One of the most highly anticipated bikes in our 2017 trail test, the Intense Recluse didn't deliver. We couldn't wait to see how the stylish 140mm bike compared to the others, particularly the similar Santa Cruz Bronson, and wasted no time getting it out on the trail. The Recluse is nimble, with sharp steering, but it tracks poorly, and its suspension is shockingly harsh. While we like riding it in some circumstances, and it's definitely the best-dressed bike in the test, its unsure descending skills and sluggish pedaling performance didn't come close to keeping up with the other bikes. The Recluse just doesn't come together as a whole. That magical alchemy that animates several of the other bikes, livening up the Bronson and the play-ready Ibis Ripley LS, is absent.
The Recluse is a fair bike for dialed back downhill laps or a mellow trail half-day without much climbing. Given our far superior experience on the other bikes in the test, however, we can't recommend the Intense Recluse over your other options anywhere on trail. The beastly Bronson or playful and well-rounded Canyon Spectral are far better options meant for similar, aggressive-trail applications.