- Turner's Burner 650b trail bike is exactly the sort of bike that shows off the benefits of the 'tweener wheel size. With 140mm of travel and the potential for light builds, both all-mountain and XC riders can see the potential of huge fun. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- Enve isn't alone in making 650b rims. Velocity, Stan's and others are all on board. With Fox and Rock Shox making forks, and more tire options on the way, the time is right for 650b. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- SRAM's XO 3x10 group was a great compliment for the Burner, giving it maximum versatility. But with the intermediate size of the 650b wheels, gearing low enough for climbs is easier than with 29er wheels. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- Both Rock Shox and Fox have entered the 650b market. The Revelation on the Turner featured the Maxle thru axle and three compression settings that are adjustable on the fly. Enve makes two versions of its 650b rim (like its 26" and 29" versions), the XC and the AM. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- The Burner will be Turner's 650b trail bike. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- The blue lever on the Monarch shock adjusts compression, from full plush to virtually locked out. The mid-compression setting was great on rocky climbs. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- The dw-link rear suspension does a great job of staying active while isolation pedaling input. The Rock Shox Monarach piggyback shock will likely be an option for consumers, but Turner hadn't decided on final shock options. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- WTB's Wolverine is a great tire. Run at 25/30 psi it was supple and provided great cornering traction and low rolling resistance. Leave it to WTB to be ahead of the curve on the new wheel size, they have a history of doing so. The Nanoraptor was the first production 29er tire. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- David Turner's personal Burner is set up with cross country parts. He rode it in several 50-milers this year and loved it after several hours in the saddle. His medium bike with Enve wheels weighs 25.5 pounds. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
- Turner has his own 142x12 derailleur hanger. Putting the threads in the hanger keeps everything aligned, both the rear swingarm and the drivetrain. Photo: Nick Legan | Singletrack.com
650b, 27.5″, ‘tweener: no one can decide just yet on what to call the newest wheel size to enter the mountain bike mainstream (though it’s actually an old wheel size). I’ll stick with 650b (at least for now) just for the sake of taking a stance.
The 650b wheel may be a godsend for many riders, whether they’re tall, short, hucker or racer. For many short riders, finding a 29er frame that fits and still handles well is a challenge, never mind the complexities of adding rear suspension in already tight quarters.
Many tall riders still have a fondness for the quick handling and light weight of 26er wheels and have avoided 29ers so far. With the 650b, the intrigue of better obstacle rollover and increased traction may prove to be too hard to deny for these riders.
For gravity riders, the larger wheel has all the same benefits stated above and manufacturers can still easily build long travel bikes around 650b wheels.
I’ve been eager to ride a 650b bike for some time. When I walked out into the Press Camp expo area, the first bike that caught my eye was the Turner Burner. I’ve always heard good things about Turner’s suspension designs and attention to detail. When I made a beeline to the tent, David Turner was there himself to discuss the bike and he personally set it up for me.
Now I normally ride cross country style bikes. A 100mm travel 29er is typically my sort of bike. But there’s no denying that a bit more travel can be more fun (especially when you’re in Park City). The Burner is a 140mm travel (front and rear) 650b trail bike.
The beauty of this bike, with its 140mm travel front and rear, is that both all-mountain and cross country riders will see potential for a great bike. Build it up with an upright position, a dropper post, a set of bomber wheels and powerful stoppers and you have yourself a bike ready for everything but the biggest lines on many trails.
Invest in a 2×10 group, some lightweight hoops, smaller rubber and slam the stem and you have a great endurance racer/fun bike to compliment your stable.
The Burner is still four to five months from production and Turner debriefed every rider that took one out for a ride on how it handled. For my tastes the bottom bracket was a bit low and I should have flipped the stem to get closer to my preferred XC position. But on the trail, both going up and coming down, the Burner is amazingly composed and yet still flickable.
The Rock Shox Revelation 650b fork has a roomy 140mm of travel and a Maxle thru-axle. I toyed with the compression settings (locked, climbing and open) while I tooled around the expo. But I left the fork on its plushest setting the entire ride as there were few steep uphill sections that required a lot of standing.
The dw-link rear suspension on the Burner worked its magic, isolating pedaling input while keeping the rear wheel active. The rear Monarch piggyback shock was wonderfully active when flying through roots and rocky sections. I only locked it out once to make sure that it worked, then quickly returned it to the mid-compression setting.
To keep everything working well and nicely aligned, Turner uses a 142x12mm rear thru axle. Instead of threading the frame though, Turner has his own design for the derailleur hanger that acts as the nut for the thru axle, very clever and very replaceable. We can also expect to see Turner’s zerk stainless steel grease fittings on the pivots, making maintaining your suspension easier than ever.
The use of a 44mm head tube means you have plenty of options, whether you want a straight or tapered steerer tube fork. Though right now there aren’t too many 650b fork options, both Rock Shox and Fox have entered the segment, previously dominated by White Brothers.
Part of what made the Burner ride so incredibly well was the killer wheels on it. The Enve 650b XC rims (with Chris King hubs) and WTB Wolverine 2.25″ tires were perfectly matched to the bike’s capabilities. The light weight of the wheels made changing my line easy and flattened the climb noticeably. The traction of the Wolverines was good, with predictable cornering and low rolling resistance in a straight line.
SRAM XO 3×10 group is a great spec for a bike like the Burner. Having a granny gear and a large chainring is something that you don’t miss until you ride a bike with a triple again after time on a double ring crank. Fortunately, the smaller wheel size does mean that going to a 2×10 setup is easier than on a 29er if you do a lot of climbing.
If you can stand the wait, the Burner will cost $2,495 for the frame with a Rock Shox Monarch shock. Weight for a medium frame and shock is currently at 6.8 pounds. Turner’s personal rig (size medium) with a 2×10 drivetrain and Enve carbon wheels weighs 25.5 pounds; not bad at all for a trail bike with 140mm of travel.
Time will tell if the 650b wheel size will serve the needs of mountain bikers or just be an answer to a question no one was asking. But if Turner’s 650b creation is any indication, maybe it’ll only take critics one ride to see that the potential is huge.