FIRST LOOK – 2009 INTENSE TRACER VP
Our Tracer showed up at the shop just days ago, fresh off the production line. We’re stoked to be one of the first in our ‘hood to build one of these beauties up. Featuring the newly revised VPP suspension design, the Tracer is the first VPP bike from Intense to offer adjustable rear travel. Out of the box, the frame looks great. We chose the raw works finish based on the idea this bike would rarely get cleaned. With this finish, dirt will only compliment the look of the frame. The best part is that scratches are simple to remedy- a bit of rubbing with a scrap of emery cloth or light sand paper, and it would look as good as new.
The Intense Tracer VP features 5.5″ to 6″ inches of travel. The idea behind this was versitality. In the short travel mode, the bike has the potential to be built up with a 140mm travel fork for a solid but light weight endurance trail bike. The 1.5″ headtube allows for burlier builds for more agressive riding in the 6″ travel mode. Our goal was to build up our version of the one bike: a bike that climbs like a XC bike, and descends like a DH bike. In reality, this is what the All Mountain category was all about, boiled down to the very essense. The big question was: was Intense able to do it with the Tracer?
We had considered a Nomad initially, but passed on it, as they are extremely common, and let’s just admit it: everyone thinks Intense bikes are cool. The previous model Intense offered in this category, the 6.6, was off the mark with its steeper than the industry average head angle of 68.5. Most manufacturers have settled on around 67 degrees for a 6″ travel all mountain bike, with 65 or 66 degrees for slope style bikes. The Tracer comes in a 67.5 degrees with a zero stack headset and a 160mm travel fork.
The most difficult decision in building the frame up was which headset to go with. Our headset decision was further influence by our fork spec: the Lyrik fork from Rockshox. A friend of ours at Rockshox set us up with a 1 1/8 test fork for this bike as well as a selection of other SRAM components. The 160mm of travel fit right inline with our intended use, and we had heard good things about the fork. However, the 1 1/8 steerer necessitated a reducer headset.
Our first headset of choice was the old standard: Chris King. Their headsets have always been tried and true, and certainly offer the bling factor that accompanies a boutique line like Intense.Their new 1/5″ to 1 1/8 headset, the Devolution 1.5″ was our first choice. However, we’re currently running this headset in our free ride test sled, a 2007 Specialized Demo 7, and the Devolution reducer failed after its first hard hit. We sent our top bearing cap back to King and ordered a replacement as well as a spare, and although King is handling the warranty graciously, it ruined a day of riding at Northstar and cut a trip short. There is nothing worse than being on the road and not being able to repair your bike. (King has since refunded us for our replacement parts, and informed us that based in part on our feedback that the reducer is being redesigned, with a new one to be shipped to us at no charge soon as it is finished) After doing a bit of research online and a recommendation from our friend Luc “Acadian” we went with the E.13 reducer cups and an FSA Impact headset.
The E.13 cups have a low stack height and combined with the internal headset from FSA, are lightweight and smooth. With 20mm of insertion, the headset adds also adds strength to the headtube and gives us one thing to worry about.
We chose a 50mm Thomson stem for DH like handling, and Avid Juicy 7 disc brakes matched up our X-9 drivetrain, rounding out our SRAM component spec. A left over XTR front derailleur was our only Shimano component of the build. A Gravity Dropper 4″ adjustable seat post was added as well, as it is now a component we can’t live without.
- FRAME/ SHOCK: 2009 Intense Tracer VP Medium, Fox RP23 shock
- FORK: Rockshox Lyrik, 160mm/ 6″ travel, 1 1/8 steerer
- HEADSET: E.13 Reducer cups with FSA Impact Headset
- STEM: Thomson X4 50mm
- BAR: Specialized Demo Bar 31.8, 28″ wide
- BRAKES: Avid Juicy 7
- SHIFTERS: SRAM X-9
- GRIPS: ODI Intense Lock-on
- DERAILLEUR, REAR:SRAM X-9
- DERAILLEUR, FRONT: XTR
- CRANKS/ BB: Truvativ Stylo, 175mm
- HUBS: Front, Onyx 20mm. Rear, DMR Revolver
- RIMS: Sun Ryno Lite XL (welded, not pinned)
- TIRES: Front, Kenda Nevegal 2.35, Rear, Specialized 2.35
- SEAT: WTB Laser V Team, Ti Rails
- SEATPOST: Gravity Dropper, 4″ Travel, left hand switch
- CHAIN/ CASSETTE: SRAM
- PEDALS: Sun
Total bike weight as pictured: 33.4 lbs
We finished the build with Sun Ryno lite XL rims and 2.35 single ply tires. We are off to Moab to get some riding in on the bike and will have a more thorough review of the bike shortly.
- Travel: 6in – 5.5in.
- 130mm-160mm fork.
- 6.25 lbs frame weight.
- Effective Top Tube (Medium size): 23in.
- BB height: 13.5in – 13.8in.
- Head angle: 67.5 – 69 degrees.
- Seat angle: 71.5 – 73 degrees.
- Chainstays: 16.9in.
- Colours: Pearl White, Works Red, Intense Red, Stealth Black and Works (Raw Aluminium).