The Lowdown: 2015 Intense Tracer 275 Alloy Foundation

Never before have we seen the kind of performance and panache that comes from an Intense for so little scratch. We're not saying $3,000 is chump change, but that the Tracer 275 Alloy delivers high-end performance on a made-in-the-USA chassis with a smart parts mix is more than remarkable--it's valuable. No, it's not the lightest horse in the stable, and no, you'll not get of-the-moment suspension designs, 1x drivetrains, or carbon anything. But the capable all-mountain shred machine only needs a dropper post to unleash the beast within. True, some of those nice-to-have upgrades will boost the 275's performance, but the truth is you'll already be living on the far right side of the fun meter.

Intended Use: All-mountain, trailWheel Size: 27.5-inches
Travel: 140-160 rear; 160 frontWheelset: Instense/Sun
Weight: 32 pounds (size L)Frame Material: Alloy
Drivetrain: Shimano SLXMSRP: $2,995
Suspension: X-FusionRating:
4 Flamin' Chili Peppers
4 Chilies-out-of-5
Stat Box
In the same league: Santa Cruz Bronson R, Transition Patrol 3, Giant Reign 27.5 2, Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Evo 650b, Trek Slash 7 27.5


Pluses

Minuses
  • Frame made in the USA
  • No dropper post
  • Awesome all-mountain performance
  • 32-pounds ain't light
  • Solid Shimano component spec
  • Love it or hate it graphics
  • Excellent X-Fusion suspension
  • Narrow bars
  • Many color options

Full Review: 2015 Intense Tracer 275 Alloy Foundation

Sporting a Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension that adjusts from 140-160mm of travel, a low, slack geometry, 27.5-inch wheels and a hard-working, blue collar selection of components, Intense's intent with the new Tracer 275 Alloy Foundation is clear--bring some of the magic and performance from its geometrically identical high-end carbon brother--the Tracer T275C--to the relative masses for about a third of the price. As if that weren't audacious enough, Intense is bringing said all-mountain contraption of amazement to market for $3,000, and building its frame in their Temecula, Calif. factory.

All Intense alloy frames--including the Tracer275-- are built in their Temecula, Calif. factory. Photo courtesy of Intense

All Intense alloy frames--including the Tracer275-- are built in their Temecula, Calif. factory. Photo courtesy of Intense​

BORN IN THE USA - Not only is the Tracer 275 Alloy's frame made in Intense's Temecula, Calif. factory, the company gets plating and powder coating done locally. Their boxes are even made down the street, both putting money into the local economy and saving on production and shipping costs.

The Chassis

For several years now, Intense has licensed the VPP suspension design from Santa Cruz, who've continued to refine its execution. Though Intense's current interpretation feels more active under pedaling than that of Santa Cruz, it's none-the-less efficient-feeling, particularly with a sit-and-spin pedaling style. While that may sound limiting, it's perfectly appropriate for this bike--the 275 is made for rough, all-mountain trail epics, not XC racing.

On the climbs, the 275 performs admirably, despite its 32-pound curb weight. We found its front end relatively easy to keep on task likely due to its mid-slack 66.5-degree head angle and easy-to-spin 2x gearing. The VPP rear suspension--which we ran in the full 160mm-travel position for the duration of our test--had a way of helping the bike claw up rough stuff and make you forget the about bike's weight.

However, climbing is a means to an end on the 275, and that end is where the descent--and the fun--begins on this bike. Not only does the Tracer love to attack the gnar with its long legs and easy-rolling 27.5-inch wheels, it has a certain hard-to-quantify playfulness that begs to be aired and pitched. On both drops and jumps the bike is balanced and easy to pop--and if you do get it wrong, mid-air corrections feel easy and natural.

For a bike of its burly pedigree, the 275 climbs pretty well.

For a bike of its burly pedigree, the 275 climbs pretty well.​

Parts Mix

Often when manufacturers are looking to cut costs on a bike build, suspension parts end up in the crosshairs. And while we've come to expect compromised performance from low-cost suspension parts, we were pleasantly surprised by X-Fusion's 160mm-travel RL2 fork and and 02 RL Air rear shock. While they don't have multitude of adjustments of higher-end models, their base tunes seem well-suited to the 275, and they both feature rebound damping and a lockout--simple and effective. And in our opinion, quite a bit better than the comparably-priced models from their better-known competitors.

On the trail, they set up easy, felt well-balanced front-to-back and gave the bike a premium feel. The RL2's 34mm stanchions held the front wheel steady under heavy side loads, and seemed unfazed by dry and dusty, or rainy and mucky conditions.

While we used the suspension lockouts on extended climbs, it was primarily to eek out a little more efficiency to counter the bike's weight than for outright performance. If we upgraded to, say, a lighter pair of wheels, we'd probably never touch the levers.

We've yet to be disappointed by Shimano's SLX groupset, and like on other similarly-spec'd bikes we found them to perform on-par with their twice-as-expensive XT brethren. Even the sub-SLX Shimano BL 506 brakes felt great, providing stopping power and control way beyond their price point.

Wheels were acceptable if nothing special--Intense-branded hubs laced to Sun Inferno 27 rims via DT Swiss Champion spokes. Likewise, the bike's wire-bead Maxxis Ardent tires were heavy but functional.

What we'd change

Our biggest complaint about this bike is in the cockpit. First off, it comes with a rigid, Intense-branded seatpost instead of a dropper. Since the latter is a prerequisite on a bike of this ilk, plan on dropping another $300 extra or so to add one. We installed a first-generation Specialized Command Post we had in the parts shed, and the bike came alive, despite the somewhat outdated post. The ability to get the saddle down-and-out at will simply elevates the Tracer 275 to a new level.

Our second complaint--the handlebars. At 740mm, they're at least 40mm too narrow, and though we didn't swap them out, experience tells us wider bars would make this an even better steed.

Continue to Page 2 for videos, photos, full specs, options and details. »



rider Chris Kavorik puts the carbon version of the Tracer 275 through it's paces in this promo video. Both the carbon and aluminum versions of the bike have identical geometries.

Intense Tracer 275 Alloy Geometry

Intense Tracer 275 Foundation Specs

2015 Intense Tracer 275 Line Overview

INTENSE TRACER 275 ALLOYINTENSE TRACER 275 CARBON
Intense Tracer 275A Foundation: $3,000 (tested)Intense Tracer 275C Expert: $5,999
Intense Tracer 275A Expert: $5,650Intense Tracer 275C Pro: $6,599
Intense Tracer 275A Pro: $5,999Intense Tracer 275C Factory: $9,999
Frame-only: N/AFrame-only: $3,199

Flat Black

Flat Black​

Neon Green

Neon Green​

Flo Orange

Flo Orange​

Works Raw

Works Raw​

Intense Red

Intense Red​

For more information visit intensecycles.com.