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Representing the grand finale of a trail-shredding tale of wagon wheel proportions, the 2017 Juliana Joplin 2.0 Carbon 29 S Complete Mountain Bike arrives on the scene ready to rock and roll. This Joplin stays true to the sprightly heritage of its predecessor while taking inspiration from its genre-defining twin, the Santa Cruz Tallboy. The end result is expanded capability with modern touches like Boost spacing, enduro-inspired suspension links, and Santa Cruz's versatile flip chip. The notable difference between the Joplin and the Tallboy is in the shock tune, with the former lightening up a bit to allow lighter riders full access to the bike's 4.5in of responsive VPP travel.
The flip chip, however, is a notable similarity. It sits in the upper link and can be rotated to allow the shock mount to migrate. Being able to reposition the shock attachment point effectively accounts for the 9mm difference in radii between 27.5+ and 29in tires, keeping the geometry as static as possible across wheel sizes. The latest Joplin is Juliana's first use of Santa Cruz's flip chip, which originally debuted on the Hightower. If that model was its testing ground, then the flip chip has moved one step closer to perfection with the Joplin. While changing the Hightower results in a slight change in head tube angle, the Joplin's head tube stays constant with either size wheel.
Compared to the previous Joplin, the newest model takes just a bit off the top of the head tube, dropping 2.2 degrees to fall from the standard 70.2 to a moderately slack 68 degrees. Courtesy of the Flip Chip's slight geometry alteration, that number stays the same whether you're running 29in wheels with a 120mm fork or 27.5+ with 130mm of front travel. The frame's chainstays and reach also join the modern geometry movement; the stays are shorter by 13.3mm and the reach bumps up dramatically, resulting in a chassis that's far more capable in virtually every trail situation than its predecessor.
The VPP travel has also taken a turn for the crunchier, gaining an additional 10mm, which aligns the Joplin perfectly with the emerging crop of 4.5in, do-it-all rigs. That's not to say it's just rolling off the press as one faceless frame in a sea of similar models, as the flip chip means the Joplin is essentially two frames: a race rocket 29er with a long, stable geometry as spec'd here, or a plus-size barge for floaty traction on surfaces ranging from off-trail snowscapes to rain-slicked root lattices when matched with 27.5+ hoops. The beauty is that, instead of shelling out for two separate premium machines, you just need the flip chip, two wheelsets, and two forks.
Despite all the tweaks to geometry, the inclusion of a Flip Chip, and the centimeter of additional travel, the VPP design is a carry-over from Santa Cruz's re-worked frames like the Bronson 2.0 and 5010 2.0. It's inspired by the enduro-minded Nomad, and the result is that the links stay out of the way, which lets the Joplin accommodate a piggyback shock's external can without giving up the bottle cage. The repositioned links also make for more ground clearance, lower standover, and an additional boost in stiffness to the already stiff Boost back end.
The latest VPP's changes aren't limited to wandering links, though, as the system's tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc and, as mentioned above, a lighter tune to give lighter riders access to the deep end.
The results are that, during the initial and mid stroke, it boasts increased bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs. It also maintains its predecessor's firm feel during accelerations, so it won't dampen the Joplin's spirited kick while fighting for position in a mass start or a bolting towards the line in a finishing sprint. The shock's ramp-up arc doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs.
Juliana’s industry-leading carbon fiber construction makes its way to the Joplin, although this version uses a slightly lower grade of carbon fiber than the top-tier Carbon CC frame. This requires more material to achieve the same strength, so it does carry a bit more weight, but in every other aspect it’s held to the same uncompromising standards as Juliana’s Carbon CC frames. The upshot is that you get a frame that’s every bit as stiff and strong at much more palatable price point.
The frame's two carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from disparate bits, a method that saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Santa Cruz to wrap carbon continuously through and around key junctures. This process reinforces the frame with less material while eliminating the artificial stress points that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from both the inside and outside for a more even finish that avoids any structural defects, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for even more weight savings.
The Joplin's threaded bottom bracket is another feature that we've come to just expect from the California-based brand, and it's a strong selling point for those who don't like dealing with the tricky tolerances and creaky interface of press-fit models. The Joplin's 29er mode accommodates most manufacturer's 2.35in tires, but some may have clearance issues depending on how the tire manufacturer takes its measurements.
- Juliana's XC rocket gets revamped with expanded versatility
- 4.5in of smooth, responsive VPP travel
- Longer, slacker geometry is more stable through big lines
- Carbon construction balances weight and price
- SRAM one-by drivetrain provides reliable gear shifts
- 29er wheels conquer trail obstacles without sacrificing speed
- Juliana Bicycles sets the standard for women's race bikes
- Item #JLI0030