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Faster Than Greased Lightning.
The Juliana Joplin 2.0 Carbon 27.5+ R Complete Mountain Bike's DNA from its bigger brother, the Santa Cruz Tallboy cannot be ignored. The build here is a 27+ version taking advantage of boost-spacing's wider tire clearance and shock linkage flip chips. SRAM's NX group adds value to this ride and its versatile nature gives you a trail bike that is ready to shred with your buddies with no sibling rivalry.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Joplin and the Tallboy is in the shock tune. The setup is custom for lighter riders since Juliana calculates that typical women cyclists are around 30lb lighter, on average, than men. No more having to send your shock to a shop to get a custom tune or using all of that VPP travel. If you’re wanting extra traction and a more forgiving ride over roots and babyhead rocks, the 27.5+ on this build is the way to go. If you’re looking for quick acceleration and a nimble feel, good news, a wheel swap lets you run larger diameter 29er wheels and tires.
A flip chip sits in the suspension link and can be positioned allowing the shock mount to move a few millimeters. Repositioning the shock attachment point and extending or reducing the fork length effectively accounts for the difference between 27.5+ and 29-inch wheel/tire systems, keeping the geometry as static as possible across wheel sizes. Headtube and seatube angles as well as travel remains the same after wheels are swapped, chips are flipped, and forks adjusted.
The 68-degree headtube angle strikes a perfect balance between downhill, lean back steep confidence and cross-country agility. Since the flip chip allows that number to stay the same whether you're running a 29in wheels with a 120mm fork or 27.5+ with 130mm, the bike will handle very similarly and your wheel size decision can be distilled into your riding style and terrain. The frame's chainstays and reach are up-to-date with the stays just over 17-inches and reach bumps up dramatically across all sizes. Confidence and high speed stability improve without losing the nimbleness that had us gushing for the original Tallboy/Joplin.
VPP travel sits at 4.5-inches and we find that for a 27.5+ or 29er bike, this is a great do-it-all amount. And that's the beauty of the Joplin, it's essentially two frames in one: a 29er with long, stable geometry capable of racing or eating up big miles on epic days or as spec'd here, a plus-size steam roller grabbing traction on kitty litter and floating over babyheads.
Small details matter too and we love the fact that you can run a bottle cage inside the triangle. We don't always like caring packs, especially on short hot laps after work or basically anytime we don’t have to. The repositioned links, first used on the Hightower and Bronson, allow for this as well as a lower standover height, and an additional stiffness to the already stiff Boost back end.
This latest version of VPP continues to impress and it is our favorite one yet. The new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark which leads to less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc and, with the women's specific lighter tune, you'll be able to peg the fun meter more often. Off the top, the suspension is more sensitive for better bump compliance keeping the tires glued to the ground for more traction through trails that resemble creek beds and loose minefields. The excellent anti-squat properties give a firm feel during accelerations so it's quick off the line and over the top of climbs without having to flip the switch on the shock. Since the shock's ramp-up is linear through the stroke, there is no weirdness going on with mid-stroke wallow and the bike continues to feel bottomless during hucks to flat and on fast, hard g-outs.
Juliana’s industry-leading carbon fiber construction makes its way into Joplin 2.0 Carbon 27.5+ R. Although this version uses a more value focused grade of carbon fiber than the super high end Carbon CC frame, this only requires more material to be used to achieve the same strength. It does carry a bit more weight, but in every other aspect it’s held to the same astoundingly high standards as Juliana’s Carbon CC level frames. The upshot is that you get a frame that’s every bit as stiff and strong with a price-point that doesn’t break the bank.
The frame's two carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from various bits. This method saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Juliana to wrap carbon continuously through and around key junctures. This process reinforces the frame with less material eliminating the artificial stress points that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from inside and out for a more even finish that avoids any wrinkles, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for even more weight savings.
The Joplin can be run with a front derailleur but with this excellent SRAM 1x set-up we doubt many ever will. We love the threaded bottom bracket and it's become a staple from the California-based brand who like us, don't like dealing with tricky tolerances and creaky interfaces of press-fits. The Joplin's 27.5+ mode accommodates every manufacturer's 2.8-inch tires, and some 3-inch might fit depending on the manufacture and internal rim width. If you go the 29er route, most 2.35-inch tires will clear.
- Juliana's trail rocket is fast and comfortable
- 110mm of smooth, responsive VPP travel
- Long, slack geometry offers stability through big lines
- Carbon construction balances weight and price
- Stiffness and durability consistent with top-tier Carbon CC model
- Plush plus-sized wheels boost traction and add float
- Juliana takes Santa Cruz tech and specs women's touch points and shock tunes
- Item #JLI0042
- Q & A
This is probably the bike for you.
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
If you're strapped for time, here's the 5-second summary. The Joplin rocks. It's fast, efficient, incredibly capable, and very pretty. Buy it.
If you're not quite convinced, let me present my case. I've observed a trend in the world of mountain bikes; hear me out. It seems like the knee-jerk reaction of 90% of prospective bike buyers is to crank it up to 11 in the travel department. Much like the jets in a hot tub, the wood in a bonfire, or the air conditioning in your car, the 'go all the way' mindset pervades. Let me explain.
Let's stick with Santa Cruz/Juliana for this example. The Nomad (Strega) is a really, REALLY good bike. It's incredibly capable and confidence inspiring, but there's a good chance that it's not quite the right bike for you. Unless you're constantly hitting up chairlifts at the bike part, you're going to be doing a good amount of climbing whenever you ride. Even with the incredible efficiency of VPP suspension, most Nomad builds weigh well in excess of 30 lbs. Getting a bike that heavy up a hill is a serious chore.
I hear you. If you're new, it's totally reasonable to want something that will eat up all the nasty bumps and help you down the descents that are still a little intimidating. The problem is that long travel bikes are designed to go really fast. If you're a beginner or intermediate rider, you receive a diminishing benefit as you move farther down the travel spectrum. If you're not quite ready to throw your body down a hill at Mach speed, you probably don't want a bike that caters to that exclusively. Essentially, your dollars are going towards capability that you can't take advantage of. Most people don't ride competitively. They like to ride with friends and cover ground. Most of the trails they ride are 'blue-square'. They negotiate some switchbacks, roots, rocks, and the occasional jump. They spend a little over half of the ride climbing, and would probably be better off saving a few pounds than adding a few millimeters of travel.
So, back to the Joplin.
Santa Cruz nailed it. Honestly. They borrowed equally from the worlds of enduro and XC to create the perfect bike for almost everyone. Courtesy of the VPP linkage, the Joplin climbs like a mountain goat. A suspension system that feels as good as the VPP does on the descents has no business climbing this well. It's light too. Santa Cruz claims that the CC level frames weigh in at 2.53 kg (that's really light for a trail bike) and the C level are only 230 grams more. They didn't stop at making the Joplin light though; Santa Cruz decided (wisely) to rake out the headtube angle to make the bike feel more planted at speed.
Now, this is not a bike for the real dare-devils. You don't wanna chuck yourself down an EDW stage on a Joplin. It's also probably not the ideal rig for the skinsuit wearing, KOM-chasing crowd. It's a bike that sits comfortably in the realm of trail bikes, with some influence (when appropriate) from the leg-shaving side of the sport. It's a collection of the best of the middle. The result? This is probably the bike for you.