Luxury Bikes

Important Test Sessions – Intense Tracer 279 – Mountain Bike Function

Intense has a long history of building winning race bikes and continues that legacy with the Intense Factory Race team and the Tracer 279. With a win under its belt and second place overall in the U21 EWS under Seth Sherlock, the Tracer 279 is a very promising platform from Intense and has proven to be competitive on the right track. The latest Tracer departs from the VPP designs of the past and uses Intense’s own JS link.

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  • 29/27.5 inch wheels
  • 170 mm (6.7 inches) rear travel // 170 mm (6.7 inches) fork travel
  • Full carbon frame
  • Carbon fiber upper link
  • 64.5 degree head tube angle (high) 64 degree (low)
  • 77.9 degree seat tube angle (high) 77.4 (low)
  • 505 mm reach (size XL high) 500 mm (low)
  • 437mm chainstay length in all sizes
  • JS link suspension
  • Internal storage space in the down tube
  • Internal cable routing
  • Molded full-length downtube protection
  • Molded chainstay guard
  • Integrated rear fender
  • 12 x 148mm Boost rear hub spacing
  • SRAM UDH and T-Type compatibility
  • 73mm bottom bracket with BSA thread and ISCG05 tabs
  • Price: $6,899 as tested (Pro)



  • Very balanced weight distribution
  • Thrives on jump paths
  • In the frame camp
  • The strong support in the middle of the stroke creates a compression wall
  • E*Thirteen wheels came loose after three days of testing
  • The internal storage door rattles


The Tracer uses a mixed wheel setup with 165mm of rear wheel travel and a 170mm fork. Our test bike was equipped with the Pro-Level kit, which retails for just under $6,000 and includes a Fox 38 Float Performance Elite Series fork and a Fox DHX2 Performance Elite shock. Braking and shifting are handled by a Shimano XT 12-speed drive and XT 4-piston brakes. E13 components are everywhere, with LG1 aluminum wheels, Helix cranks, race carbon handlebars and an adjustable dropper. ODI Intense branded grips are a nice touch to round out the build.




Our size XL Tracer had a comfortable reach of 500 mm paired with a head tube angle of 64.5 degrees for a relatively neutral posture on the bike. The shorter wheelbase of 1287 mm and the chainstay length of 439 mm ensure quick handling on the trail. The seat tube angle of 77.9 degrees ensured an upright pedaling position. There is a flip chip in the bike’s lower link for geometry adjustment with a high and low setting. “Intense” suggests the high setting for more technical terrain and the low setting for bike park-style terrain. We left it on the low setting for the duration of the test. Our main concern with the Tracer’s fit was stack height. Our size XL test bike was equipped with a relatively short head tube, which limited the number of spacers under the stem, paired with a short head tube. We solved this problem with the highest handlebars available to us, which resulted in a more favorable location.


On the path

Downhill, the Tracer demonstrated a very intuitive feel, allowing us to go where we wanted, when we wanted. This meant we could easily choose lines and decide what we wanted to pump or jump off of. Our testers felt excellent weight distribution on board the Tracer, providing excellent pressure and traction on both wheels. Precision was a standout feature of the Tracer and allowed us to place the bike exactly where we wanted it. This bike felt right at home in the bike park; It did an excellent job of generating speed and softening the otherwise harsh punches.


The main difficulty we had with the Tracer was when things got difficult. The rear suspension kinematics have a rate of decay that occurs quickly in the middle of the stroke and in the second half of the stroke. To put it simply, the rear suspension became quite stiff quite quickly compared to the initial off-the-top feel. Unfortunately this seemed to overshadow the positive handling characteristics we had experienced, making holding the lines difficult and making tensioning through some transitions a bit unpredictable.


The Tracer achieves the climbing goals of a good enduro bike by requiring little effort to get back up the mountain. This efficiency comes from an upright riding position when pedaling, which allows for a lower cadence when needed and efficient power transfer when delivering power. The Tracer’s pedaling ability would lend itself well to riding on gentler terrain if needed, coupled with the light feel it provides on the trail.


What is the end result?

The Tracer certainly surprised us in our time test. Two out of three testers felt very comfortable in it and praised the comfortable geometry and posture in all situations. The geometry wasn’t the only surprise; The rear suspension kinematics appeared to be a significant departure from Intense’s previous VPP-powered bikes. Two of our testers have spent a lot of time with the current Santa Cruz platforms and expected a similar feel from the Tracer. We were surprised that the JS Link platform offers a much more supportive feel and found it best suited to bike park style terrain or terrain with higher compression. Since our test, Intense has made an effort to suggest possible solutions to the harsh mid-stroke support we experienced, telling us that some new shock tuning has been developed to produce a smoother feel. The solution to our problems seems simple; With this solution, the Tracer is certainly not a bike to rule out if it’s on your radar.

We stayed right at the base of the mountain, courtesy of Visit Big Bear, and we couldn’t have imagined a more convenient way to spend the week testing bikes. Since our condo was less than a minute from Snow Summit Village, we were able to easily return to our unit between laps to swap bikes and had plenty of room to work on our bikes. Off the bike, we were grateful to have enough space for our entire test crew, as well as a pool and hot tub within walking distance to relax after each day of testing. Big Bear has a wide variety of dining options and a great downtown area that we explored when we wanted to mix up our dinner plans or just grab some ice cream afterward. If you’d like to explore Snow Summit or Big Bear, California for yourself, come visit us or for more information…

Thank you to everyone who sponsored this test and made our trip possible!

Click here to watch the whole thing Enduro Bike Test Sessions 2023 feature.

Find out more about the Intense Tracer 279 at

View key specs, compare and rate bikes Intense tracer in the Vital MTB product manual.

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