After discovering our local Turner dealer (Nirvana in Westcott) had built up a demo medium 09 5-Spot, a fellow 5-Spot owner and I took the opportunity to take it for its maiden ride around some of the trails on the North Downs.
I have a medium 05 Spot with Push Rockers + Pushed RP3 and a set of Z1 Lights, whilst my mate has a medium 08 Spot with Pikes, so with the demo bike covered 3 generations of 5-Spots - HL, TNT, and DW. The 09 Spot was built up with some 20mm Revelations. As for other kit it was pretty similar resulting in bikes weight roughly the same, although the 09 may have been a bit lighter as a result of the Revs and lighter tyres.
After almost 24hrs of rain, trail conditions were never going to be ideal for testing bikes, especially as the 09 was running Blue Groove on the front rather than the mud-specific tyres on the other two.
We set off on the 05 and 09 Spots, and the first thing to notice is how sensitive the 09 is to shock set-up. To begin with, my mate was not impressed but dropping 15psi from the shock transformed it. Once this was sorted, our collective conclusions on riding all 3 back to back are as follows:
Climbing: the 09 is very efficient – noticeably a gear or two quicker than the other two. Over wet roots and step-ups, it feels more composed giving less of a kick-back through the saddle. I can’t say it gains any more traction given all the bikes were struggling a bit in the conditions, but on long climbs it felt less tiring at the latter stages.
Singletrack: the 09 accelerates quicker, feeling snappier under aggressive pedalling making the other two feel a bit soggy by comparison. Once up to speed, the 09 carves turns beautifully and when compressing the suspension into dips and corners, the bike seems to ping you out the other side. Whilst other good suspension designs do this to a certain extent, the 09 seems to give you more; having experienced the same thing on an Ibis Mojo I rode extensively last year, I suspect this effect is down to the DW Link. The rear end is very stiff leading to more accurate lines along with the greater pedalling efficiency.
Downhill: there aren’t many long downhills in the North Downs despite the name, but we did hit a tasty section a couple of times which had rocky and rooty bits, with a few step-downs thrown in. The first impression when climbing on the 09 is that it has less travel, but once starting to descend the 09 feels very planted on the trail with the suspension feeling plush and encouraging you to take the rougher lines. It lands from drops nicely, and on the rocky sections we certainly found the limits of the forks way before the rear end started feeling ragged. I wouldn’t really say the bike is any better than the other two, but with a beefier fork, would feel much the same.
Other thoughts: the 09 has a lot lower standover height - the data says the difference is only an inch, but it looks lower. Elsewhere geometry-wise, the bottom bracket is slightly lower than the 08 and this was noticeable (good for stability, bad for pedal strikes). On paper the 05 is lower still but the Push rockers and bigger forks move it up a bit, probably similar to the 08. The bike also feels a touch smaller, especially with the saddle lowered. On paper, the TT is identical on all 3 at 23” so the only thing I can put this down to is the slightly slacker seat angle on the 09 brings the saddle forward more. I’d be keen to try a Large now that Turner have narrowed the gap between sizes.
Our conclusion was that the 09 is a better bike than both 05 and 08, most notably when climbing and under acceleration. It still feels very much like a Turner in every other respect and the frame is beautifully made, looking much better as a built-up bike than a frame. Is it enough to buy one? For my mate, only 6 months into his 5-Spot ownership, then probably not especially given the price hike. For me, if I can work out whether I need a medium or large, then it could well be, especially in white which looks cracking.