Trail and Enduro Bikes

2017 Intense Recluse

A new aggressive 650B trail bike from California

Jeff Steber and his crew have been busy – For 2017 the Recluse is one of a long line of new bikes launched by Intense, following the plush 27+ ACV and the incredibly rapid 29″ PRIMER.

Words: Sean White Photos: Callum Philpott


intense recluse – the review

With one of our main bike testers Ieuan currently in hospital after a ‘big off’, our recently received Recluse test bike is only half way through its initial test period. We’ll report with our ride impressions and test notes when he’s back on the bike, so for now here’s a run through of what this new Intense bike has to offer.

Intense have impressed us over the years, producing some seriously well engineered frames with great attention to detail. They were in early with a hard-hitting big wheeler, the Tracer 29, and soon after with the carbon framed Carbine – both firmly moving 29ers a long way from their cross country roots. This latest bike, the Intense Recluse, is the latest thinking on 27.5″ wheeled mid-travel bikes from Intense and is intended to sit in the ‘all mountain’ category of riding, bridging the gap between trail and enduro racing. With a 150mm travel fork up front and 140mm at the rear the Recluse is designed with bang-up-to-date geometry and sizing, stacking right up against the Trek Remedy and Santa Cruz Bronson.


There is more of a focus on fully built bikes with Intense for 2017 (with Saddleback as the new UK distibutor) and there’s plenty of choice. With five ‘build levels’ to choose from, the UK options for the Intense Recluse are, top to bottom: Factory, Elite, Pro, Expert and Foundation.

The Recluse frame is available in two versions, the standard carbon frame and the SL frame, both using a 148mm boost axle spacing and ISCG05 mounts along with a DM front mech fitting. The higher spec SL frame uses lighter, higher quality UD (uni-directional) carbon and comes with full titanium hardware to keep weight down even further. The frame’s smooth lines are kept clean with internal cable/hose routing – now commonplace on most premium frames – giving very different visuals to the US made aluminium Intense bikes from only a few years back. Scratch below the surface and the pedigree shines through; Jeff Steber’s attention to detail is still present and is reassuring considering these are bikes you’ll be riding hard over a good few seasons.




Four sizes S to XL are available, which after looking at the geometry charts should cover most rider heights.

“Pronounced ‘wreck-loose’, the new bike is named after a venomous spider, hinting both at its relation to its siblings in the Intense range and the fact that this is something altogether more aggressive” – Intense


With a JS-Tuned dual link suspension and I-Box pivot system there’s 140mm of rear travel on tap controlled by a Fox X2 air shock on all the top three builds, with a RockShox Monarch Plus HV on the Expert and Foundation models. With a 150mm fork up front Intense have gone for a Dirt favourite, the Fox 36, on the top Factory, Elite and Pro builds and the ever faithful RockShox Pike on the cheaper spec bikes. The Fox 36 forks get the 110mm Boost axle spacing. Matched up with a 66° head angle, good reach numbers (460mm on a size large), a realistic wheel base and 419mm chainstays gives the Intense Recluse an attitude and feel suitable for attacking technical climbs as well as challenging descents.


For 2017 we’re now seeing a settling of standards and a feeling of what’s right for each style of bike, and Intense (as you would hope with a smaller premium brand) have spent plenty of time specifying the parts you’d want. There’s not going to be much you’d want to change here…

With 1×11 transmissions across the range (but with the ability to fit a double chainset) keeping weight and noise down, we’re seeing Intense fitting RaceFace cranks (with their Cinch fitting NW chainrings) driving either SRAM or Shimano gearing, starting with a mix of GX and NX on the Foundation build. A good blend that works well and proven reliable on our test Transition Smuggler.


The cockpit is a mix Thomson and Renthal on most models with a 760mm bar and a 50mm stem. Wheelset are top quality throughout the range – with Mavic XA carbons on the Factory build with DT on most other builds. RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper posts are present through with 150mm of stroke.


Factory: £8700, Elite: £6,600, Pro: £5,800, Expert: £5,300, Foundation: £4,200.


see also


2017 Trek Remedy 9.9 Race Shop Limited







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