Intense Tracer VP XT Fox 32 Talas RLC Complete: Once again, Intense bridges the gap between high performance all-mountain travel and lightweight with the 2009 Intense Tracer VP. With adjustable travel and geometry...
Strengths: Great traction on technical climbs, platform shock with bottomless suspension feel, overbuilt frame to take on downhill abuse, good overall value.
Weaknesses: Chainline and tire selection. I have tried two different manufacturers cranksets with internal and external bb's and have yet to get the perfect chainline out of the bike stand. Once the suspension sags the 36/34 and 36/32 combo rubs the front derailleur in the 6in. travel setting. I would also like the option of running tires larger than 2.35 when in the 6in. travel mode but they will rub on high speed pounding decents.
3rd season of riding on this frame and it has never shown any signs of failure or overall performance issues. If you are careful with tire selection and run a single chainring there are no weakness. My build is a bit on the heavier burly side with a FOX 36 so climbing is a chore but no fault of the Intense frame. I could run lighter parts but this bike shreds on the technical DH built as is and that is where the fun is.
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2012
Strengths: Pretty much everything. Climbing is really impressive and is very flickable. Weight is good. Adjustable travel. Fantastic bike, you can custom build to whatever your riding that day. Welds are pretty amazing and made in US is rare these days.
Weaknesses: When the bike is sitting I can push on the rear wheel (sideways) and I see some flex so I guess that is one, but I never really notice when I am riding and it is not a dh bike so who cares.
This bike is a fantastic all rounder. I have taken it on extended climbs, jump parks, drops, you name it. It handles everything very well. I have rocket ron 2.4s for climb days and maxxis minion 2.5s for jump days and this bike kills it with both. I have had a lot of bikes and nothing compares to the tracer. Climbs better than my nomad. Get one it is well worth the money.
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2012
Strengths: climbs, technical sections, descents, plus its unique and made in the USA
Weaknesses: I had a bolt in the lower linkage work loose but a little lock-tite and it hasn't happened again. The stickers were poor quality but I peeled them off and love the sleeper look
Bikes like this are the future of the 26inch wheel, light, fast, capable and fun. I'm just as happy to take my tracer on all day epic rides as sprinty climb fests, or even occasional lift serve terrain. I've done everything from bikepacking to freeriding and never wished for another bike. I've had probably close to 20 mountain bikes and this is far and away my favorite.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: January 19, 2012
Strengths: Looks nice, made in the US, people at Intense are very friendly when you happen to reach them
Weaknesses: Geo was way off the claims on the web site, warranty replacement took 6 months
I was really stoked to get the Tracer frame and start building up a new "dream bike". Originally I built it with a 140mm fork but it felt really sketchy compared to anything else I had ridden. I got a Fox Van 36 RC2 which helped, but it somehow still felt like a burly XC bike. I had the angles measured and the head angle (with the Fox 36 and 0-stack headset) was over 69 degree.
I contacted support but never got a response. Got a direct address to somebody who had helped someone else and got the ball rolling. Intense told me that the web site had wrong information (it was never fixed though) and that the HA for the size L Tracer VP really is over a degree steeper then what they claim on their site and other material. They promised to replace my frame with another model, and after 6 months I had it.
Unfortunately the new model has a crooked rear end, my dealer is no longer an Intense dealer, their customer support has not responded to me in almost 3 months and none of the people I emailed with last time work for the company any more. Quite a disaster for a company that claims to take pride in their products.
a Weekend Warrior
from East Linton, East Lothian, Scotland.
Date Reviewed: May 31, 2011
Strengths: Great build quality - the paint finish is fantastic works blue is just awesome. Handling is fantastic climbs well and bombs down anything. Spookey wood is even better on my Tracer than it was on my Meta 5.5 and that was pretty damn good.
Weaknesses: Paint finish is quite soft so needs to be heli taped but this is not a problem.
I just love this bike. I can't get out on it enough. I ride reds and blacks all year round at Glentress Laggan and Golspie and my Tracer does it all. Have even done Strathpuffer 24 hr in January - no problems! Expensive to buy but you can get good deals if you hunt around. I haven't paid full price for any of the parts and so consider I have got a top bike for reasonable money. Have had loads of people asking about it when out and about. Its a real pity Intense are now making their frames in Tiawan probably just as good but I like the idea that mine was built by hand.
Similar Products Used: Have only ridden my Meta and an Orange 5 the Tracer is way better than both in my view.
Bike Setup: 2011 36mm x 160 Fox Float RLC with Kashmina coating, SRAM X9 drive chain with XT Cranks, Hope Headset and bottom bracket, Hope Tech M4 (2011) with Blue 183mm Floating Rotors, Stans Flow rims with Blue Hope Pro 2 Hubs Easton Monkeylite DH Bar with ODI Ruffian Grips, Thomson Elite Seatpost and 50mm Stem. Maxxis High Roller 2.3 super Tacky Front and 2.3 60a rear. Knda SB8 2.3 for summer. SDG Bel Air Saddle. Hope bolt through to stiffen up the rear.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: October 17, 2010
Strengths: Soutly built. Very efficient riding up and down. Sweet looking. Grease fittings. Made in the US.
Weaknesses: Cable Routing, 2-year warranty, Don't drop your chain with the MRP guides - It will jam in there bad. No bottle cage inside front triangle.
I have a couple hundred miles on the bike and have finally got comfortable enough with it to post a review. I love the bike but I did have a long period to get accustomed. Mine is set up in the 5.5 travel position. I want to try the 6 position but have not gotten to it. I put it in 5.5 because I only have the 150 fork. I am an aggressive trail rider but not a hucker lift rider. I ride to the top and love to downhill.
This bike is noticeably a better climber than the 5.5. In slow speed technical climbing you get less pedal feedback. I also feel like I am way more over the front of the bike.
The geometry for whatever reason was a long adjustment. I figured the bike would be similar to the 5.5. At first I thought the medium I got (same as my 5.5) was too small. I had to put a ton of spacers on it and my seatpost is way far out there but now I think it is perfect if not as aesthetically pleasing as I would like. As I said I feel way more over the front so (so far) I am slower through really technical downhill stuff. Now I know I do have to put my weight back further and use more body English descending than I was on the 5.5. OF course I have to use less climbing. I changed from a 90 stem to a 70 to help with that over the front feeling also. I had this fork on the 5.5 which was meant for a 140 and this tracer would probably be better with a 160 so maybe that plays in. I don’t really know. IT would seem an inch is not a huge factor in angles but I am just not scientific enough to know. I cannot get the front end up as easily as I could the 5.5. The 5.5 would manual easily. This bike takes effort to get up there. I was annoyed at first but now I like the bike everywhere else enough I will just have to get better pulling up on the front end. This would probably not be an issue for people with better wheelie skills. The bike is better cornering for sure than the 5.5. Lean it over and it sticks well. I had to get use to quicker steering everywhere.
My rear end seems plenty stiff. I was dropping my chain which I worried was due to flex but my drivetrain just needed to be replaced. I did find out that you better have bolts in the chain guide mounts or you will get you chain jammed bad when it drops. MY chain line is perfect but if the chain drops it get sucked in there fast and solid. Put bolts in the guide and it is no issue. I have droped my chain once since the new drivechain and the bold made it no problem.
I am not a fan of the cable routing. As I ride the rear shifter cable gets pulled up to the bars. So at the end of longer rides the loop at the derailleur is too tight and shifting suffers. I have fixed this by replacing two of the frame clips with tight cable ties.
I also think the trend of no bottle mounts inside the front triangle is a bummer. I like having a bottle on longer rides in addition to my pack. There are mounts under the down tube but I think a cage there would last a single ride and it’s just ugly down there. There is enough room in this frame for a cage and a small bottle and I really miss it. Most of the trail frames I would look at have gone this way also (Enduro , MOJO). Bummer.
This bike was a crash replacement for a 5.5 that broke at the 2 places everyone's broke at. I loved my 5.5 (even with it’s many issues). I had it 6-7 years. IT had a 2 year warranty which brings me to one of the *possible weaknesses. Many Many (maybe all?) of the 5.5s broke at the seat tube BB junction in back or on the drive side chain stay. Does that seem like a defect? I knew it had only a 2 year warranty and so I was not expecting much but Intense through my bike shop offered me a crash replacement which is 15% off. I got lucky and the shop did not mark that up so my Tracer was cheap. If it had been $1800 I do not know if I would be riding it today. I am glad to have a bike hand made in the USA right here in So Cal but funds were tight and I probably would have gone for a Specialized or something with a lifetime warranty. Made in Taiwan though which sucks. (I hear that Specialized is doing away with their LT warranties too). As long as this one does not break or at least for 6-7 years I am happy with it. Warranty duration is a factor in bikes of this price range.
I think my 5.5 was full of QC issues. The rear end was a nightmare to line up after taking the links apart for cleaning which I had to do every few rides. I also needed bearings at least once a year sometimes twice or the rear end would stop being plush. I think that frame was out of alignment. The seatpost also slipped. I tried everything and eventually loc tited my seat post in. So far this Tracer has none of those issues and the grease ports are awesome. Flip it over push the gun in – pump till grease comes out the sides – wipe away excess – done. I love that. I assume it will line up better when I do need to replace those bearings. The rear end is definitely plusher than the 5.5.
So bottom line I like the bike aside from some pretty minor issues. I cannot call it a good value because 2250 for a 2 year warranty is just not value but the bike rocks and it is made by Americans in the good ole US which is nice and increasingly rare. All around trail riding I think it is hard to beat this bike.
Bike Setup: Fox 32 150 Float, King rear Hub, Hadley Front. XTR, Mavic Rims. Gravity Dropper seat post.
from cherry valley
Date Reviewed: September 27, 2010
Strengths: easy service great climbing will outclimb any of my friends bikes by a long shot very efficient pedaling
Weaknesses: customer service very hard to contact them ive sent them emails and they never responded. there is a small hole on the back of the seat stay that alows dirt and other things to get in however i put a little sticker over it and problem solved.
very fun bike however this is not the bike for the rider who goes out once a month and plays around this bike is for a serious trail rider or racer, but if you have the money and just want a really nice bike than go for it.
Similar Products Used: jamis dakar xam and intense 6.6 and specialized enduro
Bike Setup: full xt drivetrain and fox suspension
a Weekend Warrior
from Duluth, GA
Date Reviewed: September 5, 2010
This is an update on a previous review for the 5.5 EVP, but more importantly it is a review of Intense Cycles. My experience with customer service (or customer no-service) at Intense has been mixed during the almost 2 years I have owned the 5.5. 3 weeks ago I noticed a hairline crack at the bottom of the seat tube, contacted Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA and they sent the frame back to Intense. I did not have very high expectations for how Intense would handle the repair. When I picked up my frame I was told Intense had repaired the crack and added a gusset to prevent any further issues. Much to my surprise, Intense had also completely refurbished the frame with updated components replacing the original links and bearings with the 2010 version of the VPP linkages and had also replace the linkage bearings with angular contact bearings and they also had added the grease ports to the frame as well as refurbishing the ‘raw’ finish and had replaced the old worn and faded decals with all new ones.
I had not asked for any of the upgraded components, just to have my frame repaired or replaced as necessary. Intense Cycles has gone way above what would be considered normal customer service and have created a huge proponent of their products and their outstanding customer service.
a Weekend Warrior
from Dusseldorf, Germany
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2010
Strengths: The Tracer VP is one of the best All Mountain Bikes around, if not the best. If used it for 3 months now and works really well in all circumstances, you can use it for long tours with slim ityres and a longer stem. I also frequently take it to the bike park with thick tyres and short stem, it works very well on the descents, very responsive back and well balanced. It may not climb as well as some other CC Fullys, but the all round capabilities are great!
Weaknesses: Some minor noises from the VPP; bolts on VPP may come loose every once in a while
Not a cheap bur definitely a very good all mountain bike. If you are willing to spend that extra $, go for it, you won't be disappointed.
Similar Products Used: Specialized Enduro; Bergamont Big Air Team
Bike Setup: Fox Talas RLC, Fulcrum Red Metal 3 wheels, Hope V2 brakes
a Weekend Warrior
from Durango, CO, US
Date Reviewed: July 24, 2010
Strengths: Plush, smooth ride, and the burly frame with Fox suspension absorbs the bumps really well. The height of the bottom bracket makes for more upright torso positioning while riding, which is more comfortable for me than the typical hunched-over cross-country setup. Plus it handles turns well. It handles the downhill sections with ease and brings a smile to my face. It's made in the U.S.A.
Weaknesses: Some of the cable housing has questionable positioning around the pivot points, although it might have been determined by those who built the bike. The price given above was just for the frame. The rear triangle construction is questionable how the aluminum piece runs right behind nobs on the tire. It's no problem though.
I'd recommend this bike to anyone who loves technical rocky trails, long xc rides, or to aggressive riders in general.
Weaknesses: none detected yet...ive had no hint of the flexy rear that some of the people have mentioned.
Layman's review here:
Bike is beautiful to look at and ride. My wife suprised me with this..my dream bike.. on my 40th bday. She said it was my last toy as all new toys will be going to our soon to be born son! Fine with that..don't need anything else after this!
Coming off my stumpy FSR..which I loved at the time..I noticed immediately the great handling of the Tracer. Climbs great(sticks firmly to the ground with the VPP) Descends like a beast and challenges me to push faster despite my age. Hits the small, bumpy flats like you're gliding, corners awesome. Everything u want in a bike including pride of american ownership. The difference in energy efficiencies even after a short hr ride due to the bike's design and craftmanship is amazing.
The best thing I can say is that everytime I ride this bike I grin ear to ear.. for how awesome the bike is..and how awesome my wife is!! Luv u Em!!
Similar Products Used: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, Santa Cruz SuperLite, GT I-Drive 3.0, Mongoose IBOC
Bike Setup: CRC Limited Blue Edition Blue-XT build kit 6" Travel setup,Specialized Command Post, Fox 32 Talas 150 Fit Fork, Fox RP23BV shock. Weight: 29.5 lbs
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: May 23, 2010
Strengths: Beautiful to look at. My favorite bike to stare at in my garage. The idea of grease ports to keep the VPP pivot noises at bay.
Weaknesses: Extremely flexy rear triangle. Chain rub in small ring using Truvative cranks. Grease ports very difficult to actually use.
I want to love this bike. It looks great in flat black (with most stickers removed). Intense has a storied name and it is locally made. I found Intense's support via email to be good. However, the lateral flex in the rear triangle feels weird out of some corners and when landing small off-camber drops. It also causes noises in the rear dropouts unless the skewer is super tight. Grab the rear tire of a Tracer and rock it back and forth firmly and watch the chain stays wiggle. I’ve checked countless bikes and this is the most flex I’ve ever found. A related problem is the tire rub (on the seat stays) when climbing out of the saddle in the smallest ring and 2.3 tires. I've noticed this with two different tires. In the long travel mode, the tire also rubs the front of the rear triangle when you go down significant drops (bottoms on the frame). I never use the LT mode because of this, which is a bummer. Then there is the annoying rub on the stock pivot bolts when using Truvative cranks and the small chain ring. Intense sent me new (shorter) pivot bolts to fix this, but then you lose the lock rings on the bolts. I’d hate to have a bolt back out on me during a ride, and I’m guessing they put those stock lock rings on for good reason. The grease ports have been a big frustration for me - I only get grease in the fame 1 out of 6 tries. Instead, it usually oozes around the port. Probably user error, but I'm not that inept... it should be easier than this. I enjoy the bike despite all these problems, but I'm disappointed that Intense didn't solve these little details on what might be their best selling frame. With just a little more R&D this could have been my favorite trail bike to date.
Similar Products Used: Ventana El Saltamontes w/ 6" rocker (AM/Enduro setup)
Bike Setup: Fox 36, Industry ( N'duro wheels, 6" rear susp, Felt Revox 1.5/90x0 stem, Edge carbon rise bar, Thomson Masterpiece Setback seatpost, Fizk Tundra carbon saddle, Avid Elixir CR Mag 203/185 brakeset, RaceFace/XTR/Sram X0 transmission, Crank Bros. Acid 3 pedals, Nokon cables, King 1.5 sottovoce headset
a Cross Country Rider
from Portland, OR
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2010
Strengths: great riding bike before frame failure
Weaknesses: Frame failure inevitable, Terrible customer service from Intense. Crappy warranty person (Chad). Hope you like spending a lot for total disappointment.
I spent a lot of money to not be riding. Warranty dept. dishonest about avialability of replacement rear-triangle. They admit their frames are defective and are totally remorseless, misleading and incompetent. If you have a Tracer VP, make sure it breaks before warranty is up, and buy another bike so that you can sell the Tracer to some sucker when, and if you ever get a replacement.
Has anyone tried running offset shock bushings on the Tracer Vp? Looks like a cheap way to lower the BB and slacken HA. If so, are there any issues with frame/tyre clearances etc?
DanRead More »
Hi all. I got bored and since I couldn't afford a new 275 this year, I thought I'd freshen up my Tracer VP with a new shock. After getting dimensions from Cane Creek (they sent me the drawing for the shock with all the dimensions on it - very nice!) and doing what I thought were enough measurement ... Read More »
I was wondering if anyone is interested in a 2009 Tracer VP size Large in works red with a Manitou Evlover ISX-6 rear shock? Has ISCG mounts.
Comes with Cane Creek Double XC Flush headset and Intense seat collar.
Bike has been ridden about 4 times with less than 100 miles on it total. I bough ... Read More »
I have a Tracer VP 2010 with a Fox 36 Talas and the Fox RP23 shock.
At the moment I am considering to upgrade the suspension on this bike. As for the rear I would go CC Double Barrel Air and in the front I thought about Bos Deville. Regarding the fork would you go 160mm or 170mm and do you prefer t ... Read More »