Joplin Carbon R Mountain Bike
The third generation Joplin takes the speedy cross-country roots of the earlier models and pushes it further into extreme-country, chasing sunsets in the backcountry, tackling new highs, and elevating confidence on steep and chunky descents. It got a full-blown makeover in the geometry department, revealing the stable feel of slacker angles and a longer wheelbase, and pairing up with new lower-link driven VPP suspension that offers greater traction and support than any of Juliana's previous designs. The Joplin takes the notion that cross-country bikes are made to be ridden delicately and carefully through technical terrain, and flips it on its head, because the last time we checked, we've never slowed down on a fast and rowdy section of trail just because our ride is a little shorter in the travel department.
We suppose that with the release of the Maverick, and updates to the Roubion in the suspension department, we shouldn't be all that surprised to see tweaks to the Joplin went in the same direction. The new Joplin follows the trends of its deeper-travel siblings, moving the VPP suspension down to a lower-link that offers improved stabilization in the roughest terrain, while an extra 10mm of travel helps soak up additional rocks and roots that the previous Joplin would have shied away from. This makes the new ride more confident than ever, ready for bigger trails, rutted-out lines, brakes bumps galore, and even turning the odd set of rollers into doubles—but not at the cost of climbing. The new suspension is designed with the same engineering principles as the brand's longest travel bikes, making it just as at home riding cross-country as it is extreme backcountry. Juliana's VPP suspension is designed to stabilize the suspension when you're putting power down on the pedals, meaning the rear end ceases to bob, providing a much more responsive and lively feel when you hammer up steeps, so you aren't wasting all of the power you put down. This is achieved with counter-rotating links that are carefully arranged to resist activation by pedaling forces, all but eliminating bobbing under power.
But suspension is hardly where Juliana stopped on upgrades with the third generation Joplin. The bike sees entirely different geometry, but continues to use the flip-chip we saw in previous years for adaptable geometry that can be tuned to your own personal riding needs. In the front things start out with a much slacker head tube angle that shifted from the 68-degrees in years past to the ultra-long 65.5-degrees it is today (with the flip-chip in Low). This slack head tube elevates the confidence of the Joplin when you point it downhill, providing improved handling in rough and jarring terrain, and boosting control at high speeds. With the head tube's shift into the slacker realm, balance needed to be achieved to maintain the bike's reputation for lively pedaling and handling, so the engineers at Juliana opted to move the seat tube angle up a few degrees to a steep perch of 76.3 degrees—a full three degrees steeper than the previous model, allowing you to stay on top of the bike when pedaling power matters, and keeping the cockpit compact enough for comfort when handling the bike in rowdy terrain.
In previous years the flip-chip on the Joplin seemed to beckon for loftier 27.5+ hoops, but this year it serves a purpose tuned more acutely to riding style preferences. The flip-chip not only tweaks head tube and seat tube geometry, but it also offers a full 10mm of adjustability to the stubby-short 430mm chainstays, which allows riders of all sizes and riding styles to make the necessary tweaks to feel right at home. This combines with a low bottom bracket for a combination that's built to thread the needle, rail berms, and launch out the other side with power and confidence.
The frame on the Joplin Carbon R build uses Juliana's Carbon C construction, which is their second-tier carbon level. It's just as strong as the higher-level CC carbon, though a little bit heavier. The carbon layup process remains the same, just with a different carbon modulus that's a bit more budget-friendly, which is why you're able to score the Carbon C at a much more modest asking price, all you sacrifice is an equally modest 240g of gained weight.
Final details include a threaded bottom bracket that's what we've come to expect from the California-based brand, and it's a strong selling point for those who don't like dealing with the tricky tolerances and creaky interfaces of pressfit models. There's also a fender to protect the rear shock from dirt and debris, as well as molded protectors for the downtube and chainstays. Juliana specs this model with a solid set of components that keeps the price reasonable for budget-conscious riders without sacrificing much in the way in of performance. It starts with Fox suspension boasting 120mm of rear travel and 130mm up front, a SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain with a wide gear range for tackling steep terrain both uphill and down, SRAM Guide T brakes that are more powerful than the Level brakes found on previous generation Joplins, and a Race Face dropper post as standard equipment. The whole package rolls on 2.3in Maxxis Minion rubber, which occupies a sweet spot of cush and traction without feeling too sluggish, bouncy, or vague.
- The new Joplin is faster, more fun, and more capable than ever
- 10mm deeper travel smooths out rocks, roots, and trail chatter
- Lower-link VPP suspension improves performance across the board
- Super slack head tube offers greater stability at high speeds
- Steeper seat tube increased comfort and pedaling efficiency
- Flip chips let you tweak geometry and chainstay length
- Longer reach lets you shift your weight with confidence
- Carbon C frame rivals performance of CC frames at a lower cost