Review :: Juliana Juno 650b (or 27.5″) Women’s Mountain Bike
I received for Christmas a Juliana Juno. Juliana is the new women’s line of Santa Cruz bicycles, created by the multi-time World Champion mountain biker Juliana Furtado. Juli’s Juliana has been in the Santa Cruz line for years, offering a women’s touch to a racing bike. Juli’s new line of bikes touts a full range of mountain bikes, from cross country to Enduro.
I’d been wanting a fun bike, so now was my chance to have and hold my very own fun bike. Not since I had my Cannondale Prophet, and more recently the Cannondale RZ120 had I had a longer travel fun trail oriented bike. (A fun bike is one that has longer travel suspension, front and rear and is meant for riding drops and technical steeps).
The Juliana Juno is a 650b (or 27.5″ as some say) mountain bike. 650b wheels are larger than their 26″ cousins and smaller than the now popular 29″ wheels. I find the 650b still has a slight trail issue, meaning there is a very slight amount of wheel flop, but more on that later. I cannot say whether I prefer the 650b, what I can say is that I do think it is the perfect wheel size for this 125mm travel full suspension play bike.
For me, a bike is rated by it’s smile factor. If riding it makes me smile, then it’s a good bike. The Juliana makes me smile. The frame is a simple single pivot full suspension design. Single pivot delivers, in my mind and experience, the smoothest downhill ride possible. Absent are the extra linkages and pivots that mar the pure feeling of rolling over obstacles- you literally cannot feel the suspension working, it just works. While the single pivot typically climbs much slower than, say, Santa Cruz’s VPP, I can lockout both front and rear shocks completely to stabilize the pedal strokes. If only the lock outs were electronic.
It takes a bit of time to become proficient at cornering the Juno– this is not limited to the Juno, however, but most Santa Cruz bikes. The bikes prefer to be leaned into corners, much in the way a downhill racer corners. This is much different from the typical cross country corner, especially in switchbacks. It’s a much faster way to corner, and more fun, it just takes some skills practice. Once I figured it out for myself, not only did I ride faster on the Juno, but I rode twice as fast on my cross country 29er hard tail. Suddenly I want to teach all of my clients on the Juno– cross country or Enduro riders and racers. For some reason, this bike is built to go fast. Perhaps because the engineers actually ride bikes?
So the slight wheel flop I feel when playing around on the bike in parking lots is truly insignificant since there is no wheel turning in corners when riding the bike on trails. I attribute the wheel flop to the heavy wheel, and I do not see it as a major problem. It just feels more like a downhill bike than I am used to.
The bike, as tested, was not stock. I changed the triple chainring to a Shimano 2×10 26-38 and installed an XT rear derailleur. I changed the handlebars to a slightly wider flat bar with normal size grips, and changed the saddle to the Specialized Jett which I need to update, but I still love.
As such I removed almost everything that made the bike “women’s specific” due to the geometry being identical to the universal fit Santa Cruz Bantam. The fit is perfect for me, and I quickly grew accustomed to riding regular geometry again. The bike still weighs upwards of 30 pounds, which is annoying at best in climbing situations, but helps on the descents.
I have not yet added a dropper seat post, but will in the near future. Changing saddle height 10 times a day is a chore.
Color Me Happy
The best part of this bike, and I won’t ask your pardon for being a “girl” on this one, is the color. The Juno is a fiery bright neon green, and I love it, and I hear compliments all day long.
I’ve ridden this bike on several 3-5 hour rides, and it handles well on every type of single track, although as I mentioned before, the climbing is slow. I recommend this bike for park riding, trail riding and Enduro (it should handle most Enduro courses). This bike is not for cross country racing or flat trail riding.
Buying a Juliana Juno for you Girlfriend or Wife or Daughter
If you’re looking at this bike for your lady, consider upgrading parts to lighten her up. 30 pounds is a ton to a woman, especially if she weighs 120 or less. It’s literally 25% of her body weight. This is a great bike for trail riding, so a perfect second bike for the racer, or a great all around fun bike for leisurely all day mountain riding.
In all I love the bike, and would recommend it for the purpose of hard, fun riding. This bike is fast, loads of fun, and a dream to ride downhill. I look forward to Enduros on this bike. The local group ride kind and the race kind.
The Juliana web site does not list the specs in a chart form, however here is the geometry chart:
|SEAT TUBE LENGTH — CENTER TO TOP||16.3||17.0||18.5|
|HEAD TUBE °||68.0||68.0||68.0|
|SEAT TUBE °||73.0||73.0||73.0|
|BOTTOM BRACKET HEIGHT||13.1||13.1||13.1|
|HEAD TUBE LENGTH||3.5||3.9||4.3|
|SEAT TUBE ANGLE — EFFECTIVE||73.0||73.0||73.0|