Tested: Turner Burner Expert

TurnerBurner
By Brice Minnigh and Anthony Smith/previously published in the July issue of Bike

Turner Burner Expert
Price:
$5,580

From the Designer: As mountain bikes continue to stratify into sub-genres of genres, each with its own particular specifications, culture and intended purpose, bikes are becoming more and more discipline-specific. The Burner is a recognition that a rider shouldn’t have to have a five-bike quiver to enjoy a 24-hour race or solid trail ride one weekend, followed by a jaunt to porcupine rim or Downieville the next. This Burner is not the jack-of-all trades.It was designed to be the master-of-all-trails.—David Turner, Founder

Tester 1: Brice Minnigh / 23 years riding
Tester Locale: Hong Kong Islands

The moment it became clear to us at Bike that 27.5-inch-wheeled bikes were here to stay, we put the much-anticipated new Turner Burner on our 650b shortlist for testing—sending Turner Bicycles’ founder David turner periodic emails begging him to float us one of his first production models. So imagine my delight when we received this matte-black beauty the very day before I was due to fly to Hong Kong for several days of riding the mountainous island trails of the special administrative region of southern China.

Having ridden those trails regularly for almost a decade, I knew they demanded a well-balanced bike that could climb and descend equally well. Just taking one long look at the brand-new Burner, with its clean lines and sensible geometry, I was confident it would prove itself to be an extremely capable trail bike. The 67-degree head angle looked ideal for descending, while the shortish steerer tube seemed likely to keep my body position low enough to maintain ample weight on my front wheel during climbs.

This theory proved true on my first big climb, when I found the front end to be considerably more obedient than my lactic acid-filled legs, which in those moments were relieved by the granny-gear option afforded by the SRAM X0 Type 2, 3×10 drivetrain.

However, having spent most of the past few years running double- and single-ring setups, I had to reacquaint myself with the feeling of periodically dropping the chain while barreling down burly descents, and this experience really reinforced the importance of having legs strong enough to push a harder gear. Fortunately, the Burner offers a 2×10 drivetrain option, which would make tremendous sense for riders who really want to test the bike’s limits in tough terrain.

Further adding to the burner’s climbing efficiency is its proven DW-Link suspension platform, which rewarded explosive out-of-the-saddle efforts with instantaneous power transfer and no discernible pedal bob. on the descents, the rear wheel tracked remarkably well, and the suspension felt blissfully smooth through the Hong Kong Islands’ ubiquitous rock gardens. riding the same trails that I once chattered through on hardtails with 80-millimeter travel forks felt like an entirely different experience on the Burner.

This brings me to the 27.5-inch wheels, which David Turner specifically chose for the rebirth of this bike due to his dissatisfaction with certain handling traits of 29-inch-wheeled bikes. Though I’ve spent most of the past two years on 29ers and the current crop of 650b hopefuls, I’ve made a pledge to myself to refrain from thinking about the size of my wheels. but day after day I broke that pledge on the Burner, while easily cleaning challenging climbs that once were hit-or-miss on my beloved 26-inchers of yore.

Likewise, descending through beefy rock sections and big, rooty step-downs felt effortless compared to the grin-and-bear-it moments from back in the day. I’m not entirely sure whether to chalk up this newfound ease to my development of better handling skills or to the giant leap that full suspension bike technology has made over the
past decade, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with the latter.

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Tester 2: Anthony Smith / 18 years riding
Tester Locale: Laguna Beach, California

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a superficial mountain biker. If a bike looks good, chances are high that I’ll want to give it some attention. The Turner Burner is just that. this low, long, matte black, 27.5-inch-wheeled, all-mountain, jack-of-all-trades has the stance and look of a true trail crusher. But I wondered whether its good looks would translate into a ride that was just as sweet.

One of the first things I noticed about our size-medium test bike was its short steerer tube. At only 95 millimeters, it is noticeably shorter than those of many medium bikes—a distinct advantage for riders on the smaller side of the medium spectrum. but for me, a rider on the taller side, my stock short stem and low-rise bars left me in an awkward position. I remedied that with a 50-millimeter-rise handlebar and a 10-millimeter stack of headset spacers placed underneath my 50-millimeter stem. These modifications put me back into a more familiar position, and the low-slung top tube helped make a very spacious cockpit. On the trail, one of the most distinct handling
attributes came from the bike’s rear end.

I found the 447-millimeter chainstays to be a tad long compared to those of some of the bikes I’ve truly identified with in recent years. But what was lost in a lively, playful feel was gained in climbing proficiency and high-speed stability. on steep, punchy climbs I found that the front wheel stayed planted and tracked true. When the trail turned down, The bike felt stable and stuck to the ground. Pair this with a relatively low, 336-millimeter bottom-bracket height and you’ve got a bike that you can corner with confidence.

While the alloy cable guides are far better than zip-tie guides, the forward-most top tube cable guide is located so close to the headtube that it leaves insufficient room for a normal Allen key to access the 2.5-millimeter bolt. Also, the top link on the rear suspension came very close to where the dropper post is routed, and it had the annoying tendency to pinch its hydraulic cable.

The Burner is a perfect candidate for a dropper post with no cable movement, or perhaps internal routing on future versions, in order to eliminate this problem.

It’s clear that Turner set out to make a 27.5-inch-wheeled bike that was uniquely its own with the new Burner. the high-speed stability and outstanding cornering prowess are standout ride features. Knowing that the bike climbs as well as it descends makes it an ideal candidate for someone looking for a no-nonsense, do-it-all trail bike

Turner’s Two Cents: In addition to the 3×10 X0 tested, we offer this bike in a sub-25 -pound XX1/ENVE combo as well as XTR and XT in every configuration a rider wants. What’s uncanny about the Burner is that you can find a legitimate application for every drivetrain, and Turner offers the custom-spec’ing riders need to make the Burner the right bike for each rider’s application. Ride on.–David Turner

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