Amid the flurry of carbon this and that launched this year, the Intense Tracer 275 Alloy almost snuck past unnoticed. Made in California and with the exact same geometry as the well-received (and way more expensive) 275 Carbon, the 275 Alloy looks sure to turn heads; not least in this hi-vis orange. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but nearly every ride we did on the Tracer seemed to finish in twilight or darkness, making the frame ‘pop’ with colour as the sun dipped (more subtle colours are available, but why would you? This is a freaking Intense, man!).
The frame exhibits Intense’s neat trademark ‘stacked coins’ welding and that identifiable top tube hump. To our eyes, the frame looks a little ‘short but tall’ – we got a large frame size in for its 600mm-ish top tube, but that necessitates having a 19in (482mm) seat tube, which hampered attempts to retrofit a dropper post for medium height riders. Study the numbers before you shop.
The Foundation level of spec is the reason this US-made bike can come in a chunk below our target price. The components are simple and workmanlike. There’s a higher-spec model if you’re feeling flush, but we had no real problems with the level of componentry supplied. There’s a good grounding of SLX components in the shifting and Shimano’s 500 series brakes. Suspension duties are handled by X Fusion, with a 160mm Sweep up front and an O2 shock out back. Dual shock mount eyes offer 5in or 6in travel, though we tended towards 6in for most of the test. A dual chainset might not be the most ‘enduro’ spec out there, but it was appreciated on long, Lakeland climbs. The only thing missing is a dropper post, though there’s internal routing for one and, arguably, you could fit it and still come in on budget.
Wheels were decent Sun/Ringlé Infernos shod with laughably Californian-appropriate 2.2in Ardent tyres, showing that it’s hard to spec a bike that’ll make the whole world happy.
The Tracer was an absolute blast to ride, both up and downhill. Like the Whyte, overleaf, it seemed to ride lighter than its 31.5lb weight suggested. Even the comedy tyres worked well with enough commitment and sideways-ness, though really they’ll be the first thing to be swapped out, in favour of something chunkier with some actual knobbles. The basic-level Shimano brakes ran rings around the venerable Hopes on the Empire and the whole ride feel was comfortable and secure (tyres excepted). Shifting was great and the only thing missing was a dropper, so we snuck one in for testing.
The X Fusion Sweep has a good, solid feel to it; perhaps a little less supple-feeling than the Rev on the Empire, but inspiring enough to plough through and hang on. We did run into trouble with the rear shock, which stopped rebounding correctly after about 100 trail miles. This was immediately swapped under warranty and upgraded to the latest (improved) Intense-specific spec, so while it needs mentioning, it’s not something to worry about that much.
Climbing on the orange beast was good on steady climbs, though a little pedal feedback could be felt on bumpier ones in the inner ring. Balance on the longer top tube of the large test bike was good and the bike would probably love a shorter stem/wide bar combo if you’re going to get properly rowdy. All in all, it was a well mannered beast and really responsive on those momentum-happy rolling trails of the best natural trails and the more engaging trail centre ones – the ones where a taller gear than is sensible rewards some spirited riding and pumping through the dips.
Shift it into the big ring and the bike really does move. Rolling, pumpy trails were despatched with ease, rocky drops didn’t present any issues and even some sketchy near-dark trail centre trails were taken on with full trust that the bike would win through; which it did.
Out of the box, the Intense is a good bike for just about any riding you care to wave at it, short of full-on cross-country and downhill racing. The option to run it at five or six inches of travel broadens its potential to run as a nimble machine on home trails, then adding an inch of travel for those trips away.
The build kit is perfectly trail-worthy, especially the brakes, and leaves you the option of upgrading as components wear out or your need for gears increases or decreases. Just add a dropper post for all round rideworthiness and change those tyres. Buy the Expert spec version if you’re feeling flush, but we’d rather get this one and upgrade as we go along – sculpting it into whatever bike we’d want it to be.
- Frame: Intense Tracer 275 VPP aluminium, X Fusion O2 150mm shock
- Fork: X Fusion Sweep 160mm
- Hubs: Intense
- Rims: Sun/Ringlé //ACCENT// Inferno
- Tyres: Maxxis Ardent 2.2in
- Chainset: Shimano SLX 38/24T
- Front Mech: SLX
- Rear Mech: SLX
- Shifters: SLX
- Brakes: Shimano BL506
- Stem: Intense
- Bars: Intense
- Grips: Intense, lock-on
- Seatpost: Intense alloy
- Saddle: WTB Volt
- Size Tested: M
- Sizes available: S, M, L (XL coming soon)
- Weight: 31.5lbs (without pedals)
|Product:||Tracer 275 Alloy|
|From:||Extra UK, extrauk.co.uk|
|Price:||£2,899.00 (Foundation spec)|
|Tested:||by Chipps for|