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  1. #1
    CTB
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    My first non-Schwinn since '98...

    Yep, like the title says, after all these years I've gotten something that isn't a 98-01 Schwinn.



    My rationalization is that this bike is handmade in the US from Easton tubing, so it's the Schwinn that Schwinn doesn't make anymore. It's a 2009 Intense Tracer VP Limited Edition. And don't worry - the pedals you see were just what I had laying around the garage when I got the bike delivered, and I wanted to try it out. Since then, there are some changes from what you see.

    Anyway, I know this is a Schwinn forum; however, I thought maybe you guys might be curious how it compares to my 4-Banger that you're familiar with. If there's interest, I'll write something up. In many ways, there's more similar than you might think.

  2. #2
    --Raleigh--
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    That is an awesome bike man. im jealous
    2011 Raleigh Talus 29 sport Commuter Mode
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  3. #3
    smell my finger
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    Nice Color, needs a little more metal flake, though.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTB View Post
    Yep, like the title says, after all these years I've gotten something that isn't a 98-01 Schwinn.
    Get the **** out.







    However, I'd still like to know how it compares to the 4 Banger.

  5. #5
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    I'd like to see a review - especially w/ some comaprisons.
    I was gonna stop by and see you, but the Jehovas witnesses came by. When they left I started drinking. Voicemail from Paul

  6. #6
    CTB
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    Joe, ha, I like that! Unfortunately, none of the paint options from Intense are bass boat. That'd be cool. This blue is nearly a dead ringer for my 98 Moab 2 Aluminum, which has always been my favorite color bike of any I've had or seen.

    B-Mech: There's the reaction I expected.

    I've been hopping lately (and riding!), but I'll put something together. I'm still playing with settings on the rear suspension, but I've got a good idea of how the bike performs. We've had a great year for riding so far this year due to the crazy warm temps we had early on.

  7. #7
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    Don't forget the VPP suspension is very sensitive to sag. If you don't already know the recommend amount, I'd recommend calling Intense and finding out.

  8. #8
    CTB
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    B-M, I'm running the recommended 25-30% (14-17mm at the shock). Still playing around with it.

  9. #9
    CTB
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    Ok, so now for the very long review. Sorry it's so long, but I'm a former vehicle development engineer, so I tend to blather on about ride dynamics, etc.

    As you guys know, I'm a huge supporter of the ol' 4-Banger in all forms. This comparison won't really be 100% fair, as I'm comparing a 14-yr old bike with something new, but I've found the 4-Banger to be very close to many modern bikes in spite of its age in the past, especially with the mods I've done to mine. I think you guys are familiar with the build of my Banger, but if not, I can post something.

    So here's the Tracer build, which is different from what you see in the picture above (naturally I've made changes).

    2009 Tracer VP frame, size M. The limited edition was purely cosmetic - the frame is the same as the non-CRC Blue ones, just different colors. Frame has 5.5 or 6.0" of travel, depending on which attachment point used on the shock link.
    2010 Fox Talas RC2 36mm 160/130/100 fork with 20mm thru-axle, 1.5" to 1-1/8" tapered steer tube (one of the biggest reasons this isn't a totally fair comparison!)
    2010 Fox RP23 shock with Boost Valve, 200x57, high-volume can
    Cane Creek XX headset
    Shimano Saint rear D
    Shimano XT front D
    Shimano XTR M970 24/32/44 crankset with Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 pedals
    Shimano XT 11-34 cassette, 9-speed
    Shimano "XTR" chain (I forget what the real model number is, but it's the high series – came with the bike!)
    Thomson 90mm stem, 31.8 clamp, 10-deg rise
    Bontrager Big Sweep flat bar
    Thomson 31.6 seat post
    Easton Haven rear wheel with Conti RaceKing Supersonic 2.2 tire, tubeless
    Specialized Roval front wheel with Conti Mountain King (1st gen) Supersonic 2.4 front tire, tubeless
    2011 Avid Elixir CR brakes
    Avid 185mm Clean Sweep XX front rotor, blue
    Avid 160mm G3 Clean Sweep rotor, rear
    Shimano XT shifters – I think current or 2011 or so.
    Ergon GC3-S Biokork grips
    29.4 lb, as outlined above. My Banger is 27.4 lb.

    The bike came with an SLX 2x9 crank (36/22/bashguard), but that didn’t suit my wimpy legs. The current crank, wheels, and tires all came from my Banger, so that's about as fair as I can make the comparison.

    The extreme short version is this: This bike handles like my old red non-HG Banger did, which is high praise from me. I've never been able to make any of my HG Bangers handle like that one, despite having the "same" geometry and using the same parts to build them up. The different Banger frames do seem to behave differently. The Tracer has that same "load up and spring you out of the turn" feel that my red Banger had. The back end feels like it hunkers down a bit and then launches you out of the turn. I loved that about my red Banger, so it's nice to have that back.

    The fork on this bike is ridiculous. This is the biggest difference I've found – the front of this bike is built like a bridge. It's not entirely fair comparing a 36mm 160-travel Fox with 20mm thru-axle to a 32mm 100-travel Fox with 9mm QR, but I've noticed this same thing before with other bikes. I think the weak spot of the Banger's performance compared to new bikes is the front end. It doesn’t' seem to have the head tube area rigidity of modern bikes, and that results in a slightly trashier ride up there. My buddy has the identical fork (2008 Fox F100R) on his Titus Racer X Carbon, and that same fork feels more plush and solid on his bike. As for the Tracer, well, with that fork I pretty much don't worry about anything. It has high/low speed compression adjust and rebound (I assume low-speed or full-range, since there aren't separate high/low circuits on it), all of which I've used to dial it in nicely. You can seriously run over a minefield with this front end and not have any issues at all.

    The rear is a different story. For either lower speeds or XC riding without a lot of big inputs, I find the Lawwill suspension to be more plush. For example, you're cruising along pedaling and run over a 1.5" root on the Banger, and it goes "plop" and that's it. The Tracer isn't as plush in that situation, never having that nice "flat tire" feeling that a dialed-in Lawwill gives. However, dial up the pace and difficulty and the Tracer comes on strong. Take a rock garden at speed on the Tracer and you don't even need to think about it. My Banger, over the same stuff, begins to feel like you're reaching the limits, mostly because of the front end. The Tracer is knocked for having a rear triangle that "isn't stiff." My various demo rides of other bikes has shown me that the weak spot of the rear of the Banger's Lawwill is that it could use more lateral stiffness. The Tracer may not be stiff enough to please the hardcore guys online, but it seems to be quite a bit stiffer laterally than the Banger.

    The Tracer is also knocked for blowing through the rear travel when equipped with an RP23. In 5.5" mode (I haven't yet tried 6"), I've found this is indeed true. We don’t have that severe of terrain here, but I bottom the bike out even at correct sag, and it lets you know it bottoms. The Banger is better in that regard – with my Fox shock, I have bottomed the Banger, but it's fairly soft when it hits. I've since shimmed the Tracer air canister to reduce the increased volume (detailed in a thread over on the Turner forum) and tried that. I was able to run about 15psi less for proper sag, but I can't say I like the feel better that way. It definitely helped the feel when you bottom it, making it nearly invisible when you do, but I'm not sure I like the feel otherwise. I've got a few more iterations to try, so we'll see. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it doesn't quite live up to the superb front end. I have to admit, the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air has my attention for this bike. I've heard rumors that the tunability of that shock can get you to the flat-tire feel if you work at it. Hmmm…

    The VPP suspension also seems slightly more efficient when climbing. I'm a crappy climber with weak legs, so I can use all the help I can get. So far, the Tracer feels like it climbs "lighter" than the 29.4 lb weight would suggest. I noticed the same thing when I rode my buddy's non-Brain Specialized FSR, so there may be something to this.

    All that said, I love the Tracer. Considering I never rode one before I bought this one, I'm amazed at how well it suits me. (Banger was the same way – I bought my first one without ever riding one, and I instantly loved it. Can't say that about many other bikes I've demoed.) On gnarly downhills, it is fantastic. I thought it would be way too much bike for my area, but honestly, it's totally usable as a XC bike around here, with the added bonus that I never have to slow down on any descents (which is kinda my MO anyway…). I could get some weight out of it (about 2 lb) with a 32mm fork, a sewer-pipe saddle, lighter grips, etc., but all that would make me want to ride it less, not more, so I see no point in it. I was going to size down the fork to a 32mm, but not after using this one. It's saved my butt numerous times, times where I'm pretty sure I would have dumped the Banger.

    Oh, and more (sorry…this is epically long…). I set up my Bangers with long stems (110mm) to get some weight on the front. They seem to be very rear-biased bikes, and for my riding style, I need weight up front or else I wash out. The Tracer is much more front-heavy (that fork is a big part, I'm sure) naturally, so the handing is fine with the 90mm stem I have on there. It came with an 80, and that was fine, too, except I increased the sweep of the handlebars for my wrists. Because of that, I added 10mm to the stem to get my hands back to where they were. I've had several saves on this bike, getting the front back after it slid out, so it seems to be more savable up front than I'm used to. In fact, it seems to do better on the same tire, as the Mountain King used to put me on my face pretty regularly on the Banger.

    Anyway, this is long enough and I'm sure you probably haven't made it this far, though there's more I could say. I wasn't really looking to replace the Banger, but when this bike showed up for a price that was half of what it would cost to build it up (assuming I could find the CRC Blue limited frame), I went for it. I've liked Intense bikes for their styling and US-made aspects for a while now, and it's nice to know that the bike suits me. I visited the factory in 2011, so it's pretty cool that I've seen where it was made. I hope they continue to build nice bikes.

    PS: what I'd really love would be for someone to make a modern 5.5-6.0" travel Lawwill bike. With modern rigidity and the Lawwill ride, that would be something I believe I'd buy.

  10. #10
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    Unless you really use the on-the-fly travel adjust of the Talas, you may want to strongly consider converting it to a Float. It'll be simpler, lighter, more adjustable (it's easy to adjust how progressive a Float is), and is more responsive. Just a thought...

  11. #11
    CTB
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    I do use the on-the-fly travel adjust on steeper climbs, and from what I've read, the long-travel Floats (150mm or more) become flexy, even with a 15mm QR axle (as bourne out by Fox moving to the 34mm chassis for 2013). I'm not sure why I'd want to seriously consider changing it other than 1.2 lb of weight (which is significant, I know, but so is the price of a new fork). This fork works phenomenally well. The money is much better spent on the back. Like I said, I've used every adjustment on it, and they made a substantial difference in behavior. No Float 32's offer the same amount of adjustment. I've heard like-for-like (i.e. 32mm for 32mm), a Float is more supple/responsive than it's equivalent Talas, but this 36mm soaks up everything in its path.

    Believe me, I fully intended to change the fork when I bought the bike. Then I rode it, and that ended that. I've got a new wheel coming with 20mm hub, so I'm committed to this one. Every time I ride it, I'm impressed by how well it works. I've got some weight weenie tendencies, but the performance of this fork overshadows them. I'm planning on taking the bike to some ski slopes and hopefully a nice trip out west to some real trails, so other than a wheel change back to the Crossmax ST's it came with and true UST tires, I wouldn't need to change anything from where it is now.

    The interesting thing to me is that if you really built this thing down using a 150mm 32mm fork, full XTR groupo, light wheels and tires, etc., one could create a 27.x lb version of it, the same weight as my HG Banger as I ride it. That puts it right up against something like a Trek Remedy, a similar-mission bike of the same weight class.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTB View Post
    I do use the on-the-fly travel adjust on steeper climbs, and from what I've read, the long-travel Floats (150mm or more) become flexy, even with a 15mm QR axle (as bourne out by Fox moving to the 34mm chassis for 2013). I'm not sure why I'd want to seriously consider changing it other than 1.2 lb of weight (which is significant, I know, but so is the price of a new fork). This fork works phenomenally well. The money is much better spent on the back. Like I said, I've used every adjustment on it, and they made a substantial difference in behavior. No Float 32's offer the same amount of adjustment. I've heard like-for-like (i.e. 32mm for 32mm), a Float is more supple/responsive than it's equivalent Talas, but this 36mm soaks up everything in its path.

    Believe me, I fully intended to change the fork when I bought the bike. Then I rode it, and that ended that. I've got a new wheel coming with 20mm hub, so I'm committed to this one. Every time I ride it, I'm impressed by how well it works. I've got some weight weenie tendencies, but the performance of this fork overshadows them. I'm planning on taking the bike to some ski slopes and hopefully a nice trip out west to some real trails, so other than a wheel change back to the Crossmax ST's it came with and true UST tires, I wouldn't need to change anything from where it is now.

    The interesting thing to me is that if you really built this thing down using a 150mm 32mm fork, full XTR groupo, light wheels and tires, etc., one could create a 27.x lb version of it, the same weight as my HG Banger as I ride it. That puts it right up against something like a Trek Remedy, a similar-mission bike of the same weight class.
    I don't mean change over to a Float 32. I mean change your Talas 36 into a Float 36. You can do it by installing the Float 36 top cap, air piston assembly, and the cap which goes in the bottom of the stanchion. All the parts together cost about $90 from Fox. Once you're done, you have a Float 36:
    36 160 FLOAT FIT RLC Bike Fork | FOX

  13. #13
    CTB
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    Ah, obviously I totally misunderstood you, B-M! The damper side remains unchanged, right, so I'd have all the same damping adjustments. Hmmm...interesting...

    Oh, B-M - do you have any experience or views about the DRCV forks that Trek has?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTB View Post
    Ah, obviously I totally misunderstood you, B-M! The damper side remains unchanged, right, so I'd have all the same damping adjustments. Hmmm...interesting...

    Oh, B-M - do you have any experience or views about the DRCV forks that Trek has?
    The only thing which changes on the fork is the spring. You don't even need to remove the fork from the bike.

    I don't have any hands on experience with a DRCV fork, but I am familiar with the technology. Personally, I'm not going to use it. I think the Float spring system already works well and is tunable enough that I can make it ride how I want; it's also simple and robust. For me it's not worth putting in more seals, increasing the maintenance, and having more things which can go wrong to possibly extract a little more performance. Again, that's just my personal opinion, and I know there are plenty of people who'd disagree with me on that.

  15. #15
    CTB
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    I finally have an update on the bike, if anyone is interested. Sorry this took so long. On Wednesday, I got to get out for a ride on the latest iteration.

    The story thus far (I'm about 155lb geared-up):

    1. High volume can, 5.5” travel setting, ~120psi for 30% sag – original config as delivered. Typical ride impressions - blew through travel, somewhat harsh on root-type impacts, etc.

    2. Installed air can shim mod as outlined over in the Turner forums (same issue with RP23 for those guys), 5.5” travel setting, ~105psi for 30% sag. Didn’t really help, still bottomed (though much more gently), seemingly more harsh over stutter bumps

    3. Latest: Still have air can shim, 6.0” travel setting, 135psi for 30% sag.

    NOW we’re talking. While I didn't go to my usual "test" trail, the trail I used is a good test of the issues. When I tried this on the street Monday night, I thought, “hey, this seems to feel much better.” Darn if it doesn’t! THIS is the setup. Somehow the rebound got dialed up again (I swear I haven’t done that…I wonder if it walks while I ride), and once I backed it down from max to the middle of the range, the only negative trait I was noticing (a choppy bounce / aftershake after rough sections) went away. NOW it finally surpasses the Banger for plushness on things like one-root impacts, and it still kills on downhill rough stuff and handles like mad. I only bottomed it once, which is a far cry from the other settings, and when it bottomed, I only knew because the tire buzzed a cable. It was still a non-harsh bottom-out. In the original setup, it bottomed quite noticeably.

    The only downside I've noticed is that now it is showing fluid on the shock rod. Must just be dumb luck on the timing because taking off the XV sleeve to install the shim should have nothing to do with that. Perhaps the increase to 135psi has unearthed a weak seal. I’ll keep an eye on it.

    I’m stoked. It rides great now - it finally feels like a stiffer 4-Banger with more travel (which I guess would also be called a stiffer Gen2 Straight 6...). I've noticed the biggest problem is now the rider - it's so much fun to ride it fast over rough, twisty stuff that I find myself blowing it out and then dying shortly thereafter. Gotta step up my game. More rides coming this week, I hope.

  16. #16
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    looking good! if i can get bills paid off i have the Intense M9 in my crosshairs
    '11 Jedi
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  17. #17
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    this is "Quick Reply" test 1
    '11 Jedi
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  18. #18
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    this is " Post Reply" test 2
    '11 Jedi
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  19. #19
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    quick reply test 2
    '11 Jedi
    '01 Straight8
    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  20. #20
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    quick post
    '11 Jedi
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  21. #21
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    quick post4
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

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