Launched in 2018 the Intense Tazer was ahead of its time and it retains the full carbon frame, progressive sizing, mullet wheels and competitive pricing
For the 2021 Intense Tazer Expert, it’s business as usual. The top of the range 2021 Tazer Pro with full Factory Fox suspension and a Shimano EP8 motor costs £5,999, which is £900 less than the equivalent build from two years ago. Impressive, given that everything else is trending upwards in price.
Intense Tazer 279 Expert e-bike review
The main thing that hasn’t changed though, is the 504Wh battery. But at least Intense has added a strap to the battery pack which makes it easier to remove. It’s also updated the rear axle design, so removing the rear wheel is now easier. Why is this important? Well, with a 1,267mm wheelbase on the size L Tazer, it’s one of the longest bikes in test, so unless you have an estate car or a van, you’ll regularly be removing both wheels.
Let’s play a game of word association. I say Intense, you think…Palmer? America? M1? Did I read your mind? Hardly, but two words you definitely weren’t thinking are direct sales. And that’s because this business model is a relatively recent association for a brand with almost 30 years of mtb heritage.
Intense and Santa Cruz parted ways on their VPP suspension collaboration several years ago, but the linkage configuration on the 155mm travel Tazer is very much in keeping with the traditional VPP design; the upper link driving the Fox DPX2 shock. The twist? Intense founder Jeff Steber manipulates both links to get the desired suspension response, hence the JS Tuned logo on the swingarm. Overall the rear suspension has good bottom out resistance and support, eliminating any unwanted movement when pedalling. That comes at a price though, namely that it is not very sensitive off the top, so the rear end has a tendency to dance and skipp around, even with that high-volume 2.8in Maxxis Minion DHR II tyre adding extra cushioning.
Contrast that with the front end, where the 160mm travel Fox 38 Performance Grip suspension fork is smooth as butter off the top but lacks support. Adding volume spacers increased ramp up and support but it also robbed us of available travel, so it quickly became a game of give and take on the Tazer.
Intense has put together an amazing parts package on the entry-level Tazer 279 Expert. The Shimano SLX kit all functions perfectly and you get the stronger DT Swiss H1900 rims for added peace of mind. Even the Maxxis tyre choice is on point, with the touger EXO+ casings front and rear. Then again, when you save so much weight with the smaller battery and full carbon frame, you can afford to add it back in where it’s needed most and still have the lightest bike in test.
We constantly received mixed messages from the Intense 279 Expert, and not because of the mixed wheel sizes. On some sections of trail the riding position and poise of the Tazer made it feel like the only e-bike we wanted to ride, the longer chainstays balanced perfectly with the generous front centre to place the rider right in the sweet spot on the bike. It’s one reason why the front end of the Tazer is remarkably easy to loft. The other being the smaller, lighter 504Wh battery.
Then on different terrain we’d struggle to weight the front on flat corners or keep it down on steep climbs. We tried lowering the bar, running the fork softer, the rear firmer but never managed to achieve a setup that worked in a wide variety for situations. Every ride was also accompanied by the anxiety of the 504Wh battery running out, especially when your riding buddies have 20% more juice. So most of the time we rode the Tazer in Trail mode, reserving Boost to compensate for the 60Nm torque E7000 motor on the steepest climbs, or when the car park was finally in sight.
E-bike technology is developing at a blistering pace, but it wasn’t the older Shimano E7000 motor or compact 504Wh battery that limited the Tazer’s progress. We simply couldn’t find a balanced set-up that let us ride the Tazer with confidence in every situation. Poring over the geometry nothing obvious stood out as a red flag, so we’re chalking it up as a suspension imbalance - the rear end isn’t very sensitive while the fork is hyperactive. With more low-speed control on the Fox 38 fork or possibly a coil shock on the rear, harmony could easily be resorted to the Tazer.