My Brief Love Affair with the Bike of my Dreams, the Juliana Joplin

From the bike brand who encapsulates women's mountain biking in its raw form, Juliana unleash the Joplin

Earlier this year, I was quite stoked to hear that Juliana Bicycles had re-launched the Joplin 29er, having made some tweaks to the predeceasing model. So when I managed to get my paws on one, I was determined to see what she had in her.

The Juliana Bicycle brand is renowned for producing ultra high quality carbon frame mountain bikes for the female adventurer. Their sterling reputation is a culmination of having the legendary Juli Furtado as their founder, a cracking team of athletes and ambassadors, and the design and development team of Santa Cruz bicycles to partner with.

Lauren riding the Juliana Furtado for TWC Champion Brands

Last year I reviewed the Juliana Furtado, and was blown away by the comfort, agility and power this bike offered. I truly felt like a Queen of the Mountain as I glided my way up the climbs, and nailed it back down feeling confident and at ease. So when Juliana got in touch to see if I fancied a play on their revised 29er, the Joplin, I was only too happy to oblige.

Read the full Juliana Furtado review here

During my short lived love affair with the Juliana “Joppers” Joplin, we climbed for miles and descended in seconds. Across the mountains and through tree lines of stunning North and South Wales territory. Joppers and I had some run in’s with the ground, a tree here and there, but we got on like a bike on fire.

Fresh out the Box

When opening a bike box, I hold my breath and my stomach tightens. That all too familiar and nostalgic Christmas-Day-feeling spurs my excitable inner child, and I tear open the Pandora’s box. I say Pandora because usually all the wonderful mystery contained in that box needs to be repackaged and given back, which is a truly sucky feeling.

The matt ultraviolet carbon frame welcomed me in, and lifting it – oh so carefully – from its cardboard nest, I gingerly attached the 29″ wheels and tightened the cockpit. Once I’d set up the suspension, adjusted the shifters and gear levers and set the tyre pressure, I sat back to take it all in.

The brilliant ultraviolet colour runs throughout the frame, fork and rim decals. The kashima coated Fox 34 fork stanchions and Fox Float rear shock compliment the colour-way perfectly. It’s truly a stunning bike to look at.

The kit on this bike is finely tuned to enable all mountain adventure days. With interchangable wheels, you can run the Joplin on 650b+ or on 29″ wheels. At a glance this Juliana Joplin model had:

  • Carbon CC frame with internal cable routing
  • Fox 34 Float forks with 120mm or 130mm travel (depending on wheelsize)
  • Fox Float rear shock
  • SRAM XX1 group-set with a Race Face Next Carbon cranks and 1×12 drive-train
  • Rockshox Reverb dropper post

So it looked stunning, and was tricked out with the latest tech in the industry, but would it ride when really put to the test?

The Trail Test

At the first chance of free time, Joppers and I hit the trails at Afan to roll her wheels on a variety of fast flow and techy routes.

Riding on a 29″ wheel is quite the change from a 27.5″. There’s a number of advantages and disadvantages to both wheel sizes, but ultimately it comes down to your riding style and personal preference.

A 29″ wheel has more ground contact, which can provide you with a more stable and anchored feeling when riding. If you’re looking for that additional rolling confidence, then a 29er can give you that. I certainly felt more planted on the bike when hitting the descents, and really burying the weight into berms when cornering.

The bigger wheels and heavier weight will require a little more ‘oompf’ to get going. At first I felt I was giving the Joplin a lot more power than what I was used to, but once you get the big wheels going with some momentum, the roll of the bike was a lot easier and began to cover some serious ground.

The big wheel makes the bike handle a little differently, especially on cornering as it requires a wider area for movement which can be tricky to get used to. On some of the Golfe trails at Innerleithen, I found myself really having to throw my weight into the handling, and throwing out my back end to follow the front.

However, the handling is easy enough to get used to. The bike really came into its own on the looser and rougher terrain. The big 29″ wheels ate up the ground like it was nothing. Sailing over my most hated feature – tree roots – felt effortless, and I really felt confident as the wheels stayed true over the loose ground. Of course, having an excellent suspension set up contributed immensely.

What’s Changed from the Previous Joplin?

Juliana have made small precise changes to the geometry whilst tweaking component compatibilities. The brand aimed to build a comfortable big wheel trail bike, and this is how they did it:

  • Lower Stand-over Height: 10-30mm depending on frame size. The stand-over height is the distance from the floor to the centre of the top tube. Having a lower stand-over height is often preferred to allow more manoeuvrability around the bike – and it makes for easier mounting/dis-mounting.
  • Slacker Head Angle: 2.2 degrees more slack than the previous Joplin. At 68 degrees, the head angle allows for more controlled handling.
  • Longer Reach: 40-50mm depending on frame size. A longer reach provides more room in the centre of the bike, which can be more comfortable for some riders.
  • Shorter Chain-stay: 11mm shorter to provide better control and handling over the rear end of the bike, keeping it tight for technical features.
  • Shorter Seat Tube: 30mm shorter, for a better stand-over and dropper compatibility
  • Steeper Seat Tube Angle: 0.6 degrees steeper for a more effective pedalling position. A minor adjustment, but a steeper head tube will shift your weight slightly for a more efficient pedal.
  • More Progressive Tune: Resists bottom out the suspension, appropriate to the length of travel in the forks and shock.
  • Wheel Size Switchable: You can choose between a 29″ or 27.5+” wheel-set.
  • More travel: Now 120mm rather than previous 100mm. More travel in the front forks allows you to absorb more impact when riding over rocks, bumps and rough terrain.
  • Stiffer Fork Chassis: Fox 34 forks instead of previous Fox 32 model. Fox 34 forks have wider stanchions for more stability and strength.
  • Grippier Tyres: For greater trail handling on the trails Juliana offer: 29 x 2.3” Maxxis tyre combo, or 27.5×2.8” Maxxis Rekon tyres.
  • Dropper Post: A luxury and a God send to many, a dropper post allows quick and easy control over your seat height, so you don’t need to interrupt your flow of riding to adjust

The Verdict

I had a blast on the Juliana Joplin. While I had reservations about the 29er to begin with, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt, even after hours in the saddle.

As with the Juliana Furtado, I was extremely comfortable with the geometry on the bike. Juliana work tirelessly with their ambassadors and athletes to fine tune the geometry – and it shows. Juliana bikes are some of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ridden, especially for full day adventures.

Although the handling was something to get used to, this is more down to the user and not the bike. Once I get into the big wheel flow, everything else began to click into place as the Joplin effortlessly glided over rough, techy and loose terrain.

It’s certainly a more stable and confidence inspiring ride with a 29″ wheel bike. The additional weight and increased contact area with the ground keeps you planted and feeling ready to take on anything.

Sizes, Specs and Prices

There are 3 female specific sizes: Small – Medium and Large across all the Juliana models.

You can buy Carbon CC Frame & Fox Float Factory Kashima only for £2799, or you can buy a complete bike with 8 different build specs. Here’s a selection:

Juliana Joplin C RX1 – £3499

FOX Rhythm 120 Fork

SRAM NX Derailleur

SRAM Level T Brakes

Race Face Aeffect AL Crank

Juliana Joplin C S+ – £4299

FOX 34 Float Performance 130 Fork

SRAM GX 1×11 Derailleur

SRAM Level TL Brakes

Race Face Aeffect AL Crank

Juliana Joplin CC XX1 – £5999

Fox 34 Float Factory Kashima 120 Fork

SRAM XX1 Eagle Derailleur

SRAM Level Ultimate w/180mm Avid Centerline Rotors Brakes

SRAM XX1 Eagle; 32t Cranks

Once again, I’m impressed by the carefully crafted formula that Juliana have concocted in order to build the ultimate women’s mountain bike. The Joplin is a visually stunning bike, and a total blast to ride. The minimum build price is £3499 which is still quite pricey for your average trail bike, but this is no average trail bike.

Juliana have been known for their limited and exclusive range of women’s mountain bikes. This said, earlier this year they dropped the production of their carbon hardtail – the Nevis – making the remaining three models as lucrative as ever. 

For more information, check out the Juliana website. In the UK, Juliana Bicycles are distributed by Jungle Products where you can find more information and buying guides.


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