Intense have never done things by the book or followed the status quo. Marching to the beat of their own drum, Intense invited me to ride Chris Kovarik's personal Tracer 279 for a First Ride
, well before it was ready to launch. Based on the First Ride impressions, the Tracer 279 was up to the tasks of pedalling the walls of Whistler and rallying the bike park too.
Since July, the geometry and kinematics have changed slightly for the official launch, but the Tracer 279 maintains its 170mm of travel via the JS Tuned suspension and runs on mixed wheels only. Intense have also tweaked the carbon layup throughout the extensive prototyping process. This bike has been a long time coming. If you're a mixed wheel fan, the Tracer leaves little to be desired; in-frame storage, water bottle mounts, low mounted coil shock - the list is long.
Tracer 279 Details
• Intended use: Enduro
• Wheel Size: 29" front / 27.5" rear
• Travel: 170mm front and rear
• CHAD downtube storage compartment
• Full carbon frame and upper link w/Ti hardware
• Flip-chip adjustment in lower link
• Hidden quick-release axle lever
• Head angle: 64 - 64.5º
• Seat tube angle: 77.4 - 77.9º
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Warranty: 5 years
• Price: $5,499 - 7,199 ($3,299 frame only)
Intense's latest enduro creation is a vast departure from the last Tracer in terms of looks, aside from the classic seat tube brace and collar. The new carbon frame uses two counter-rotating links, where the lower one pivots around the bottom bracket to drive the trunnion mounted shock through the split seat tube tunnel. Titanium hardware is used throughout the bike with rubber plugs that add to the attention to detail, and even the upper link is made from carbon fiber.
Under the shock and inside the downtube, Intense has created its own storage solution, adding to the number of manufacturers incorporating an on board tool cabinet. They've dubbed the compartment the CHAD In-frame storage system in memory of their friend Chad Peterson.
Protecting that area is a large rubber downtube pad that nearly runs to the head tube, similar to the material found on the chainstay to keep the noise levels to a minimum. Mainstays like fully guided housing, Boost hub spacing, ISCG tabs, and a threaded bottom bracket take the worry out of maintenance or mechanic work. There's also a sleek fender to keep debris out of the lower linkage and a hidden lever in the rear axle for tool-free wheel removal.
Geometry and Sizing
On the geometry front, there are no numbers that jump off of the page on the Tracer 279. At the time of the First Ride, Intense was hesitant to reveal the exact numbers of the "prototype," even though the carbon molds were unlikely to change shape. The charts don't stray too far from my initial guesses, but the chainstays have been trimmed down to 437mm from the 445 that I originally measured.
All four sizes from S through to XL use the same seat tube angle and chainstay length, which has no adjustment. Those sizes place the reach numbers at 420, 450, 475, and 500mm with moderately high stack measurements of 622, 631, 640, 649mm.
Angles like a 64 at the head tube and 77.4-degree seat tube in the low flip-chip position are fairly standard these days and suit the nature of Intense's enduro bike well. Placing the chip in the high setting will tip those angles upright by 0.5-degrees and gain 5mm of reach.
Pricing and Availability
Intense have kept the options straightforward with two build kits, a moderate and a high end option, that will be ready to roll out in the middle of May. There's also a frame-only option for $3,299 with an Ohlins TTX22M coil shock and either package, frame or full bike, comes in two color choices.
Starting at $5,499, the Expert build receives a SRAM NX drivetrain and Code R brakes, Fox Performance suspension, Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II tire combo, e*thirteen LG1 wheels and Base 35 bar/stem controls, along with an Intense branded dropper post. At $7,199, you'll step up to the Tracer S with an Ohlins RXF 38 air sprung fork and TTX22M coil shock, Magura MT7 brakes, a mix of mid-range SRAM components, and e*thirteen's Race SL hubs, noting that Intense adds DH casing Maxxis tires to the premium build.