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The Juliana Joplin Carbon CC 29 X01 Eagle complete mountain bike is remarkable for its ability to blend race-worthy XC efficiency with the poise and handling to take on big rides on technical trails. When it comes time to enjoy every pedal stroke while covering serious mileage in varied terrain, the Joplin is one of the very best tools available for the task.
Part of the story of the Joplin’s success is due to its ability to blur the lines between cross-country rocket and surefooted trail bike. To that end, the Joplin accommodates both 27.5+ wheels and 29in wheels, a split personality enabled by the reversible “flip chip” at the upper link. Setting the flip chip to the “low” mode relaxes the head angle by roughly half a degree and lowers the bottom bracket, which makes for an ideal setup when paired with the slightly larger diameter of 29in wheels. The slightly smaller 27.5+ wheels pair with the “high” setting, allowing for similar clearance between the bottom bracket and the ground. The upshot is headache-free swaps between wheel sizes, which gives you more options than ever when you hit the trail.
The Joplin offers just over 4in of travel through the latest version of Juliana’s VPP technology. As with all VPP bikes, the Joplin’s counter-rotating links are carefully arranged to resist activation by pedaling forces, all but eliminating unwanted bobbing under power. This being the latest iteration of VPP, it’s tuned to provide more midstroke support than previous generations of the VPP platform, giving the rider a better feel for the terrain, and a livelier ride feel.
While the excellent suspension plays a large role in what the Joplin's cooking, a key part of the bike's secret sauce is its carefully tuned geometry. At 68 degrees, the head angle is sufficiently nimble for changing direction at the drop of a hat while remaining stable and composed at high speed. The 17-inch chainstays follow suit by further enhancing the bike's ability to dice terrain while retaining enough length to provide ample traction when the trail points skyward. The way the moderately roomy cockpit finishes the recipe by centering the rider between the wheels for reflexive handling with a minimum of effort.
The Joplin is built using Juliana’s top-tier CC carbon fiber construction. By using some of the finest, and strongest, raw materials available, Juliana is able to make its CC level frames extremely lightweight, while maintaining outstanding impact resistance, exceptional stiffness, and just the right amount of finely tuned flex to cancel out trail chatter. Of course, balancing these factors requires true mastery of carbon fiber, and the design team at Juliana has proven time and again that their command of carbon fiber construction is unsurpassed in the bike industry. The result is a frame that holds up to years of hard riding, provides a comfortable ride, and maintains a very competitive weight.
This premium build of the Joplin includes some of the finest components available. It begins with a worthy suspension package from Fox. The fork is a 34 FLOAT FIT4 Performance Elite unit, paired with the FLOAT DPS Performance Elite air shock. This setup offers a supple stroke, on-the-fly adjustments at the flip of a lever, and easy tuning. SRAM’s phenomenal X01 Eagle 12 speed groupset provides the gear range necessary to venture into uncharted territory, while the Level brakes keep things under control as speeds increase. The Rockshox Reverb dropper post enables the necessary on-the-fly saddle height adjustment, while the Santa Cruz carbon fiber handlebar offers a perfectly tuned balance of stiffness and flex that simply surpasses many of the best aftermarket carbon fiber handlebars available.
- Capable trail and cross-country bike for hard charging racers
- 4in of VPP suspension with a shock tune for lighter riders
- 73-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Roomy reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- X01 Eagle drivetrain features the ultimate bailout gear
- Item #JLI0047
- 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.