Intense seem to be on a roll in 2016 having launched a raft of new bikes, including the ACV, Primer and new Spider 275C. The Recluse is yet another new model in the lineup, and features 27.5” wheels and a 140mm frame mated to 150mm forks – it’s almost the definition of a modern trail bike.
Intense are certainly looking to corner the high-end of the market with their range of bikes, and the Recluse another model built around a carbon frame. The Recluse uses Intense’s JS suspension linkage, their version of a VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) linkage system that’s also seen on the likes of Santa Cruz bikes. The JS linkage is a twin-link design, with the main ‘i-Box’ link sitting tidily in a hollow in the lower seat tube. The main benefit of this configuration, other than the suspension curve characteristics, is that it helps keep the back end short – on the Recluse it's 419mm.
Speaking of geometry, Intense are keeping it pretty middle of the road – far from short, but also not super long. On the large-size frame, we’re seeing a 1,196mm wheelbase, 66 degree head angle, 75 degree (effective) seat tube and 460mm reach. While super-long bikes might have added stability at speed, this middle ground keeps the bike fun and lively to ride, so say Intense.
Five models of Recluse are available, with pricing starting at £4,200 and rising to £8,700.
The base Foundation and Expert (£5,300) models use the ‘Normal’ carbon frame construction. It might not be the sexiest name, but we guess it does what it says on the tin. Both feature a 160mm RockShox Pike fork and Monarch Plus rear shock (although the Expert gets an upgraded version). DT Swiss-hubbed wheels are present on the pair but SRAM NX/GX takes care of the Foundation's drivetrain while the Expert gets Shimano XT.
The Pro Plus, Pro and Factory models feature ‘SL’ carbon, which is a higher modulous version of the material that's said to save 300g from the frame. Various Fox 36 forks, along with Float X2 shocks are found across these bikes, with the different builds featuring the sort of kit that you’d expect on bikes costing from £6,600 to £8,700.
Perhaps the most interesting Recluse – and the one we have ready to test – is the Elite spec. It features the high-end SL frameset, black-stanchioned Performance Elite Fox 36 and X2 shocks, SRAM X1 gears and Guide RS brakes. It also comes with Intense’s own wheelset, with DT Swiss hubs and a 30mm wide (internal) carbon rim. These give the Maxxis High Roller II tyres a massive volume and, in their 3c compound, helps provide acres of grip in a wide range of trail situations.
We’re looking forward to spending more time on the Recluse in the coming weeks and months, so look out for a full review soon. What we can say so far is that this is a seriously impressive bit of kit. Stiff, fast, light and confidence inspiring.