Turner 5.Spot £4369

Ultra refined DW-Link trail bike

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

On the shop floor, the Turner 5.Spot is a hard sell. It’s heavy-ish, expensive and made from aluminum rather than exotic carbon fiber. Don't let that put you off, though – it's out on the trail that this bike shows its true colors, offering a class-leading, category-defying ride.

There are three questions you should ask yourself before making your mind up about the 5.Spot. What’s more important – the weight a bike posts on the scale or how light it feels when riding? How well it pedals in the parking lot or how well it works on the trail? The type of material it’s molded from or how that material is made to ride? If you picked the latter answers, read on...

Ride & handling: Balance, light trail feel and low-slung weight make this an absolute ripper

From the first pedal stroke it’s immediately apparent that Turner’s application of Dave Weagle’s DW-Link suspension system is unique. It’s impressively sensitive to the terrain rolling under the 5.Spot’s wheels, yet seemingly isolates a rider fully when they’re seated, whether mashing the pedals or spinning tidy little circles.

The suspension does react when you stand up or make big weight shifts, even with the Fox shock's Adaptive Logic ProPedal dial in the number 3 ('firm') position. But this is a trail bike, not a cross-country race bike, and the Turner strikes a great balance between bump eating and efficient pedaling.

In terms of ride quality, the 5.Spot is second to none in the trail category. Its weight is low slung, its chainstays are reasonably short and the compact chassis makes the 67.7° head angle feel quicker than the number suggests. The bike manuals like an animal, and despite its flickability and agility, it’s pretty darn stable when speeds pick up. 

The two complete triangles and dual link DW-Link suspension design make for a stable chassis

On their website, Turner variously describe the 5.Spot as an "all-mountain", "enduro trail" and "adventure cross-country bike". While its 140mm of suspension travel is more than adequate for most any obstacle on a run-of-the-mill mountain bike trail, riders faced with particularly burly terrain may be left wanting. While many of their rivals offer a 160mm or 170mm bike, Turner only have the 210mm/8.3in-travel DHR downhill bike.

If you’re a super-smooth, expert-level rider you'll be able to ride just about anything on the 5.Spot. But if you're more of an intermediate-level rider, there will likely be times when a little more straight up brawn, in the form of more travel, would trump all the finesse and refinement it possesses. 

To test this theory, we ‘forked up’ the 5.Spot at David Turner’s suggestion, switching from the standard tapered-steerer Fox 32 Float 150 RLC to a coil-sprung Fox 36 Van 160. Because the new fork had a straight steerer we were able to use an inset 1-1/8in lower headset bearing to keep stack height as low as possible (from bottom headset cup to axle, the 32 Float measured 545mm while the 36 Van was 555mm).

Turner’s 5.Spot comfortably carried us off smaller drops, especially when ‘forked up’

There were times – big drops and unrelenting baby-head chunder – when we could have done with a little extra insurance in the form of additional rear travel (the chassis is probably stiff enough to accommodate this without an increase in tubing gauge or size). Everywhere else though, whether in the air or on the ground, the Turner held its own next to 160mm bikes.

One thing that surprised us about the 5.Spot is how light it feels on the trail. Sure, the light wheels Turner sent us for the test helped, but even when we subbed them out for dual-ply tires and heavy-duty 20mm through-axle hoops, the 5.Spot retained its lively feel. Riders would often pick up the bike at the trail head and remark how heavy it felt. However, not once during testing did the bike feel like a dog out on the trail. 

We're left to attribute this to its super-efficient suspension system, stiff dual-triangle chassis and well-sorted geometry. And this brings us back to the question of travel: if Turner’s 140mm bike pedals like a 100mm bike, surely a 160mm Turner would pedal like the competition's 120mm bikes? Now, that's a bike we'd like to try. 

Turner spec a 44mm head tube, which allows use of a tapered-steerer fork

Frame: Made in the USA, with a plethora of features

The 5.Spot frame is made in the US from 6061 and 6069 aluminium alloys, and weighs in at a somewhat hefty 6.92lb (3.14kg), with Fox RP23 Adaptive Logic shock but without cable guides or 12x142mm rear axle. The front triangle tubes are custom-butted, while the rear triangle uses custom-shaped straight-wall tubing. The welds on our frame were of reasonably high quality, though not mind-blowing, and the anodized orange finish proved extremely durable. 

The front and rear triangles are connected with short DW-Link linkages that pivot on Turner’s IGUS journal bearings. These bushing-style composite bearings have Zerk fittings for easy lubrication. They run slightly stiffer than a cartridge system but performed admirably once broken in and well lubricated. “I've always used IGUS and have great lifespan with them so I find it hard to switch," Turner told BikeRadar

The 5.Spot has a 44mm head tube, which allows use of a tapered steerer with an external lower bearing cup or a straight 1-1/8in steerer with inset cups. Other frame features include ISCG05 tabs for '1-by' drivetrain enthusiasts and a unique post-mount setup for the rear brake that utilizes replaceable threaded nuts to further the durability of the frame. 

Stripped the thread on a brake bolt? Don't worry – just replace the barrel-type nut inserted into the mounting post

Turner mount the rear wheel to the asymmetric rear triangle with a 12x142mm rear axle. While many dual-link bike manufacturers say their bikes are stiff enough not to need a through-axle, we appreciated the extra security the screw-in Maxle-Lite provides.

The 5.Spot frame is also equipped with a mechanical cable capture system that eliminates the need for zip-ties. This mix of screw-in cable bosses and a pass-through for the rear derailleur housing adds a little weight but looks much cleaner. On our test bike, one thread-in boss on the underside of the top tube was tucked into the head tube so tightly we found it near impossible to use, so when we installed a dropper post we resorted to using a zip-tie.

Equipment: Solid package, but low on value

Our 5.Spot came with top of-the-line Fox suspension components – an RP23 Adaptive Logic shock and F32 150 RLC Kashima fork. Once properly set up, this pairing proved flawless, as did the 30-speed Shimano Deore XT drivetrain. The bike screams for a Shadow Plus rear derailleur, though – that added chain control would both quiet the system and make it slightly more reliable when blasting through chunder.

The 5.Spot comes standard with a Fox Float RL shock; our test bike had an upgraded, Kashima-coated RP23 Adaptive Logic model

While we'd have preferred Turner stick with the new XT brakes, for both group continuity and their excellent performance, the entry-level Formula RXs provided impressive performance on the trail. Our only nit pick is that we weren’t able to adjust their reach as close to the bar as we'd have liked. Sticking with the cockpit, the 685mm wide Easton EC70 carbon handlebar was too narrow for our tastes.

The Industry Nine-NoTubes.com wheel package proved both super-light and reasonably stiff (note: not super-stiff, but fine for our 145lb tester), but the NoTubes.com ZTR rims are intended for cross-country, measuring just 19mm internally, thus don’t offer the best support to our test bike's 2.3in tires. We’d gladly trade the weight savings for the wider Crest or Arch EX rims.

These niggles aside, everything works great. But here’s the kicker: at US$5,079 for the standard Exp build*, the alloy 5.Spot costs the same as some of Turner's closest competitors' carbon trail bikes, and these are 'boutique' brands we're talking about, not mass-production outfits, whose carbon bikes are cheaper still. So while we can speak extremely highly of the 5.Spot’s performance, we’ll leave the simple economics up to you.

* With Fox Float RL shock, Easton EA70 wheels and alloy Haven cockpit. The upgraded bike tested here is $6,015.

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