Bike Test: Felt Burner 2-SP
The never-ending stream of innovation that drives the progression of mountain biking continually brings us one step closer to the perfect bike. We love the new high-volume air sleeves that are being introduced on shocks, and 1×11 drivetrains have completely changed how we put our power to the wheels; but, it’s easy to get caught up in it all and overthink the whole reason we ride bikes. We ride for endless smiles, good times with buddies and staying active in a way that doesn’t involve hours on a treadmill bathed in artificial light. It’s about getting outside and ripping around at high speeds that wouldn’t be possible without man’s most efficient machine.
This was the vision of the early pioneers who ripped down dirt grades with reckless abandon. Though mountain bike technology may have been at its most exponential rate of innovation during those early years, it was still all based on the simple concept of blissful enjoyment on two wheels. Riders weren’t dropping paychecks to shave 20 grams off their bikes, and the quality of a ride wasn’t determined by the achievements gained on Strava. The Felt Burner is a tip of the hat to a simpler era of mountain biking.
The Felt Burner is an aluminum, mountain bike-inspired cruiser. Its relaxed geometry is designed for cruising to the burger joint while launching off every curb on the way there. Its 680-millimeter-wide, BMX-style handlebars are swept back enough to create a comfortable riding position yet straight enough to allow the rider to pull up the front end and impress an onlooking crowd of ladies with a drawn-out wheelie. The handlebars are clamped solidly to the bike with a retro-looking stem that would have been just as at home on our first BMX bike. The 29-inch aluminum wheels keep the bike cruising down the road with efficiency and make easy work of the gravel road shortcut. Sometimes the bike path is a little too mundane for our liking and, in those instances, the knobby 29×2.2-inch tires deliver plenty of traction while our buddies’ lesser rides force them to stay on the tame pavement.
The Sturmey-Archer two-speed kickback hub puts us in the perfect gear at all times in a nearly maintenance-free package that’ll hold up to weather and years of use. Gone are the days of standing up on inclines and putting all our weight into the pedals just to keep the cruiser moving. We no longer have to take the easy way out and snake up the last hill before reaching our destination. The two-speed kickback hub instantly switches gears with a slight clunk to remind us of its primitive yet functional design. As we arrive at the burger joint, we’re quickly reminded of the two features that cause the Burner to stand out in a sea of après-ride bikes. Its riveted faux-leather saddle makes it look far more expensive than its sticker price and showcases to the gathering crowds that we take each and every one of our bikes seriously. The masses have swarmed in to marvel at its glory as it’s topped off with the icing on the cake. “Boing!”—the bolt-on aluminum kickstand extends out and ensures the Burner won’t be rubbing paint with other bikes.
Flannel and jeans required: Nothing beats putting all your weight on the outside foot, leaning the bike over and letting the bike slide around a loose corner while the front tire points down the road and leads the way out. We don’t condone riders hitting the trails without a hel- met, but we had to make an exception on this dirt road in order to preserve the nostalgic klunker experience.
Why stop at the seat tube? With a pair of seatstays that continue all the way up to the forward portion of the downtube, the Burner is a bike with curves.
The Dirty Cruiser
The Burner is an entertaining approach to taking the cruiser experience and revamping it to match the adventurous spirit of a mountain biker. Sure, we took it out on some dirt roads to relive the days of skidding around corners on our first bikes, but it also served a more functional purpose. We brought it along when a group of friends wanted to cruise along the Venice Beach Boardwalk but ended the day with a far different experience than they did. Grassy knolls became miniature playgrounds and sets of stairs served as obstacles to ride down rather than simply cruise by. The Burner took our leisurely bike ride and transformed it into a creative riding experience that had us breathing heavily and hoping the boardwalk would never end. The Burner may not be the most ideal bike to take on an after-work group ride, but afterwards its smooth lines and dirt-inspired components will surely be the show-stopper on the cruise to get some grub. While they’re not included with the purchase of the bike, we strongly encourage a flannel shirt and jeans to make the most of the Burner experience.
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