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Randy from Black Rock Bicycles reviews the new 5 inch travel 29er trail bike from Intense Cycles:

“You know when you go to the on-dirt-demo at Interbike (Bootleg Canyon) that you have more than a few bikes in mind that you want to ride. This last Interbike was no exception and one of the main bikes I was interested in was the new Intense Tracer 29er.”

I started riding a 29er a few years ago just to see what all the hype was about. I was hooked.

The problem is that I am an overweight, over 50 and a gravity guy by heart. So I spent a great deal of time in the E.R. as a result of trying to make these 29ers do things that I could do on my other 26″ AM & trail bikes (including a 26″ Tracer!).


Randy riding a regular Tracer at Gooseberry Mesa near Hurricane, Utah.

It seems that I had a love hate going with the 29ers. I loved the way it climbed and descended but any time I would try to do a small drop or a rock garden it would be over the bars, and at the high speeds that you get going on a 29er it would usually involve a brief period of unconsciousness. But still I loved the 29er and it trained me to ride it the way it was designed:  XC.

Still in the back of my mind I wanted a bike that was a 29er and still able to descend great and smash the rock gardens without a hitch. I found a few but they all seemed to fall short of what I was looking for. Not that there aren’t a lot of great 29er bikes available just none that would keep me out of the Emergency Room..

I just could not make them do what I wanted.  Moab: Porcupine & Amasa Back and any of the great rides around Lake Tahoe. Also at Interbike: Bootleg’s Boy/Girl Scout trails at very high speed and through the rocks at the bottom as well.  I wanted a 9er that will give you the confidence that you will be able handle all of that and still climb!

So I was on a quest. I tried a lot of bikes and they all did a great job but none stood out.

Then I went to the SRAM booth at Dirt Demo. I was greeted by a great staff who were ready to set me up on any of the bikes they had. At SRAM they know how important a well set up bike is, to give you the best ride, so that you truly can tell how the bike rides with all of the new  products that they sell. They have some of the best mechanics IMHO at the show. I hooked up on a Intense Tracer 29er with a complete SRAM 2x X7 10 speed build: Rock Shox new adjustable seat post and all  Rock Shox suspension. This bike has every new product on it that is available under the SRAM name, for any of those that have not been to Interbike.


Interbike demo Tracer 29 from Intense – not the SRAM build.

My first ride on Girl Scout was unbelievable. So what next? A little harder – the Boy Scout trail same thing … amazing!

This bike rode like a true AM bike and handled great on the decent as well as climbed to the top like a mountain goat.

Ya I was one of the dumb asses at Interbike that rode up to the top and had all the shuttle riders bombing down the trail yelling at me. 🙂

I needed to see if it does as well up as it did down. It did way better then I expected.


Tracer 29 built by Black Rock Bikes

So I went back to the shop and called Jake at Intense and got one on order. Just like anyone would do, I wanted to see if this bike would build up and ride as well at home as it did at inner bike.

I talked the bike up to some of the other guys who work at the shop and explained what my expectations are for this new bike. They were all skeptical that it could be that good, but I had great hope.

Now I know a lot of people who love bikes the way I do, but find spending a lot of money on a bike like this is crazy. But I did not care – I wanted the best and I wanted it bad.

Some might say that bike shop employees can afford it because they get great deals. But it still takes a lot of money when you are building your dream bike no matter what kind of deal you get.


Curtis trying to break it! If it passes his bash test then it’s a solid bike!

I built the Tracer close to the way SRAM had built it with the exception of the rear suspension, wheels, fork, seat post and headset. 🙂

Fox F29, RP23,  Mavic Cross Max wheels, Joplin adjustable seat post and a Cane Creek adjustable angle headset running w/ -1 degree offset. I worried that it may not be slack enough for the kind of riding I planned on doing so I added the adjustable headset.

I have owned an Intense Spider 29er and they are not even close to the Tracer, so just because they share the same company that made them this is a complete different bicycle. Don’t try any of the black diamond stuff on a Spider 29er unless you enjoy being knocked unconscious.

So off we went with the new Tracer 29er, we hit our regular trails to see if I could recreate the sweet ride I enjoyed at Innerbike. Well not only was it as sweet – it was way beyond what I had expected! This thing rocked it!  I hit some of the local college DH trails and had a guy I was riding with video me on the trail because no would believe this bike can handle a 2.5 foot drop like a DH rig as well as climb like a diesel truck. I still cannot believe the ride of this bike.


Tracer 29er rails thru the rocks and drops like nothing…

So I called my friend Jim (his real name) and  told him he had to try this bike. Jim took it out. He called me and asked me if he could just keep the bike and I could build another one for myself. Well I am sure you would do the same thing I did – I let him keep it until the shop got him one, built just like it. Jim calls his bike an evil twin because after he rode mine felt like he had to have one. He told me that was a very evil trick because after the ride he sold his Santa Cruz and dropped all of the cash down on the Tracer 29er. I know a lot of you think the 29ers are just a fad. But that’s ok, because when you get passed up and down by one just keep telling yourself that it’s just a fad.


Jim on his new Tracer 29.

But for these of you who are looking for the one of the best trail bikes on today market. Give the Intense Tracer 29er a try.

1 caveat. Be sure it is set up for you by someone who knows what they are doing because no matter how great of a bike it is if it’s not set up for the kind of riding you do it will suck. I still don’t know how riders don’t understand how important this is.


On the Thomas Creek trail near Reno.

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Interbike 2010 at the Intense Cycles booth