(老虎頭郊遊徑) Located in Hong Kong, Lantau North (Extension) Country Park. I call it Discovery Bay Trail. Lo Fu Tau (in Cantonese) Country Trail is about 3.4 km. The plains have an endless view that delights both the body and mind. One of my favorite Trail.
Riders: Trek Top Fuel 7, Trek Evo 8, Intense Tracer VP on board GoPro HD Helmet Hero.
by Richard Cunningham
Jul 29, 2011
|What’s New About The Tracer 2
-Adjustable travel 5.75 to 6.25 inches 145mm-160mm
It’s In the Name
The ‘2’ added to the Tracer’s name reflects that the chassis is designed to fulfill at least two roles. Set up at the 5.75-inch (145mm) travel option with relatively lightweight trail components like the complete Shimano Deore XT group and Fox Float suspension, Pinkbike’s Medium-sized Tracer 2 weighs in at 29.8 pounds – which adds up to a confidence-inspiring bike in technical situations that is lightweight enough to tackle extended climbs in the Rocky Mountains.
For those who feel the need for speed and are willing to push a couple more pounds up the mountain; Intense equips the Tracer 2 with dropper seatpost cable routing, an ISCG-05 chain-guide mount, a 1.5-inch head tube, a 6.25-inch (160mm) travel option on the upper rocker link and a quick-change rear dropout to convert to a 12/142-millimeter through-axle. Take advantage of all the Tracer 2’s big-bike options and then add a 2-by crankset with a roller guide; a Cane Creek Angleset headset; beefier suspension, like a Fox Float 36 160 fork and a Float RC shock; and you’ll tap into a gravity-powered monster.
|The Tracer 2′s VPP dual-link suspension feels super smooth at speed and pedals quite well. An offset seat tube makes more room for the swingarm and more mud clearance for larger tires.|
Tracer 2 Chassis
Intense owns computerized machining centers, which generate all of the Tracer 2’s custom pivot hardware, dropouts, rocker links, frame journals, and Intenses’ signature double-waisted 1.5-inch head tube. Intense also specializes in manipulating aluminum into optimized frame members, and the magic begins with the Tracer 2’s hydro-formed top tube which dips deeply to afford 28 inches of usable stand-over clearance at its lowest point. A massive, 2.5 inch diameter butted downtube obliterates the possibility of lateral flex in the front section and wide-profile tapered rectangular seat and chain stays do the same for the swingarm. As mentioned, the Tracer 2’s rocker links and pivot-mounting hardware are beautifully machined from billet aluminum stock.
Frame highlights: Details abound throughout the Tracer 2 frame like plenty of tire clearance for 2.4-inch rubber mounted to wider AM rims, ISCG tabs, and a direct-mount front derailleur mount. Of special note, are the replaceable G1 dropouts, which provide a stronger rear derailleur attachment than the flimsy screw-on hangers that most brands offer. Our test bike featured standard quick release dropouts, but 12/142-millimeter dropouts are in stock and the quick-change dropouts are fixed to the swingarm with flush-mount chainring hardware.
|Clockwise – A 1.5 inch head tube ensures that Tracer 2 owners can use any steerer or headset configuration. Custom pivot hardware and two shock positions on the upper VPP link. Intense’s beautifully crafted hydro-formed top tube offers lots of stand-over clearance. The Tracer’s chain guide tabs are machined into the bottom bracket shell|
Suspension notes: Intense and Santa Cruz share the development of the VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) dual-link suspension system, which is the source of the Tracer 2’s efficient pedaling feel and smooth suspension response. Beefy rocker links ride on sealed ball bearings. The Tracer 2 suspension’s rate curve seems to work best with more sag in the shock than most bikes. We discovered that 30-percent sag was the perfect number for every situation from big-hit descents to hour-long climbs. Most riders will prefer the shorter-travel 5.7-inch setting for trail, as it feels a bit firmer in its initial stroke where most pedaling occurs. Those who demand no or minimal suspension action while climbing will revel in the fact that using the ProPedal option on the standard-issue Fox RP23 shock will make the Tracer 2 pedal like an XC bike in both the long and short-travel rocker positions. Intense designed the shock mounting positions on the rocker link so that switching between them does not alter the bottom bracket height and head angle.
|Intense offers a host of options for its quick-change G1 rear dropouts that accommodate all of the popular through-axle systems like: the 135x10mm standard QR, 142x12mm Shimano, 142x12mm Syntace, and the 142x12mm DT Swiss (same as Syntace).|
Tracer 2: by the numbers
Intense publishes two sets of numbers for the Tracer 2: one based upon a 15-millimeter-stroke fork (540mm axle-to-crown-race) and the second is based on a 160-millimeter-stroke fork (545mm axle-to-crown-race). The longer fork makes the head and seat-tube angle one degree slacker and raises the bottom bracket from 13.75 inches to 14.355 inches. Otherwise, the builds are identical. Our test bike was set up with a 150mm fork, so its seat angle was 73 degrees, the head angle was 68 degrees, the chainstay length was 16.9 inches and the bottom bracket as stated, measured 13.75. The medium-sized frame’s top tube is the accepted standard, 23 inches and the wheelbase is a bit long at 44 inches. Intense offers the Tracer 2 in small, medium, large and XL sizes with seat tubes from 16.5 to 20.5 inches tall. Stock colors are White, Gun-metal gray, natural aluminum (Works Raw) and a host of optional colors are offered at a slight up-charge including the “CanAm Yellow” featured on our test bike.
Tracer 2 Build Notes
If you want a complete bike from Intense, their build option is based upon a SRAM X9 components ensemble. Our test bike sported a 2012 Shimano Deore XT group including the wider-profile, 22-millimeter tubeless wheels. Tires were WTB Mutano Raptor 2.4 inchers and the cockpit was all Shimano Pro components. Suspension was a 2012 Fox 32 Float 150 RLC Kashima fork paired with an RP23 shock. All added together, the Tracer 2 weighed 29.8 pounds with pedals, and while that is a respectable number for an aluminum-framed trailbike, its carbon fiber competitors are over a pound lighter on average.
|Travel||5.75 – 6.25|
|Rear Shock||Fox RP23|
|Fork||Fox Talas 36 FIT RLC|
|Headset||Cane Creek XC Flush II 1.5 Taper to 1-1/8|
|Cassette||SRAM 10s 11-36|
|Crankarms||SRAM X9, 175mm|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM X9 10spd|
|Front Derailleur||SRAM X9|
|Shifter Pods||SRAM X9|
|Handlebar||Truvativ Stylo T40|
|Stem||Truvativ Stylo T30|
|Grips||ODI Intense/ODI w/End Plugs|
|Brakes||Avid Elixir 9|
|Wheelset||Sunn Charger Expert|
|Tires||26×2.35 DTC folding tubeless|
|Seat||Intense Sacred Heart Cr-Mo|
|Seatpost||Truvativ Stylo T30|
Riding the Tracer 2
Before you get your hopes up for a definitive Tracer 2 AM-vs-Trailbike shootout, Pinkbike tested the trailbike setup for this review and will save the big-bike test for later (we already have the parts ordered).
Setup: The Tracer 2’s VPP rear suspension likes a bit more sag than most are willing to use – about 30 percent – and this is true for XC/trail or all-mountain type riding. This means that the rear end of the bike will settle and rake out the fork if you don’t take the time to balance the front suspension with the rear. The key seems to be using about 25-percent sag in the fork. The addition of the low-friction Kashima seals in the Fox fork gives it a lot of small-bump compliance which makes it feel softer than it actually is. Use sag measurement, not compliance to set the air pressure and you’ll get the balance right the first time.
Rolling out: On the flats, the Tracer 2 accelerates smoothly without noticeable suspension bob under power. A few quick sprints out of the saddle lets the rider know that the Intense is not a feather-weight XC racer, but it feels efficient enough to encourage a moderately fit rider to look forward to an all-day epic in the mountains. The soft shock setting does not cause the suspension to bob while pedaling, but it does slacken the head angle a bit, which takes away from the pedaling performance of the chassis. Switch on the Fox ProPedal platform function and the rear of the bike sits up a bit and pedaling feels more crisp in all power modes.
Climbing: As mentioned, switching on the ProPedal function is a benefit for the Tracer when the time comes to lay down leg power for extended periods, and this is especially true for steep ascents The rear suspension rides higher, and in addition to giving the bike a slightly steeper head angle and a better seating position, the front wheel tends to stay on the trail when climbing steeps. Head angles slacker than 69-degrees tend to flop back and forth when climbing, and the Tracer requires some attention to keep it on line up anything steeper than a ten-percent grade. We noticed that the Tracer’s rear suspension feels bit notchy, like a short-travel XC bike, when climbing technical, uneven surfaces while seated with the ProPedal engaged. Switch it off and the Tracer 2 smooths out considerably. The ProPedal lever is not a necessity. Hit a climb with the shock wide open and the Tracer 2 will happily claw its way up, with its VPP suspension providing gobs of traction while you loft the front tire slightly with each muscular pedal stroke.
|Cable housing stops for a dropper seat post are standard fare on the Tracer 2. The stops are designed for small Zip-ties, a pragmatic touch that reflects Intense’s racing heritage.|
Corners: Intense hit the numbers on the money for cornering performance. The bike’s Mutano Raptor tires absolutely railed corners where traction could be found, and when loose sketchy topsoil was deeper than a few millimeters, they became super-sliders. The combined effect of the WTB rubber would normally be a disaster, but the Tracer 2 is such a balanced chassis in the turns that the surprise slip-n-slides were quite fun. Keeping the Tracer leaned into the turn and it would drift easily with the rear wheel pushed out slightly more than the front until traction returned, or the bike burned off enough speed to get back on line. The 68-degree steering angle was slow enough to stabilize the bike at speed, without feeling excessively sloppy while climbing.
Technical riding: Take the Tracer 2 to the limits of its suspension and you will be pleasantly surprised to find that the Intense feels smoother than its numbers would suggest – as if it has the power to shrink the rocks, drops and jumps as they pass beneath the wheels. Add this to the Tracer 2’s sweet cornering skill set and it pushes you to take the A-line through every section just because you can. The Tracer 2 bangs through rocks without inciting a wrestling match with the handlebar. In fewer words; the Tracer 2 is a no-worry handler. We wondered how the rear suspension would respond under braking, but that became a non issue as rear braking did not seem to worry the bike even if we trail-braked deep into a sketchy turn. The center ridge of the WTB tire make it quite easy to skid on hard-packed dry surfaces, but once the bike was leaned over, the many-fingered tread pattern hooked up well.
Suspension Report: We ran the shock in the 6.25 inch position to try out the longer travel, but the feel was more balanced and almost as deep in the 5.7-inch-travel option. Riders who live for the descent will love the Tracer 2’s supple rear suspension. When you achieve the right setup, VPP linkage geometry makes the shock feel as if it has too much low-speed rebound, so give it a ride before you pass judgment on your setup. We liked the feel of the Kashima-treated Fox fork. We usually start with zero low-speed compression for Fox 32 Float forks to keep them from chattering over harsh braking bumps. The new seals and coating give the fork a far smoother ride over the chatter so we could use the adjustment to level the chassis while braking without sacrificing riding comfort. It will be interesting to see how the Kashima coating and SKF seals are received by the market as the forks reach bike dealers this year.
|Read more about the Tracer 2′s 2012 Deore XT components in Pinkbike’s coverage of the Shimano launch at the Northstar resort near Lake Tahoe.|
Click here to read the Deore XT story.
Pinkbike’s take on the Tracer 2
After riding the Tracer 2, it seems that Intense re-invented their Tracer to fill the gap between the old-school dual-suspension trailbike that is patterned after cross-country racing geometry and the heavy, six-inch-travel all-mountain bikes that a lot of gravity riders use to suffer uphill in order to access back-country trails. The new Tracer will be a dream bike for the latter group because it rocks the descents like an all-mountain sled, and it climbs pretty darn well too – so you’ll arrive at the next descent fresher and ready to rock. Add the Tracer’s hidden details like the ISCG-05 chain-guide mounts and All-mountain suspension options and it gives technical riders a lot of growing room should they decide to ride park more and trails less. Devoted XC trail riders, the ones who mark climbs with a stopwatch and descend with caution, might find that the Tracer 2’s 29-pound weight figure and gravity-friendly steering will take some fun out of the ride, but the beauty of the newest Intense is that, with the addition of some expensive lightweight parts, it could fulfill that role, without sacrificing its shredability.
Visit Intense Cycles to check out how the Tracer 2 is built and why you might consider buying a bike that is hand made in North America by folks who ride what they build. And give Pinkbike some feedback on the New Tracer 2 – especially if you’ve been lucky enough to ride one.
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