Bike Test: Turner DHR

Joe Parkin and Ryan LaBar review the Turner DHR.

Scroll down for video from a day of testing on the Turner DHR.

Tester 1: Joe Parkin
Years Riding: 28
Test Locales: Whistler & Southern California

One of the greatest benefits to being the editor of this magazine is that whenever I feel a strong desire to review a particular bike, I can add it to our testing pool and barge my way to the front of the line to ride it—which is exactly what I did with Turner's 2011 DHR. After getting a few test runs aboard an early demo model last year at Crankworx in Whistler, I knew I, er, we had to test one further, because Turner's fourth-generation DHR is an absolute gravity masterpiece.

What immediately sets the DHR apart from the competition is its laid-back (63-degree head angle) and low-slung (13.5-inch bottom bracket height) stance. Stable? You better believe it. Combine that with DW-Link rear suspension and you get a downhiller that's an absolute blast. I deviated only slightly from Turner's suggested settings on the Fox Racing Shox DHX RC4 rear shock, and feel like this bike has traction for days—right out of the box. I honestly can't remember ever feeling so confident and quick on a big bike. The DHR did what we dream all bikes should do—it made me a better rider.

When I swapped the Turner for another notable and similarly equipped downhiller, I knew that my infatuation with the DHR was well founded: Suddenly, sections of trail that I'd been making light work of became formidable—and the DHR's amazing Velcro traction and confident handling was now being thoroughly enjoyed by my co-tester.
Hey, Ryan. Give me back the DHR.
—Joe Parkin

Tester 2: Ryan LaBar
Years Riding: 13
Test Locale: Southern California

My first few rides aboard the DHR were a little rough—literally. On particularly large hits the suspension felt a bit harsh. Thinking something was amiss with my rear shock settings, I swallowed my pride and opened the setup manual. Turns out I was a just a bit off the recommended settings for this bike. After recalibrating the shock, the harsh feel was replaced with smooth ground-tracking action—on hits big and small.

The most striking feature on the DHR is perhaps its extreme geometry. The Turner is outfitted with one of the slackest head angles and the lowest bottom brackets of any DH bike.

Along with its slack-and-low demeanor, the DHR has an ultra-low center of gravity, thanks to the low shock and linkage placements. This helped the bike scream down steep chutes and corner like a demonic go-kart. While that same low bottom bracket might lead to a few extra clipped pedals or bashed bashguards on rougher tracks, I didn't experience either of these ills on our Southern California test courses. Think you might want a steeper (or even slacker) head angle? You can always install a Cane Creek AngleSet in the DHR's 1.5-inch headtube and tweak away to your heart's content. For the record, I think the stock geometry is spot on.

In addition to its affinity for steep and fast trails, the DHR was surprisingly easy and predictable to jump. It took little effort to loft gaps and trail features.

Through and through, the DHR is an absolute riot to pilot. After riding the Turner, I'd be honestly shocked if more companies don't start slackening and lowering their DH race bikes.
—Ryan LaBar

Turner's Two Cents:
Our long development time really helped dial in the geometry, which, as your reviews point out, works as well in Whistler and SoCal as it does on World Cup downhill courses. The precise anti-squat characteristics of the DW-Link enabled me to move the geometry into the lower/ slacker range, something that wasn't possible with past designs due to the dynamic nature of a long-travel bike. With the DW-Link keeping the bike more stable under hard efforts, the front end wanders less and the pedals hit rocks less frequently. Getting this bike into full production will make a lot of racers happy in 2012. —David Turner, Owner/Designer, Turner Bicycles