Dirt Rag Magazine

Hands on with Turner’s 650b full-suspension prototype – the Burner

By Josh Patterson,

Dave Turner revived the ‘Burner’ name for the latest bike in the Turner lineup. The new Burner is a 650b trail bike, sporting 140mm of front and rear travel. Turner has gained a loyal following by building full suspension bikes that are efficient, durable, and are made in the United States. The Burner has a 44mm headtube, 142×12 rear thru-axle, and ISCG 05 chainguide mounts. Like all Turners, the Burner is built around Dave Weagle’s dw-link suspension design, with zerk grease fittings on the pivots to keep the bushings smooth and silent.

I picked Dave Turner’s brain while he was setting up my demo bike about everything from where he sees the wheelsize fitting into the mountain bike spectrum, to what to call the damn thing—there are many tongue-in-cheek nicknames floating around for 650b.

“I want to call it the ‘waffle,’” Turner said. “As in waffling, but also because it’s sweet.”

Turner sees a big future for 650b. “I won’t build anything I wouldn’t want to ride,” he said. The company’s 29er trail bike, the Sultan, has been Turner’s best selling bike for several seasons. (Read our review from Issue #145 here.) The Sultan served as the first test mule for 650b. Turner saw merit in the wheelsize and a handful of prototypes were produced.

In the coming years he expects 650b will take marketshare from the emerging breed of long-travel 29ers and annihilate 26-inch wheels on everything but downhill rigs.

“Downhill racers are not like the rest of us,” Turner said. “The bikes are already really long, and [the riders] need bikes that are very maneuverable.”

On the Trail

I set out on a test ride with a handful of other journalists. The trails overlooking Park City have a little bit of everything (and a lot of elevation). Our ride included a great mix of terrain on which to test the merits of the wheelsize and the frame itself: some fast and flowy terrain, bermed switchbacks, and just the right amount of rocky chunder.

 

My Burner was spec’d with a RockShox 650b Revelation fork and a Rockshox Monarch RT3 in the rear. I used all 140mm of the Revelation’s travel. It proved to be a smooth and highly tunable fork. My experience with dw-link bikes has generally been positive; the suspension design provides a firm pedaling platform that’s unfazed by out-of-the-saddle mashing, while still managing to hug the ground when the going gets rough. The Burner was no exception. I rode with it with the platform damping turned off for everything but the road climb back to Deer Valley resort.

As soon as I through a leg over the Burner it was very apparent that I was not riding big wheels, just big-ish wheels…

Acceleration was very good. The Burner is more flickable than 29ers with a comparable amount of travel. (The feather-light and incredibly stiff 650b ENVE wheels certainly didn’t hurt either.) A stiff chassis and stiff wheels kept the Burner pointed where I wanted it to go. It rolled over rocks and roots OK. I could not plow through rock gardens the way I could with a 29er, but it was easier to make quick line adjustments and pop off berms and other trail features.

Wheelsize is only half the Burner’s story. Turner’s interpretation of the 650b trail bike is low and slack. The exact geometry numbers are yet-to-be determined, but if they are in the same ballpark as the prototype I rode, I think the Burner will be a hit. The Burner could appeal to a wide variety of riders: it can be built up as a lightweight trail bike or as an enduro-ready machine with a 1×10 (or the soon-to-be available 1×11) drivetain, chainguide, and dropper post. I think the Burner will excel in either configuration.

The Burner will be available this fall with an estimated retail price of $2,500 for the frame with shock.

What do you think about 650b?

Is it good to have choices? A solution to a problem that does not exist? A ‘just right’ wheelsize? An industry-driven ploy to sell more bikes? All of the above? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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