Juliana Strega – First Ride

Jun 1, 2017
by Lauren Jenkins  



The latest addition to the Juliana lineup is the Strega, a burly bike with 170mm of travel and a namesake that translates to "witch" in Italian. While witch may be an odd choice of name given the fact that this is a women's bike, the story behind the name sheds light on how the Strega came to be.

To find out more about the bike, the idea behind the Strega and the relationship between Santa Cruz and its sister brand, Juliana, we were invited out to Sospel, France, before heading to Trioria in Italy for three days of riding what Santa Cruz and Juliana are calling their most niche bike to date.

Juliana Strega Details

• Intended use: shuttling, park days, gnar
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Travel: 170mm front and rear
• 64.5 or 65-degree head angle
• Full carbon frame and swingarm
• Low standover height
• CC and C carbon frame options
• Sizes: XS, S, M
• MSRP: From $4,499 - $9,399 USD
• Available: June 15
www.julianabicycles.com


TRIORA ITALY - May 2017 - during the launch of the new Juliana Bicycles Strega and Santa Cruz Bicycles Nomad in Sospel Molini and Triora Italy. Photo by Gary Perkin


The Strega

The 170mm Strega is the longest travel bike Juliana has ever offered, with 20mm more travel than the Roubion, the women's specific version of the Santa Cruz Bronson. Its suspension design borrows elements from Santa Cruz's V10 downhill bike, with the metric rear shock sitting low in the frame. The RockShock Super Deluxe shock has been custom tuned for lighter riders, and each frame size gets an appropriately sized dropper - 100mm on the extra-small, 125mm on the small, and 150mm on the medium. The frame also features a bolt-on shuttle guard and downtube protector with the added bonus of a shock fender to keep your frame and shock protected against the mud and the inevitable abuse it will face on the trail. Certain models of the Strega will also come equipped with Santa Cruz's own Reserve carbon wheelset developed in-house and offered with a lifetime warranty. Juliana's women's specific grips and saddle are found across the line, and every model comes with a short stem and wide bars that can be trimmed to suit a rider's preferred dimensions.

There's no denying that the Strega is the Nomad but branded for women, neither Santa Cruz nor Juliana are trying to shy from that fact, but there's more to it than just a different paint job. Juliana know that the Strega won't be for all women, but it's women's specific in the fact that it's marketed and branded for women; you can't market the same thing to different people and expect them to get it. Rest assured if the Strega is your thing you won't be burned at the stake or dipped in a river if you take a liking to it.

Santa Cruz and Juliana Bicycles Nomad and Strega launch. Sospel France to Molini di Triora Italy.
Santa Cruz and Juliana Bicycles Nomad and Strega launch. Sospel France to Molini di Triora Italy.

The name 'Strega' originates in Triora, a small medieval town in Italy with a gruesome history. While riding there during the bikes development process the Santa Cruz / Juliana team began to uncover the history of the witch trials that took place. Also known as the town of the witches, Triora was alleged to be one of the last places in Europe to perform witch trials, and over a period of several years following a time of famine, witchcraft was blamed as the source of the misfortune the people suffered, and the trials began. The women were tortured and burned, suffering all sorts of horrors at the hands of the Inquisition; they were seen as outcasts of society, different from the masses. This is where the idea for the name 'Strega' comes from, but rather than being condemned, Juliana felt that being different should be celebrated, and the theme of the witches stuck.

Geometry and Suspension
The Strega's head angle can easily be adjusted from a slack 65-degrees to an even slacker 64.5-degrees by changing the orientation of the small flip chip in the lower link. In terms of the suggested rider height for different models, Juliana have sized their XS as being for riders at 4'8" to 5'1" the S for riders between 5'0" to 5'5" and the M at 5'5" to 5'8".

JS Geo

All models of the Strega will come with either a RockShox Super Deluxe R or RockShox Super Deluxe RCT and with either the Rockshox Yari RC, RockShox Lyric RC or RockShox Lyric RCT3. With seven models available in the lineup there's a wide range of components packages, with prices starting at $4,499 USD and going up to $9,399. In keeping with the witch theme, all of the bikes come in 'Wicked,' a matte green color.

TRIORA ITALY - May 2017 - during the launch of the new Juliana Bicycles Strega and Santa Cruz Bicycles Nomad in Sospel Molini and Triora Italy. Photo by Gary Perkin
TRIORA ITALY - May 2017 - during the launch of the new Juliana Bicycles Strega and Santa Cruz Bicycles Nomad in Sospel Molini and Triora Italy. Photo by Gary Perkin

bigquotesSanta Cruz bikes has always been about doing niche things, you only have to look at the model line to see how many nichey bikes we have that overlap each other and so we thought, 'Well you can’t get any more niche than doing 170mm, unless we went full V10,' and so this is about as niche as it gets, I mean this is the longest travel trail bike that is attempting to target a women’s audience specifically and, honestly, we like the idea of just sticking a stick in the ant's nest so people will be saying, ‘Why are they doing that, how many of those things do they think they’re going to sell, who are they targeting?’ but it was a hell of a lot of fun doing it and a hell of a lot of fun working on the marketing campaign and we think it will appeal to a certain amount of people and it’s not a business driver, it’s really about an exploration in marketing and trying to open up Santa Cruz bicycles to more people.Will Ockelton, Global Marketing Director, Santa Cruz

TRIORA ITALY - May 2017 - during the launch of the new Juliana Bicycles Strega and Santa Cruz Bicycles Nomad in Sospel Molini and Triora Italy. Photo by Gary Perkin
TRIORA ITALY - May 2017 - during the launch of the new Juliana Bicycles Strega and Santa Cruz Bicycles Nomad in Sospel Molini and Triora Italy. Photo by Gary Perkin

Riding the Strega

At 5'9" I rode a medium bike equipped with a RockShox Super Deluxe RCT and a 170mm Lyrik RCT3, along with SRAM Code RSC brakes, a 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain and Santa Cruz's own Reserve 30 carbon wheelset. The Strega looks like a short-travel downhill bike, and at times it certainly felt like it; it was planted even over the rockiest terrain, giving me confidence often only allowed to me when I'm riding my downhill bike. Over the course of three days, we rode a range of tracks from natural, fresh-cut singletrack to wild, steep switchbacks and plenty of technical terrain in between with some man-made stuff thrown in for good measure. There was little time to test the full capability of the bike on the climbs, though we managed to get the odd section in. Although this bike is more than able, for me it felt much longer and slacker than what I'm used to, but it was still easy enough to climb.

Santa Cruz and Juliana Bicycles Nomad and Strega launch. Sospel France to Molini di Triora Italy.

This bike really comes into its own on the downs, and at times it almost felt that I had to fight to slow it down so that I was riding it, not being taken for a ride; it just wants to go once you point it at the descents. Dropping into the steeper stuff I found that even when I was leaning quite far over the rear I didn't feel as if I was anywhere near the tire, and I was able to get behind the bike and center my weight to maneuver around some super tight switchbacks. A mixture of riding blind and being pushed on by the confidence the Strega gave me got me down what was quite possibly one of the wildest trails I've ever ridden, plunging straight down the side of a mountain into what felt like 40 switchbacks. It wasn't fast, it wasn't exactly stylish, but combined with the powerful brakes and low standover, the Strega and I got down in one piece, and I had the biggest grin on my face.

Santa Cruz and Juliana Bicycles Nomad and Strega launch. Sospel France to Molini di Triora Italy.

The Strega was great fun, and after three days of riding, I had a good feel for what it was capable of and what trails it performed best on, though as always, more time to form a more rounded opinion wouldn't hurt. It really is a niche bike suited to certain riding; it's not going to be the best choice for long climbs, it won't perform to its full potential on everything, but if you're willing to work for it (or have the benefit or an uplift or a chairlift), it's hard to beat its performance on the descents.







Must Read This Week

91 Comments

  • + 109
 Are men allowed to read this "First Look" or do we have to read the nomad one?
  • + 34
 Please, be my guest Smile You even get a little history lesson, you know, if that's your thing!
  • + 12
 Same bike, why bother.
  • + 43
 Looks like a nomad......
  • + 58
 This will be confusing in the States. Can you take your Juliana in the mens restroom or only if you have a Nomad? If I "identify" myself as someone who likes to ride a Juliana I'm now allowed in the womens restroom?
  • + 17
 @Boardlife69: That's a whole other topic right there. What I would say is if you like the Juliana ride the Juliana, if you like the Nomad go for it, if it works for you, it works, at the end of the day women's specific or anything specific aside if you find a bike that you like, men's, women's, unisex or otherwise we're all out there doing the same thing and it's great to see the industry take note and allow women to have the option, initiatives like this aren't for everyone, the bike isn't for everyone, but it's always good to have choice. I'm going to get less kumbaya on you all now and get back to work...
  • - 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Jun 1, 2017 at 2:33) (Below Threshold)
 @Powderface - take it as a pleasant Deja-vu
  • + 2
 @mikeep: Agreed, why didnt they do a dual review of this and the Nomad to get a female and male perspective on the same bike - isnt is just exactly the same with a smaller size option and different paint? EDIT - didnt realise geo was slightly different (though I have no idea why they do this, surely man a man or woman of a certain height can have the same top tube height - if anything men have a load of junk swinging around to catch...)

Then again, if you dont want to read it, dont. The womens market is thankfully starting to grow in this sport which can only be a good thing.
  • + 4
 @Racer951: quite frankly I'm sick of men dressing up as feminists, but I find it equally silly to get sand under your foreskin when seeing a "women specific bike" and going after women for it. Is it a strange idea? Well y... wait who the fk am I to judge that and why would I fkng care?! Honestly? I'd take that Juliana because their color schemes appear more to me.
  • - 1
 Looks like a Nomad?
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: 'sand under your foreskin' new favorite line
  • + 2
 I wonder how many blokes would buy this over a Nomad if the price was a lot lower. Imagine saving some serious coin... but you have to ride a girl's bike. But it's the same as the boy's one.
  • + 5
 @Trailstunter: Looks like a nomad but better colors. At least in green
  • + 2
 @Racer951: Geo is the same for both.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: if you have one its not a great experience!!!
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: Hilarious, well said!
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: WCs in the States are open to all nowadays. Mostly. That's Water Closet for my less-global compatriots.
  • + 1
 @Trailstunter: it is just woman specific, so a little shorter reach and that
  • + 4
 @adinmtb: And it bitches at you if you don't ride it enough.... or too much.
  • + 1
 @mikeep: covers a different size range. and its a different color.
  • + 1
 @laurenjenkins: The Juliana frames always have better colours than the men's frames. Pastel Purple and Sea foam Green; yes please!
  • + 37
 Not gonna lie, I like this color better than the Nomads'
  • + 11
 No pun intended, but yeah, it's wicked! Was surprised to see this choice, but it's refreshing and really looks so good in matte.
  • + 2
 Looks like all Juliana bikes have nicer colors than Santa Cruz... Simple and nice!
  • + 2
 As a man I definitely prefer this color and it wouldn't keep me from riding a bike like this. But unfortunately their sizing seems a bit small. Actually, I believe that making bikes for women up 'till 5'8" is like making bikes for men up 'till 6 foot. You may cater for the majority but you're still leaving a considerable portion out.

Interesting to read about the history of the town. It always surprises me how in such a beautiful, mellow place people could come to such gruesome practice. Still, cool name for the bike.
  • + 26
 Let's play "Spot the Geo Difference”.

Side by side Geo with the Nomad...
www.pinkbike.com/photo/14786161

Kool-Aid anyone?
  • + 5
 I'm guessing its more of a difference in the kit?
  • + 5
 Almost no bike companies actually change the geo for women. This isn't an exception. Different saddles, different bars, different stems and suspension tuning go a LONG way to make it a better ride for women than a mens bike. Giant is one of the few I know of that actually changes geo. No kool-aid, just par for the course!
  • + 15
 @newtoDH: Thank you, you'd almost think people missed where I wrote: "There's no denying that the Strega is the Nomad but branded for women, neither Santa Cruz nor Juliana are trying to shy from that fact..." That's not even what Juliana are trying to achieve with the Strega, it's about giving women options and like you said, changing things like the saddle, suspension tune etc. Marketing and attitude has a big part to play in Juliana, that's kind of the point for Santa Cruz they are trying to attract more people to the brand by trying different things they've given the Strega the lead in this launch and have been able to get more creative with the project. Yes, it is the same bike, but the way in which it's marketed ensures it reaches a wider target audience, in their words: "there’s the way you communicate about that product and that’s where things really go different and I think that’s where the people will question if it’s the right thing to do, but it is the right thing to do because if you just kept things economically sensed you’d just have Josh Bryceland riding it and you’d just be communicating to 90% of your audience and that’s all you’d ever do." I hope that kind of clarifies things a little more, I know on the surface it doesn't make sense, but when you go a little deeper you see why they do what they do, women want to ride the same as men (in most cases) but then there are both men and women alike who can't get the right size, they may need a smaller frame for example, and arguably you'll often change things like saddle, bar and stem etc, but buying something that's good to go that has an equal spec to a unisex bike is always a nice option.
  • + 1
 @newtoDH: Liv bike made by Giant. Those are different.
  • + 8
 @laurenjenkins: Good points. Most girls I knew in college who loved the outdoors and loved to ski, rock climb, etc were turned off to MTBers because it was a bunch of smelly dudes in full face helmets who were very clickish. Even if its the exact same bike, but marketed to a broader audience than the flannel-wearing, fullface-helmet-even-on-singletrack bros, then hopefully we can get more diversity in the sport.
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: listed that in my comment Smile
  • + 2
 @laurenjenkins: Hell yeah! Ride on!!
  • + 2
 @laurenjenkins: glad there are no actual geometry changes. both my sisters are 6ft. wouldent want them to feel left out.
  • + 3
 @laurenjenkins: Thank you for that comment--I agree with the Juliana mission. I figure advertising has the power to change the makeup of the riding community. If the mountain bike industry catered completely to women, and all unisex bikes were really designed around women from the start, I think the industry would be female dominated, just like how the industry seems to focus mostly on men now, and so the riding community is male-dominated. Seeing the current disparity, it makes sense to try to market to women. What I love most about this Strega in particular is that its development was not a response to a demand, but a response to a need, which is rad, empowered, female mountain bikers. Juliana takes a leap of faith when instead of catering to existing market, they aim to create a new market with this Strega launch. Also, in response to orientdave there, I appreciate that Juliana does not change geometry numbers like Liv and a few other brands do--liv hails geometry is just less aggressive than the reign. Juliana's bikes all have the same geometry as Santa cruz's, and as @laurenjenkins said above they're not trying to hide it. It appears to me that juliana doesn't believe women need less capable bikes--they believe women have the potential to ride however the hell they want. The bikes have saddles that are more likely to fit women, and they are marketed to women. Based on generalizations about women? a bit, yes. A step forward to grow the crowd of female riders? I believe so.
  • + 12
 It's just me or this Juliana really looks better than the Nomad?
  • - 4
flag src248 (Jun 1, 2017 at 2:47) (Below Threshold)
 The frame is actually different, this one has curved top/down tubes
  • - 3
 Or a longer top/bottom junction, not a curved downtube
  • + 3
 @src248: I think it is because of the size.
  • - 1
 I knew a Juliana...she looks way better than some dirty Nomad
  • + 2
 @src248: Slightly looking different, but exactly the same geo:
www.pinkbike.com/photo/14786161
  • + 1
 @src248: same frame better color
  • + 10
 Wish Santa Cruz would use the Juliana colours for their bikes. This green, the mustard yellow and the purple are all awesome
  • + 4
 Two first ride reports for one bike. Santa Cruz sure do a good line in bollocks.

I'd most likely change the bars and stuff anyway so what does this offer (other than better colours(.
  • + 2
 So I guess you have to be short to get a women's specific bike? My wife rides a men's Large, and it looks like she'll keep doing that. It's also interesting to see the push-back against the 'shrink it and pink it' mentality for women's ski gear compared to being the accepted in the biking industry.
  • + 2
 I don't understand why bike companies like Liv/Giant, SC/Juliana, etc. just don't offer one model of bike in varying colors. It's already the same bike. They could give you some sort of store credit for a saddle (because so many people swap them out anyhow), and offer 800mm bars to chop down if you need to. Instead, you're wasting time and company money by marketing the same bike to 2 different groups of people.
  • + 1
 As a dude what a cool option to have. Seriously, its adding more color choices, and if you are shorter person maybe having XS option is nice. So what if you have to re buy decals and go through the work of install, you want a green SC Nomad from factory? Done! Its cheaper than wrapping it.....
  • + 1
 The Strega looks way better than the Nomad, I like that "wicked" green.

Size M looks always better any time than size L, not only with SC bikes. I wonder how size XL will look like - must be horrible because of that linkage and the long seat mast....So the better looking design is for the womens version only Big Grin ...
  • + 1
 What about sizing for taller women?I'm 183cm so I'd have to go for the Nomad wouldnt I? Looking forward to seeing one in the flesh as its not the most photogenic of bikes but my reality is that Juliana/Santa Cruz bikes are always going to be a little bit out of reach.
  • + 4
 so this is the same bike as the nomad but in a girly colour
  • + 4
 That's how Julaina works!
  • + 2
 but limits your re-sell options.
  • + 1
 seems a better colour scheme than what SC are offering the nomad in
  • + 1
 @mikeep: Mike, as you are a lady, surely you look for a ladies bike with appeal, you lady types don't always want a man's bike, so how does it limit it?
  • + 2
 @lee-vps-savage: Because the overwhelming majority are on "mens" bikes and probably don't care. so your pool of available buyers is pretty limited.

of all the girls I know on either an SC or Juliana bike, there's only 1 on a a Juliana and at least 12 on Santa Cruz
  • + 1
 @boardinbob: But by having a juliana and a santa cruz version of the same bike santa cruz have made widened the available customer pot surely, if they had one bike that would limit it...
  • + 1
 @lee-vps-savage: why, they are the same bike.
  • + 4
 That's an ugly ass headtube badge Razz
  • + 0
 its an ugly ass bike full stop
  • + 4
 Another 'women specific design/colours' I like more than the counterpart.
  • + 2
 I like this green better than the two Nomad colors. When my grandparents would argue in Italian, he would call me grandmother a Strega quite often.
  • + 1
 They keep going on how niche it is, but is this for a different market than say a Propain Spindrift or a YT Capra? I thought the Capra is quite popular so it isn't that niche really.
  • + 3
 Another fake womens bike from SC. Just slap some different paint and stickers on it and see if anyone will notice
  • + 3
 As a woman I love what SC have done. I want my bike to be separate from those horrible manly bikes.
  • + 5
 Mike you're confused...
  • + 3
 @lee-vps-savage: Are you trying to imply that Mike isn't a strong and independant women who don't need no man? Lee, I think you're the one who is confused!! >:-(
As for you, Mike, you go GIRL !!
  • + 1
 @Jack-McLovin: Your grammar is awful!
  • + 2
 @lee-vps-savage: dubble negatives 4 dayz
  • + 2
 I really really love the marketing and creativity that went into this project. Bravo! Bike looks better than the nomad too, i kinda want one now...
  • + 3
 It turned me into a newt!
  • + 3
 I'd take this over the Nomad
  • + 3
 SC Nomad - Juliana Strega find the 7 differences .... Razz
  • + 2
 Conquering a new trail on a new bike, the feels right there! Great write up, can't wait to see a few of these in the wild!
  • + 4
 It was one of the trails where it doesn't dawn on you until you get to the bottom what you've just ridden down. I wish I'd had my GoPro, it would have been worth it for the commentary alone.
  • + 1
 @laurenjenkins: did you like these trails? hope you did.. I live here and I heard rumors about "your" presence.

This is a great place that could even be better and grow.
Happy to read this article!
  • + 3
 @nico2001: I hope you mean 'your' as in the Santa Cruz and Juliana crew plus riders and not just me? haha. The trails were fantastic it's so beautiful there. We had Ady and Jo from Riviera bike to guide us and I'll definitely be coming back. You live in a very beautiful part of the world!
  • + 1
 Fun fact: the Nazi Germans called Soviet lady bomber pilots who bombed them at night, the Night Witches (Nachthexen).
  • + 1
 I'd buy this over the Newmad, simply because this has better colour options.
  • + 1
 Maybe it's the paint scheme or the shape of the top tube, but this one looks a hell of a lot better than the men's version.
  • + 2
 They should have named it the Hatfield.
  • + 1
 Could I get away with riding a Juliana and just getting new decals? Big Grin
  • + 2
 Hells yeah, why not! You could even ride it just as Juliana, it may be a women's brand, but there's no rule book. We're all just riding bikes at the end of the day.
  • + 1
 @laurenjenkins:I agree but we all live in a bike world where you get judged for buying a certain brand in a certain colour and... WHY THE HELL ARE YOU WEARING THAT... Maybe it's the future, cross dressing for bikes Big Grin
  • + 1
 Such a bad ass bike tup
  • + 1
 Filmed at my local riding spot ????

youtu.be/2zGEtQgrmTs
  • + 1
 daaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyum I have to get me one of those
  • + 1
 Thought it was Muggers

Global fame ????????
  • + 1
 it is just me or does this look identical to the new nomad

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