The Intense Cycles build bicycles from two materials, carbon fiber and 6000 series aluminum. The aluminum frames are built almost entirely ‘in-house’ in Temecula California, from design to welding, machining linkages and heat treating, it’s all done by a small crue of dedicated bike fanatics (the only thing they out source is painting, which is done just down the road). The tracer 27.5 is aluminum, this is important because it allowed for many small design tweaks during development, intense jumped into the ‘tweener wheel size whole-heartily and built this frame from the ground up to accommodate the wheels. Something that building with carbon, unfortunately, doesn’t allow.
Why It’s Cool- Many of us have spent some time on 29″ wheeled bikes and have been amazed at the wheel’s ability to roll over anything in their path, grip wet roots and rocks while climbing and maintain traction deep into corners. 29ers are pretty darn cool riding XC/trail type terrain and pretty much unbeatable climbing in technical terrain. So what’s not to like? Where they have short comings is, well, fun. They aren’t very nimble, they are harder to manual or wheely and they act funny in the air. If you are new to the mtb game you’ll probably be happiest on a 29er, but if you have a long history with 26″ wheels but want some of the things a 29″ wheel brings to the table you are a candidate for a tweener bike.
The tracer 27.5 feels a whole lot like a 26″ wheeled bike, well, because the reality is that this new wheel sizes isn’t actually half way between 26″ and 29″, it’s really closer to 27″… but that extra inch means a lot. That intoxicating grip and roll-over of a 29″ wheel is there, the tires seem to float across root mats without sinking down between each root, the tires hook-up and grip, but at the same time the wheel feels more ‘alive’ than any 29er I’ve ever ridden. The FUN is there, the bike doesn’t feel like a monster truck, it feels nimble and playful like a 26″ bike, just with more traction.
The Tracer 27.5 has adjustable travel of 5.5″ or 6″, has a seat tube port to run an internal Rockshox Stealth dropper post and can be equipped with either 135x10mm rear drop outs or 142x12mm rear through axle. It’s available in four ‘standard’ colors and a whole bunch of custom colors (for an up-charge). Standard colors are: Works Raw, Intense Red, Flo Green and Black Chrome. It comes stock with a Fox CTD shock and the amazing Cane Creek Double Barrel Air is an option. Intense is offering the bike in two build options, Expert and rallye or as a frame which can be custom spec’ed, prices start at about $4200 for full builds.
Who It’s For- The Tracer 27.5 is going to appeal to an aggressive trail/AM rider who is looking to gain an advantage over a 26″ bike while climbing without losing the things we like about 26″ wheels on the down-side. It also should appeal to anyone who values products that are really Made In America.