Turner Burner 650B
I have been interested in the 650B thing for a while now and know that Dave Turner has been as well. Now with the major fork and tire manufacturers finally getting on board I was excited to see Turner’s new creation, the Burner 650 B. I like the name, but by resurrecting the old Burner moniker he may be inviting some confusion as to what this bike is if you knew the old Burner, but it is clearly in the trail/all-mountain category. Think of it as a 650B 5 Spot and you’ll have a clear picture. It has 140mm of dw-linked rear wheel travel and well-sorted numbers all around. The frame is true to the Turner design philosophy with mostly straight tubes, smooth welds, and purpose built looks. The component spec on this prototype were all high end, light, carbon, and swanky. It felt pretty light.
After chatting with Dave a bit (do you ever just chat with Dave “a bit”?) about bikes, 650B, and the Downieville DH while he set up the bike (yes, DT, Owner and CEO of Turner bikes personally set up the bike) I was ready for my first demo of the day. Pedaling it away from the Turner tent I was impressed how efficient it felt which shouldn’t surprise me because I own a dw link 5 Spot….but it seemed to roll easier than my Spot. Maybe it was the Enve 27.5″ carbon hoops.
We decided to climb Girl Scout since it wasn’t too hot yet and the trail would be free of downhill traffic. Girl Scout is a fairly smooth, gradual, rolling climb with some rocky chunk mixed in to keep you on your toes and test your tech skills. The Burner rolled nicely and felt efficient while climbing with no noticeable bob. We felt it could have been more active when encountering small to medium sized square edges during the climb though. Instead of easily absorbing these rocks and rolling over smoothly, the rear wheel would stall slightly, then bounce up over them. My 5 Spot displays this tendency some as well but running a bit more sag, bigger, low pressure tubeless tires, and break-in of the bushings has greatly diminished this trait. With the same tweaks and the larger 27.5″ hoops I would predict that these kinds of bumps will be mostly erased by the Burner. I’ll reserve final judgement for now.
There’s a rocky, loose climb with two switchbacks leading into a three-and-a-half foot, near vertical step-up move, followed by more rocky, ledgy climbing on the connector up to the Caldera loop that always challenges me and gives me a good measure of a bike’s technical climbing prowess. The Burner proved itself worthy even though I didn’t clean the whole climb, one-dabbing the top of the step-up move and flubbing the first rocky, off-camber switchback but I blame my early morning jitters rather than the bike. It found traction on the loose, washed out stuff, felt balanced and and not reluctant while lifting the front wheel, and agile and un-29er like on the tight switch backs.
The next section of Caldera is a fast, rolling, flowy, semi-rough descent down into the bowl that is just flat out fun. The Burner really lit up on this section. The rear seemed to float over over stuff, it stuck in corners and had me hooting and hollering. Made me think the Burner would be a great enduro mount.
The slower, more chunky, unflow of the West Leg descent seemed to expose the hopping/skipping-over feeling in the rear end again but overall I really liked this bike (Craig not as much). It was stiff laterally, steering was accurate and not ponderous and it flicked back and forth 26er-like in the “S” turns. This size large fit my 5′ 11.5″ inch body pretty well and the whole package felt nicely balanced. The 650B seemed to lean more towards 26″ characteristics than 29 but I could feel a little extra momentum carrying into rollers and slightly better rollability over chunk than a 26er but not as much as I thought I would. I’d take the Burner all day long over the Trance X in tighter, steep, slow techy trails.
Here are Craig’s thoughts which he posted on the Turner forum
“Got to spend some time on a Burner today at Interbike. Felt really good, it was a good build, with carbon Enve wheels, didn’t weigh it but it was in the 27-28 lb range. Only issue I had with it was that I felt it was a bit firm on square edge bumps both climbing and descending, it didn’t feel like it clawed its way up and over, more like it bounced up and over. Could have benefited from a dropper post as well.”
I really missed my dropper post on the more up and down stuff.
This early production Rock Shox 140 Revelation 27.5 specific fork felt really plush with nice damping characteristics while climbing the rocky squares of Bootleg and descending the tamer Caldera loop but got a little in over its head on some of the more abrupt, steeper chunk elsewhere. I think the production Burners in the demo fleet had a 150mm Rev, but I would kill for a 34-36mm 160 fork on this thing.