We were ecstatic when we got an email from Turner Bicycles founder Dave Turner saying both Photo-John and I had a confirmed appointment to ride a coveted new C6 Carbon Turner RFX, the fourth generation of the RFX and a bike we’ve been waiting nearly 10 years for. Our RFX demo ride took place at Bootleg Canyon bike park last week, during the Interbike Outdoor Demo. We spent nearly two hours pedaling on Bootleg’s massive and rugged trail network. How did the new RFX perform? Watch our short Turner RFX video review below to find out.
Like all Turner mountain bikes, the new carbon RFX uses the patented DW-Link rear suspension, our favorite rear linkage because it climbs and descends so well. The DW-Link’s super-plush anti-squat design uses forward pedal forces to counteract rear suspension movement ensuring the 160mm RFX stays efficient, controlled and glued to the ground when you’re climbing and accelerating. Take a close look at the steep, rocky climb in the video above to see the DW-Link in action.
We didn’t get a chance to weigh the new RFX but the listed weight for a medium carbon frame is 6.5 lbs., right in line with comparable enduro bikes like the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon, Rocky Mountain Altitude and Santa Cruz Bronson. That may seem a bit much if you compare to carbon XC or lighter all-mountain carbon frames. However, the RFX is intended for aggressive trail riding and enduro racing so it’s designed to take a beating. In this case, a little extra weight means added strength and durability — you should be able to throw the RFX off 4-foot drops without worrying about breaking anything.
The RFX I rode was spec’d with SRAM’s new GX 1×11 drivetrain, a moderately priced setup that offers great performance for a fraction of the cost of most 1×11 drivetrains. Taking the bike to the next level was a carbon wheelset – one of the most effective upgrades you can make for any bike. In this case, it was Enve Composites’ M60 27.5 carbon wheelset, which balances all-mountain trail performance with light weight and durability. I’d guess the bike I tested only weighed about 27 pounds, complete –absolutely worthy of the 2500+ foot climbs we regularly do here in Park City.
Up front, the bike was set up with the RockShox RC3 Pike, one of the most trusted and proven all-mountain / enduro forks of the past few years. On the back was a RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair rear shock with external reservoir and three-position compression damping lever. Both the fork and the RockShox Monarch RC3 rear shock worked so well wide open I never got around to experimenting with the 3-way adjustment lever. The truth is, Turner’s DW-Link bikes’ anti-squat characteristics are so good I almost always ride with the compression damping wide open.
Turner RFX: Geometry & Handling
Bike geometry is pretty subjective and there are lots of differing opinions about bottom bracket height, head angle, chainstay length, etc. That said, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with any serious complaints about the new carbon RFX. Of all the 150-160mm bikes I’ve tried recently (four in the last week, alone) the RFX was hands-down one of the best handling and most balanced bikes I’ve ridden. People often ask what makes Turner different: it’s not just great suspension and geometry, but overall balance. Great balance leads to great handling, and bike handling is more important than anything else. On our first lap at Bootleg Canyon I was able to get the RFX over on its side and carving hard – a sure sign of a well-designed bike with killer geometry.
The 140mm rear travel aluminum Turner Burner I usually ride is so stiff, powerful and quick that even with my usual NoTubes Flow EX aluminum wheels I can keep up with my fastest friends. But every once in a while I can’t help wondering what might be possible with a beefier, long travel bike. Like the Turner Burner, the RFX is a stable and precise handler with a confidence-inspiring, magical 13.4-inch bottom bracket height. However, with 20mm more rear travel, another 10mm up front, and a relaxed 66-degree head angle, the RFX inspires a whole lot more point-and-shoot confidence – especially on steep, rough descents. And even with the relatively slack front end, the bike doesn’t wander all over the place or feel floppy. If you do prefer a different fork angle, an adjustable headset up to 1.5 degrees can used for fine-tuning. However, most riders should find the 66-degree head angle perfect.
Turner RFX: the Verdict
In case you weren’t sure, we’re very pleased with the new Turner RFX. Even better news: due to the SRAM GX groupo’s killer pricing you can buy a Turner RFX very similar to the one I tested (with DT Swiss’ E1900 wheels instead of the Enve carbons) for an incredibly reasonable US $4575. That’s a 28-29 lb., 160mm race-worthy carbon enduro bike for under $5000. Save your pennies for a lighter components and a carbon wheelset and you should be able to get the RFX under 27 lbs. Call us to pre-order your own Turner RFX.
Skeptical? Does it sound too good to be true? Turner offers a 7-day no-questions-asked guarantee and we do too. If the Turner RFX doesn’t live up to your expectations or you decide it’s not for you, we’ll be shocked.