David Turner’s been around the bike industry for ever, working with the likes of RockShox and Horst Leitner in the early days of MTB suspension and trading under his own name since 1994. Today the Turner range is one of the most popular “boutique” brands in the UK – lob an inner tube in a Welsh MTB centre car park and you’ll almost certainly lassoo at least a couple of 5 Spots. The range has been steadily growing over the years, and for 2007 there are seven Turner frames covering everything from XC to DH and all points in between.
We headed up to Coed Llandegla recently to meet up with Turner importers Roundel MTB and have a quick spin on some of the new range. And, of course, to sample the bacon butties…
The 5 Spot is the Turner you see most in the UK – it successfully hits that middle ground between a bit too XC and a bit too freeride for a lot of riders, offering a sensible amount of travel at a sensible weight for a sort of heavy-duty trail bike.
For 2007 it’s had a name change, though. The new 5½ Spot has an extra half-inch of travel, at 5.5in (140mm). The additional travel comes courtesy of a redesigned rocker that also promises increased torsional stiffness. Also stiffer is the new chainstay assembly.
Despite the extra travel, it hasn’t got any heavier (claimed frame weight is 6.2lb) and most of the time it doesn’t feel any different to ride – you just get a bit more margin of error. The character of the bike remains unchanged, so it’s still the all-rounder that made it a success in the first place. Frame price is £1,495.
Moving up a travel notch we have the completely redesigned RFX. Last year’s bike was a direct development of the old 6 Pack, which was definitely a bit on the freeride side. The RFX is meant to be more all-mountain, and to further that aim the 2007 frame has shed 1.5lb in weight. The whole rear triangle and rocker arm are redesigned around a longer Fox DHX Air shock that delivers 6.4in of rear wheel travel.
We didn’t get a chance to ride this one, but it looked like a worthy ally on the jumpy/droppy bits and no slouch on the climbs either. The RFX is also £1,495.
And now for something completely different. The Sultan is Turner’s first entry into the 29er market. Big wheels are massively popular in the US, and they’ve now reached a critical mass at which there’s actually a choice of forks and tyres. We’re still not totally convinced by the concept, but at the end of the day it’s just another sort of bike that some people will get on with and some won’t. And it’s not as if the 26in wheel is anything other than a historical accident anyway.
The Sultan is essentially a big-wheeled Flux. Travel is the same at 4in, the cockpit dimensions are the same across the sizes but the Sultan has longer stays to accommodate the wheels, steeper angles to speed up the handling and an extra 0.5lb of weight on account of there being more metal in it.
It’s not as odd to ride as we were expecting, and the differences weren’t the ones we were expecting either – the Sultan actually feels very light on the steering, largely down to the steep head angle and short stem on the demo bike. What it doesn’t seem to do is respond to the steering with the alacrity of its smaller-wheeled brethren – it’s a leany/carvy kind of bike. It’s great on flowing trails and maintaining speed is a doddle. If you like to chuck bikes around, though, it’s probably not your bag. There aren’t that many full suspension 29ers around, so if you’re looking for one, add the Sultan to the list. By a curious coincidence, they’re £1,495 too.
If you’re a giant, it’s worth noting that the 5½ Spot, RFX and Sultan are all available in monster XXL sizes with 26.5in top tubes – they’re recommended for riders over 6’5″.
That’s the new stuff in the Turner range. Carried over from 2006 largely unchanged (and not costing £1,495…) are the 4.5lb/3in travel Nitrous XC racer (£1,695) and the 5.5lb/4in travel Flux (which is also available in a women-specific 13in frame size) at (£1,395). The Highline freeride frame (£1,695) has slightly less travel for 2007, down to 7.1in – it’s front-mech capable, too. The DHR downhill race frame (£1,895) has had a substantial overhaul – it now has round tubes, a lower BB, a shallower head angle and nearly two pounds less weight. Travel is 8.5in.