Joplin Carbon R Mountain Bike
With the popularity of mountain biking exploding in recent years, bike companies are continuously improving their offerings in order to meet the ever-increasing capabilities demanded by riders. Mountain bikers are seeking out rougher trails than ever before, and they wish to conquer those trails with speed and unwavering confidence. With all these fantastic bike choices available on the market, it can be tricky to pick a steed that's versatile enough to be your do-it-all, Jane-of-all-trades ride, but with the non-stop progress of Juliana bicycles, we think that the newest iteration of the Joplin Carbon R Mountain Bike does a damn good job in just about any terrain you throw its way. For 2020, the aggressive trail machine takes the speedy cross-country roots of the Joplin and pushes harder and 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 boosts stability when the going gets steep. The new 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 rowdy and ripping section of trail just because our ride is a little shorter in the travel department.
We suppose that with the release of Juliana's new Maverick, and the Roubion getting a makeover 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 new Joplin. The bike sees a full makeover this year, with 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 pedal 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 soaks up more rocks, roots, and trail chatter
- New lower-link VPP suspension improves performance across the board
- Super slack head tube feels controlled descending at high speeds
- Steep seat tube angle allows for comfortable & efficient pedaling
- Flip chips let you tweak geometry and chainstay length
- Longer reach increases stability and high-speed composure
- Carbon C frame rivals performance of CC frames at a lower cost