First Ride: Intense Recluse

Intense's new all-mountain bike comes out of hiding

Intense Cycles has unveiled the latest bike in its all-new 2017 line, and this one has been kept well-hidden from the public eye. Perhaps fittingly, it is named the ‘Recluse,’ but once the word gets out about this versatile all-mountain machine, we suspect it’s going to have a hard time keeping to itself.

By the looks of the bold matte turquoise and grey paint job of the ‘Elite’ build I’m testing, the Recluse actually seems to have a secret desire for attention. And that’s exactly what it’s been getting in the lift lines of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park: Heads have been turning so much I’ve felt like I’m standing next to Gisele, and more than a few riders in town for the 2016 Crankworx Whistler mountain bike festival have stopped to ask what this new bike is all about.

Intense Recluse

So what is it all about? Well, judging from the Recluse’s geometry and the amount of suspension travel it has, it’s clearly an all-mountain bike with perhaps a slight bias toward descending. It appears to occupy a place in Intense’s line between the new Spider 275C (read our review of that bike here) and the previous Tracer 275C (read our dual-tester review of that bike here). But with some key geometry updates and the new ‘JS Tuned’ suspension platform—essentially a modified VPP system designed by Intense’s founder and designer, Jeff Steber—this new Recluse is already proving to be a more capable bike than some of its predecessors, especially when it’s pointed downhill.

As with all the other bikes in Intense's new line, the Recluse features a redesigned suspension platform that is essentially a modified VPP system that addresses some of the pedaling issues associated with VPP-equipped bikes. The Elite build that we're testing comes with the new Fox Float X2 shock, which is Fox's answer to the highly adjustable Cane Creek DB Air. Its 140 millimeters of travel is a fair compromise between climbing and descending prowess, but the shock really seems to come into its own when charging down steep, technical descents. So far it's been a blast on some of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park's rock- and root-filled descents. The shock also features a new lockout lever, although I've been running it wide open on techy climbs—and finding impressive amounts of rear-wheel traction.
As with all the other bikes in Intense’s new line, the Recluse features a redesigned suspension platform that is essentially a modified VPP system that addresses some of the pedaling issues associated with VPP-equipped bikes. The Elite build that we’re testing comes with the new Fox Float X2 shock, which is Fox’s answer to the highly adjustable Cane Creek DB Air. Its 140 millimeters of travel is a fair compromise between climbing and descending prowess, but the shock really seems to come into its own when charging down steep, technical descents. So far it’s been a blast on some of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s rock- and root-filled descents. The shock also features a new lockout lever, although I’ve been running it wide open on techy climbs—and finding impressive amounts of rear-wheel traction.

In terms of geometry, the Recluse is well balanced, with a sensibly slack 66-degree head angle that inspires confidence on steep descents. And when climbing, the 75-degree seat-tube angle allows for a centered body position when pedaling in the saddle—making it easy to keep the front end under control.

The Recluse comes equipped with a Fox Performance Float 36 fork with 160 millimeters of confidence-inspiring travel. The fork, together with the bike's 66-degree head angle, means the Recluse is ready to come out of hiding and charge on the downhills.
The Recluse comes equipped with a Fox Performance Float 36 fork with 160 millimeters of confidence-inspiring travel. The fork, together with the bike’s 66-degree head angle, means the Recluse is ready to come out of hiding and charge on the downhills.

Though the Elite build has a formidable $7,900 price tag, it comes with an impressive array of parts, leaving little, if anything, to be desired. In addition to the Fox suspension, this build features SRAM Guide brakes, a RockShox Reverb Stealth post with a 150-millimeter drop, a SRAM X01 drivetrain with Race Face Next cranks, a Renthal FatBar bar with a Thomson Elite stem and Intense’s new carbon rims (mated to DT Swiss hubs), which have a 30-millimeter internal rim width.

The Recluse is also serving as center stage for the debut of Intense's new carbon rims, which feature a 30-millimeter internal rim width—which allows for lower tire pressures and improved traction. This, along with tried-and-true Maxxis High Roller II tires, means the Recluse has a mean bite in the loosest conditions.
The Recluse is also serving as center stage for the debut of Intense’s new carbon rims, which feature a 30-millimeter internal rim width—which allows for lower tire pressures and improved traction. This, along with tried-and-true Maxxis High Roller II tires, means the Recluse has a mean bite in the loosest conditions.
With 760-millimeter-wide Renthal FatBar carbon bar and a 35-mil Thomson Elite stem, the Recluse's cockpit provides abundant control in the rowdiest of sections.
With 760-millimeter-wide Renthal FatBar bar and a 35-mil Thomson Elite stem, the Recluse’s cockpit provides abundant control in the rowdiest of sections.
The SRAM X01 derailleur and E13 11-speed cassette makes for crisp and reliable shifting.
The SRAM X01 derailleur and E13 11-speed cassette makes for crisp and reliable shifting.
The Elite build comes with a Race Face Next crank with a 32-tooth chainring.
The Elite build comes with a Race Face Next crank with a 32-tooth chainring.

Look for more on the Recluse in the future.