upgrading from original Tracer, few Q's
I have an original Tracer (1998 or 99?) that I was considering upgrading from. Its the frame with the Horst link and Fox float air shock. I'm just getting back into mtbing after being away from the sport for a while. The Tracer still rides fine for all the XC riding I do. Should I even consider upgrading? Is Intense still as good as it was when they first started making bikes? How are the current Intense bikes different? Can I put a new shock on the Tracer or modify the frame to fit 650b wheels? Is there a link someplace that goes over all the Intense frames over the years?
I bought my first Tracer back in about 1999/2000 and that bike truly was a classic, I've since had 2 more and various other Intenses too. I just couldn't stop missing the bike as soon as I'd let one go to its new owner, I should have never sold my original which was anodised grey and rode like a dream.
Frames have come a long way nowadays the new Tracer (I was the guy that won the name the new bike competition when intense were ready to launch it!) is a much burlier bike designed to be built how you intend riding it, much like the original. You'll find an improved and much more efficient suspension platform, a stiffer chassis and something that is a little less XC oriented. That's assuming you go for a new Tracer?
Personally if I were you I'd be looking at the Tracer 275, Carbine 275 or perhaps make the move up to the big wheels on a Spider Comp. I think you'll be pleased. It took me the best part of a decade to find a bike I like as much if not more than my old Tracers, it happens not to be an Intense, it's a Yeti SB95c but I know I'd have been just as pleased on a Tracer or Spider should I have decided to stick with Intense and not try something different to me.
As to whether Intense make an as special a bike as they used to, I'm not sure, certainly to me, their alloy frames feel a bit more special to me as they are still made by hand by the guys in the US, this was a big factor in my personal decision over my last bike, I figured if I was buying another intense it would have to be a "real" one made by Rick the Welder et al. BUT even comparing the new bikes to the old Tracers, the old guys have something that the new ones can't quite match in my own personal opinion.
So in short, yes I think you should buy a new frame, bikes have come on massively since the Tracer FSR was new and you'll be amazed how your riding will change, but please make sure you keep that old piece of art you have and mount it on the wall of your garage/shed/den!
Thanks for the review!
I also had one of the original Uzzi DH frames custom painted Kawasaki green that I got around '97. I sold it to get the Tracer. That was an awesome AM bike before there was anything considered AM. It was a bit heavy especially with climbing but descending was a blast. Just point straight and lay off the brakes. I think I'd like to find something in between the Uzzi and the Tracer in terms of handling and weight.
In that case the new Tracer should be just the ticket for you, especially with the mid size wheels, although before you do, try 29" as I personally think there is a much greater difference in performance over both wheel sizes than 27.5" offers over 26".
I used to list after the Kawasaki green Uzzis!
This all reminds me of when I was trying to decided whether or not, as a student fresher at uni to spend my student loan on a new frame or not, the then UK importer of Intense actually gave me the telephone number of Nigel Page who was then one of Intenses World Cup downhillers and is now the team manager or Chain Reaction Cycles WC Team. I nervously called Nigel and introduced myself, he couldn't be happier than to talk Intense to me and waxed lyrical on how much he loved his Tracer, obviously I was sold!
Presently I have 2 "old" Tracers and a 2012 Spider2 of the 26" variety
In My humbled opinion the newer bike Does not handle as well as the old tracer. The rear suspension of the spider is good, but (for me) I find that if I am riding the big ring the back end has a tandancy to hop when hammering over Logs and roots when I am out of the saddle. The "old" tracer does not display this characteristic (even with the RP23 shock). I find that If I spin more with the Spider it rides well.
My main tracer is set up with a Fox RP23 shock (2011) and a float fork (100mm open bath 2010) XTR M970/975 components with stans ZTRs laced to Hope hubs. It weighs in at around 24lbs
It has been up dated numerous times. I would not trade this bike for anything as it is perfect! Turns on a dime and the suspension is the perfect balance of Plushness and bob. Carves corners like nobodies business, but rails corners like its on tracks. Incredibly stable on rough decsents and is very predictable in the air. This bike is easy to go fast on.
The Spider has a fox float cartridge fork (120mm) with a float shock with xtr m970/975 componants with cane creek wheels. This bike I have to work harder to go as fast as I do on the tracer. The back end hops (much like the yamahop of days gone by) and the handling is a bit quirky. It feels tall in turns, but the bike Knifes (over steers) in turns. It almost feels as if I am pulling a trailer around turns at times. Like the bike is in 2 pieces. The Stability is questionable and it is twitchy when the bike is in the air. But it is very "Flickable"
In the end both bikes Get the Job done. The quality is unparalleled. Attn to detail is awesome (Brake line bosses, Machined links with enclosed bearings) and quality materials are used......... which is all backed by excellent customer support.
Though MY prefernce is my old bike
I agree with Spartacus that I preferred the way the old Tracer's suspension action worked over VPP, VPP has some weird traits that I don't personally get on with very well.
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