‘GROM MODS’ THE TRACER 279 GOES MINI DH

There’s a great tradition in the mountain bike world of turning Enduro style bikes into mini downhill machines for Youth and Junior riders. There’s that adolescent age when you’re not quite a kid, but also not quite an adult… growing... but not quite there yet. It’s a time when a full-on downhill bike may be a little ‘too much’ to pedal and move around for a younger rider.


With that in mind, it still came as a bit of a shock when two of our INTENSE Europe Ambassadors, 14-year-old Billy Pugh and 13-year-old Nico Haglev, built-up almost identical Tracer 279s with triple clamp forks in a DH set-up for racing. Even weirder that Billy lives in the UK and Nico in Norway, and they don’t know each other! Great minds think alike.

The Tracer wasn’t really designed to be ridden with a triple clamp downhill fork on it (our INTENSE engineers may have slightly sweaty palms looking at these bikes!), but at around 50kg each both Nico and Billy are light riders. We needed to know more.


NICO HAGLEV’S MINI DH TRACER 279

Nico tell us about your Tracer 279, what’s going on with the triple clamp forks?
Being a smaller, lightweight racer it has always been a challenge to build a proper DH race set-up that works for me. Too big, too long, too heavy… the list goes on! Together with my wrencher and suspension scientist Mr. Gavin Steder (@party_wrench) we wanted to see if we could take a modern enduro rig and develop it even further towards a proper racing DH rig. The new Tracer 279 was just perfect platform for that purpose.

What have you done to the forks, do they have different internals to normal?
We used a normal Öhlins DH38 m.2 fork and rebuilt the air shaft to 180mm. We kept a similar offset to the single crown fork and by adjusting how deep the stanchions sit in the triple clamp crown we were able to keep the geometry almost identical to the single crown version.


How does it make the bike feel?
I nicknamed it ‘The Trail Slayer’ because it just feels like it’s plowing through any terrain so effortlessly. What amazes me is that it still is super responsive for me given my size. I have absolutely no problem throwing it around in challenging situations where a regular 29 DH race bike would definitely have been a handful for me. As for geometry it’s almost identical to the single crown version, as we tuned the Öhlins DH38 quite a bit.

How different does the triple clamp feel for DH compared to single crown forks?
It definitely gives me the confidence to charge faster and harder and go bigger than what a single crown would do. In addition I would say the increased overall stiffness of the bike and the support with a triple crown definitely gives me a better bike feel than a single crown in DH racing.


I feel like this bike gives me a much more useable range of travel and better suspension kinematics. Making the bike and suspension supple enough to actually be able to easily activate the initial stroke of the suspension and get small bump sensitivity while not eating up too much of the travel and making the bike too dead, allowing me to also be able to pump and push the bike to generate momentum instead of the bike soaking up when I don’t need/want it too. Ultimately allowing me to not get kicked around while also allowing me to carry a lot more momentum and speed, something we have struggled with before.

How would you describe how the bike rides in this DH set-up compared to an Enduro set-up?
My Tracer 279 is a complete DH conversion build, meaning I would not at any point challenge myself to climb many hills! Hahahaha.


What are the other changes you have made to make this Tracer a DH bike?
In addition to the forks we put a bigger chainring on the front (36T) and set it up with TRP DH gears and a 7-speed cassette. We are always working with the spring rate at the different tracks we ride according to weight, style and conditions.

Do you think your ‘DH Tracer’ would suit a lot of the downhill tracks you ride set-up like this?
My ‘Trail Slayer’ is the ultimate DH bike for me being a small and lightweight rider.


Have you had success on the bike?
Absolutely! I raced the iXS DH event down in Ilmenau in Germany (German Championship) recently. I won the seeding but messed up my final a bit with a crash so ended up in fourth, but seriously, this bike is so incredibly fast! I can’t wait to race it more soon.

Do you ride it like this all the time, or do you swap between this custom DH set-up and the original enduro build?
This build is permanent, I have my Primer 275 for all other riding I do. These two bikes are just a perfect match for me.


What do you think of Billy’s set up?
I see we have many of the same mods, if not all. Billy’s bike looks amazing! The Tracer 279 is such an amazing bike from the beginning and with the ‘Grom mods’ it’s even more.


BILLY PUGH’S MINI DH TRACER 279

Tell us about your Tracer 279, what’s going on with the triple clamp forks?
My Tracer has been set up with Fox 40 triple clamps to make a fast and nimble bike for UK downhill tracks.

What have you done to the forks, do they have different internals to normal?
We have put on a set of 27.5” Fox 40's and changed the lowers in the fork to fit the 29” front wheel, and changed the 200mm travel to 180mm by increasing the negative air pressure.

How does it make the bike feel?
The geometry feels a little higher on the front end due to the triple clamps, but I like this feeling because it reminds me of the standover and reach on my freestyle BMX.

How different does the triple clamp feel for DH compared to single crown forks?
The triple crown fork makes the bike a lot more hard hitting and more stable.


How would you describe how the bike rides in this DH set-up compared to an Enduro set-up?
It’s faster through rougher sections, but is still nimble and very good in corners with the mullet set-up helping with that, and it’s also very good at carrying speed.

What are the other changes you have made to make this Tracer a DH bike?
We have set it up with 7-speed gearing to make it suitable for downhill races. I will put a DH seatpost on it instead of the dropper post it has now. The wheels have also been kept the same but with DH tires to see how well they run and handle. Also the cranks have been changed to 165mm.

Do you think your ‘DH Tracer’ would suit a lot of the downhill tracks you ride set-up like this?
I think the Tracer is a perfect bike for all UK tracks and for the French alps, etc. In my opinion it is the best bike I have ridden so far.


Have you had success on the bike?
The first time I properly rode it I raced the Welsh DH Champs at Caresws, and I won. Bringing home the jersey and the title of Welsh Champ, which is something I have always wanted to achieve.

Do you ride it like this all the time, or do you swap between this custom DH set-up and the original enduro build?
For now I will be keeping it as a downhill set-up and train and race as it is because it runs so well for downhill, but if next year I go to do a bigger enduro then we may change it back.

What do you think of Nico’s set-up?
I really like the colors of it and the use of the Öhlins fork and shock because I used an Öhlins coil on an old bike and it worked really well, so I’m interested to see how well it works on the Tracer.