2016 Turner RFX v4.0 GX (discontinued)

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Discontinued
2016 Turner RFX v4.0 Bike
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2016 Test Sessions: Turner RFX v4.0 GX

Rating: Vital Review

Reviewed by Fred Robinson and AJ Barlas // Photos by Lear Miller

Turner fans, rejoice! The often coveted Turner RFX is finally back, this time in a 27.5 carbon-framed package. The bike features DW-link suspension with 160mm of travel, more aggressive geometry, and several little touches that add up to a much improved ride. Given the long wait and the amount of R&D that went into it, we were excited to see how the RFX would stack up at the 2016 Vital MTB Test Sessions.

Highlights

  • Carbon frame
  • 27.5 (650b) wheels
  • 160mm (6.3-inches) of front and rear wheel travel
  • DW-link suspension
  • EnduroMax bearings
  • Tapered headtube
  • External cable routing with Stealth dropper
  • Removable direct mount front derailleur adapter
  • Post mount rear brake
  • Press fit 30 bottom bracket
  • ISCG 05 mounts
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 29.1-pounds (13.2kg)
  • MSRP $4,951 USD

Following in the footsteps of the Czar, Turner's first carbon model, the 2016 RFX reappears for the fourth time since 1999, but now in a carbon version that helps bring it up to speed with the latest in bike technology. Turner molds the bike using a blend of Toray high-modulus uni-directional carbon sourced from Japan.

Out back you'll find 160mm of travel ready to eat up the rough stuff via Dave Weagle's DW-link suspension. Turner says it's "the only design on the market that is able to control unwanted bob and still remain active in more gear combinations than any other design." When mounted, the 200x57mm (7.875 x 2.25-inch) shock is offset to the non-driveside. Sealed EnduroMax bearings at every pivot point improve small bump compliance over their old bushing system.

The frame features external cable routing for easy maintenance, with exception to the Stealth-style dropper post which exits the frame at the bottom of the seat tube. All cables are held in place by machined alloy cable clamps that screw into the frame. Turner placed the clamps in strategic locations to prevent unwanted cable noise and frame rub while eliminating the need for any zip-ties. Some of the mounts on the top side of the downtube double as water bottle mounts, though the included hardware on our test bike wasn't long enough to mount both the bottle cage and cable guides at the same time. Whether or not this was an oversight by Turner, we're not sure, but removing one cable guide to mount the cage was a non-issue.

Additional details include a post mount rear brake with replaceable threaded inserts, space for a meaty 2.4-inch tire with close to half an inch to spare for mud clearance, a 73mm PF30 bottom bracket, and ISCG 05 mounts. Should you want to run a 2X drivetrain, the frame is front derailleur compatible thanks to a removable direct mount adapter. Integrated frame guards on both the chainstay and the lower portion of the downtube help prevent damage to the frame from chainslap and rock strikes.

The RFX can be had starting at $2,995 for a frame/shock only option, and is also available with five build kits and a myriad of wheelset and shock options. Builds range from the $4,951 SRAM GX/DT Swiss/RockShox Monarch Plus Debonair option to $9,672 for an ultra-baller Shimano XTR/ENVE/Push ElevenSix combo. There are even options for wheel graphics if you'd like to get super fancy. We tested the most affordable GX build. For the Turner faithful out there, know that a trade-in program exists which provides you with $600 off in exchange for your old Turner frame.

Geometry

The RFX sees a number of updates for 2016 in the geometry department, and while it's highlighted by a slacker-than-most 66-degree head angle, the numbers are not as aggressive across the board as some might hope for. These days, riders under 6'1" (1.85 meters) tall typically find themselves best situated on a size large frame, but due to short reach measurements our testers opted for the XL. Those near the cusp of the recommended sizing might want to consider sizing up depending on your personal preferences and riding style.

Other key numbers include slightly longer than average 438mm (17.24-inch) chainstays, a 73.5-degree seat tube angle, and a 345mm (13.6-inch) measured bottom bracket height (slightly higher than the 340mm claimed). Should you want to, the use of a 49/62mm tapered headtube allows the frame to be adjustable between 65-degrees and 67-degrees in half degree increments via FSA headset hardware available from Turner.

On The Trail

We tested the RFX on South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, which features rough, rocky, loose, and generally wild trails. With extended technical climbs paired with rugged downhills like Geronimo and Holbert trails, the area served as an ideal testing ground for the RFX which claims to be a downhill crusher capable of efficiently making its way to the top.

We began our test with the RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir shock set within Turner’s recommended 30-35% sag range, opting for 33% while seated. Before shipping each bike, Turner opens every shock and pre-installs volume spacers based on the size of the bike and your riding style. Our XL came equipped with three bands.

One side effect of having to size up is how tall the front end is, which is something we noticed right away. It's way up there with a 632mm (24.9-inch) stack measurement for our XL frame. When we checked the numbers, even the size large frame's stack height is higher by a half-inch or more when compared to your average 160mm travel bike. The bike just feels tall, even with the low-rise bars set as low as possible. Coupled with the somewhat short reach, this can make for an awkward ride at first and we had to adjust our riding style a bit to get comfortable.

When pointed up, the DW-link equipped RFX climbs well for a 160mm bike. With the shock fully open and a 32-tooth chainring, both seated and out-of-saddle climbing resulted in very little bob, though hard-mashing pedalers will find the shock's middle compression setting useful. In our experience the bike pedals exceptionally well. Should you decide to use the firm compression setting, the rear wheel still reacts to trail inconsistencies, never feeling overly harsh or locked-out. Turner chose not to spec the RFX with a travel adjust fork, and in our experience the tall front end tended to wander quite a bit on the steeper climbs, forcing us to ride as far forward on the saddle and with as much weight on the bars as possible. This made rear-end traction sometimes hard to come by, due to having to be so far over the front end, and the longer than average stays contributed to this loss of traction as well. In regards to pedal-strikes, the large amount of sag drops the bottom bracket quite a bit and makes line choice and pedal timing important. The geometry works well when it comes to overall stability while descending and cornering, however.

While the geometry and suspension makes for a decent climber, we all know this bike was built for getting the most out of your descents (while still earning them), and that's where the bike really came alive. At 33% sag it provides an incredibly supple ride well into the mid-stroke. While one of our testers found Turner’s choice of running three volume reducers in the shock ample to resist bottoming out, our other tester wanted more progression out of the system and chose to add two more, for a total of five. While he preferred five reducers over three during deep consecutive hits, it was a bit much. For more aggressive riders we think running four reducers is the ticket. When we checked the numbers we found the suspension design starts progressive, but becomes linear as the rear wheel approaches the end of its travel. Overall it's a more progressive and supportive feeling ride than the Pivot Mach 6 and Ibis Mojo HD3, two other bikes with similar DW-link suspension designs. Those wanting a more nimble ride will want to set the bike up with slightly less sag and possibly fewer spacers, while those preferring a stable ride will want to drop it close to 35% with more spacers.

In both volume spacer configurations the mid-stroke offered plenty of support, keeping our focus on the trail and not worried about what the bike was doing. While the RFX did take the sting off medium to large square edge hits, we felt it hang up a bit on a few occasions during large successive square edges. Even so, overall the bike descended exceptionally well with a balanced feel, stable chassis, centered stance, and the confidence to carry us through whatever line we picked.

The RFX's DW-link design in motion.

In corners, the bike tracked the ground well giving us plenty of traction, even over the choppy and dry Arizona terrain. Pushing into turns, the bike kept up in its travel and never wallowed or felt unbalanced. Due to the RFX's excellent pedaling characteristics, it was incredibly responsive while sprinting out of corners or in the flats, rewarding us with extra speed for our efforts. Thanks to the DW-link design, outright pedaling performance is barely affected by the amount of travel being used or sag height.

Build Kit

We chose to test Turner's least expensive GX build, which features SRAM's more affordable 1x11 GX drivetrain, a RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork, SRAM Guide R brakes, DT Swiss E-1900 wheels, and a Race Face Evolve stem and bar. With literally hundreds of build kit/wheelset/shock/head angle combos available, this ride has the potential to suit many riders' needs.

For some reason our GX build didn't come with the listed Evolve cockpit, but a wide 800mm (31.5-inch) Race Face Respond bar and 50mm stem were in their place. Whether or not Turner didn't have their OEM shipment of bars/stems in yet, or there's an unpublished variation for the XL RFX we're not sure, but it was a welcomed surprise over the stock 750mm (29.5-inch) setup. Spec'ing a 780-800mm bar would be ideal as those who find it too wide can cut it down, as opposed to wide bar lovers having to purchase a new bar right off the bat.

Turner missed a few easy opportunities in the tire and rotor department in our opinion, spec'ing the burly RFX with a small 160mm rear rotor which we quickly roached, and some thin 2.35-inch Schwalbe Knobby Nic tires. We would have liked to see a more robust tire setup and larger diameter rotors to better match the bike's intended purpose and capabilities. The tires limited us when things started picking up speed, and despite being tubeless we suffered a few flats in the rocky terrain. Replacing those two components has the potential to improve the overall feel of the bike in a pretty big way. Oh, and you'll likely want some lock-on grips while you're at it.

Turner spec'd the bike with a 125mm (4.9-inch) travel KS Integra dropper post, which we've found to have reliability issues in the past due to very precise cable tension requirements. Of three KS Integra posts in our 17 bike lineup not one remained problem free. After a single day of riding the dropper would sink an inch into its travel when weighted without activating the lever.

The RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork gave us no issues and was a solid performer through and through, handling the rough and rocky terrain well and keeping its composure even in the chunkiest of sections. The RFX is a burly bike, however, and as such some riders may wish for the Lyrik alternative considering the bike's downhill capabilities. Based on preference, we added two Bottomless Tokens to the Pike to provide a more progressive spring curve.

The DT-Swiss E-1900 wheels held up very well and were reasonably stiff, which kept us pointed in the right direction with no sudden deflections to throw us off line.

SRAM's GX drivetrain impressed us once again with reliable performance at a fraction of the cost. Consider adding a top guide for extra chain security.

Long Term Durability

The RFX looks to be an overbuilt and sturdy frame with plenty of integrated frame protection. Rubber molded chainstay and downtube guards protect against chain slap and rock strikes, while thin metal plates add additional coverage from chainslap and rotor damage. There are some gaps on the chainstay and inner seatstay which could become problematic in the long term, so some key applications of mastic tape is advised for complete coverage. Unfortunately the rear derailleur cable routes along the top of the chainstay, which makes for a slightly noisier ride.

We appreciate that they’ve equipped the RFX with replaceable post mount threaded inserts should you ever cross-thread your brake bolts. Large torx bolts are used throughout the linkage for improved durability during maintenance, so make sure you have the appropriate sizes in your toolbox (and possibly in your pack). Torque specs are available here, and all pivot bearings are easily replaceable when the time comes. Turner backs the bike with a seven day 100% satisfaction purchase guarantee allowing you to swap sizes or return the bike should things be awry early on, followed by a two year frame warranty.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're an aggressive rider who only climbs to earn your descents, Turner's RFX v4.0 might be the beast you're looking for. While not the most agile bike with the GX build kit, excellent pedaling characteristics still make it capable of extended climbs. Once pointed down, it opens up like a mini-downhill bike, offering a supple, balanced ride with geometry that rewards an off-the-back riding style. Despite a couple of hang ups when things got really rowdy, the overall impression we got is a bike that likes it rough. Out of the box the GX kit is close to being a great "budget" build, and with the few parts swaps would be an all out trail slayer.

Visit www.turnerbikes.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 3 stars - Good
  • Descending: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Value: 3 stars - Good
  • Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent

Bonus Gallery: 26 photos of the 2016 Turner RFX v4.0 GX up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Fred Robinson - Age: 31 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 240-pounds (108.9kg)

"Drop my heels and go." Fred has been on two wheels since he was two years old, is deceptively quick for a bigger guy, and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. Several years of shop experience means he's not afraid to tinker. He's very particular when it comes to a bike's suspension performance and stiffness traits.

AJ Barlas - Age: 35 // Years Riding MTB: 15+ // Height: 6'3" (1.91m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

"Smooth and fluid." Hailing from Squamish, BC, AJ's preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes. Observant, mechanically inclined, and always looking to learn more through new experiences and products.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Four years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2016's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in Phoenix, Arizona. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Rage Cycles. Tester gear provided by Troy Lee Designs, Royal Racing, Smith, Fox Racing, Race Face, Easton, and Source.

Specifications

Product Turner RFX v4.0 GX
Model Year 2016
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 572mm 594mm 620mm 648mm
Head Tube Angle 66° 66° 66° 66°
Head Tube Length 100mm 110mm 125mm 140mm
Seat Tube Angle 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Seat Tube Length 380mm 406mm 457mm 508mm
Bottom Bracket Height 340mm 340mm 340mm 340mm
Chainstay Length 438mm 438mm 438mm 438mm
Wheelbase 1137mm 1159mm 1187mm 1219mm
Standover 732mm 762mm 800mm 829mm
Reach 389mm 412mm 439mm 455mm
Stack 595mm 595mm 615mm 632mm
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details C6 Carbon with Stealth Dropper Cable Routing, Integrated Downtube Protection, and Integrated Chainstay Protection
Rear Travel 160mm
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir, 7.875x2.25
Fork RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Black
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset FSA Orbit Extreme Pro 0°
Handlebar Race Face Evolve, 750mm x 19mm
Stem Race Face Evolve, 50mm
Grips ODI
Brakes SRAM Guide R, 180mm/160mm Rotors
Brake Levers SRAM
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM GX, 1x11-Speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX, 11-Speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05
Chainguide N/A
Cranks GX 1000
Chainrings 30 Tooth
Bottom Bracket PF30 73mm
Pedals N/A
Chain SRAM
Cassette 10-42 Tooth
Rims DT-Swiss E 1900, 32 Hole Wheelset
Hubs DT-Swiss E 1900, 32 Hole Wheelset
Spokes DT-Swiss E 1900, 32 Hole Wheelset
Tires Schwalbe Knobby Nic, 27.5" x 2.35"
Saddle WTB Rocket V
Seatpost KS Integra Dropper
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 142mm x 12mm Thru
Max. Tire Size 2.4"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Matte Black
Warranty 2-Year Frame Warranty
Weight 29 lb 1 oz (13,183 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $4,951
More Info

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