Like the Juliana Maverick that I had the chance to ride in Colorado earlier this summer, the Joplin has the same frame as its Santa Cruz counterpart, the Tallboy. Mike Levy has the details on that bike here
, but keep on reading to find out my initial impressions on the women's version of this updated short travel 29er.
Juliana Bicycles debuted the Joplin when the brand debuted in 2013, and they launched the second generation in 2016, so this is the third generation of the short-traveled 29er to hit the trails. Like the last time around, this bike gets 10mm more travel front and rear, a slacker head tube angle and a longer reach. In addition, the new Joplin uses the lower-link mounted shock VPP design that the Maverick, Roubion, and Strega use.
• Wheelsize: 29"
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm fork
• Head angle: 65.5° or 65.7°
• Chainstay length: 430-440mm (adjustable)
• Threaded bottom bracket
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Aluminum, CC and C carbon frames
• Sizes: XS, S, M
• Weight (size M): 28 lb / 12.7 kg
• MSRP: $8,199 USD as shown
The Joplin is made for "going far and going fast" and is offered in sizes XS through Medium. There are six kits available, two aluminum kits, two carbon "C" kits, and two carbon "CC" kits, all of which come with a 120mm rear shock that is tuned for lighter riders, a Juliana women’s saddle, and Juliana grips.
The base model complete Joplin Aluminum D is priced at $2,699, with a parts kit that includes a RockShox Recon RL fork, a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock, SRAM SX 12-speed drivetrain, and SRAM Level brakes.
The $8,199 Joplin CC X01 Reserve above is the one that I've been riding for the past couple weeks in Squamish, BC. It gets a RockShox Pike Select+ fork, a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock, a SRAM X01 drivetrain, SRAM G2 RSC brakes, and Santa Cruz's 27mm Reserve carbon wheels.Frame Details
The Joplin's carbon frame with its lower-link mounted shock VPP design might look similar to the Maverick, but it has 20mm less travel front and rear. It's available in both the high-grade carbon frame known as the “CC” and the regular "C" carbon as well as aluminum.
Other details include internally-molded tubes to make cable routing easier, a downtube protector, a fender that keeps mud away from the shock, a ribbed chainstay protector, room to mount a water bottle on the top of the downtube on all sizes, a threaded bottom bracket, and ISCG-05 tabs for mounting a chain guard.
There's also a lifetime frame and bearing warranty on the Joplin. Geometry
When comparing the 2019 Joplin to the previous generation Joplin, a Medium bike in the Low setting gets a 2.5-degree slacker head tube angle, 18mm longer reach, a 3.3 degree steeper seat tube angle, and an 83mm longer wheelbase.
Like the Santa Cruz Megatower, the carbon Joplin gets adjustable chainstays. Flip the chip on the non-driveside, swap out the brake adaptor and derailleur hanger and it's possible to set the chainstay length at either 430 or 440mm. The bike comes with the two different hangers and brake adaptors so that riders can fine-tune the stay length to their liking. If you'd like to roll on 2.6" tires instead of the 29 x 2.3" tires that come on the bike, you'll want to swap the chainstay to the long position to have enough clearance.
There's also a flip chip on the shock mount that can be used to raise or lower the bottom bracket while simultaneously steepening or slackening the head angle. The difference that chip makes is fairly minor – a 3mm BB height change and a .2-degree head angle change – but it does also make the bike's leverage ratio slightly more linear in the high setting, and a little more progressive in the lower setting. It can also be used to preserve the bike's bottom bracket height if a 140mm fork is installed – the height with a 130mm fork in the High setting is very close what you'll get with a 140mm fork in the Low setting.
The size Medium I've been riding comes with a 150mm dropper.Suspension
The new Joplin uses the same lower-link mounted shock VPP design that the Roubion, Maverick, and Strega use alongside all the engineering and geometry traits of the Santa Cruz Tallboy, but with a custom shock tune that was developed based on the leverage rate curve of the Juliana Joplin and the intended user of this bike.
The Joplin has the typically lighter Juliana rider in mind and its light tune offers a plush and smooth feel throughout the travel. The Joplin gets a Light compression tune compared to the Tallboy's Medium compression tune and a light rebound tune compared to the Tallboy's "LRL01" which is in-between Light and Medium. Both share the same volume spacer (0.4).
I've been riding the Juliana Joplin for the past couple weeks on my home trails in Squamish, British Columbia. The conditions have been near-perfect since we've had enough rain this summer to keep the trails tacky and smooth instead of the usual August dust bowls.
To stay away from the crowds that might spot the Joplin, I've been going out for early morning rides and staying to lesser-known trails. I thought about taking the Joplin on my pre-Crankworx madness Lord of the Squirrels alpine escape, but I was worried it would be spotted by the steady stream of bike-minded digital-savvy riders.
Instead, I've mostly been riding the Joplin in Valleycliffe, a lesser-known area of Squamish that's a bit of a maze, with punishing climbs and savage descents, many of which have been cut in by motos. A great place to see the limits of what 120mm of travel can do.
Squamish, BC, CanadaAge:
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I've been riding the size medium Joplin in the Low setting with the chainstays in the shorter of the two positions. The roomy but not excessive 450mm reach feels comfortable and balanced when climbing. It's not quite as snappy and lightweight on the climbs as an all-out XC race bike, but the firm pedaling platform that stays calm under power makes it easy to put in the distance.
On more technical climbs, I've found that it doesn't have quite the same ground-hugging traction that the longer travel Maverick does, and you have to be a bit more precise about choosing your line in loose gravel and over roots so that you don't bounced get off of it or spin out. That being said, I've felt like I can keep climbing on the Joplin long after the point where I would usually have to stop to catch my breath.Descending
The descents are where the Joplin really shines. With a similar reach number and head tube angle to the Juliana Maverick, I felt instantly at ease pointing the Joplin downhill. I was conscious that it has 20mm less travel, but the solid feel of the bike, 65.5-degree head tube angle and well-chosen spec make it a confident descender. I've felt less confident dropping into black trails on bikes with a lot more travel.
The Joplin might only have 120mm of travel, but that doesn't mean you can't take it off of drops, down steep rock rolls and through a fair bit of chunder. It's no enduro rig, through, and is better suited to racing a technical stage race like the BC Bike Race than your local enduro. Even if racing isn't your thing, you'll want to compete against your friends on the Joplin and push the bike's limits.