Hands-on Gear Review

Juliana Joplin S Carbon C 2018 Review

A short-travel women's trail bike with the attitude to get rad.
By: Tasha Thomas, Lani Raspen  ⋅  Aug 29, 2018
Price:  $4,799 List
Pros:  Killer blend of uphill and downhill performance, punches above its weight class
Cons:  Difficult to corner for some, can be overwhelmed on the descent
Manufacturer:   Juliana Bicycles
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 30
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 5
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 9
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 5
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Editors' Choice Award

Our Verdict

The Juliana Joplin 2.0 Carbon 29 S conjures up a perfect storm of speed and agility. Surprisingly, this 29er packs a loud and vocal punch with its tight suspension, 1116mm wheelbase, and wide-range SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain. The Joplin steals the show with its ability to take on bigger hits despite its trim 110mm of Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) travel. The Joplin handles the chop with remarkable composure. For a bike that was designed to climb like a cross-country rig, the Joplin met expectations. This bike is efficient and navigates uphill switchbacks beautifully. The Joplin's pep and stamina is impressive and is conducive to longer days in the saddle. The Juliana uses a dialed women-specific shock tune. This lighter shock tune allows female riders get more out of the killer VPP suspension design.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Joplin is one fun 29er.
The Joplin is one fun 29er.

Downhill Performance


The Joplin sets the rider in a stable and confident attack position. The head tube angle is relatively steep at 68-degrees. The lower 330mm bottom bracket provides a planted feel at speed while retaining a nimble feel with assertive maneuverability. Despite its large 29-inch wheels, the Joplin responds to minimal rider input. The larger wheel size allows this shredder to confidently roll over anything in its path and enables the rider to sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Joplin S is outfitted with a 120mm Fox 34 Float Performance up front and a Fox Float Performance DPS in the rear. Our small Juliana was not one bit disturbed in bumpy and chundery terrain. You can push this bike harder than you might think before it stutters. In addition to her rockstar smoothness on flowing terrain, the capabilities of our Joplin in rough and boney terrain were extraordinary. It is difficult to rattle the Joplin's cage. For a short travel bike, the combination of stiffer more stable platform and VPP suspension design handles high-speed sections of trail with remarkable composure. Both testers agree the Joplin gets slightly sketchy in areas of extreme chop. If you recognize the lack of composure quickly, bit can be corrected before disaster strikes.

Big wheels keep on rolling. This 29er holds its own on rocky terrain.
Big wheels keep on rolling. This 29er holds its own on rocky terrain.

High-speed, flowy, the terrain is an area where the Joplin really excels. Once this bike is cranked up to speed, it feels balanced and smooth with a fun and pleasant attitude. The SRAM Level TL brakes provide substantial power with a controlled feel to the brake lever.

Once it was on course, it was hard to get the Joplin to stray. It performs well when the rider is positioned slightly further back, allowing the front end to do its thing and cruise over most types of terrain. The Joplin rode equitably aggressively downhill as compared with longer travel enduro bikes. Much of this is due to the length of the wheelbase and chainstay. The shorter Joplin did not feel as though it was reaching around corners nor did it feel as though the chainstay and rear end were playing cat and mouse with the rest of the bike. Longer bikes tend to be sluggish in low-mid speed corners. With the Joplin, there is little-to-no lag whatsoever.

Fast and buff trails are a blast aboard this 110mm 29er.
Fast and buff trails are a blast aboard this 110mm 29er.

The two testers found the cornering aptitudes of the Juliana Joplin 2.0 to be at different ends of the spectrum. Our more aggressive and super-charged tester X thought that the bike handled well in corners with weight back in an athletic position. Efficient attack mode in the corners was achievable even when corners drifted away to flat and were soft and sandy. While our lighter and more finesse tester Y indicates that corners at high and low speeds are more difficult to set up for and body position is farther forward over the bike when entering corners and that the flatter stock bars the bike is outfitted with may have something to do with that.

This short-travel trail slayer scoots uphill very effectively.
This short-travel trail slayer scoots uphill very effectively.

Climbing Performance


Climbing capabilities of our small Joplin 2.0 are beyond stellar. The 29-inch wheels with the 30-tooth ring up front make it climb like a dream. The wheels want to roll up and over even the steepest of steps without taking much manhandling. This bike's platform allows for outrageously vivacious excursions around your local or afar forest adventures. The Joplin rockets up challenging terrain with the aid from its trusty 1x12 SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain while shifting with ease and fluidity. The head tube angle is comfortably situated at 68 degrees placing the rider in a hassle-free position while climbing, which eliminates any upper or lower back strain.

Climbing efficiency on the Joplin while both seated and standing are super comfortable, to say the least. Standing position the climbing is quick and efficient. With an effective seat tube angle of 73 degrees, the saddle position of the Joplin is well behind the bottom bracket, but doesn't seem to detract from performance. The geometry allows rider generate a forward propelling gliding feeling at all times. The Juliana Joplin 2.0 is able to scale any mountain with remarkable composure.

The 50-tooth Eagle drivetrain is there to bail you out when the going gets steep.
The 50-tooth Eagle drivetrain is there to bail you out when the going gets steep.

Technical climbs don't stand a chance when the Joplin takes the stage. The performance of this superstar is epic as it steadily creeps and crawls uphill like a mountain lion hunting its prey. In steeper sandy sections of climbing the Joplin also performed in such a way where IF we found ourselves in a standing position, there was little to no energy loss. That said, the traction is questionable due to the Maxxis Ardent EXO TR tires. These are faster rolling tires designed for XC and endurance, not superior grip. The Joplin blasts its competition away at the start gate on mellower climbs. She gets the whole shot and then powers on with a consistent pace keeping her eye on the prize.

The Juliana Joplin 2.0, unlike other 29ers, maneuvers extraordinarily well uphill around switchbacks and turns. Having a slightly shorter wheelbase just shy of 1116mm is beneficial for wrapping around uphill turns. The flat bars also help give that extra angle to make it up even the loosest and steepest trail. The climb switch on the Fox Float Performance DPS shock allowed for a luminous adventure on the uphill. The combination feel of the shock and VPP suspension design allowed the bike to charge over square edged and larger bumps.

The Joplin uses VPP suspension and has 110mm of rear wheel travel.
The Joplin uses VPP suspension and has 110mm of rear wheel travel.

Frame Design


The Joplin features 110mm of Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) travel. This is a dual-link system that features a link near the bottom bracket and another about 60% up the seat tube. As the bike moves through its travel, the links rotate in opposite directions. This design is known for its excellent climbing abilities and deep stroke support. One drawback is mediocre small bump compliance. This bike is designed around a 120mm fork.

Our small frame has a 574mm top tube length and 405mm reach measurement. The head tube angle is 68-degrees and the chainstays are 432mm long. Our Joplin has a 1116mm wheelbase and 330mm bottom bracket height. Our bike weighs 28 pounds 13 oz without pedals and set up tubeless.

Photo Tour


The Fox 34 Performance fork is smooth and reliable.
The Fox Float DPS rear shock was composed and reliable.
The RockShox Reverb Stealth post worked well throughout testing.
The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is becoming more and more common.
The Maxxis Minion DHF makes for an aggressive and confident front end.
The Maxxis Crossmark rear tire leaves a lot to be desired. Climbing traction was poor.

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Build Options


We tested the Joplin Carbon S which sells for $4799. Here are some other noteworthy build kits.

If our test model seems a little spendy, the Joplin D Aluminum is the entry level model and sells for $2699. The aluminum frame offers the same geometry as the carbon version. The only penalty is a slightly higher weight and reduced frame stiffness. This bike is powered by a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain and runs a RockShox Recon RL 120 fork. This is a nice way to get on a high-end frame design at a reduced price.

If you definitely want a carbon frame, the Joplin Carbon R retails for $3899. This build kit runs the new SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and a Fox Rhythm 34 fork. SRAM Level T brakes offer stellar stopping power and this bike rolls on WTB rims laced to SRAM hubs. This is a serviceable bike that would be great to upgrade over time.

Looking to ball out? The XO1 Carbon CC build is one sick bike. For $6799, this bike uses Santa Cruz' Carbon CC frame which saves approximately a half pound over the regular Carbon C frames. This bike uses Fox Performance Elite suspension, SRAM Level TLM brakes, and a SRAM X01 drivetrain. This is one nice bicycle.

It is all smiles aboard the Juliana Joplin.
It is all smiles aboard the Juliana Joplin.

Value


The Joplin C S carries a $4799 price tag. This lofty price tag comes with decisively high-end performance. It is easy to call the Joplin a solid value.

Suggested Upgrades


We hope that in the future, the Joplin redesigns this bike with slightly more travel. With the introduction of the cross-country focused Santa Cruz Blur, it opens the door for a more aggressive Joplin and Tallboy.

Wider rubber would be beneficial on this short-travel ripper. A pairing of a 2.5 Maxxis Minion DHF and 2.4-inch Minion DHR II would enhance traction and suspension feel while boosting confidence.

The Joplin beautifully blends capability with efficiency.
The Joplin beautifully blends capability with efficiency.

Conclusion


The Juliana Joplin Carbon S is a remarkable all-around climber and descender. This bike operates with confidence in both high-speed situations and surprisingly rowdy terrain. One of our testers describes the Joplin as "an extraordinarily playful bike when it gets your approval for roughhousing." The bike in no way hesitates as you push it to its limits. The proven VPP suspension design and responsive handling create a joyous riding experience.

Tasha Thomas, Lani Raspen

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Most recent review: August 29, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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