After sneaking some photos of the new Turner Flux earlier in the week, we had the chance to sit down with David Tuner of Turner Bikes to talk about what’s new at Turner, what hasn’t changed, and the company’s vision for the entire range. Better still, we had the opportunity to spend several hours on Enve-wheel’d Flux, Czar, Sultan, and Burner bikes. While we’ll save our (very positive) impressions of the bikes we rode for another day, you can find out what we learned from our discussion after the jump…
With 20 years’ experience building mountain bikes, Turner has achieved elder statesman status within the industry. Mountain biking is clearly a passion for the entire Turner crew- and we saw the entire family taking advantage of Park City’s beautiful trails during our time at PressCamp. 2013-14 is shaping up to be a busy time for the company, with new domestic production hitting its stride, their first carbon fiber model hitting the trails, and big updates to a couple of classic models.
After Sapa pulled out of the bicycle tubing and fabrication business, Turner began a relationship with Zen Fabrications of Portland, OR. This relationship has allowed them to keep production of all aluminum frames–and the associated profits–here in the United States. The change has also allowed the company to take advantage of new tubing suppliers and manipulation techniques- as evidenced by the increased use of curved and profiled tubing within the Turner line.
In addition to keeping their riders’ money closer to home, maintaining US production has allowed Turner to remain flexible. As the cost of Asian production has increased, the brand is seeing competitors come around to where they’ve been all along. That said, this spring’s debut of the 100mm Czar 29er is the first foreign-made Turner. Despite discussing the possibility with domestic manufacturers, the labor-intensive nature of composites manufacturing made an American-made carbon fiber frame infeasible.
But don’t expect composites to take over the Turner range. For the foreseeable future, for example, Turner have ruled out a carbon fiber Burner. As well-received as the 150mm 650b trail bike has been, Turner feel that a bike intended for riders inclined to push their personal and equipment limits may not be the best use for composites. Instead, Turner would like riders to be able to continue riding their dinged and dented (to a point) bikes with confidence. With their a high-end, US-made frames, Turner is providing something that their customers demand- and have increasing difficulty finding elsewhere.
Realizing that many riders upgrade their bikes over time rather than replacing them altogether, Turner have a no-nonsense approach to the 29er and 650b wheel revolutions. Along with bare frames, the brand sells reasonably-priced Upgrade and Starter Kits consisting of the frame, fork, headset, and (in the case of Starter Kits) wheels and tires. It’s a great idea and helps riders to embrace newer wheel sizes.
The takeaway? While carbon fiber is clearly on the company’s radar, if Turner is going to use carbon fiber or any other material, it will be a well-considered decision rather than a response to current trends. The purchase of a Turner is intended to be the beginning of a long-term relationship.
Without further ado, the Turner range:
Czar 100mm 29er:
- Tuner’s raciest offering- one that still fits 2.4s comfortably
- Intended long rides at speed: 50mi, stage, and 24-hour racing
- Versatile enough to be fun on and off the race course
Flux 120mm 650b:
- A more nimble, lighter-riding rendering of the Burner trail bike
- Long and low with a 12.8mm bottom bracket
- Takes advantage of 650b wheels for a quicker, more playful feel than the Sultan
Sultan 125mm 29er:
- A mid-travel 29er that can be ridden without mentally or physically fatiguing the rider
- Stable, planted, and solid
150 140mm 650b:
- An all-around trail bike for riders pushing their physical and technical limits
- Higher 13.3in bottom bracket encourages pedaling through rough sections
- A versatile, dependable, long-term partner
DHR DH 26in race bike:
- A world-cup downhill race bike
- Slack, long, and low for ultimate speed and control on steep terrain
We are expecting a Burner and (possibly a Flux) for review shortly- look for our impressions soon.