XC Turner Czar

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Lo and behold! New newest member of my fleet is black, sleek and fast. The Turner Czar is a few years old now and designed for XC and marathon racing. After riding it I reckon you could lump trail riding into that category too.



I started getting into XC riding and general fitness at the start of this year but we don't need to get into that. Needless to say I started getting faster and I started looking closer at things likes rolling resistance, weight and efficiency when analysing bikes and components. The bug had bitten and I was devouring information on training, nutrition and racing. My first few races of the year I did on my Intense Primer and then I decided to use my Cotic Solaris as my race bike of choice. One, because rocking up to an XC race in 2018 on a steel hardtail is cool and secondly I could build it lighter than my Primer, plain and simple.

The Solaris after it's final race


I had fun and was progressing fitness wise through the year and it culminated with my last race being a team 6hr in Bright in which I got my best result for the year, a 3rd place finish. But it highlighted a few things for me. One, 3.5 hrs in the saddle on a hardtail is brutal, especially race pace. The other point was efficiency. Hardtails are great, but as soon as a course gets rough efficiency takes a huge hit. Instead of pedal strokes providing forward momentum you are dealing with deflection and hangups. I realised after 2-3 hours racing that it becomes insanely tiring getting in and out of the saddle over rooty and rocky sections.


I made the decision that in 2019 I'd move to an XC bike with rear suspension. I was pretty set on the newer, more progressive bikes with slacker, longer geometry as it suits my riding style. But as with all new fancy carbon bikes here in Australia, price is prohibitive.


But fatefully, one day I was browsing the local classifieds and noticed a Turner Czar frame for sale, for a really good price. I didn't know much about the Czar but I did know Turner was a company known for quality and great customer service. I've always been a fan of smaller bike companies, owning bikes from brands like Cotic, Canfield and Knolly.


I started pouring over the geometry chart, rider reviews and build threads. Interestingly, for an XC frame designed in 2014 it looks more like a modern XC bike with a slacker head angle than is generally found on bikes in this category. Being a large meant that the reach is pretty close to what I'm used to in my medium frames and since I've got a pretty long inseam for my 176cm height the large fits me just fine and I can still run a dropper post.



Needless to say I was sold, money changed hands and one day later the frame rocked up at work.



Build


The raw carbon with a simple coat of clear provides a striking appearance in person and I tried to best to try and capture it on camera. Well thought out external cabling makes building and painless exercise all round. Although as you can see from the finished pictures that I used heat shrink around the bars which has taken away that ability to quickly swap things around. No big deal for me, or just about anyone to be honest.





















The frame came with Race Face Next SL cranks and an Easton carbon seatpost. I've used and had no issues with carbon cranks but I removed them for the simple reason that I've got a Stages powermeter on my XTR cranks. The other thing that went on was my KS Lev 125mm dropper post. Then it was a simple job of moving everything from my Solaris over to the Czar.


Specs:


Turner Czar v1.0 (large)
Fox32 120mm
New Ultimate flat bar
Syntace 55mm negative rise stem
Ritchy foam grips
SRAM guide RS brakes
Ashima 160mm rotors
Fizik saddle
XTR m9020 cranks (175mm) with Stages arm
XTR shifter
XTR 11spd derailleur
XTR 11-40 cassette
XTR race pedals
Kmc chain
Stan's Crest mk3 on Hope Pro4 hubs
Maxxis rubber (2.25” Rekon front and Aspen rear)


Total build weight with everything minus tools is 11.1kg. Pretty much exactly what my hardtail weighed.






















Plenty of clearance for bigger rubber in the back if required.


 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
First ride impressions


I took it for quick ride with my son around the local trails just to make sure everything was working correctly before I took it out for proper shakedown on some hillier trails. The Ararat trail system can be categorised as undulating and with nothing more difficult than blue level features, unless you go up and hit the old DH track which is poorly maintained. Conditions at the moment are very dry and I'd consider it very loose over hard.



I tried to pace myself like I was doing a full 6hrs as pacing early on in a race has been a bit of a weakness of mine. The powermeter has helped but you still get caught up in the first lap rush. Adrenaline is a funny thing, you look down and you've been smashing 400w up a sustained climb and you realise you'll be paying for that in a few hours. Which you do.



Firstly, pedaling efficiency is fantastic. It's an XC bike, that was always going to be the case. What I really liked when climbing this bike was how active the rear was over obstacles. Pedaling input, in or out of the saddle was very firm but the shock would roll right through roots and rocks without any kind of hangup. This is to a bit of a contrast with my Intense Primer, in which I've always had a bit of an issue with hangups, both climbing and descending.


In fact after this one ride it spurred me into a rabbit hole of linkage analysis charts and the differences between DW Link and VPP. But I'll get there.


Descending was also very good, with the 100mm of travel out the back having a very good amount of ramp up at the end. It feels very plush on groomed trails and it loads up and pops out of berms exceptionally well. I bottomed it out twice, both on bigger drops but it only served to remind me that I was on an XC bike. The 120mm travel out front I'm sure is helping with the confidence. I haven't put it down a really rocky chute yet but you can guarantee that it'll be bucked around. It's still a 100mm rear at the end of the day. But as I mentioned above, hitting roots or rocks on the descents the bike blew through them exceptionally faster than the Primer does.


I did some reading and tried to compare the bikes here;

http://linkagedesign.blogspot.com/2016/11/intense-primer-29-2017.html?m=1


http://linkagedesign.blogspot.com/2013/05/turner-czar-29-2014.html?m=1


Interestingly on the Primer analysis he mentions that the anti-squat and pedal kickback is excessive when using a 28-30t chainring and recommends a 34-36t. This could very well be the reason for why it feels like it wants to hang up over obstacles. But to run a 36t on it I'd need to either go 2x (which is possible) or alternatively and probably what I'll do, is go for a 34t and a 10-50t cassette, which should be similar to the 30t and 9-46 I'm currently running.


But, different bike and different application.


Overall the bike descends very much like a trail bike, with XC tyres. I'm fairly used to the low bar position as that's what I've been running on the Cotic all year. I will say that after 2.5hrs in the saddle I was starting to get some pain in my right hand shoulder which could be attributed to the bar position. But I'll try some strength training to alleviate this and keep testing.







I feel like I've painted the bike with an overly positive brush. But it really does feel like it rides bigger than it's numbers indicate. But it's early days and I haven't got it out into some really chunky stuff yet. But on the other hand, it wasn't designed for that kind of riding either.


So for my intended use, as an XC marathon bike? I think it's going to be great.


My negatives, if i put it into context of a marathon bike. Having one of the water bottle mounts under the down tube. But if it was that or just one mount? I'll take it. External dropper routing. Again it's not a huge deal but if there's one thing that's definitely better hidden, it's dropper posts. The KS Lev here does a good job due to having a fixed cable, unlike a Reverb. In an ideal world I'd be able to make a few geometry tweaks too (bit of extra reach and slightly steeper seat tube angle) but hey, that's being real nit picky. Lastly, when I built the frame I was getting a creak from the lower DW Link bolt. I loosened it, greased then reinstated and it went away. But after 3hrs of dusty riding it has slowly started coming back. Will pull it right out, clean it up and try again.


The next A race for me is the Otway Odyssey in late February. A 100km MTB race that's projected to take 5-6hrs to complete. I think the Czar will be the perfect match for the trails in Forest.


I've got my training up until the event all laid out on Trainerroad's new Calendar feature and it's almost right on my birthday. Bit of be type A fun for a present isn't the worst thing in the world.

Trainer roads new calender. Green is my training stress so far this year, with grey being my planned leading up to the Otway Odyssey. The grey line is telling me my average training stress has been on a downward slope for the last few months




This is my no means “comprehensive” so I'll keep the thread updated the more I ride it and with any changes I make along the way.
 

pink poodle

Clinically Inane
Holy shit that cockpit is aggressive! Mr Turner makes some good looking bikes, so clean. The DW link is one of my favourites. Not having used it on this style of riding, do you find it gives you enough support and suppleness?
 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
As you can tell by the picture in the ride impressions thread, I've dropped the saddle a bit from when it was first built. But definitely a decent saddle to bar drop. But I've been riding that setup 4-5 times a week on the trainer so I'm pretty used to it.

As for the DW Link. It's still early days, but as you can see I really got on with it. In fact it led my down a garden path of information trying to figure out why it felt like it did. I've yet to throw it down some real chunk so stay tuned. But it felt so supportive under power, yet gave way to any kind of bumps. I especially felt this during technical climbing.
 
Reactions: T.3

pink poodle

Clinically Inane
My Pivot (rip) was 100mm of dw bliss. Running it with about 15% sag I was still getting an amazing supple ride through moderate chunder. There is 2 particular trails I ride a lot that feature a couple of very rough turns (ruts, rocks, roots all jammed in there with moron's skid marks) and it would just glide over them and the pedal power transfer out the other side was excellent. The DW wasn't amazing for bunny hops, but neither am it. All a bit different to the style your bike looks set up for. Will be interesting to see how it performs for you.
 

hifiandmtb

Sphincter beanie
Nice writeup Phil! Thanks for taking the effort.

Your bike posse is somewhat like mine, but I'm the other way around (VPP XC bike, DW trail bike):



I have the same findings as you, the DW link just seems to sit in the sweet spot more easily without getting hung up. Both are effective though.
 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Nice writeup Phil! Thanks for taking the effort.

Your bike posse is somewhat like mine, but I'm the other way around (VPP XC bike, DW trail bike):



I have the same findings as you, the DW link just seems to sit in the sweet spot more easily without getting hung up. Both are effective though.
I nearly bought a Ripley frame too! Ibis is another one of those cool, smaller companies doing rad stuff.

The whole experience so far has got me much more interested in suspension graphs haha. I thought it would be a simple "VPP Vs DW Link" but it looks like it's never that simple.

I even started looking at stuff I didn't get along with (Evil Following with the Delta link) and bikes I absolutely adored (Canfield Riot with the CBF system).

The more reading and as I get my head around it, hopefully the better informed I am the next time I go to buy a new bike. Rather than just listening to the marketing hype and a geometry chart.

In fact I bought the Primer on the premise that it was going to be like my Riot, but lighter based on the geometry numbers. But I've never been able to get the rear end to feel as good as the Riot, even though a quick glance at the spec sheets says it should be similar.

http://linkagedesign.blogspot.com/2015/06/canfield-brothers-riot-2015.html?m=1

http://canfield-balance-formula.com
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
@slider_phil That's a beautiful build mate!
I've not run Aspen's in quite a few years, but that tyre is like Tokyo Drift out here.
It's a shame grease ports aren't a standard feature on all bike suspension hardware. We can get millimeters added to our axles, but they can't standardise that as a feature.
 

Ultra Lord

Beanie Fitment Specialist
@slider_phil That's a beautiful build mate!
I've not run Aspen's in quite a few years, but that tyre is like Tokyo Drift out here.
It's a shame grease ports aren't a standard feature on all bike suspension hardware. We can get millimeters added to our axles, but they can't standardise that as a feature.
Yeah because it’d actually maybe not really help. Why have grease ports on sealed cartridge bearings? It wont get past the seals :/
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Yeah because it’d actually maybe not really help. Why have grease ports on sealed cartridge bearings? It wont get past the seals :/
Cup and cone our suspension pivots already! :D
But in all seriousness, I wish sealed cartridge bearings sealed that well. What PSI does a grease gun run through? Pretty sure there's no stopping them.
 

Ultra Lord

Beanie Fitment Specialist
Cup and cone our suspension pivots already! :D
But in all seriousness, I wish sealed cartridge bearings sealed that well. What PSI does a grease gun run through? Pretty sure there's no stopping them.
Depends on the gun, the seal around the nipple and the hands doing the squeeze. It’d pop the seals into the race


If they sealed really well they’d drag like a bitch. You “could” pop one of the seals off, and grease it from one side and have a waste grease trap butt fuck that, too much hassle for not enough gain. Just replace the bearings. And dont pop the seals off to begin with, they’re not made for it and you damage them, so they seal worse when you put em back on.

God damn compromises.
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Well, that's the point of the grease gun, they wouldn't be much use if they couldn't penetrate the seals on the bearings they're re-packing. No removal necessary. MTB bearings are some of the worst for the application I've ever seen. It's amazing that we can get wheel bearings in a car to survive the life of the vehicle (that's holding a great deal more weight) with a bit of a grease change occasionally, but can't get a suspension bearing to last a season.

On that note @moorey!!!! @Ultra Lord doesn't believe in sustainable bearing practices and thinks we should just throw away used things instead of maintaining and preserving them.



But seriously, cup and cone when?! Not only could you set the preload on them, they're better for lateral loads anyway.
 

Ultra Lord

Beanie Fitment Specialist
Cool looking bike, big or small wheels.
100km ride, that's just madness, RUOK:(
Physically he’s probably fine, but I question his mental state for willingly putting hinself through that.

@Zaf
My bearings do last a season. I give em a quarter rotation when they start to feel abit iffy.
I don’t know what bearings santa cruz and the like that use with theeir grease guns and hwatnot, but the standard roller bearings most bikes run aren’t meant to be greased if both seals are on. Unless they have some grease ports on the outer race, but even then if you overgrease the seals can pop out so that’s something to be aware of.
 

Zaf

Gearbox Frother
Physically he’s probably fine, but I question his mental state for willingly putting hinself through that.

@Zaf
My bearings do last a season. I give em a quarter rotation when they start to feel abit iffy.
I don’t know what bearings santa cruz and the like that use with theeir grease guns and hwatnot, but the standard roller bearings most bikes run aren’t meant to be greased if both seals are on. Unless they have some grease ports on the outer race, but even then if you overgrease the seals can pop out so that’s something to be aware of.
It's not uncommon to hear of people clapping out bearings in a season. I personally don't think it's a reasonable service life for a bearing, and if it's failing that quickly, it's a sign that it's not properly rated for the application. Then the cost!!! Land Cruisers have lifetime wheel bearings, and if you DO manage to flog them out, it's about $300 to replace the lot (including labour).

Gearboxes don't need grease either, just 60mL of fluid once a year.

@Zaf
Low roatation applications should run bushes anyway......... but quality bushes are expensive. So roller bearings :(
Bring back the bush! It needs to be more 70's up in here.
 

slider_phil

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Will your stem bash the top tube if you stack??
Not sure on the stem, but bars? Yeah, they will. Just gotta not stack
Cool looking bike, big or small wheels.
100km ride, that's just madness, RUOK:(
Type A fun my friend

The secret is lots of training/conditioning and then nutrition. Most of us don't eat or drink enough during a race/ride.

Also, the body can only absorb so much so you have to go into it loaded as eating will only mitigate the drain. Tests have shown that the body can only absorb about 100g of carbs an hour (70% glucose and 30% fructose) which is only about 400 calories. During a race your probably burning about 800-1000 calories per hour. So getting as much in is key. Same goes with sweat rates. On a warm day and going hard most people's sweat rates are around 1.5l an hour, and then there's salt lose too. So drinking a lot and making sure it's an electrolyte mix is key to replacing that sodium.

As for grease points and bearings. Well this frame runs bushings, hence the grease points. The v1.1 frame went to bearings.

With the smaller size bearings in our frames and the fact that they only rotate through a very shallow arc means yeah, they're going to wear out quickly. Also, not being tapered means any side loads, in which I'm sure there's enough with frame flex, it's going to exacerbate the issue.

I'm not sure what the solution is. Anytime you introduce something that can be user adjusted (cup and cone) you invite a ton of user induced fuck ups lol. I'm not sure I'd like to be that bike company.
 
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