2013 Turner Burner

27.5” vs. 26”

I definitely noticed the Burner’s bigger wheels while climbing. They are heavier than 26” wheels, and do take a bit more initial pedal power to get moving. At 1685 grams per set, the Stan’s Arch EX are not race wheels, but on this bike, they shouldn’t be. You could get lighter wheels and it might help you feel faster on the climbs, but these are great wheels for all-mountain shredding.

My initial fear descending was that with the 27.5” wheels, cornering would suffer. I like to lean a bike into corners and feel it accelerate through. Do the bigger wheels do this? Yeah. Do they do it as quickly as 26” wheels do? Not really.

Learning to corner the Burner took a little bit of time. With the longer wheelbase that comes with a larger-wheeled bike, you have to set up for the turn earlier. This means making sure your speed is right before the turn, picking a wider apex line around the corner for the lean, and pushing the back end of the bike around.

The Burner’s short-ish rear triangle will come around quickly, but picking the right line with the front wheel helps a lot. Sun Valley has quite a few very tight switchbacks that sometimes go nearly 180 degrees. I honestly didn’t notice a huge difference between the Fuel EX and the Burner in maneuvering through these slow, purely-steering-driven-types of turns. The low BB height works to the Burner’s advantage here in making it not feel tippy, and the wheelbase isn’t long enough to prevent the bike from getting around in tight quarters.

The wheels roll over trail obstacles really, really well, without feeling like giant wagon wheels. This doesn’t mean that you should just hit everything head-on like you can with some 29ers and watch the wheel glide right over—you still have to finesse them up-and-over, or pick a good line—but they definitely make the bike feel like it has more travel on technical descents.

I think that this is due in large part to the decreased angle of attack of the front wheel. Basically, the wheel can get up and over more obstacles with the decreased angle before the suspension platform engages. So it’s like getting an extra 10-20mm of travel out of the bike. Don’t take that to mean that it would feel like it has more travel on drops—angle of attack has little to do with how a suspension platform responds to that kind of hit, but it does mean that for general riding, the trail gets smoothed out just a bit by the wheels before the suspension has to work.

Let’s be clear, though. If a bike is poorly designed and has a suspension platform that is sub-stellar, it doesn’t matter what wheel size is on the bike. Putting 27.5” wheels on an old Trek Y-frame bike is not going to make it sweet.

On the Burner, the 27.5” wheels allow the bike to roll over a greater number of small and large obstacles without engaging the suspension platform, making the bike feel more efficient. Yes, you have to set up earlier for corners and pick slightly wider lines through them. 27.5” wheels require more effort to get up to speed, and learning to bunny hop with them will take practice. But is that trade off worth it? In my mind, yes.

Apples vs. Oranges: Trek Fuel EX vs. Turner Burner (or 26 vs. 27.5)

I like riding my Trek Fuel EX because it’s a five inch travel bike with a good compromise between all-mountain and trail geometry: not too twitchy, not too slack. Plus, it boasts one of the better suspension platforms out there, which has worked well for me on the smooth and flowy trails of Crested Butte, the chundery gnar of Porcupine Rim, and the twisty root-fests of Vermont.

In comparing it to the Burner, I would definitely say that the Burner’s dw-link is a more efficient platform for both pedaling and descending because of its anti-squat characteristics on the up, and its bottomless feel on the way down.

Add to that the trail-smoothing abilities of the 27.5” wheels. They contribute to a feeling of extra travel for this 140mm travel bike, and they turn nearly as quickly as 26” wheels.

Bottom Line

The Turner Burner is a solid, all-around, trail-shredding, all-mountain machine. While I only had seven days on it, I logged around 140 miles of varied singletrack. Outside of testing this bike somewhere else, like the tight-n-twisty roots and rock strewn trails of Vermont, a bike park, or shuttling it up the Whole Enchilada, there’s not much more I could have thrown at it in Sun Valley. It handled everything really well, especially rolling trail and descending.

This is not a lightweight race bike, so don’t expect that.  It’s also not a DH rig, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it could handle some flowier bike park trails, especially if you over-fork it, which Turner is apparently OK with.

It’s a trail bike for people who like to gap every double and rail every berm, who like to pedal long distances without pedal-bobbing themselves out of their minds, and who appreciate the benefits of a wheel size that is both relatively quick and also relatively forgiving when you’re so tired that you just can’t get the manual going for the rock garden up ahead.


* I’d like to thank Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports in Sun Valley, ID for helping me with the bike—thanks Chad for setting it up, and thanks Greg for pedaling our legs off.

* See more Broudy/Donahue Photography at http://www.authenticoutdoors.com/


5 comments on “2013 Turner Burner”

  1. soooo- i have been lusting after a burner. and i am a sv loc

    does pete lanes have demos?

    thanks for the great write up. i am thinking ccdb air, lowered lyrik dh up from. 2×10 shimano drivetrain, saint breaks, and dropper . 30 ish lb trail killa

    • mb –
      Pete Lane’s does have Turner Burner demos. When we were there (mid-June) they hadn’t yet received their size large frame but were waiting for it. So they should have the full run from S to L now. They’re set up pretty sweet, but you’ll be bummed there’s no dropper (hard thing to put on a demo/rental). Go talk to Greg (shop manager) – mention that you saw this review, he helped me out.
      Have fun out in SV – missing those trails already. I still have daydreams about Oregon Gulch.

  2. Dana – this is absolutely the most useful and informative bike test I’ve ever read. Ever. Dave T should have you do tests on ALL of his bikes! Hell – EVERYBODY should have you do their reviews!! And Blister owes you a raise. Kudos, in a big way. I’d been shopping for awhile. Was all about a 5.Spot. Saw the Burner on the website – and until I saw your review, couldn’t find flying monkey poop strings about it. Nothing that was particularly useful, anyway. I went ahead with the 5.Spot. Even after reading Bazar’s test of the 2011 edition (kidding – it was also very helpful). It’ll work better for me and where we ride. Chomping at the bits to get it in some mud. The decision sure didn’t reflect on your Burner review, though. You kick the proverbial butt with this stuff. Well done! And no disrespect to Bazar’s 5.Spot review. He did a helluva job with it. Better in every way than any of the glossy-page MTB magazine-rack tomes can do. But you just busted this one up in a big way. Ho yea.

    • Thanks, Jimicarl. I had a lot of fun riding that thing, and I think it’s definitely a bike worth considering for anyone considering making the 27.5 jump – which I think is a jump many people might just want to consider.

  3. I have about 3 months logged on my Burner and this review is very accurate. Everything I would say to describe the Burner is summed up with this review. Nice job.

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