Turner Flux Carbon Test

Turner Flux Carbon

Prepare the Flux Capacitors for Warp Trail Speed

Photos by Pat Carrigan

Turner’s Flux has been in its lineup almost since the company was founded by David Turner. This is the fourth iteration of the Flux, and it comes to the trailhead with a lightweight construction that can hang with many cross-country race bikes but enough travel to truly unleash it on more aggressive trails. Call it a “new-school trailbike.” We brought one of these “Snow White” Flux bikes in for the full MBA test treatment to see if a bike that hardly pushes the scale at all could deliver confident handling on our favorite aggressive trails.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

Low front end: Turner designed the Flux with a low and long front end that sports a fairly short head tube. This makes the front end fairly low and shifts the weight slightly forward. This gives the bike incredible traction in the turns.

Turner’s Flux is built for riders who love to pedal and climb with a lightweight bike but don’t want the finicky nature and twitchy feel that many cross-country race bikes deliver. It’s as competent on long rides and climbs as it is handling technical and steep descents. You could call it an all-mountain bike because it’s most certainly designed to go all over the mountain; however, that term downplays the efficient and lightweight chassis’ contribution to this bike’s climbing prowess.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

The Flux is built from carbon fiber front to back with a custom-tuned dw-Link suspension design that delivers 120 millimeters (4.7 inches) of travel. The carbon is shaped elegantly to minimize weight, optimize strength where it’s needed and give the bike a look that’s classic Turner.

The bike comes with all the modern standards you’d expect, including a 142-millimeter rear axle, stealth-routed dropper post, a Press-Fit bottom bracket and a tapered head tube with an internal headset. It also comes with a very modern geometry that’s long, low and relatively slack for a bike with this amount of travel—but more on that later.

Clean routing: The Flux uses external cable routing, which is somewhat uncommon on a full-carbon frame. It’s clean and well designed. Working on the bike is easier, too, since the cables and hoses are more accessible.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

Wide and low: The Level Nine Pro Team Carbon bar is a perfect match for the Flux, with a wide profile and a low rise that suits the bike’s capability to ride both XC and aggressive trails.

Turner’s build kits are very easy to understand and even easier to order thanks to Turner’s direct-to-the-rider sales model. Any Turner bike can be ordered straight from the website and custom-tailored with the click of a mouse. The base-model Flux comes with a SRAM GX 11-speed drivetrain and Stan’s wheels for $5,447. Our test bike came equipped with a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain that added $1200 to the price. There are sever- al other options with upgrades to different SRAM and Shimano builds, and wheels from Industry Nine, Stan’s or ENVE.

Boosted dropouts: Turner builds the Flux with all the modern amenities. The brakes also have a replaceable post-mount system, which means even if the brake-mount threads get stripped, they can be replaced.

Our test bike also came with a pair of Knight Composites wheels, which are currently available as a free upgrade with any Flux. These wheels proved exceptionally light, snappy and stiff, with a wide profile that spreads the tire tread slightly to increase traction. They also have a feeling that’s more tuned than many carbon wheels we’ve tested (some of which are

Plush yet firm: Turner designed their dw-Link sus- pension system to maximize pedaling efficiency while still making it able to dig deep on the big hits. stiff to the point of being harsh). The Knight wheels are very laterally stiff and responsive but also more vertically compliant to give the bike a smoother ride.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setup:

The dw-Link suspension is sensitive to small changes in shock air pressure, so it took a few rides before we landed on our ideal settings. We settled at about 25-percent sag in the rear shock and about 20 percent in the fork. This gave the bike a very balanced feel. The Flux comes with a relatively small air sleeve on the shock, which may have had something to do with the pressure sensitivity but also took away any need to consider air-volume reducers to keep the suspension from bottoming out. This bike has a naturally progressive feel that works well on small bumps but also resists bottoming.

Moving Out:

The Flux measurements are right-on for a stock bike, although the frame runs slightly on the small side. Our large test bike came with a 24.5-inch top tube, which may sound big; however, this bike uses a long front center designed around a short stem, so it doesn’t feel nearly as big as it sounds. Our taller test riders, who normally ride stock large bikes, could have easily stepped up to the extra-large frame with no problem. The standover is also kept very low, keeping the bike’s center of gravity close to the ground and allowing those with relatively short inseams to be more comfortable.

Pedaling:

Turner’s dw-Link suspension pedals with the same anti-squat characteristics we’ve come to know and love from all bikes using the system. It’s firm at the top, which makes the bike accelerate quickly without feeling as if the suspension is robbing your effort. The Fox Float shock comes with a pedaling platform switch, although we rarely needed it for anything other than a fire- road climb or long stretch of pavement.

Climbing:

The Flux has a quick feel on the climbs that is arguably the bike’s best trait. In addition to the low weight and efficient pedaling, the Flux has a very low front end that puts the rider in a very powerful climbing position. On steep and technical climbs, that low front end also keeps the front end from wandering or wheelying back. This bike makes climbing easier, even if you don’t have the best technique to keep the wheels planted and spinning uphill.

Cornering:

The Flux’s geometry strikes a balance between too quick and too sluggish and has a feel that’s incredibly easy to get used to. It may not handle high-speed rocky sections as well as an enduro bike, but it’s more confidence-inspiring than any XC race bike we’ve tried. It’s also incredibly sure-footed on the tightest switchbacks thanks in part to the short rear end and short wheelbase. This bike handles technical and high-speed cornering well, but it handles the tight and technical turns even better.

Light and flickable: The Turner has a low front end that loves to corner quickly and a short wheelbase that’s easy to flick around corners. It makes the most of its almost 5 inches of travel and does it in a lightweight package that’s also easy to climb to the top of the hill with.

Descending:

Turner designed this bike with enough travel to handle gnarly descents, but no matter how you slice it, 120 millimeters of travel has its limits. The bike is supple with an active suspension that’s more than capable of handling most descents. If your trails include many jumps and drops, you may find yourself wishing for more travel; however, the Flux does a great job making use of the travel it does have and actually feels like it’s packing more when the trail gets rough.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

Turner runs the cables and hoses externally, which is a departure for a high-end carbon frame. While it’s not as streamlined as an internal setup, your mechanic will thank you. External cables are much easier to work with and build. Done correctly, like they are on the Flux, the cables do not make any noise, even on the roughest terrain.

BUYING ADVICE

The Flux has several key features that excited us even before we had the chance to ride it. The price is impressively low considering the quality, and it’s completely customizable thanks to Turner’s direct-to-the-rider model. This bike fits into a category that we’d recommend for nearly any rider. The Flux could easily be pushed into some serious cross-country racing thanks to its lightweight construction and snappy pedaling manners. It could also handle the rigors of some very aggressive and technical riding thanks to its active and effective suspension. The Flux is a real all-mountain bike because it’s actually capable of going all over the mountain, whether the trail points uphill or down.


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