Insider Rides looks at the bikes that we ride, the bikes that industry insiders ride, that racers ride, and everyday folk ride. For this instalment, we are shown around the Intense Tracer 275c of Kris ‘Grom’ Withington, guru at Wide Open Distributors in Rotorua and former mechanic for the Garmin pro road racing team. While Kris still exudes all the style and smarts of a roadie, he loves nothing more than getting in over his head on the Redwoods trails, and the Tracer is his weapon of choice when push comes to shred.


The Tracer 275C is Intense’s 160mm 27.5″ trail bike that most of the staff at Wide Open got onto recently. It’s super capable, reliable, does wonders for your confidence, and on top of that it just looks so pretty! It pedals and climbs great which is perfect for our Rotorua trails, and has plenty of travel on tap when things get a little more “exciting”. I was lucky enough to receive a slightly revised version of the Stage fork from Noah Sears at MRP to check out, and he hooked me up with some near perfect matching decals for it which really top the bike off. The fork’s performance has been fantastic as well, super slick and supple from the top of the travel and plenty of progression right throughout. I’ve got it set at 160mm to match the rear, I think it looks great and it’s a bit different too, which I like.


The Absolute Black oval chainring is something that I’ve been riding for about a year now and I’m totally sold on it. I really notice the difference when climbing, especially steep technical niggly stuff. The oval shape means there is constant power going to the rear wheel throughout the pedal stroke so you maintain traction a lot better. I’m also pretty sure that I’m changing gear less as well, being able to get over slight rises in the trail a little easier. I’ve got an MRP 1x top guide on there for extra chain security, and they are so light and unobtrusive that there’s no reason not to use one. I think trail bikes look better with a chainguide anyway.


I’m a fairly recent convert to SDG’s Circuit MTB saddle and it suits my ass perfectly. It’s nice and light with the Ti-Alloy rails, it looks low and Pro too and the limited edition Dazzle pattern is pretty cool. The Thomson Elite Covert Dropper Post has been good, simple to deal with and like most Thomson products, they just keep it classy and get the job done with minimal fuss.


I’ve been using an XT groupset for ages and I couldn’t see any reason to change when building this bike up. It’s reliable, well priced and when I push on the shifter the chain moves up and down the cassette with no complaints. Cam McKenzie at Shimano NZ really took care of me on the groupset so it just couldn’t be beat price-wise.


We had a couple of Rock Shox Monarch Plus shocks spare at work so I bolted them into the frame. It’s never missed a beat. I think I’ve got three or four of the rubber band tokens in there to ramp it up when I’m going like a hard-out. It matches the Stage fork well too.


I’ve got a set of ENVE M60HV rims that I built onto Chris King hubs for that extra buzzzzzzzzz. The M60HV rim is nice and light and the width matches 2.3″ tires well. I’ve been riding ENVE wheels for a while now, they are strong, light, look cool, super easy to build and require zero maintenance. Of  course they make the bike track better, turn better and more responsive. I also think they make the bike brake better too but I could be just going too slow.


The Thomson X4 stem and ENVE Riser Bar is probably our most popular cockpit combo we sell at Wide Open. The stem is a no-brainer and the ENVE bars have a perfect shape and at 760mm wide are on the money for all-round trail riding. Theres no purple or green anodizing here either: black, black and black. Stay classy people.


It would be cool to ride like Aaron Gwin, so I thought I’d try out his signature ODI grips. So far it hasn’t worked out, but I do like the grips. They are the narrowest and firmest grip from ODI, so for me they are spot on. In black of course.


I’m a bit fanatical about a clean handlebar setup, obsessing about cable and hose length so it all looks perfect when you are on the bike. I think it’s a bit of a hangover from my roadie days. The heat shrink tubing is something we used to use to keep electronic groupset wiring nice and clean on the road, and I had a bit of it stashed away in my tool box from the old days.


It was a bit of a faff to get the brake hose and dropper cable length spot-on before shrinking it but I think it worked out pretty well. The second version will be a bit cleaner with no creases and what-not in there, but it really keeps things nice and tidy and way better than zip ties or something like that. I guess the downside is that the setup is not very maintenance-friendly but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Watch out for Kris’ new ride to be featured soon. 

If you know of a cool Insider Ride, and want to see it featured on ChainSlap, flick us an email at