And had an absolute BLAST! My current bike is a '11 Titus El Guapo and have been riding that for the last few years but am getting the itch to try new things. Intense's USA made frames always intrigued me and am looking to try a different suspension design. I am weird and count out other brands for various reasons so the VPP Spider got my attention and is the only bike that is up for demo around me (which is weird).
Anyway..this was my first time trying 27.5 and 1X drive train. I took it out on a trail that i ride the most but is certainly not the most fun or my favorite type of trail for riding...just one that i know well so I could read the bike the best. Mostly hard packed with small rocky sections here and there. I am a DHer at heart and trail ride until the snow melts, so local trails aren't my "passion" per se.
Fit was great on a large for me at just a hair under 6'. The geo had me worried as the bike is .5" longer in the TT and had a 20mm longer stem but just felt good. My current bike has 38/26 front and 11/36 rear so the 32 front and 10/42 had me worried but worked great. I only had a couple times that I had wished for just a bit more help on the steeps but managed fine. The 32mm fork also concerned me as I am 235lbs but it held it's own well but not the fork that I would choose for my build. Sag set in front at 25% and 35% in rear and had no issues. This was the second ride this bike had seen so suspension may have been on the harsher side but wasn't too noticeable. Sram drive train was great and snappy...KS seatpost worked great and reminded me that mine was defective. Breaks solid...bars and stem fine. The wheels were nice and really liked the sound of the Stans hubs as they weren't obnoxious but still satisfied my want for buzzing rear hub...not my Hadley's but nothing else is. The Ardents were great for low rolling resistance but would have preferred a slightly larger tire with more bite.
I normally do a 11 mile loop and call it good but on this glorious day I did nearly 17 miles...which is a big deal because i am not in great shape. The ride up to my normal turn around spot was about the same time it takes me on my other bike but it felt a lot faster for some reason. I figured it was because I was having so much fun. I am not the type who can explain how my rebound was ramping or pedal feedback is bad or the rotary gerdder is all bound up. I am a hey lets ride the thing fully open and GET IT....and that is about what I did..fully open fork with a few clicks of rebound and few clicks of compression on the shock and went.
Pedaling up the fire road in I instantly noticed a huge difference. Fully opened the bike barley bobbed and in pedal mode microscopically moved and in lock out no movement. So I ended up riding it fully open and never touched it again. I often found myself climbing up sections where there were some rocky areas to hit them over and over again. The bike felt great and climbed up with spirit. It had a slighly tougher time getting up the technical sections but covered it up with the amount of speed I was able to approach them with. The rear bite wasn't as good as my El Guapo but wasn't hindering me much. The bike is fun and poppy that i would pop of small rocks and mounds at will. It felt so agile and light under me that twice on some very small humps i soared far and high that it scared me....but landed em fine.
Decending on this bike was a blast....getting behind the seat for the descent was so much easier and just felt right. Coming from a DH bike and my El Guapo with Vivid Air shock I am used to pretty much plowing through at speed without a care like a teenager on their fist day with a licence. The bike took all I gave it and didn't flinch. The caveat is that it didn't eat the trail like my other bikes but made me fine tune my lines a bit more. Not a bad thing just different...to me at least. I hit a long rutty rocky decent at speed and never felt in the danger zone just more aware of where I was going. It gave the trail a new life and made me do things I had never tried before.
I honestly was looking at getting a Tracer 275 but demo'd this because it was available and walked away very pleased. I am 6' about 235lbs and ride pretty rough and lazy and the Spider handled my horrible skills very well. It isn't a AM slayer and it shows on the downs as documented in every "pro" review but that isn't what it is aimed at. I also think it is unfair to down the bike for this reason as it is an aggressive trail bike with 30mm less travel than an AM bike. The suspension is less plush but I appreciated it when climbing...so to me the trade off works. I believe anything can be ridden anywhere but you must adjust your riding....80mm 29er HT on double blacks on first trip....check (broken at the end of the day no less). I have taken my El Guapo to the DH park and hit double blacks several times and did fine but not sure I would take the Spider on the same runs.
What I would change/gripes....I would run my 34mm stanchion Manitou Mattoc down to 140mm and probably another shock to try and get a little more tuning. I would also run slightly bigger tires with a little more bite. I did hit my the seat stays occasionally but I wore mid tops not tightly laced so that could have been a small issue although never notice it on my current bike. Also minor but bugged me..all the labels are stickers. I could be that it is a flat color and there isn't a clear coat to spray on and protect them but it bothered me a bit...the top tube one was a tiny bit crooked. Other than that I really like everything else. I am not fully committed to purchasing a new bike but this has made it hard to not pull out my credit card.
I am not a great reviewer or know exactly how to write so anyone can understand but wanted to share my experience on a bike that gave me the most fun I had ever had on a non DH bike.....i did 6 extra miles and that is a big deal for me. Thanks for reading!
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