Intended Use: Goin’ up, then coming down quickly
Test Locations: Tahoe/Reno
Days Ridden: ~50
Tester Info: I literally go up just to come down quickly. Seriously. I don’t even like “nice views.”
- Fork: Fox TALAS 160mm RC2
- Wheels: Mavic Crossmax SX
- Cranks: 2011 Shimano XT
- Pedals: Some old Time plastic things
- Shift’ems: SRAM XO triggers from, like, 2005
- Brake’ems: Shimano XTs from, like, 2009
- Boinger: Fox RP23 Kashima with Med compression and rebound tune
- Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.35 DH casing (rear)/Maxxis 2.5 Minion DHF EXO (front)
- Chain squeezer: Blackspire Stinger, BB mount
The Turner 5.Spot is one of those frames that has been around the Turner lineup for a few years. The first few incarnations were the traditional Horst link design typically associated with the brand, and in 2009 it saw what many would say was a needed upgrade to a DW-link (or Dave Weagle) setup. Those first few DW frames rode really well from a suspension standpoint, but the geometry didn’t really accurately reflect where burly trail bikes were headed. Its head angle was a little steep, and the bottom bracket could have been lower. I say that about the bottom bracket on every bike, but in this case, I wasn’t the only one saying it.
For 2011, the 5.Spot saw both of these crucial areas addressed, and, like a predator sitting in waiting, I saw my chance to pounce. [Editor’s Note: that analogy is so terrible, I had no choice but to leave it in.]
But first, some background. My first ride on any of the DW frames was after a quick bike swap with a buddy at the somewhat well known Downieville descent of Butcher Ranch to Third Divide to wherever else (those are the good parts, so that’s what matters). I was on a Specialized Enduro SL and was immediately impressed with how stiff the thing was. It also felt like a frame with much more travel than the stated 140mm. I learned the hard way that this was mainly because it was horribly undersprung.
Those DW bikes are very intentionally designed to work well under pedaling forces in a very specific range of travel. Get outside that range of travel, and all bets are off. The cornerstone of a DW suspension design is what the Weagle™ borrows from the moto world: “anti-squat.” Put simply, the rear end tries to resist compression while under pedaling loads. Get outside of the range of travel where the bike is built to do this (i.e., riding too low into the travel), and you will get the most violent pedal kickback you’ve ever experienced. In my case, I almost got pitched off the bike.
Long story short: set up the bike the way it’s supposed to be set up, and life is good. Pay attention to those sag settings. The owner at the time had experienced the same thing, upped his shock pressures, and never felt anything anywhere near that again. I’ve certainly never experienced it on my frame.
Fast forward to 2011 when Turner announces their new 5.Spot with a 44mm headtube (tapered forks and funky, angled headsets, kids!), a 13.5mm bottom bracket height, and a 67.7-degree head angle. I’m in.
I’ve been on the 2011 model now since spring of last year. Although there’s a 2012 model available, the changes are somewhat minor, and, for all intents and purposes, it’s the same bike I’ve been riding. The 2012 model has ISCG mounts for a guide, a 142mm rear end, and a swoopy, curvy downtube that may or may not take 5 seconds off your next descent. I’m not on the latest and greatest, but what I have to say pertains to any 2012 5.Spot frame out there.
I should note that this frame was a bit of an anomaly for me in that it marked the very first time I’d ever replaced a trail bike with a frame that had less travel than its predecessor. Not a huge deal, but an indication of how impressed I was with the ride quality of that early 2009 model. Travel is one thing, but it ain’t everything.