Last year, Intense rolled out several new bikes, all featuring the company's redesigned suspension platform, and I spent quality time on all of them. As fun as each of these bikes was, the Recluse was the one I usually grabbed first. Long before we tested this Pro build in Northwest Arkansas, I'd spent weeks on an Elite build, rallying it on some of the steepest descents in Whistler, British Columbia, and tackling some of Southern California's toughest climbs. And when all the loam and dust had settled, I'd found it to be one of the most capable, versatile bikes that Intense has ever made.
Though we've placed the Recluse in our mid-travel category, we consider it to be an all-mountain bike with a slight bias toward descending. It occupies a place in Intense's line between the new Spider 275C and the previous Tracer 275C. But with some geometry updates and the new 'JS Tuned' suspension platform–essentially a modified VPP system designed by Intense founder Jeff Steber–the Recluse has proven to be an all-round brawler. The geometry is well balanced, with a sensibly slack 66-degree head angle that inspires confidence on steep, chunky descents. When climbing, the 75-degree seat-tube angle allows for a centered position when pedaling in the saddle–making it easy to keep the front end under control.
Adding to the Recluse's climbing proficiency is the suspension, which allows for efficient pedaling through technical terrain and keeps the rear wheel faithfully planted. The 140 millimeters of travel, delivered by a Fox Float X2 Performance shock, offers an ideal compromise between climbing and descending prowess. And for riders looking to tilt the balance in either direction–or to dial it in to specific terrain–the Float X2 features four independent adjustments controlling high- and low-speed damping for both compression and rebound.
Up front, the Fox Float 36 Performance fork provides 150 millimeters of travel–plenty to handle everyday trail obstacles during descents, while allowing for relatively wander-free climbing. Though this build's price represents a fair chunk of change, it is more than ready to rumble straight out of the box, regardless of where the fight breaks out.
Q&A with Intense coming soon…