The Intense Tracer is a bike that has made the brand Iconic in the last 12 years. I personally have been riding Intense since the since the Tracer2 and to be honest when the Carbine came out people and myself included were left wondering what was next for the Tracer and would it come out in a carbon model. In 2015 and 2016 we were treated with a 160mm travel Tracer that many of us were very happy with. I myself never really got the warm and fuzzy’s from either models if you read my older bike reviews. This is where things change. The 2017 Intense Tracer has put the Tracer back on the map and possibly the leader in BIG mtn endure/trail riding. This is also my first complete build from Intense, I normally build my own bikes, but when ordering this bike I wanted to leave it the team in Temecula to putting together a build that I could just take off and ride. So that’s what I did… I went to my local trails where I have put hundreds and hundreds of miles. I sold my 2016 Tracer about 2 months ago and have been putting in most my miles on my 2017 Carbon Spider so being able to get back on a 160mm “Big Bike” meant I was going to be able let the brakes go a little more.
The Pedal Up
Once I hit the dirt it was very noticeable how stiff and planted the bike felt. I had to climb about 3 miles before I got to let the big dog eat. On my pedal up I was pleasantly surprised on the efficiency of how my power was delivered to the E-Thirteen 27.5 rear wheel. I don’t mind pulling a big gear and climbing isn’t an issue for me so knowing my bike was equipped with 1-12 Sram Eagle I was a little sceptacle. I thought the 1-11 on my other builds was plenty, so why would I ever need a 12 speed? Well folks that 50t bail out is all its cracked up to be and some. I really liked the fact that I could keep the same cadence climbing with out having to put out more power through the Sram carbon Truvativ cranks. One thing that I also could appreciate was the traction. When I got out of the saddle the FOX x2 had the rear tire very planted with out any loss of traction when getting out of the saddle to put power to the ground
I got to the top of the hill and couldn’t wait to drop in. I took FOX x2 out the firm mode and dropped in. The first thing that I noticed was how quite the bike was. My local trails are made up of clay and decomposed granite so it’s usaully very chattery on breaking or high speed sections so right away the chassis changes were very apparent. Adding a degree more head angle on the front end from 66.5 to 65.5 and stiffening the rear triangle with a symmetrical design gives the bike such a good footprint. The all new linkage design is not only much more appealing visually tucked up away from the dirt and mud but the rising rate allows for a little bike to feel like your are on a DH bike that you can climb on.
The new FOX 36 is very plush and gave me confidence under breaking. The rear FOX x2 was extremely planted and made that little chatter almost obsolete. The only thing that I wanted to improve on was I thought the rear shock hung a little low when entering the turns. This was fixed by opening up the rebound 3 clicks faster which also improved the turning. I got to the bottom of that trail and continued on for another 14 miles of riding the rest of that 1st day on the bike.
The rest of the Elite build made me feel right at home. Chain Guide brakes, Renthal 780 width 20mm alloy bars, the new Intense 40mm stem, Rock Shock Reverb post, Sram Guide brakes, and the Carbon E-thirteen TRS Carbon wheels, boost hubs, and tires.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day if you liked the 2015/16 Intense tracer you will love the 17’ model. They did an amazing job keeping the character of the infamous tracer, but improving the things that needed improving. I really feel that this bike will improve my down hill confidence. The new link design and stiffer chassis coupled with some of the highest quality components on the market make it an absolute weapon of a trail bike. Other little things that Intense improved upon on this model is the intergraded seat post clamp, the down tube, and rear triangle protection pads, and getting rid of the front derailleurs bc “who runs a front derailleur anyways” I look forward to spending a lot more time on this bike on the most rowdy trails I can find.
Where will this bike shine? Big Mtn enduros, Bike parks, and rowdy local trails
Big Bear, Mammoth, the steeper the better
Where will this bike not shine? Racing XC in lycra
Over The Hump, Quick N’ Dirty
What will I do to the bike? Chain Guide, my ODI grip of choice and I will test some Renthal Carbon bars.
Tires- E-Thirteen TRS+
Fork- FOX 36 Factory Float
Shock- FOX X2
Sram- XO1 1-12 Eagle
Seat Post- Sram Reverb
Stem- Intense 40mm
Grips- INTENSE dual lock on
Brakes- Sram Guides