Interbike test: Turner 5.Spot - the best dw-link bike yet

We ride it in Bootleg Canyon, Nevada

At Interbike’s Outdoor Demo in Bootleg Canyon, Nevada today we got to throw a leg over Dave Turner’s new 5.Spot, mid-travel bike. It’s good. Very, very good.

In fact it might well be the best dw-link yet. That’s certainly the opinion of Steve “world’s most experienced bike tester” Worland from What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK magazines who came back from riding a 5.Spot gushing about its unflappable suspension. He had been almost unable to get it to bob, even with the Fox Shox’s Propedal turned off. Only deliberate flailing had disturbed the bike’s balance, and even then not by very much.

Our riding revealed the same things. That superb dw-link rear end keeps the rear wheel firmly planted and pedals with nary a hint of wasted energy. It’s a suspension action that you genuinely don’t notice till you realize the rockpile you just flew over didn’t rattle your teeth.

Of course, there’s a lot more to a bike than just the rear suspension. The 5.Spot has perfectly sorted trail bike handling: straight-line stable, yet nimble enough to whip around tight switchbacks thanks to its sharp cornering. It might be a shade too sharp for some, but on one of the bikes we rode a wider bar helped tame it.

The bushing-equipped pivots are smoother than one would expect and, if you believe the engineering claims, should last longer with their higher load ratings and built-in grease fittings. Our test bikes weren’t particularly light but excellent pedaling performance largely makes up for it (and the 1250g wheels didn't hurt, either).  And damn, it does look good.

The buzz builds

Turner’s announcement just before last month’s Eurobike show that he was switching to the dw-link suspension design was a big surprise. But Turner fans – who tend to be deeply loyal – suspended skepticism about Turner’s third major suspension design and decided to wait to see how the bikes actually rode. They haven’t been disappointed.

Turner’s booth was one of the most popular at the Outdoor Demo and even we pampered and spoiled members of the meejyah could only get a bike by booking one hours in advance.

There was already a riders’ buzz around the new Turners. One importer, who handles another manufacturer’s dw-link bike, was raving when I bumped into him Monday afternoon about the Turner’s firm but active and unflappable ride.

Three of us – technical editor James Huang, Steve Worland and myself – took off into the trails of Bootleg Canyon on Turner 5.Spots. Steve’s perspective was especially interesting as he literally gave back one dw-link bike and hopped aboard the Turner, immediately finding that the Turner suffered far less from pedal-induced movement.

Bike with dw-link suspension seem to be very sensitive to the exact positioning of the link end points, and Turner has nailed it here, on first impressions at least.

On one trail full of gee-outs, the Turner’s resistance to bottoming came to the fore. Some bikes blam right through their travel on these steep in-and-out trails, but the Turner always felt like it had something in reserve. It wasn’t fazed at all by the transition from steep down to steep up.

There are lots of nice touches to the 5.Spot, like the cable mounts that allow for fully-enclosed cables to help maintain sifting efficiency in the face of outrageous weather (or dust).

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