Intense plugs into the lucrative and fast-growing e-bike market with the head-turning Tazer. Does it deliver shock and awe?
The Intense Tazer e-bike joins a select group bikes at the top of the tree. It rides and handles as well as the best e-bikes on the market.
Intense Tazer need to know
- Shimano STEPS equipped e-bike from one of the coolest brands in the business
- Mix and match wheel size with 29in up front and 27.5 Plus at the rear
- Internal battery can be removed easily for replacement or recharging
- Full carbon frame with Fox Factory level suspension
In its yellow and black livery and rear mudguard, the full carbon frame and mismatched wheel sizing of the Intense Tazer looks like it would be more at home roosting out of a turn on a motocross track, or jumping a triple in a stadium than pedalling up a technical singletrack climb (something it actually does quite well thanks to long 450mm chainstays and a genuinely steep seat tube).
This is a bold step, and one that’s divided public opinion if social media is any kind of reliable barometer. But Intense deserves kudos for not trying to hide the baby bump – this is as obvious an e-bike as you’ll find. In fact, in the US Intense is pitching the Tazer more at off-road motorcycle fans seeking to regain fitness and enjoy more trail freedom, than mountain bikers looking for a boost on the hills.
This is no shrinking violet then, a fact underlined by the sparkling Kashima coated Fox 36 fork, DPX2 shock and Fox Transfer dropper post. But the Tazer only costs £900 more than the Specialized Turbo Levo, and that bike has to make do with a spindly Fox 34 fork in lowly Performance spec. I say ‘only’, when of course £900 is still a huge chunk of change on top of an already hefty ticket price, but in the cold, hard world of brand new e-bikes, it represents relatively good value.
But is it better than a Turbo Levo? Well that’s not a simple question to answer, because the Specialized wins hands down on its Brose motor and battery combination, but the Tazer packs more travel, boasts a more capable and appropriate specification and gets you noticed, if that’s your thing.
With a Shimano STEPS motor and all-important slim-line E7000 control switch, the Tazer has a familiar response. The compact, lightweight system feels entirely natural on the trail but lacks grunt and doesn’t have the reaction time of the Brose system.
There’s really good support to the twin-link suspension and even with 30 per cent sag it took a heinous g-out (that bent the bars on one journalist’s bike) for me to bottom the shock. With a fat 2.8in Minion DHR II tyre out back you’re never wanting for traction on climbs, and the mismatched wheel diameters take very little time to get accustomed to – that said, I’ve ridden other e-bikes with them numerous times.
Sizing is generous too, so much so that (at 5ft 10in) we downsized from a large to a medium frame in the quest for agility. And it worked. On checking the numbers we noticed that the large Tazer is almost as big as the XL Turbo Levo and we never got to grips with the Specialized in this frame size either. Chopping back to the medium injected all dynamism we’d hoped for into the handling of the Tazer, and we could carve turns, switch direction and hit lines on it as well as any of the best e-bikes currently on the market. Indeed, as well as being the first medium frame that we’ve ridden in years, the whole bike gelled together in an intuitive and rewarding way that left us wanting second helpings. And thirds.
At 70kg we ran 21psi in the front tyre and 19psi in the rear tyre.
Fork pressure was 75psi and we ran 18mm of shock sag (30%) measured sitting in the saddle with all our weight through the shock. Bar height on the medium felt spot on with two 5mm spacers under the stem.
The Tazer joins a select group bikes at the top of the tree. It rides and handles as well as the best e-bikes on the market, and gets the proven Shimano motor. But it cannot match the power and torque of the Brose on the Specialized Turbo Levo or Rocky Mountain's slightly rough around the edges Powerplay unit. Equally it's only fractionally lighter than the alloy framed Vitus E-Sommet and Canyon Spectral:On - both of which are cheaper. A solid, if not ground-breaking, first attempt from Jeff Steber and the team at Intense.