In the ever accelerating pace of the high-end mountain bike world, new bikes aren’t necessarily considered ‘new’ for long. Thanks to our mate the internet, it doesn’t take long for the news to get out about the latest bike models and spread like wildfire. And 24-hours later, it already feels like old news. But in the midst of showbike fever (don’t worry, we’re getting the rash checked out next week), sometimes it’s nice to sit back, take a chill-pill, and spend a bit of quality time properly admiring some of the lovely machines that will be making their way onto trails this season. Because…well…AWESOME BIKES!
Speaking of new bikes, Intense Cycles has a few. This year alone, they’ve unveiled the all-new Spider 27.5in trail bike, the dedicated ACV plus bike, and the versatile Primer 29er. You might even say that they’re……on a roll. Geddit??
Ok, so terrible jokes withstanding, Intense has a lot of new stuff to show off. In addition to the above three models, they also released the brand new Recluse. Well, it was actually released a month ago, so some people might think that’s old news now. Hell, we even have one on review. But despite it’s crusty age (*insert sarcasm for those that require the confirmation*), we still couldn’t help having out attention grabbed by this striking number while hanging out with our mates at Saddleback in Bristol today. So with camera in hand, we decided to get all paparazzi on its American behind, and shoot lots of glamour shots while trying to come up with a name for this incredible colourway.
Licorice Allsorts? Fruit Salad? Tequila Sunrise? If you have any suggestions for what the name of this colour should be, please leave them in the comments below!
The Recluse is a new name for Intense Cycles, and comes into the lineup as a ballsy trail bike with plenty of punch and plenty of attitude. Despite the new name, it’s got Intense written all over it. No really, it does. And it has a head tube badge! Schmicko.
With the Intense lineup getting a rearrange in 2016, the Recluse slots in as a new 140mm travel trail bike that’s built around 27.5in wheels. Unlike previous Intense models and some of Intense’ competitors, the Recluse has a dedicated wheelsize, so there’s no swapping around of linkages or forks to make it compatible with plus tyres or any such business like that. So it’s 27.5in only, and there’s only clearance for up to 2.4in wide tyres.
Like the aforementioned new additions to the Intense Cycles range this year, the Recluse also features the new rear suspension design. Intense has relied on the VPP linkage for the better part of the last decade, but with the VPP patent having recently run out, they’ve used the opportunity to introduce their own platform called ‘JS Tuned Suspension’. For the most part, it’s pretty similar, with two small counter-rotating links joining the solid rear triangle to the front. But there are some differences.
As for the frame though, it’s carbon front to back. Also new with the latest crop of Intensia (that’s plural for Intense, and we’re going with it!), the Recluse frame is available in two different carbon trims. There’s the regular carbon frame, and then there’s a pricier ‘SL’ version, which drops 250 grams in weight off the total frame. Intense has done this by using titanium hardware on the SL model, but it also uses higher modulus carbon fibre and a slightly different compaction method for squeezing out more of the resin. As a result, the carbon fibre is slightly more dense and with a finer weave – kind of like a high TPI tyre. The result is the same strength and stiffness, but with less mass.
Ok, so back to that rear suspension design. So the Recluse has a solid main frame, and a solid one-piece rear triangle. The rear end is attached to the main frame by two small alloy linkages. Rear dropout spacing is 148x12mm, with a clean bolt-up rear axle using expanding collet hardware to really lock the axle down in place.
The change over the VPP platform is largely seen in the new lower link of the JS Tuned design, which places the lower link above the bottom bracket, and tucks it into a pocket in the seat tube. This allows for a shorter chainstay length compared to the old VPP design, which had the link sitting below and behind the BB.
One feature that carries over is the user-serviceable lower pivot, which features grease ports that you can utilise to pump in fresh grease, and purge out old grease through the bearing caps. It’s a pretty straightforward process to keep everything rolling smooth. Also of note in the above photo is the ISCG tabs, and a front derailleur mount. So plenty of options for those who want to setup the drivetrain as they like.
The Recluse is available as both a frameset and in a number of stock builds. Saddleback, the UK distributor for Intense Cycles, is basically stocking every option, in every size and every colour.
Fork travel on the Recluse is set at 150mm, so a fraction more than the rear end. In terms of geometry, the Recluse sits at 66-degrees in the head angle, and runs a steep 75-degree seat angle to push you further over the cranks for improved pedalling position whilst climbing. Of course the steep seat angle is irrelevant on most descents, because with the dropper post, you’ll almost always be standing on the pedals with the seat out of the way. Oh and chainstay length? That’s a tidy 419mm, so impressively short for a 140mm travel bike that has front derailleur compatibility.
For a full-blown review of the capable Recluse from Intense, stay tuned to Singletrack for updates there. In the meantime, we also had the chance to shoot a quick video with the Intense brand manager at Saddleback, Martin, who took us through some of the finer details on this very fine looking machine.