Bright sunshine, high mountains, professional mountain bikers and a high-end bike with the kind of componentry you used to only dream of on a women's specific bike. This was the launch of the new Juliana Roubion.
All the brawn of a Bronson in the spirit of Juliana, the Roubion stands at the forefront of women’s mountain biking!
Juliana Bicycles, 2014
Eight female journalists representing some of the biggest bike publications in the world (yes, world) gathered in the Maritime Alps of Southern France to find out about the newest model to join the Juliana Bicycles range. With representatives from Bike Magazine (US), MBR (UK), Pinkbike (Canada/International) and Bike Radar (UK) - and of course Total Women's Cycling - this was a unique event in itself, but more on that later. Also there were Juliana Bicycles team riders Anka Martin, Kathy Pruitt and Julia Hobson, demonstrating the full capabilities of the Roubion.
Juliana Bicycles was launched last year in 2013, and boasts a range of 6 women's specific bikes. They combine the long and well-regarded frame design of Santa Cruz bikes with what they call the 'Spirit of Juliana'. What is that spirit? It's something that Juliana team rider Anka Martin embodies well - adventure, exploration, riding with your friends and just having fun on your bike.
Named after Anka Martin's favourite stage of the Trans Provence MTB race, the bike fills a gap in the market for a women's specific long-travel full suspension all-mountain bike. A carbon frame with relaxed geometry and 150mm travel, plus an XX1 groupset (other options available) and VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) technology mean this bike is well set up for crazy descents, but can still handle climbs.
A women's specific Juliana saddle and narrow Juliana grips on the carbon bars, plus the all-important dropper seat post, complete what is a great set up for mountain adventures, whether you're going on an Alpine holiday, a multi-day stage race, an enduro event or just ride regularly in more mountainous areas.
What's interesting here is that this bike will not only be available with a range of components, and as a frame only option, but that if you want to go all out and top-of-the-range, you can. This makes is unusual in the world of women's specific MTBs.
For those with a big budget, the model above which we were lucky enough to test has super light and strong carbon Enve wheels, RockShox Pike forks, a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air Shock and an XX1 groupset.
Let's start with 'wow, that bike looks the business'. A matt evergreen paint job with matching decals on the forks and Enve wheels makes this one eye-catching, good-looking bike.
It is also a dream to ride, based on a few days in the saddle. The only place to test the Roubion was surely the Trans Provence race trails around Roubion itself, a tiny and beautiful town clinging to a cliff-side in the mountains. We took the bike on Alpine passes, wooded singletrack, loose rocky slopes and even the bike park. The Roubion handled everything with ease.
If you've never ridden an XX1 groupset (single ring up front, 11 speed cassette) you might be concerned (as I was) that it won't give you enough range to get up steep climbs. In practice, the extra range in the cassette gives you almost as much range as a traditional set up, with the added benefits of saving a chunk of weight, and a much simpler set up. No more shifting gear with both hands, dropping chains off the front rings, and all the associated maintenance faff. I'm convinced.
The suspension is sweet, making short work of a range of terrain from small bumps to big hits, as well as drop-offs. There's also a surprising amount of traction on slippery climbs, with negligible pedal-bob even with the suspension on fully.
The newly released Cane Creek Double Barrel Air with climb switch is a product that allows you to tune your suspension feel to your ride, and adapt it to any terrain you find yourself riding.
Like all Juliana bikes, it comes with a 5 year warranty, plus a lifetime crash replacement and bearings warranty.
Stand by for a more in-depth review, with the bike being tested on different terrain in the UK and abroad.
Why is the fact that there was a press camp even important? Well, to my knowledge there hasn't been this kind of pomp and circumstance around the launch of a women's product before. My fellow female bike journalists who have attended such events are usually in the vast minority.
By giving their women's specific bike the same exposure, investment and fanfare as is usually reserved for a new top-of-the-line 'unisex' (or presumed male) bike model or piece of kit, Juliana are making a statement of intent. Women's products here aren't an afterthought, or a niche product within a brand's vast portfolio.
When can I get it?
The Juliana Roubion will be available to order from the 16th June 2014, with an ETA on the first bikes from July.
Retailers will have several kit options for complete bikes, and you'll also be able to buy this as a frame-only option if you want to build up your steed. If you don't want to fork out for the full top-of-the-range options, getting a lower-end spec and building it up over time is a great way to spread the cost, and this bike will last a good few years.
The Bike Spec
- 150mm travel VVP suspension (options: Custom tuned Fox Float CTD Adjust Factory with Kashima Coating as standard. Upgrade to Cane Creek Double Barrel Air)
- RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air 150mm fork
- 27.5 inch wheels
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
- Groupset: XO1 XX1
- Weight: Frame from 5.5lb for size Medium carbon frame
- 142mm rear axle spacing
- Stealth and external seat post cable routing
- 73mm threaded bottom bracket
- Molded rubber frame protector
If you like this? Then check these out!
Looking for a trail bike? Have a look at our review of the Juliana Furtado bike.
We spoke to the inspirational Anka Martin on Riding, Racing and Life on Bikes.
Longing for the mountains? How about moving! These are the 10 Best Cities for Mountain Bikers.