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  1. #1
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    Tracer Initial Impressions

    I have seven rides on the new Tracer so I feel I have enough saddle time to give a meaningful review. I am going to review it as a juxtaposition to the 6.6 since that is the previous bike I rode. Both bikes had 545mm axel to crown forks with standard headsets (36 Talas on Tracer and 2-step Lyrik on 6.6). Tires are the same (Excavator front, Nevegal rear). Other parts are different which may account for some of the differences in feel I am about to explain but I can't isolate those impacts.

    I ride front-range Colorado. I am six one 195lb or so with gear.

    Climbing
    The Tracer climbs better than the 6.6 for two main reasons. 1) The Tracer has no perceivable pedal feedback in the granny ring. This was not the case with the 6.6. The 6.6 would occassionally buck and stall when cranking hard in the granny over square edged hits. The Tracer absorbs these hits MUCH better without that stalling sensation yet still seems to maintain the platform to keep the suspension from bobbing. The VPP2 lived up to the hype and feels more active under power. The new VPP also feels like it sits higher in its travel and doesn't wallow in the mid-stroke like my 6.6 but this also probably has a lot to do with the DHX-A on my old bike and rp23 on my new one. 2) The Tracer feels lower than the 6.6 which makes it more stable when climbing technical obstacles. The only downside to this is I have to be a bit more vigilant to avoid pedal strikes on the Tracer. I think this is a good tradeoff.

    Descending
    This is going to be more difficult to describe than climbing but I will state this, I am faster down the hill on my Tracer and more importantly have a bigger smile on my face. The 6.6 gave a more numb / plush feel on the rear suspension and sucked up everything and anything. This was great for plowing through rock gardens but took away some of that playful feeling in the bike. The Tracer on the other hand (I ride it in six inch mode) plows through the same rock gardens with the same aplomb it just is that you can jump off rocks and feel the ground under you better than the 6.6 which I like and makes for a more playful bike and more conducive to jumping off everything and anything IMHO. I say its akin to a driving a caddy (6.6) vs a bmw (tracer). Both great cars but one isolates you more from the road feedback. Stability on rough / rocky downhill is close with a slight edge to the 6.6 (not meaningful difference) but cornering on the Tracer is significantly better which is a meaningful difference. I found myself occasionally fighting my 6.6 to get it to rip curves (under 67 degree H/A with my 6.6 setup) whereas the Tracer I can place it where I want it much better and this thing absolutely rails high-speed corners irrespective of if they are smooth or rock filled. One of my buddies was commenting about the ridiculous rooster tails I will kicking up in the corners drifting the bike around them. The corner / handling of the Tracer is the attribute that I have been most impressed with. I think the lower bottom bracket and significant improvement in lateral stiffness have a lot to do with this trait. Also, this is true of the 6.6 and Tracer, I love how easy they are to manual going down the hill. I think this is a function of the shorter chainstays on Intense bikes in general.

    Improvements
    The main thing I would change if I were designing the bike would be to have the rear be adjustable from 5.5 to 6.3 inches to perfectly match the two fork options on this bike. I really can't tell the difference between my 36 and the rear but it sounds good to have the front and rear in parity. I would also like a 2.5 inch stroke shock if it was at 6.3 inches vs 2.25 to put less stress on the air shock improving downhill performance on extended downhills. I am no suspension expert so my last comment may be unfounded. Just my very picky wish list. Also, ship the bike with a flush bolt on lower rear swing link, don't make it a special request swap.

    Summary
    Very glad I got the bike, and could not be happier. Also, IF you like slacker bikes go with the standard headset like I did (I have the King 1.5). It did not degrade the handling and makes it a bomber on steep, rocky trails.
    Last edited by smithrider; 11-02-2008 at 09:13 AM.

  2. #2
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    Great write-up. Thanks!
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

  3. #3
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    Nice review... can't wait for mine to arrive ><

  4. #4
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    Great review. How do you like the 36 Fox Talas? and how about your I9 wheels do you like them? I have the 2009 1.5 Fox Talas 36 on my Tracer Vp. For a set of back up wheels I was thinking of going with the I9 Enduro with the DT 5.1 rims. You are spot on about the Fox DHX AIR. I had one on my 2007 SPEC ENDURO ELITE after about 10 rides the shock let go on me aka would not hold air. Plus before that I did not like the way the shock handle.When I called Intense to get info on the Tracer Vp.They-Intense said while testing the bike they preferred the Fox RP23 over the DHX air. from Johnny.G
    Last edited by JohnnyG 1970; 11-03-2008 at 11:40 AM.

  5. #5
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    I now have 10 rides on the Tracer. My Tracer is built almost identical to Smithrider's tracer including fork/ headset combo. Mine weighs in at 30.3lbs. A little heavier than I had hoped but considering the cb jolplin post and Fox 36 talas fork, its not bad at all. It also rides much lighter than it is. I dont think that I could write a review that would be much different from Smithrider's review. Well put! smithrider.... I agree with everything you said. I strongly suggest that a external HS be used if you are a gravity freak and have a travel adjustable fork. I originaly had a CC internal HS and rode the bike twice and decided to go to the external HS.
    I did a ride yesturday that included a 7 mile climb with many steep sections. and then some great dh. Before the climb I switched to the 5.5 mode in the rear and then used the three positions(100, 130, 160mm) on the fork according to the steeepness. The Tracer climbs well in the 6" mode but in the 5.5 mode/ 130mm fork, it was incredible. I owned a 5.5 evp for 2 years, and really enjoyed the bike for it's climbing ability. I then owned a 6.6 for 2.5 years and loved it for the DH ability. The tracer paired with a adjustable travel 160mm fork with external HS, can feel very similar to both bikes. Just like Smithrider, I am most impressed with the cornering ability of this frame. It is a very playful ride. I dont know how it could get much better than the tracer.
    Last edited by Ridnw/bear; 11-03-2008 at 03:28 PM.

  6. #6
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    I had two of the older fox 36 talas with 150mm travel back in the day and hated them and switched to the lyrik. The lyrik killed it in terms of feel. I decided to give fox another go around this time on the Tracer (no clue why) and was pleasently suprised. It is plush, seems to have feel throughout the travel and is light. I am pleased that I went with it! I did the 1.5 as well.

    The I9 are stiffer than my easton havocs and my old king 819's. I also like the engagement. I don't can't comment on the durability as of yet since they are still new.

  7. #7
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    great write up... glad to hear you are happy.

    As a 6.6 owner I'm curious about the VPP2 and the lower bracket, your results confirmed what I expected.

    Pity you can't compare your 6.6 with out the DHX air.
    That shock was just junk on the 6.6 and I'm sure it tainted your whole 6.6 ride experience.
    I remember the mid range wallow and the descending deadness feel of the DHX air and it sucked. The new tracer must feel positively zippy compared to that.
    Intense 6.6..... Demo 9.

    Mammoth MTN downhilling - check it out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb_m_pb0Ns0

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by matthew
    Pity you can't compare your 6.6 with out the DHX air.
    Great review smithrider. Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts so far. I pretty much agree with your assessement and comparo to the 6.6. I'd have to agree with matthew on the DHX air, though.

    Being a 6.6 owner with a coil Roco TST and having ridden the Tracer VP, I can say that my 6.6 descends better than the Tracer with the RP3..... at least on chunky and super chunky stuff. Kinda like you said.... more Baja Trophy truck... less M5. I would also agree with you on the Tracer feeling more light, flickable, and, "playful" which is great on smoother trails but I felt it was left wanting on the gnarlier stuff. The Tracer does have a lot of range as far as different kinds of trails it does well on. I'll give it that.

    I also agree on its mad climbing and cornering prowess and lack of pedal kickback. Pretty amazing really.

    Like I said in my I-bike review though... it doesn't quite match up to the 6.6 in the really rocky, steep, techy stuff. Maybe with a different fork and shock cause I know Nigel Page seemed pretty impressed with its downhill ability...

    I would love to give it another try with a CCDB out back and a Lyric or Van36 up front cause as much as I love my new Delirium T... I still harbor notions of the mythical "one bike".
    Last edited by KRob; 11-03-2008 at 04:26 PM.

  9. #9
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    Can't wait for the longer travel Tracer

    I appreciate the review, and really liked KRob's review initially. I test rode the Tracer for a few hours, and felt it was really close to the 5.5, and nowhere near the 6.6 in feel.

    We may be spoiled, but I don't even think the 5.5 to 6" bikes even cut it anymore... I love the 6.6 height, capability, and really look forward to the new Uzzi. Anyone else agree?

    BTW, what happened to the Tracer weighing only 6.2 or 6.3 lbs?? The builds showing up so far weigh as much or more than the 6.6 builds (mine weighs under 29 lbs with the Fox 36)?

    To me, living in the NW with very gnarly, rooty, rocky terrain, lots of jumps to find, and the birthplace of freeride next door, a Tracer just doesn't quite cut it. Don't think I'd show up at Whistler with a Tracer, and have been able to do Whistler several times on the 6.6 and it's perfect.

    Anyway, I think Intense is onto something, but they can't give up on the over 6" crowd and ignore the SC Nomad, Foes, and Pivot bikes that are being sought after.

  10. #10
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    ^^ luckily there is a new UZZI coming out. Have you seen the prototype specs? I think it's like 6.5 -7.75" adjustable travel with the newer VPP2 linkage. Sounds like the model you are looking for

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    We may be spoiled, but I don't even think the 5.5 to 6" bikes even cut it anymore... Anyone else agree?
    I disagree. I hear what you are saying and my interpretation is that you are chasing the do-all bike. Personally, I like having a trail bike for pedaling everything - 6" is money in my opinion (for my riding style). For lifts, I like 8"+ with a dual crown. That's just me. I think its just more fun having bikes that excel at their intended application, as opposed to a bike that suffices everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    Anyway, I think Intense is onto something, but they can't give up on the over 6" crowd and ignore the SC Nomad, Foes, and Pivot bikes that are being sought after.
    I don't think they are giving up. Watch the latter half of this video and I think you will see your do-all rig.


  12. #12
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    Yep, looks good

    Quote Originally Posted by GLIDE
    I disagree. I hear what you are saying and my interpretation is that you are chasing the do-all bike. Personally, I like having a trail bike for pedaling everything - 6" is money in my opinion (for my riding style). For lifts, I like 8"+ with a dual crown. That's just me. I think its just more fun having bikes that excel at their intended application, as opposed to a bike that suffices everywhere.



    I don't think they are giving up. Watch the latter half of this video and I think you will see your do-all rig.

    Thanks for the video, that along with the announcement thread by Intense has me leaning towards the Uzzi, which looks like it will have all the sweet new traits of the Tracer, just in a beefier package...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    To me, living in the NW with very gnarly, rooty, rocky terrain, lots of jumps to find, and the birthplace of freeride next door, a Tracer just doesn't quite cut it.
    I am kind of with you, but being in the NW myself and seen the trails I am always surprised when I show up on group rides with the big bike and get a lot of sh!t from the guys on their 29"-rigid-singlespeed-crossbike-with-mustache-bars-fixie-retro-bikes. But guess who laughs last as soon as we hit the trails

    No experience with the Tracer, but on most trails here the 5.5 is a pretty capable bike if build right. Not as fast as the Uzzi, but you can ride 99% of the terrain. It is not a bikepark bike though. So I can't imagine the Tracer being that bad. Just that low link worries me. What happens when you cross logs or rocks and need to use your bash guard.....
    But we will see, my LBS will soon have demos.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    BTW, what happened to the Tracer weighing only 6.2 or 6.3 lbs??
    I just got a works large in today. It was 6.98lbs on the scale. I'll have it built up tomorrow and should have some more ride impressions shortly. I'm setting it up as a 5.5incher. For what it's worth, all of the parts are coming directly from my Turner 5 Spot, which was about 28.5 lbs with a 6.5lb-ish frame.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    I test rode the Tracer for a few hours, and felt it was really close to the 5.5, and nowhere near the 6.6 in feel....To me, living in the NW with very gnarly, rooty, rocky terrain, lots of jumps to find, and the birthplace of freeride next door, a Tracer just doesn't quite cut it. Don't think I'd show up at Whistler with a Tracer, and have been able to do Whistler several times on the 6.6 and it's perfect.
    I agree. The tracer, even in 6" mode felt more akin to the 5 Spot and 5.5 than the RFX or 6.6.

    Quote Originally Posted by king2005
    We may be spoiled, but I don't even think the 5.5 to 6" bikes even cut it anymore... I love the 6.6 height, capability, and really look forward to the new Uzzi. Anyone else agree?
    Yes. After riding and falling for the Delirium T, I realized I really wanted a bigger, more capable bike for downhills, drops, and park days.... that was also passable as an all day trail bike.....not a trail bike that was also passable as a downhill/park bike. The new UZZI looks very interesting indeed.... espcially if the weight is around 7.75-8lbs. I wish the travel adjust was bigger.... like 6.5 to 7.5".

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    The new UZZI looks very interesting indeed.... espcially if the weight is around 7.75-8lbs. I wish the travel adjust was bigger.... like 6.5 to 7.5".
    The larger the travel range, the greater the leverage ratio in the longer travel setting. I def see why Jeff chose to keep the travel adjust range small, esp for this bike, if it were more you'd actually need different springs if you change travel.

    The new UZZI with an air shock is very interesteing for me. I ride a 6.6 right now and would like that travel amount in a stiffer/slacker layout. If the weight with an RP23 is 7-7.5lbs and the geometry is right, it willl be mine
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