For 2013 Intense Cycles actually has two All Mountain 650b bikes. The Carbine 275 and Tracer 275 both have 5.5 or 6" of travel (adjustable shock mount). The main difference between the two are that the Carbine 275 is made from carbon and the Tracer is aluminum. How was Intense Cycles able to create a carbon fiber 650b so quickly? Jeff Steber, founder of Intense Cycles, discovered that his current carbon model (the Carbine) could easily be upgraded to 650B wheels due to his use of the "G1" interchangeable dropouts. But that was several months ago and the Carbine 275 shown here is fully optimized for 27.5 with proper travel and geometry. Utilizing the well known and well liked VPP suspension design, the Carbine is provides a familiar ride for many. In fact, this is a key point to remember, the 650b platform rides more like a 26er and requires little acclimation period (unlike most 29ers).

In this video, Francis gives us the low down on the Intense Cycles Carbine 275 and how it compares to it's big brother, the Tracer 275.

The frame is made overseas with what Jeff calls, "American design with German engineering." Intense uses the German firm, SEED Engineering to create his carbon frames. The Carbine 275 has the shortest wheelbase of all the bikes we tested, but oddly has the highest bottom bracket. However, we are quick to note that it did not feel overly tall or tippy. In fact, with it's lighter weight over it's brother, the Tracer 275, the Carbine 275 was the best climbing bike in our group.

However, that excellence at climbing did not come at the expense of it's downhill handling or fun. In fact, even though the Carbine is shorter, taller and slacker than the Tracer they both handled very similar and the carbon frame provided a very similar ride quality as the aluminum Tracer. The VPP design allowed the Carbine to really corner well, especially when proper loaded. The Carbine is super stiff, agile and is confidence inspiring for those jumps and drops that you've been working up towards.

Although the Carbine and the Tracer are very similar, they are different in 3 key ways beyond just frame material. The Carbine is slacker, taller and shorter than the Tracer and it is evident that they came from different molds. How do those differences affect the ride quality? Even though both are great climbers, the Carbine is even more so. One main problem we had with the Tracer 275 was the lack of tire clearance on the rear. On the Carbine, that concern is gone, since the cross brace on the upper swingarm is gone. Did this make the rear feel noodley or loose? Not at all.

With a real world weight of 28.82, the Intense Carbine 275 was the lightest bike in our comparison.

Spec'd with the Novatec wheels and Kenda Nevegals is ok. But we think this ride will rock with light All Mountain wheels and Schwalbe tires. We miss the internal dropper post cable routing present in the Tracer 275.

The Intense Carbine 275 comes in 3 sizes (SM, MD, LG) and 3 awesome colors (Flo-Green, Naked Carbon and of course, Intense Red). The frame costs $2799 and the complete bike with mostly XT build is $5549.

The only downsides we had with the Carbine were minor. The Carbine is the most expensive bike in our test group, but carbon bikes are never cheap. The Carbine lacks the slick internal cable routing for the Rock Shox Stealth dropper post, but we will gladly give that up for the gain of being able to run larger tires.

  • Carbon lightness, carbon stiffness
  • Solid and stable handling, even in the air
  • Good tire clearance
  • Most expensive bike in our comparison
  • No internal cable routing for Reverb Stealth dropper post (like the Tracer 275)
  • Odd geometry with high BB of 13.7 inches

We were kind of shocked that Intense had a carbon bike this quick. Usually, carbon at least a year to produce from design to production. But digging deeper, we see that this frame is more of an adaptation of a 26er design. That's why the geometry is slightly different from its brother the 275. But the only real nit on the geometry numbers is the 13.7 bb height.

But that being said, we rode it and rode it well. It climbed good we were able to rock the descents and do rock gardens and drops that have given us trouble over the years. When it was time to climb, this bike was game too. We applaud this bike and Intense for going 'all in' on this wheel platform in such a short time frame.

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650b/27.5 All Mountain Bike Round Up »
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