After months of riding Jeff Steber’s first e-MTB, what is Andi’s conclusion on the Intense Tazer? Find out in his long term Intense Tazer review.
Those of you with a soft spot for e-MTBs or who are e-bike curious have surely already read my first ride review of the Intense Tazer, if not you can head over here to read it. Go on I’ll give you a minute to catch up before diving in to my long term test report.
If you’re old, like me, the Intense Tazer that you might picture will look nothing like the bike I’ve spent the past few months riding. The original Tazer was a fast hardtail, designed to be blisteringly snappy out of a start gate, win 4X races, then head to the dirt jumps for a session and a few beers. Yes, there was also a full-suspension version of the original Tazer, but that too was a very different machine. However, the new one is way better.
How does it ride?
I was impressed with the Tazer out in Barcelona and I continue to be impressed with it now after months of use on my home trails. Intense has really got the geometry spot on with its first e-MTB, that’s to say I feel extremely comfortable on the bike.
At 178cm tall, I’m riding on the size Medium frame which has a reach of 450mm, shorter than what I choose to ride for a non-motorised bike, but the slightly shorter reach means a heavier bike remains lively and controlled. Out at the launch in Spain I spotted a couple of other riders downsizing to a medium for the same reason. Remember an e-bike is a different beast to a regular mountain bike: it has more weight and is ridden differently, so it’s well worth experimenting with reach and sizes if you’re thinking of buying one.
For me, the 450mm reach, 64.9° heat tube and 75.4° seat tube work perfectly together to give me a comfortable cockpit while not being so long that I can’t weight up the front wheel. While the carbon Tazer might weigh significantly more than my personal bike I never really noticed that until I had to carry it over or onto something.
Although the new Tazer weighs 47lbs, it accelerates just as fast as the original Tazer. Of course, the STEPS E8000 motor goes a long way to getting you up to speed but the lack of drag from the system plus the efficiency of the suspension help to propel the weighty Intense up to speed and maintain that speed no matter how rough the conditions are.
The STEPS’ smooth transition from assist to off is exceptionally good when riding through technically challenging terrain too. Whereas some drive systems have a distinct on/off feel to them, the Shimano unit gradually eases off meaning that for those sections you need to stop pedalling you aren’t instantly jolted as the motor cuts out. This is especially good for rough, technical climbs and pumping through rough terrain.
Some people believe e-bikes are designed exclusively for casual riders, the unfit or people with health issues, but the Tazer isn’t a bike designed for pootling, it rewards hard, aggressive riding. The new Tazer doesn’t want to gently cruise along, it wants to barrel down, through, off and over everything in its path. This is a bike that will happily straight-line the rough stuff, but remains agile, despite its weight, and will surprise you at how well it responds to direction changes, weight shifts, and bunnyhops.
Because you’re encouraged to put in the work you will likely come away from a Tazer ride unexpectedly tired, not in the leg department but your upper body – it’s going to receive one hell of a workout from all that body English. Pootle at your peril, the Tazer likes to go in fast and push hard no matter the direction of the trail, up, down, across, or ‘to the sky’.
With the Tazer encouraging you to ride faster and faster, it’s comforting that Intense has provided a quality set of stoppers as standard. 4 pot Shimano XT brakes provide bucket loads of power, and the Ice Tech rotors and finned pads ensure constant fade-free stopping.
What’s the range?
In the U.S., Intense is marketing the Tazer at the motocross market, which explains why you might have seen the bike reviewed by MX publications. The U.S. is also where Intense expects riders to carry a spare battery with them so that they can increase the miles and explore new trails.
Of course, we can do that in the UK too, and Intense actually provided me with a spare battery so that I could head out the door for a ‘two battery ride’, and I have. A ‘two battery ride’ is a lot of fun, but you probably won’t cover the miles you thought you could. My average for a big ride with two batteries is around 60km, and that’s using Trail mode for the majority of the time with the odd Boost session when getting a little rowdy.
A single battery will do about 35km depending on where you ride and what mode you run the Tazer in. If you’re interested, I generally ride around the Peak District and tend to stay in Trail most of the time.
That’s not as far as I really hoped, but it confirms what I’ve experienced from other Shimano STEPS equipped bikes. The STEPS E8000 system might be reliable, smooth and quiet, but it isn’t the best for battery life. It’s perfect for an e-bike aimed at the rider who wants to get in as much riding as possible in a limited amount of time, but other systems are much better suited for long distance epics. In my experience, the Brose system found on Specialized e-bikes, and Bosch units, offer longer battery life but don’t offer the same smooth pick up as the Shimano.
Does it handle the mud?
Before getting on the Intense Tazer in the UK, the only time I had ridden the Shimano Steps powered carbon bike was on the dry and dusty trails around Barcelona. The Tazer lapped those trails up, hardly surprising considering where Intense bikes are designed and developed, but how would it handle the UK slop and muck?
Have a gander around the JS Tuned Suspension links, pivots and the clearance around that chunky 27.5in+ rear tyre and you’ll more than likely impulsively suck in a sharp intake of air, point, and tut, “No, no, no, there’s not enough clearance there”.
It might look tight and there are plenty of loam shelves but the Tazer never gets stuck and the fact it has a motor means you won’t notice the extra pounds of earth clinging to it during a typical winter’s ride. Sure, if it’s freezing and the trails are covered in snow and ice it’s going to get clogged, but so would any bike.
In addition, the Shimano STEPS motor system shrugged off any mud, water, dust and grit I threw at it. It also survived a few river and bog crossings in the Peaks without bother too. That said, the battery door in the downtube does let a little water in and you’ll want to clean the battery compartment out from time to time to prevent it from smelling of bog water.
I’ve managed to rub the finish clean off the drive side seat stay. It’s down to carbon! There is a tiny amount of wear on the non-drive side too, but nothing like this. I mean, sure it proves I’ve put in a lot of miles on the bike, and in all conditions, but I don’t want my £6,999 bike to lose its glossy finish after a few months.
We also lost a bolt holding the motor to the frame, and a bolt that holds the plastic motor bash guard in place came loose a few times. This was a press bike though and has had a really tough life so a few loose bolts aren’t the end of the world, but I would be double checking all those motor bolts and adding a little Loctite to them if I bought a Tazer for myself.
The battery door broke, actually the door is fine but the plastic clip that holds it in place snapped off. You can actually see it happen in my review video above. I wasn’t doing anything silly, it must have just weakened and failed. This has apparently already been improved on production bikes though – ours was a very early sample.
3 Things I loved
- The geometry of the Intense Tazer is spot on. The size M bike is longer than most medium-sized frames but not so long that you struggle getting weight over the front tyre.
- The suspension is seriously impressive. Intense has given the Tazer Fox Factory suspension front and rear, the same as I have on my personal non-e-MTB bike, but it seems to work much better on the Tazer thanks to that extra weight low down in the centre of the frame. It’s a seriously capable and fast bike, the Tazer, and although it may be heavy it’s still easy to bunnyhop and chuck about.
- The 29in wheel up front means I’ve got that big roll-over capability of a 29er, but the chunky 27.5+ wheel on the rear gives the Tazer that extra traction needed to get the power down efficiently.
3 Things That could be improved
- The battery door broke. We know our sample bike had a pre-production door, but I’d keep an eye on the plastic cover.
- Heel rub on the seatstay. It could simply be an issue that affects me and the way I ride, but even so, I’d have like to see some extra protection back there.
- The Fox Transfer dropper post often fails to fully extend. It’s not just the Tazer that suffers from this, we have other bikes with the same issue (and some without – Ed). To get around it you’ll either have to give it a tug or fully depress it then let it fire back up to full extension, although this doesn’t always work.
So what we have here is your typical ‘Expensive Bike Is Really Good, Shocker’. At a penny under £7,000 the Intense Tazer is way out of my price range, but if I ever could afford one I would certainly hit the ‘buy’ button on the Intense website. The Tazer is a seriously impressive piece of kit. Sure our test bike has had a few niggles here and there, but considering the level of abuse we’ve hurled at it, it has never let us down, and most importantly everyone who has ridden it absolutely loves it.
Intense Tazer Specification
- Frame // TAZER Optimized Carbon 29in Front and 275+ Rear Triangle, Enduro link Pivot System
- Front Suspension // FOX FACTORY E-BIKE 36 FLOAT, Kashima, 160 mm, FIT GRIP2, 15QRx110 BOOST, 51mm Offset
- Rear Suspension // FOX FACTORY FLOAT DPX2, Trunnion Mount, EVOL, 3-Position Lever 185x55mm
- Wheels // Front: 29in DT Swiss H1700 Hybrid 30mm Inner width, 110×15 Rear: 27.5in DT Swiss H1700 Hybrid 35mm Inner width, 148x12MM REAR
- Hubs // DT Swiss 350 Hybrid, Centerlock
- Tyres // Front: 29X2.60, MINION DHR II, FOLDABLE, 120TPI, 3CMAXX TERRA/EXO+/TR Rear: 27.5X2.8, MINION DHR II, FOLDABLE, 120TPI, 3CMAXX TERRA/EXO+/TR
- Shifter // Shimano SLX, 11-speed
- Rear Derailleur // Shimano SLX, 11-speed
- Crank // Shimano XT 165mm, 34T
- Cassette // Shimano E-bike 11 speed
- Chain // Shimano E-bike, 11 speed
- Saddle // Fabric Radius Elite w/ Cr-Mo Rails
- Seatpost // Fox Factory Series Transfer, 31.6mm, 150mm travel w/Raceface Lever (125mm Travel for size Small)
- Handlebar // Intense Recon Alloy 31.8mm – 780mm
- Stem // Intense Recon, 45mm
- Headset // Cane Creek 40, alloy cartridge, 25mm of spacers
- Brakeset // Shimano XT 4-Piston Hydraulic Disc, 203mm Front and Rear
- Grips // Intense Dual Density Lock-On
- Motor System // Shimano Steps E8000 25KM/H 250W
- Battery // BT-E8010, FOR STEPS, 504Wh. Battery lock w/2 keys
- Mode Switch // SW-E6000
- Display // Shimano Steps LCD, Bluetooth Compatible.
- Price // £6,999