We won’t lie, it has been really difficult to keep quiet about this one. The 2022 INTENSE Tracer 279 is all-new, and completely redesigned and engineered from the ground up. It’s our hard-hitting 170mm (6.7”) travel Enduro bike… and in our eyes it’s the ultimate modern day long travel mountain bike. The 2022 Tracer has been in development for well over three years, with an early alloy prototype Tracer 279 helping Isabeau Courdurier win the Enduro World Series back in 2019.
The Tracer has been in the INTENSE line up since 1999, but a lot has changed in those 20 years. Back then 100mm (4”) of travel and a 70º head angle was seen as extreme, but of course now it is all about longer, lower, slacker, with 279 ‘mullet’ mixed wheel sizes (29” up front, 27.5” on the rear) and lots of responsive suspension travel. A bike that can pedal up and along as well as it can descend.
As with all INTENSE bikes the early aluminum prototype frames were hand crafted, shaped and welded by our very own Jeff Steber (CEO and Founder) in our California HQ. With our alloy prototypes we are able to make adjustments quickly in-house by cutting or shifting any of the individual pieces and then welding them back into place. This is also the first bike that INTENSE Factory Racing’s Aaron Gwin has been involved with from start to finish, alongside Jeff and our other global Ambassadors.
We can’t give too much detail and information away at the moment, mainly because we are not launching the bike just yet. The current situation with global product and component shortages have held things up a little, so the full launch date is to be confirmed. But we are so keen to show the world what we have been up to that we sent out two frames to two of our long standing brand ambassadors, Chris Kovarik in Canada, and Bernat Guardia in Spain. Both are ex-World Cup racers and know a thing or two about full suspension mountain bikes.
The plan was to get the bikes out in the mountains for the world press to try out, but because of Covid, and travel and time restrictions, we were limited to how many members of the press we could get the bikes to. In the end Chris hooked-up with the crew at Pink Bike and Bernat did the same with Enduro Mag from Germany. We wanted them to be able to ride the new Tracer, but what made this different to usual ‘first looks’ was that we didn’t give the journalists any information about the bike. No geometry charts, no component spec, no pricing… all the information they got was that the bike they were riding was a size Large with a reach of 480mm and 170mm of travel. This would be bike ‘testing’ in its purest form.
Neither bike was built to the correct spec – mainly due to parts shortages – and because of that we didn’t really want the complete bike to be tested as such. This was never meant to be a breakdown of each of the individual parts and their merits, this was more about the beating heart and soul of any bike, the frame. By making the two bike builds as neutral as possible we wanted the focus to just be on the new Tracer frame.
You can read the thoughts and opinions of Pink Bike here and Enduro Mag here. Stay tuned for more information on the new Tracer 279, and 29” version soon.