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The Juliana Vivi Balance Bike

Sep 23, 2020 at 21:07
by Adrian Montgomery  

Not Her Older Brothers Hand-Me-Down

My daughter Vivian had no interest in the bike her brothers learned on. It wasn't just the 5 years of beat down the Mini CG endured thanks to her older siblings, the bike just didn't peak her interest. In short, it wasn't purple, and it wasn't new. So... I set out to fix all of that, but I wanted give the bike we'd come to love a new lease on life. When I first posted about the Mini CG, there were a lot of comments about whether a kid needs a bike with disc brakes. This is my third kid, and I can say without question that learning how to stop precedes learning how to go. Absolutely kids should have a "skid switch" and they should practice this skill from the onset. The other comment I kept seeing was related to price, and how you could simply take the cranks out of a pedal bike or buy something for $50 that works the same. To that I say; Go ahead, if you don't want your kid to share your mountain biking passion, put them on a cheapo bike and you'll be able to keep crushing solo rides well after the nest is empty. Go for it. But in my experience, equipment has a lot to do with the outcome, so I set my sights on making a bike that would bring joy and accelerate skills.

I knew before we even started looking at paint colors which brand would be on the downtube, there wasn't even a question. Juliana Furtado was my first MTB hero. I worked at a GT Dealer in the late 80's and early 90's and the posters on the wall of Furtado dominating on her titanium Xixang with rainbow stripes on her sleeves is an image forever embedded in my memory. It's beyond incredible that there's a bike brand named for this MTB legend. I figure the best way to get more women into the sport is to put more girls on bikes, and if my little girl is going to have some early stage brand loyalty it has to be Juliana. Maybe we can get a few more of these made and widely distributed that are actually developed by the brand?

Juliana Balance Bike - Side Profile

Frame/Fork: Production Priveé Mini CG
Headset: King 1 1/8" Threadless Purple Anodized
Stem: ProTaper MTB 30mm
Bar/Grip Combo: ProTaper JUNIT
Brakes: XTR
Rims: XYZ Carbon
Rear Hub: XT Centerlock
Tires: Vee Tire Crown Gem 12x2.5" Skinwall
Bell: Spur Cycle
Saddle: Custom Leather

Juliana Balance Bike - XTR Brakes - JUNIT ProTaper Bars Grips - King Headset
XTR Brakes offer ample reach adjustment and power. This is the "skid switch". I have historically used the left brake off one of my bikes as the donor for two reasons; 1) I think learning how to use your L hand for brake modulation pays dividends in the future when that brake is the majority of your stopping power 2) The brake line is the correct length without modification. The bars were trimmed to the absolute min width that would still accommodate the grips.

Juliana Balance Bike - XTR Brakes - XT Hub - Carbon Rim - Vee Tires
I cut custom spokes using a Hozan tool, something I haven't done in decades. I had the rim custom drilled and hand built the rear wheel. I happened to have a 140mm XTR rotor in the garage too. Bought some purple grip tape for the standing platform and covered a bit more surface for extra grip.

Juliana Balance Bike - Spur Cycle Bell - JUNIT ProTaper Bars - King Headset
The Spur Cycle Bell not only anchors the inside of the grip but it finishes the build nicely and will endure for years to come. Plus my little girl loves to let the neighborhood know she's on the move. ProTaper bar/stem/grips are mint.

I'm really happy with how the bike turned out, and what makes me even happier is that she really wants to ride it now. There's just as much excitement around it as a brand new bike. A little elbow grease and some extra love from Dad made this bike so special. I have to give a shout out to Hayes Bicycle for their help with the project, Vee Tire with the clutch move on making real 12" tires, XYZ Carbon for custom drilling the rear rim, our hometown upholstery shop for recovering the seat even though it was a tiny job and False Summit for cutting the decals for us.

First Day

Related Media:

Original Build:

First Owner "Duncan"

5 Years Later:

Manitou Hayes JUNIT Ad

A good read: A Father's Guide to Teaching the Joy Of MTB

Author Info:
adrian-montgomery avatar

Member since Sep 15, 2010
3 articles

  • 2 0
 This is so great & I love the fact the bike was repurposed. Both our girls have used the same 12” Cruzee balance bike but I would have loved to have done a project bike like this.
Recently got the youngest daughter a second hand spawn 14” pedal bike and will be taking the pedals and cranks off for her to transition to the size. We did the same process for the eldest but with a 16” Spawn but it was a year or so later than I wanted to due to not being able to find a bike.
This way the transition from larger balance bike with brakes to pedal bike took less than a week.
  • 1 0
 Thank you! Part of the joy of the project was reviving and re-purposing the bike. Pretty much all the parts were hammered after my 8YO and 5YO boys were done with it... the headset was notchy, the wheels were bent, anodization on the bars faded, saddle ripped (I did recover the stock one) and on and on. But the bike was worthy of being brought back to life.

I tend to leave the kids on the balance bikes a bit longer than their peers, then I introduce the pedals and it seems to go great!

I appreciate the positive comment, enjoy your next ride!
  • 2 0
 Missed mtn bike season this year... Pregnant with my first, a girl. Seeing this almost made me cry (not a hard fear). Can't wait to have my daughter on a sick lil Juliana one day following me on my Roubion. Thank you for sharing your stoke!!!!
  • 1 0
 So awesome! You'll be riding with her in no time! Best of luck to you as the big day approaches...
  • 2 0
 I’ve got a worn out 16” bike that I’m going to rebuild for my 4 year old son over the next few months. Whilst I’d love to drop grown up bike money on a bike for him, I doubt that he will be on it for long. The plan is to powder coat the frame/fork, rebuild the wheels, try to set it up tubeless with new tyres and fit the SDG Jr Pro kit.
  • 2 0
 That'll be as solid build, the SDG stuff looks legit. My boys were on 16" for about 1.5 Summers and then I was able to fit them onto the Norco Fluid FS [] that made a huge difference in confidence and control and for sure range. Enjoy the ride!
  • 2 0
 @adrian-montgomery: The SDG bars (cut down)/grips and pedals are already on his 14” bike, they are really good.
  • 4 2
 Your privilege is showing
  • 3 0
 Weird, not what I imagined the first comment would be.
  • 2 0
 Good stuff Monte!
  • 1 0
 Thanks Bud!

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