Juliana Bicycles like to position themselves less about being women's specific, and more about being for specific women. The women that Juliana are gunning for are the ones who get rad, ride hard and go big. In the last year the Juliana team visited key West Coast dealers to gather feedback from the ground on what women are looking for, and with the significant changes made to this year's frames along with a myriad of options for some killer component specs and matching price spectrums, they're confident that the new Roubion and Furtado will meet the needs of their target audience.
Juliana invited us to the once bustling and vibrant gold mining hub of Downieville, California to test out these two updated bikes on the fast and flowing trails that have been lovingly brought to life by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Santa Cruz Bicycles have a long history in the area and it was only a matter of time until they brought a gaggle of media and dealers out here for a launch to show off their adopted backyard's treasures. So, as bedraggled and glittery Burning Man humans entered Reno from the north, their trailers and wild cruiser bikes caked in the thin white sand of the playa, another group of us arrived in Reno to head east into the mountains, to ride mountain bikes in gold dust.
2016 Frame Updates
Both the Roubion and the Furtado receive some pretty significant frame updates for 2016, a trickle-down effect of changes that stem from recent Nomad updates. These tweaks provide geometry improvements, increased stiffness and performance as well as pure aesthetic indulgences.Roubion
: The Roubion recieves a few updates this year that should polish the bike into an even more capable all-mountain machine. The head tube angle is one degree slacker at 66 degrees, an alterations that's intended to increase it's capacity for aggressive downhilling. The bike's reach has also been lengthened by 20-25mm (size dependent) to allow for the use of shorter stems on the bike and better fit options for riders. The seat tube has been shortened allowing the use of a 150mm dropper without topping out and for more sizing flexibility - the goal being to encourage people to size their bikes based on reach rather than standover height. The seat tube angle is also now .8 degrees steeper putting the rider in a better pedaling position and the chainstays have been shortened by 6mm for better cornering. In another move, Juliana have also switched to 12 x 148mm rear spacing this year, and moving forward this will be the norm across the range. If two by is your thing there is a front derailleur mount and internal cable routing available to keep your bike looking cable clean.
Other major changes include the link placements, the upper link has been beefed up, and moved up and forward which allowed designers to provide better standover height, a win for the shorter folks that puts the bike on par with its competitors. The lower link is now tucked away inside the frame making the lines cleaner and providing better clearance. Furtado:
The Furtado will see's all of the same updates as the Roubion with a few exceptions. The Furtado's chainstays have been shortened by 8mm and the head tube angle adjustment of one degree brings the Furtado to 67 degrees. The Furtado also gets an extra 5mm travel this year, bringing the bike to 130mm in the rear. Also new for 2016 the Furtado will be available in extra small, something many smaller riders should be happy to hear.Suspension
Juliana has revised the rear shock suspension tune on the bikes this year, and all models will come with Fox Float's with EVOL air sleeves for better small bump sensitivity which should also meant better traction. The progression on this tune has a flatter overall curve rate, which basically means you should get a consistent feel as you move through the travel on the bike and as you get to the bottom of the travel, the shock will ramp up to provide that bottomless feel we're all after out on the trail. All models of the Roubion will come with RockShox forks and the Fox Float Evol rear shocks for 2016. Component Check
Juliana offer a few small points specifically for the ladies, color coordinated grips being one, a Juliana saddle being another and colorways unlike any other you've probably seen out in the wild rounding out the mix. Juliana are no longer making their own handlebars, and in a move to further align the brand with Santa Cruz Bicycles, will now instead come with Santa Cruz's 760mm bars and either Race Face or Easton 35mm stems.
With the launch of the Juliana SRAM Pro Team and a healthy ambassador program behind it, the Roubion has become a go-to 150mm all-mountain ride for many mountain biking women. Although the Evergreen paint job of yesteryear was an eye-catching hit, the team have come up with what they're calling Stonewash Purple for 2016, a cool violet hue with a grey undertone that had my co-worker Mike Kazimer craving a serving of berry flavored ice cream. The Juliana Pro Team are excited about the new slacker head tube angle and other geometry changes this year on the Roubion and after riding the bike for the first time over the two days we spent with them, they were confident that the updates were all positive. In addition to the geometry updates, the Roubion will come with Easton's Arc 24 wheels which are lighter than the ARC 27's you'll find on the Roubion's brother, the Bronson. Also new for 2015 is a the C level carbon frame option, a slightly heavier and cheaper version than the CC you'll find used at the top end of the range. With the entry level Roubion clocking in at $2999, this option will likely be a big hit for the cost conscious buyer. The top of the line Roubion 2CC will set you back a cool $8099. Don't forget to squirrel away some extra coins if you're looking for the color coordinated ENVE rims.Ride Impressions:
The Butcher Trail is a long, mostly high-speed descent to the valley floor with some good technical sections thrown in along the way. The Roubion was eager to get going, and I found myself oversteering out of the gate trying to keep up with what the Roubion wanted to do underneath me. Once I'd adjusted and got the front end under control, the Roubion felt very snappy. It would rip through corners, with the rear end zipping through the apex and rocketing out the other side. The bike was also quick to respond when asking it to get airborne over roots and rocks and provided that bottomless feeling when coming back down to earth. The Roubion's jovial on trail personality is tempered with an air of stability that provided extra reassurance and the further we made our way down the trail the more the Roubion dared me to push myself a little harder and as I worked to keep Sarah Leishman's tail in sight the Roubion seemed to taunt me and say, "Come on, is that all you've got?" We didn't get a ton of sustained climbing in on the bike, but the Roubion's geometry recipe seemed pretty user-friendly with the climbing position feeling comfortable and far from sluggish.
The Furtado is Juliana's best seller, the jewel in the crown so to speak. Looking to keep the Furtado on point, a few additional changes have been made to the line. This year the Furtado gets an additional 5mm of rear travel, which will bring the numbers both front and back to 130mm. Also new this year for the Furtado is an extra small size frame, both it and the small will be kitted with a 125mm dropper post. The Furtado will be rolling out of the factory floor sporting a refreshing looking Spearmint green coat of paint. Expect heads to turn. The Furtado will be available in four build kits starting at $2999 for the 2C and topping out at $8999 for the 2CC model. Again, If you're after matching ENVE rims you'll need to keep a little more coin aside.Ride Impressions
: Mill Peak Trail descends into the valley via a thin ribbon of smooth fast single track that's peppered with squirrel catching rocks (and actual squirrels - I nearly caught one in my front wheel) that require fast navigational responses from the rider. The Furtado was quick to react to any direction I gave it and provided a very light yet stable ride. The Furtado feels far from flimsy, in fact I think this bike would could stand up to some decent trail torture. As with the Roubion the suspension felt bottomless, which cements my feeling that this bike could stand up to burlier trail than I rode it on. The Furtado loved to accelerate as I stood up to climb on trail and kept great traction, up and over technical ascents. Although you won't find a huge weight difference between the Roubion and the Furtado, you will find the Furtado a little easier to wrangle on trail and quicker and easier to navigate up hill.Final Thoughts:
|It might be a little too soon to say, but the latest incarnation of the Juliana range could be the most well spec'd women's bike that we've seen yet. Juliana have put together two great options in the Roubion and Furtado that provide quality components, a number of price points and great ride. All you will need to do is determine the type of terrain you will primarily be riding and how much you want to spend and make your choice. - Rachelle Frazer|
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