I t has taken us too long to get a Sultan in here for testing.
Introduced in 2007, the 29-inch-wheeled trailbike got a total makeover
in 2009 with the adoption of a dw-link rear suspension. The key
ingredient of a dw-link (a dual-link version of the classic four-bar
design) is its anti-squat feature, which cancels out most unwanted
suspension bobbing associated with pedaling. Our test bike represents
the results of a careful three-year evolution using the dw-link
suspension and learning the tricks of running 29-inch wheels.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Sultan is firmly planted in the heart of the trailbike world, but under
the control of a competent rider, it could be pressed into more
aggressive all-mountain use.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
American-made aluminum frame uses a number of complex CNC-machined frame
junctions. The asymmetrical swingarm uses Turner’s trademark
rectangular tubes, which terminate at I-beam dropouts, and a swingarm
pivot yoke that sweeps around the front derailleur to meet the
suspension’s offset lower link. The bottom bracket, lower-link pivot and
shock mount are integrated into a single piece of carved aluminum, and
the suspension’s two-piece upper links wrap around the seat tube to meet
the upper shock eyelet. All moving parts pivot on composite bushings,
and there are grease ports at each pivot location. There is a lot going
on with the Sultan frame, giving it a cobby, utilitarian appearance in
Finally, Turner worked with Cane Creek on what is called
the 44XX headset. The TR44 is a conversion headset bottom that allows
the use of a tapered steerer fork in a conventional straight
44-millimeter Zero Stack-style head tube.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Edge Composite AM Clincher rims steal the show with a clear finish over
their high-pressure molded, uni-directional carbon fiber layup. The AM
Clincher rim has an overall width of 30 millimeters, giving it a wider
spread over conventional 24-millimeter widths. The front and rear wheels
(sans tires, tubes and brake rotors) weigh <???> and <???>
The rest of the Sultan is decked out with Shimano’s
jewelry-like Dynasys 3x10 drivetrain, minimalist-looking yet powerful
Formula R1 brakes, and an Easton bar, stem and seatpost.
A different Turner: The Sultan is a departure for Turner. It has a unique feel in the corners and over the rough. Can it hang with Turner’s heralded 5 Spot?
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
out: The Sultan has a trailbike feel, keeping its rider fairly upright
with his weight centered between the wheels. The dw-link doesn’t need
any ProPedal help to keep the rear suspension from bobbing while
pedaling. One annoying ergonomic trait noted by a number of the crewers
was that their calves made contact with the right side of the elevated
stays when pedaling.
Hammering: A great pedaling platform responds
well to in-the-saddle efforts and even permits the rider to get out of
the saddle without too much reaction from the rear suspension. Still,
the Sultan does not blast up to speed. It likes to work its way up using
a smooth pedaling cadence from the rider. Once up to a comfortable
pace, the Sultan holds onto that momentum and rolls over trail
irregularities with a firm yet uninterrupted flow.
Cornering: The fat
tires and long travel (for a 29er) could trick riders into believing
the Sultan is a slow-turning trailbike. Not so. The Sultan borders on
cross-country quickness and allows line changes on a whim. Crewers did,
however, find themselves coming off their intended line in fast sweepers
and off-camber sections where the rear end couldn’t match the steering
performance of the front. Turner’s signature counter-steering
performance, which we raved about on their Flux and 5 Spot, didn’t make
the transition to the Sultan. This bike really departs from the feel of
those other Turners.
Climbing: The Sultan did not inspire on the
climbs. It feels heavier than its relatively light weight and requires
the rider to choose the gear carefully and deliberately and then
smoothly pedal at a comfortable cadence. The bike keeps the rear wheels
stuck to the ground during out-of-the-saddle efforts, but these efforts
seemed wasted compared to a methodical pedaling rhythm in the saddle.
The Sultan’s quick steering benefits from the larger-diameter wheels
that slow things down a bit and roll over rocks and ruts that would give
26-inch wheels a pounding. Unfortunately, the Sultan requires a good
jolt to fall into its travel and then never feels like it is giving you
its full travel.
Braking: Turner outfits the Sultan with a 7-inch
front rotor and a 6-inch rear rotor, which worked great in this
application. The Formula R1 brake modulation was more than up to the
task of scrubbing speed without scrubbing the trail.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
is hard to imagine that you would ever need anything more aggressive
than the Maxxis Ardent tires, but if you want to go fatter, Turner gives
you plenty of stay clearance to do so. And speaking of stay clearance,
one parking lot ride will reveal if the right stay rubbing on the leg is
an issue for you.
We are still sorting out the Shimano 3x10
drivetrain for use on 29ers. It definitely doesn’t have the intuitive
feel of Shimano’s 2x10 with 26-inch wheels, where every gear feels like a
perfect gear ratio. Still, we welcomed the lowest gear ratio option
(24:36) on a number of steep ascents.
Sultan’s swag: The bottom bracket, lower-link pivot and shock mount are integrated into a single piece of carved aluminum. ??? Formula R1 brakes. Zerk fittings at the pivots. ???
Turner Sultan will, of course, appeal to the rider who wants an
American-made trailbike. Patriotism aside, the almost $8000 price tag
puts the Sultan in a category that requires perfection. Is the Sultan
perfect? No. The Sultan needs more rear-end lateral rigidity, a rear
suspension that falls into its travel more seamlessly and narrower stays
that don’t make contact with the rider’s leg.
THE TURNER SULTAN SPECS:
Country of origin
Bottom bracket height
Top tube length
Head tube angle
Seat tube angle
Fox 32 F29 RLC
Fox Float RP23
Edge AM (29")
Maxxis Ardent (2.25")
Easton EC70 (27.5")
Shimano XTR Dynasys
Shimano XTR Dynasys
Shimano XTR Dynasys
Shimano XTR (36/32/24)
Shimano XTR 10-cog Dynasys (11-36)
24.8 feet (per crank revolution)
5 feet (per crank revolution)
None (weighed with Time ATAC Carbon)