Juliana Furtado long term review

Juliana bicycles are a women’s specific sister company to Californian bike wizards, Santa Cruz. They use the same frame design as the Santa Cruz bikes with a tweaked suspension tune for lighter female riders, and ladies specific contact points.

The Furtado is a 130mm travel 650b do-it-all trail bike (equivalent to the Santa Cruz 5010), featuring the latest iteration of Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point suspension system. Juliana and Santa Cruz bikes are available in two carbon layups: the lighter more expensive CC and a slightly heavier, but cheaper C version. I have been riding the XO1 build on the top end CC carbon frame.

 

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I’ve had the Juliana Furtado in my quiver for around six months. During the test period, I rode as many different trails around Cape Town and Stellenbosch as possible and took part in a couple of local enduros to get a feel for the bike on different terrain.

 

Specifications:


  • FrameJuliana Furtado Carbon CC
  • Rear ShockFox Float Performance Elite 130
  • ForkFox 34 Float Factory 130
  • HeadsetCane Creek 40 series tapered, cartridge bearing
  • StemRaceface Turbine Basic 35mm clamp
  • HandlebarSanta Cruz Carbon; 760mm; 35mm clamp
  • GripsJuliana single sided lock-on
  • SaddleJuliana Primeiro Saddle
  • SeatpostRock Shox Reverb Stealth; 150mm
  • BrakesSRAM Guide RSC; Avid Centerline Rotors; 180mm
  • ShifterSRAM X01 Eagle
  • Rear DerailleurSRAM X01 Eagle
  • CassetteSRAM XG1295; 10-50t
  • ChainSRAM X01 Eagle Powerlock
  • CranksetSRAM X1 Eagle Carbon; 32t
  • RimsEaston ARC 24
  • Front HubDT Swiss 350 110x15
  • Rear HubDT Swiss 350 148x12
  • Front TyreMaxxis Minion DHF EXO TR; 27.5x2.3
  • Rear TyreMaxxis Ardent Race EXO; 27.5x2.35
  • Retail PriceR122 995

Geometry:


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The Build


Overall the build is balanced, with no single component feeling out of place. As expected, the Eagle XO1 drivetrain has performed immaculately throughout the test period. The gear range has been very welcome on long climbs.

 

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The Fox 34 Float Factory 130 fork and Fox Float Performance Elite 130 shock are well matched, providing plush initial travel with a steady increase in support as you move through the range. I am a set and forget suspension user and once I found a setup I was comfortable with, I did not experiment much with settings. For the most part, I rode descents with the shock fully open and climbed with it set to firm, unless the trail got very chunky. On smooth, flatter trails I found the middle setting to be ideal: it provides a firmer platform for pedaling sections.

 

The Easton Arc 24 wheelset has been unremarkable and got on with the job at hand without drawing attention to its performance. The tyre choice suits the bike: the Maxxis Minion DHF on the front provides acres of grip, while the Ardent Race on the rear is a little more fast rolling, expertly juggling the sometimes conflicting requirements for grip, low weight, and quick rolling rubber.

 

I initially struggled to get my tyre pressure right: running them too soft and suffering a few nasty rim knocks, and then setting them far too hard and ricocheting all over the trail. Once I found my sweet spot at around 1.7-1.8 bar (according to our dodgy pump) I had no more trouble.

 

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The RockShox Reverb dropper post has been a real highlight on the build with its silky smooth travel and easy actuation. Quite a different experience from my early years with an awkward, sticky three position dropper.

 

The only niggle I experienced, was an issue with the SRAM Guide RSC brakes. On occasion, dirt has caused the pistons to jam so that they need to be forced open to clear it out. A relatively easy fix, but a mild annoyance worth noting.

 

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For longer rides, I would need to swap out the saddle. The Juliana Primeiro was too narrow for my wide hip bones. This was not a problem for the types of rides I was doing. I wasn’t exactly grinding away kilometres but before tackling anything like a 70-kilometre day, I would certainly look at something a little more supportive.

 

Something to consider is the bottle cage bolt positioning. They are set very low down on the downtube so the bottom of most bottle cages will end up rubbing the carbon in the bottom bracket area. Even though I went to great lengths to find the shortest bottle cage possible and checked that there was no contact ,when I removed the bottle cage some of the paint had rubbed away. Presumably, under the weight of a full bottle there was some rub.

 

Lastly, for those in drought-stricken Cape Town, the VPP linkage is tricky to keep clean without the use of a hosepipe, so bear that in mind if you are precious about keeping your steed spotless at all times.

 

Juliana Furtado -3.jpgDespite our best intentions, the bottle cage rubbed some of the gorgeous paintwork.

Juliana Furtado -4.jpgDirt likes to collect on the linkage which isn't easily accessible.

Overall there is nothing that screams for an upgrade. If you really want to go all in, perhaps the wheelset. You could go lighter and stiffer with carbon rims. The 2018 model offers an option to upgrade to Santa Cruz Reserve carbon rims with Industry Nine Torch hubs. Having a long history of dings, scrapes and rim strikes, personally, I prefer the reassuring pliability of aluminium. However, the Reserve wheels do come with the Santa Cruz lifetime warranty, providing peace of mind in that regard.

 

On the trail


The Furtado has proved to be incredibly competent. Unflappable on the gnarliest steep climbs, and chomping at the bit on every descent. I had always thought I was quite happy pottering around on an cross-country bike trying to keep up with our motley crew: ping-ponging downhill and holding on for dear life. A trail bike like the Juliana Furtado does not change the fundamentals of that, but it allows you to push just that little bit further, forgives mistakes that happen on the limit and smooths out the riding experience in a way that quietly builds confidence, and with it, riding enjoyment.

 

In all honesty, as a more cross-country orientated rider, the hardest part of riding a bike like this was that it dulled the edges of my usual haunts, and forced me to look to scary jumps and drops that I had been studiously avoiding: pushing at the envelope of my well-defined comfort zone.

 

Building confidence on jumps and drops was exactly where I found the Furtado to be invaluable. The extra squish, forgiving head angle, and sturdy tyres meant that within a few runs on our first outing together I was tackling gaps I'd never thought I'd look at. This confidence and comfort with being airborne has slowly translated across to my cross-country bike and opened up new trails and lines for me to enjoy.

 

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The Furtado comes to life on steep trails: managing to feel surprising planted and nimble at the same time. A contradiction which builds confidence. It handles best when you let go the brakes and commit, and is agile enough to manoeuvre through 'twisties' and weave through rock sections with playful abandon.

 

At a shade under 13 kilograms including pedals, the Furtado is not heavy by trail bike standards, and with the shock set to firm the bike feels stiff and pedals comfortably uphill. I have unwittingly bulldozed more than a few PR's climbing. Put in the power and it will take you forward, and over anything in its path, although there is nowhere to hide when your legs don’t come to the party. I found it felt a shade wallowy when out the saddle and sprinting with the shock open.

 

I rode on a range of trails including Tokai, Hoogekraal, G-Spot, Eden, Mont-Marie, Jonkershoek, Boschendal, and Helderberg. The Helderberg and Jonkershoek trails were my favourite with the Furtado: the steeper gradients on some of the descents brought out the best in its confidence-inspiring handling. The faster you go, the more it devours obstacles.

 

In the end


Juliana has created a bike that flat out demands to be ridden and enjoyed, with capabilities to match its ridiculous good looks. The Furtado leaves you with no excuses going up or down: meaning there is no reason not to explore every inch of trail you can find. In short, it is a bike that seems to have been designed to put a smile on your face: and by that measure absolutely nails the brief.

 

 

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3 Comments

Odinson, Nov 20 2017 01:26

That Juliana Furtado looks exactly like a Santa Cruz 5010. 

Kylie, Nov 20 2017 01:27

That Juliana Furtado looks exactly like a Santa Cruz 5010. 

 

That's because it is: "They use the same frame design as the Santa Cruz bikes with a tweaked suspension tune for lighter female riders"

Dieter ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°), Nov 20 2017 05:07

Yeah along with shorter bars and a different saddle...

 

Just my 2c; i'm sure no lady will be put off riding a Santa Cruz, but i'm sure many guys would prefer not to be on a Juliana. Amazing bikes nonetheless and 100% in my top 3 dream bikes!