Juliana Roubion All-Mountain Women's Mountain Bike
Juliana Roubion All-Mountain Women's Mountain Bike
The new Juliana Roubion mountain bike has already caused a stir in the world of women’s mountain biking. With 150mm of travel and 27.5’ wheels, it’s a welcome addition to the thin ranks of women’s specific all-mountain bikes.
In a luscious Evergreen colour with matching decals on the forks and wheels, it’s a beauty of a bike, but rest assured it’s got the brawn and brains to match.
Developed to satisfy the needs of mountain shredder Anka Martin, downhiller turned enduro rider, guide and adventurer. She needed a steed to suit long days in the saddle, epic climbs, technical descents and all kinds of terrain. The Juliana Roubion is truly a bike for women who push themselves, ride challenging terrain, and want to have a whole load of fun doing it.
Available with a number of build options, with optional upgrades, the Roubion is also available as a frame or frameset only option.
You’ve got to take an all-mountain bike to the mountains to test it, so I put the full-on top spec Juliana Roubion through two weeks of riding and racing in the Alps, culminating in the Megavalanche MTB race. It’s about as ultimate a test as you could give a bike.
First things first. Juliana Bicycles are the sister company of Santa Cruz, and their bikes are based around Santa Cruz frames. In the case of the Roubion, it’s the highly regarded Bronson frame. Juliana don’t hide this fact: they celebrate it.
Santa Cruz have a long history of producing great bikes and their suspension system comes well reviewed. This also means that Juliana Bicycles benefit from the lifetime crash replacement and pivot bearing warranty that Santa Cruz frames come with.
After it’s good looks, the next thing I noticed about the Juliana Roubion was how light it is. The top spec model comes in at only 25.8lbs (medium size), due in large part to the stiff and strong carbon frame, and the unfeasibly light carbon Enve M60/40 wheels.
I loved the stiffness and responsiveness of the wheels when riding, but they do bump up the cost of the bike build significantly. The less luxury wheel option won’t add a huge amount of weight to the bike and will do the job if you want to save some pennies.
As for how it rides, the watchwords are fun, traction and agility. The brains of the bike come into play in the suspension design, with the VPP suspension technology giving the Roubion the ability to climb amazingly well. On fire road climbs, lock off the suspension and power on up. On technical climbs, leave the suspension on and the Roubion will eat up the little bumps and keep its grip without sacrificing that all important pedal-stroke power.
You can thank the Cane Creek DB (Double Barrel) Air rear shock for this as well. It adjusts its damping to adapt to the climbs. If you go for the Fox shock option, you’ve got a lockout to help with the hills.
On the gnarly, steep and seemingly endless descents in the Alps, the Roubion really came into its own. Wow what a ride! The low bottom bracket keeps your centre of gravity low, below the axles of the 27.5’ wheels. In practice, this means the Roubion feels very stable at speed and is glued into those corners. It’s a confidence-inspiring ride.
Small lumps and braking bumps were simply eaten up, a combination of the smooth responsiveness of the suspension and the vibration absorbing properties of the carbon handlebars. After several 40-minute descents, I had zero arm-pump going on.
For the larger stuff, of which there was plenty in the test, I found the Rockshox Pike forks a dream. The plush feel of the suspension sent me soaring smoothly over drops, jumps and rooty sections. The Cane Creek DB Air shock, which is an added extra for top of the range bikes, is tuneable to suit the terrain. Adapting the suspension to an optimal setting for the terrain I was riding was fairly easy to do, and helpfully Cane Creek have lots of set-up options listed on their website.
Being a rider who likes to stay in control, I also fell a little bit in love with the smooth action of the Shimano XTR brakes. Subtle but powerful braking with just a light touch is exactly what you need for long Alpine descents, and the levers have a good range of adjustment so you can adapt them to suit big and small hands alike. The brake pad have cooling fins, which helps avoid the brakes overheating, and increases their longevity.
Despite initial misgivings (‘only one chainring? I’ll never have enough gears to get up a mountain on that!’) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the Sram XX1 groupset. With a 34 tooth chainring at the front – the retail model comes with 32-tooth chainring – and an 11-speed cassette at the back, the range of gears was almost equivalent to the double chainring set-ups I usually ride.
The relaxed geometry, with a head angle of 67degrees, gives confidence on steep descents without sacrificing uphill riding ability. The stand over isn’t as low as I’d like, but in my case that’s most likely because I’d gone up a size and was on the lower cusp of the height range for the bike.
It’s good to see wider handlebars on a women’s specific bike; 720mm in this case, and they give much greater steering control and stability. Personally, I’d like to see slightly wider bars, especially for the type of terrain and riding the Roubion is aimed at.
I like to throw bikes around the trail a bit, more so after two weeks in the Alps, and I was in heaven, as the Roubion clearly loves this. It went where I put it, and the harder you ride it the more you’ll get out of it. Even the tyres are mountain-ready; tubeless-ready and rugged Maxxis High Rollers EXO, that meant I didn’t once puncture over two weeks of Alpine Riding. Win!
At 5’8” and a bit, I sit within the medium range for Juliana bicycles, according to their sizing chart. However, I find that they size up a bit on the short side in terms of reach so I opted for a large, switched the Easton Haven stem out for a slightly shorter length, and the fit was pretty much spot on. If you are between sizes, I’d highly recommend trying both out.
The Juliana Roubion is the perfect bike for all-mountain shralping. It loves the rough, it loves the steep, and it’s not afraid to work hard to get you up the mountain to access the good stuff. Above all, it’s a fun, confidence-inspiring ride.
Price: There are lots of complete bike options, ranging from £5,699 (with XT gearset and Rockshox Pike) up to the full-on bells and whistles build I tested which comes in at £7,999.
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
Available from: Jungle Products and Santa Cruz dealers.
By Aoife Glass.