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Blurring the line between cross-country efficiency and trail composure, Juliana Joplin 2.1 Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame effortlessly transitions from the blistering pace of XC races to rowdy trail rides littered with volcanic outcroppings, banked turns through the trees, and elevated bridge crossings. Although many would call the Joplin 2.1 a fast-rolling XC machine in 29er form, it defies categorization with its flip-chip linkage switching between 29 and 27.5+ wheels—all without significantly altering geometry or messing with suspension kinematics. The flip-chip is key to the Joplin 2.1's dual personality, easily transitioning from the momentum-carrying benefits of a 29er to the massive traction and rock-plowing ability of 27.5+ wheels.
This top-shelf version of the Joplin 2.1 receives Juliana's Carbon CC frame for a weight savings in the neighborhood of 280 grams, versus the lower-priced Carbon C frame. This is a significant weight savings that's likely to appeal to the competitive cross-country racer or discerning trail rider looking to shave every possible ounce from their ride. And even though it's lighter than Juliana's lower-priced Carbon C frame, you'll be pleased to note it's every bit as strong and stiff, so you won't sacrifice anything in terms structural integrity or ride characteristics.
Borrowing design cues from Santa Cruz's iconic Tallboy, the Joplin 2.1 blurs the line between razor-sharp XC scalpel and spirited trail bike with its 110-millimeters of VPP suspension paired with Juliana's recommendation for running either a 120 or 130-millimeter fork (29er/27.5+). The combination of shorter travel out back with extra plushness out front makes it pedal with resounding efficiency, but with greater margin for error when you're dropping into rocky descents. Where the Joplin differs from the Tallboy lies within its female-specific shock tune, which is targeted towards the lighter bodies of female riders. By tuning the Fox Float Factory DPS shock for lighter female riders, you'll find it's more sensitive tracking over roots and rocks.
The VPP suspension gets 10-millimeters of extra travel over the first generation Joplin, aligning the newest version with the current crop of do-it-all trail rigs with approximately 4.5-inches of travel. Not only is the travel a bit more substantial at 4.5 inches/110 millimeters, but the revised VPP platform makes it perform better, so you can squeeze every last drop of bump-smoothing compliance from the suspension. Juliana engineered it to be more sensitive off-the-top, meaning you'll gain better traction when you're pedaling over bumpy sections of small rocks and roots. The shock's ramp-up arc remains more consistent until the end-stroke, at which point it becomes progressive to resist bottom-outs on bigger hits and steep descents. This shock progression is especially important, as it allows you to use a 110-millimeter travel bike on bigger terrain where you'd normally blow through all your travel.
One of the Joplin's best features lies in the ability to switch between high and low geometry settings with its flip-chip, and in doing so, change the fast-rolling 29-inch wheels for the voluminous traction of 27.5+ wheels. The flip-chip rotates along the upper link, allowing the shock mount to migrate between high (29er) and low (27.5+) settings, but without a drastic change in the bike's geometry. In fact, Juliana preserved the 68-degree head tube angle between both sizes for confident descending. Other notable geometry notes, both wheel sizes benefit from 17-inch chainstays for snappy turns around tight corners, as well as a 13-inch bottom bracket for glued-to-the-ground stability at higher speeds.
- Blurs the boundaries between trail chops and XC speed
- Carbon CC frame saves 280 grams from the Carbon C frame
- Flip-chip offers ability to switch 29in for 27.5+ wheels
- 110mm of efficient VPP travel with a progressive feel
- Fox Float Factory DPS shock tuned for lighter female riders
- Boost spacing increases wheel stiffness and tire clearance
- Removable mount for side-swing front derailleurs
- Threaded bottom bracket eliminates creaking
- Item #JLI004Q
- 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.