal Duo 50mm
Bars// Renthal Fatbar Lite 740mm Width 20mm Rise
Grips// Intense Dual Density Lock On
Seatpost// Rockshox Reverb
Saddle// Intense Sacred Heart
Size Tested// Medium
Sizes Available// S,M,L,XL