First look: Turner Flux 27.5 and Czar 29er

By Eric McKeegan

For years, the Flux was Turner Bikes’ 26-inch cross-country race bike, but last fall production ceased on this model. The market for a 100mm travel 26-inch bike was (and is) close to non-existent in the United States. But David Turner wasn’t ready to let that name go unused, and designed a new Flux with 27.5-inch wheels and 120mm of travel, slotted in nicely as a shorter-travel trail bike alternative to the 140mm Burner.

Set up with a 120mm fork, the head angle is a middle-of-the-road 68-degrees, the chainstays are 17.4-inches, and the bottom bracket sits at 12.8-inches. Feeling rowdy? You can use a 140mm fork on the Flux as well. The frame is all cold-worked, U.S. sourced aluminum alloy, welded together by the steady hands at Zen Fabrications in Portland, Oregon.

The curved toptube eliminates the need for a seat tube-top tube gusset, and the short links and beefy mounting points should make for a stiff frame. The top and down tubes are formed into a tri-lobular shape (think triangle with rounded points) and rear dropouts are replaceable 142x12mm standard.

These are available now, and if we didn’t have a Burner on its way to Dirt Rag HQ, I’d be torn which bike to choose. The anodized frame is $2,350 with the Fox Kashiman shock, while bare finished frames start at $2,100 wtih an Evolution shock. 

How about that Czar 29er? I first reported on it at Sea Otter, and have been waiting to ride it ever since. I choose one for a big group ride on the Wasatch Crest Trail, a long shuttled loop that loses a ton of elevation. We shuttled up to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and rode about 25 miles of mostly descending down into Salt Lake City, where a cooler of beer and a ride back to Park City were waiting.

My first few miles on the 100mm Czar were a little disconcerting. Even though I change bikes constantly, after a few weeks bashing around on heavy duty trail bikes, and racing a relatively slack single speed at a recent stage race, the Czar’s steep geometry had me feeling and riding mighty twitchy-like.

I took some deep breaths, shook myself out, and turned the body English dial way down. After that it all came back to me. The stiff frame and wheels (thanks ENVE!) combined with the incredibly controlled dw-link suspension had me super stoked to be chasing the rest of the crew, mostly on Fluxes and Burners. I never bothered flipping the CTD switch on the rear shock. The suspension allowed me to pound away at the pedals, seated or standing, with an almost complete lack of unwanted motion. I will admit to thinking a 120mm fork instead of the 100mm might have calmed things down a bit when things got going quickly, but I kept it rubber side down with little fanfare.

Should I decide to go back to gears and squish for next year’s TS Epic, I think I found my race bike for next year. Stiff, light, superb pedaling, confident handing, everything a great cross-country bike should be. The carbon fiber Czar frame is $2,995. 


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