First Look, First Ride: 2016 Juliana Roubion II and Furtado II

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New colors for 2016? Of course. But is that all? Hardly! Not just a couple of pretty faces, Juliana Bicycles made a number of big updates to the Roubion and Furtado for 2016. Revised geometry, an updated suspension design, and special attention to the components are just a few of the tweaks. We spent a few days learning about and testing the bikes in Downieville, California. So what did we discover? Listen in above before diving into the details below.

2016 Juliana Roubion II Highlights

  • Use: Trail / All-Mountain
  • Frame: Carbon CC, C
  • Rear Travel: 150mm / 6-inches VPP3
  • Fork Travel: 150mm / 6-inches
  • Wheels: 27.5-inch
  • Lighter Wheels than Santa Cruz Bronson Equivalent
  • Selection of Women's Specific Components

2016 Juliana Furtado II Highlights

  • Use: XC / Trail
  • Frame: Carbon CC, C
  • Rear Travel: 130mm / 5-inches VPP3 (Travel Increased 5mm)
  • Fork Travel: 130mm / 5-inches
  • Wheels: 27.5-inches
  • Selection of Women's Specific Components
  • Size XS Furtado in Early 2016

Shared Updates

  • Updated Geometry
  • Lower Standover Height
  • Revised VPP Links
  • Revised Suspension Tune
  • 150mm Reverb Dropper Compatibility, 125mm on Small/XS
  • Side Swing Front Derailleur
  • Internal Cable Routing
  • 148x12mm Rear Axle
  • RockShox Front Suspension, FOX Rear Suspension
  • Fresh Colors and Matching Grips


Geometry

The Roubion and Furtado receive a number of geometry updates for 2016. Head tube angles are slackened out by one-degree over the prior versions, reaches are lengthened by about 20 to 25mm depending on the frame size, chainstays are shortened by 6mm on the Roubion and 8mm on the Furtado, seat tube lengths are shorter allowing more sizing flexibility, and a 0.8-degree steeper seat tube angle gives a slightly better pedaling position.

An updated VPP suspension design with a new upper link placement allowed Juliana to give the bike more standover, which is great news for women since this is usually an area where we get hung up on other bikes. With increased standover heights, shorter seat tubes, and longer reaches, these bikes can now fit more riders. Choosing the size of bike you want just depends on your reach preference.

The Furtado will also be offered in an XS size for those who may be small but are just as mighty of lady shredders. It's expected to be available by April 2016.


First Impressions

So how do the bikes ride? I was able to spend two days chasing Juliana Pro riders Anka Martin and Sarah Leishman around a few dusty epics.

The Roubion was a good match for the rowdy, rocky, and blazing fast Butcher Ranch trail made famous by its role as the downhill course for the Downieville Classic mountain bike race. I don't think I've ever gone so fast on a bike and nearly as fearlessly. The Roubion didn't require more than 50 feet of trail before I felt perfectly comfortable. It loved carving corners and popping off any bumps at all reminiscent of a jump lip. After getting in some flow, the trail produced some rocky sections to really challenge the Roubion and validate those geometry changes. On the first lap some of these rocky bits were a bit of a trip up, but come round two I think we all felt proud of how we made our way through them atop the purple bike. Powering through some of these tirelessly rough sections, the Roubion kept rolling, didn't get bogged down, and didn't pinball off of the rocks.

In the middle of all the blistering fast descending there was a 700-foot climb. It was time to see how the purple rock smashing beast bike handled when it's time to work against gravity. Results: not too shabby. For the amount of bike it is, it will take you up the hill just fine. I didn't feel the need to firm up the suspension for the climb. There wasn't a bunch of pedal bob, and when I pushed it responded, readily surging on up the hill. The pedaling position felt good with the steeper seat tube angle. On the steeper pitches, the front of bike easily stayed down too.

At the top of the hill, of course the Roubion was rearin' and ready to go, but the rest of us with respiratory systems needed to catch our breath. Then we were off again. The frame's longer reach, slacker head angle, wide bars, and short stem all worked together in a wonderful concert for stability at Mach 10. Even over beds of loose rocks and around dusty corners, the bike was sticking it like an olympic gymnast. The only thing seeming to hold this race horse back was the jockey.

After a night of recovery and dreams of floating over rivers of rocks on purple wings, it was time to take out the sexy Spearmint colored Furtado for a good time. This ride got us thoroughly warmed up with a climb to the Mills Peak Fire Tower. During this pedal it was easy to forget that you were indeed going uphill at times. When I had the opportunity to ride the 2015 version of the Furtado, I wished for a steeper seat tube angle and the bike angels were listening. The pedaling geometry feels great for 2016.

After enjoying some incredible views at the top we were off. The trail started a bit rock strewn and lumpy, then got super rad. There are no words for my level of stoked on this section of trail. There were super fast corners, lots of pumpy turns between the trees, and patches of rock here and there where the only response was to let go and let 'er fly. Best trail segment ever! I liked this bike's previous version, and the updated one was more fun to ride. Like the Roubion, the longer reach, slacker head angle, and wide bar/short stem combo made the bike feel super stable. Oh, and that shortened rear end - ay mamacita! If a pro salsa dancer like on Dancing with the Stars were turned into a bike she would be called Furtado. Despite how loose, dusty, and rocky it was out there, the Furtado snapped through those turns with ease, even with a Maxxis Ardent rear tire.

Getting on either of these new Juliana bikes is like putting on your power heels, or whatever it is that makes you feel like a super human. Step on those pedals and your inner badass is ready to go. Both bikes are very capable, their stability is confidence inspiring, and yet they are playful and fun to ride. The updates for 2016 are great, and there wasn't much I found myself wanting at the end of each day. Both had some cable rattle up front where all the lines crossed each other. A bit of tape and an easy fix. The Furtado though had quite the racket coming from the chain slapping the now dropped part of the chainstay. Yes, annoying. Deal breaker? No chance. It's not a pretty fix, but put some mastic tape on there to muffle the chatter and go get back out there tiger.

So who is each bike for? The Roubion will shine brightest for women who descend often on steep and gnarly trails. This bike will be the war horse for Enduro World Series racers like Anka and Sarah. It is a capable bike that can take on truly scary terrain. But if you don't need all that bike for the type of trails you like to ride, look at the Furtado. It is plenty capable, can do everything the Roubion could (though maybe just a bit more carefully), and is more spirited on smoother trails. Ultimately I'm pleased to report that both bikes are rides women mountain bikers worldwide would be quite happy with. - Courtney Steen


Build Kits, Pricing and Availability

Juliana offers the Roubion and Furtado in several build kits ranging from $3,599 to $8,699 USD. There is also a frame + shock combo available for $2,999.

Bikes begin hitting stores in September 2015. Visit www.julianabicycles.com for more details, and take a look at our new Santa Cruz Bronson II and 5010 II feature for the boy's take on the new bikes.

Photos by Gary Perkin and Mike Thomas

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