Editor’s Note: Along with longtime Mtbr forum member Kent Robertson (KRob), the 2016 Outerbike Test Sessions are being handled by Ben Slabaugh, aka Schlim on Mtbr. Ben, 37, has been riding mountain bikes since he was 12, and today leans toward the XC side of things. This year, Ben and Kent headed to Moab, Utah, for the annual Outerbike consumer demo event where they rode as many bikes as possible. These posts are first ride impressions only — not full reviews. However, they stand by their opinions, and feel like they are good at feeling out the true identity, strengths, weaknesses, and soul of any given bike. For each session, they attempted to get set-up and suspension as dialed as possible. Test rides usually lasted 30-60 minutes. All bikes were then rated on a scale of 1-5 for visual impression/looks, climbing ability, descending, cornering, general agility, fit, and an intangible factor. Lowest possible score is 7. Highest is 35.
Check out the entire Outerbike Test Sessions archive here.
My first acquisition of the weekend was the Turner RFX, a carbon enduro bike. I was on a list last year to try one of these at Outerbike, but some poor soul crashed it and managed to break both himself and the bike. My luck was better this year, as the one I got needed a little maintenance and didn’t go out on the first shuttle run to Navajo Rocks. I almost didn’t get to take it, though, as the KS post auto-dropped on me immediately, but then seemed to function right again. Must be gremlins. The WTB Devo saddle attached too the dropper just disappeared as usual though. WTBs definitely fit my backside right.
My Turner observations seem to always note predictable handling, and this one is no different. However, that’s also not the same thing as telepathic or razor sharp. I rode other bikes that had better, more intuitive, ride characteristics.
Read the Mtbr review of the Turner RFX for a varying opinion.
Consulting with Kent, we agreed that the RFX was decidedly on the XC feeling side of things, with what felt like a fairly short front center, and a clearly shorter reach and top tube compared to other size large bikes I have ridden recently. Unfortunately, the overall ride quality was akin to something plastic, a little like the early carbon bikes that hadn’t gotten the layup for that solid and responsive sensation quite right. That’s too bad, because it got in the way of experiencing the well-built nature of this beast, from the clean look of the rear triangle to the stout looking linkages.
On the carbon topic, though, the Knight wheels were definitely a step-up in ride quality for me over some of the other composite wheels on the market. For example, I have never been a big fan of ENVE for mountain bike applications because they are just so stiff that they deflect the bike off trail features and require more effort to control and fatigue me faster. The Knight wheelset seemed to strike a nice balance between stiffness and compliance that didn’t call attention to itself and enhanced the ride precision.
Never been to Outerbike? Find out what this consumer demo event is all about.
On the suspension front, I am perpetually underwhelmed by the RockShox Monarch Plus shock, and paired with the DW-link, its action was pretty constipated. I guess Monarchs could be tuned right for an application (for instance, the rear suspension on the Niner RIP 9 I rode was okay), but nothing has really made me think that they will enhance a given frame’s best attributes.
One big exception would be the Monarch Plus on the Norco Sight a few years back, so maybe there is hope. With really slick offerings from Fox, Cane Creek, and PUSH though, RockShox needs to step it up in my opinion.
My bottom line is that I did not feel an advantage to this bike over the alloy Turner Burner. You get your choice of black (with a variety of decal colors) with a not so great shock and an early carbon feel that isn’t quite mapped onto modern geometry for its intended purpose. If I wanted a DW-link enduro bike, I’d be looking at some other options. The Turner name, though, bumps up my intangible score.
Outerbike Test Session Score: 25 out of 35.
For more information visit www.turnerbikes.com.