Joplin R Complete Mountain Bike
Much like its namesake defining genres of rock and roll, the Juliana Joplin R Complete Mountain Bike challenges preconceived notions of what it means to be a 29er. Unlike the wagon-wheeled machines of the past that were only at home on smooth and speedy cross-country trails, the newest iteration of the Joplin bridges the gap from fast paced rocks and rollers to the undulating berms and wild trails that rock you down to their roots. The latest Joplin is more aggressive, leading into terrain with a slacker head tube angle, plus improved tracking of Boost axles, and this iteration is built with a kit that encourages aggression, but doesn't break the bank. SRAM's NX Eagle drivetrain combines the Eagle line's ultimate bailout gear to the workhorse, fear-no-trail-furniture functionality of NX.
Compared to the previous Joplins, the newest model takes just a bit off the top of the head tube, dropping 2.2 degrees to fall from the standard 70.2 to a moderately slack 68 degrees. The Virtual Pivot Point travel has also taken a turn for the crunchier, gaining an additional 10mm, which aligns the Joplin perfectly with the emerging crop of 4.5in, do-it-all 29ers. The VPP design is a carry-over from Santa Cruz's re-worked frames like the Bronson 2.0 and 5010 2.0. It's inspired by the enduro-minded Nomad, and the result is that the links stay out of the way, which lets the Joplin accommodate a piggyback shock's external can without giving up the bottle cage. The repositioned links also make for more ground clearance, lower standover, and an additional boost in stiffness to the already stiff Boost back end.
Boost spacing, a slacker profile, enduro-inspired suspension links, and the protean flip chip are some of the modern features that cap off its developmental arc, following that of the Tallboy. The key difference between the Joplin and the Tallboy is in the shock tune, with the former lightening up a bit for lighter riders. Juliana calculates that typical women cyclists are around 30lb lighter than men, so the Joplin's lighter shock tune allows lighter riders to take full advantage of the bike's 4.5in of VPP travel. In the end, it's a tale of suspension and geometry that's dramatic enough to rival the biography of fast-living young rock stars.
The latest VPP's changes aren't limited to wandering links, though; the system's tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc and, as mentioned above, a lighter tune to give lighter riders access to the deep end. The results are that, during the initial and mid stroke, it boasts increased bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs. It also maintains its predecessor's firm feel during accelerations, so it won't dampen the Joplin's spirited kick while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint. The shock's ramp-up arc doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs, even while the Boost axle's path turns rearward to absorb bigger hits deep in its travel.
The Joplin's reworked linkage means it's one-by only, but it still comes equipped with ISCG 05 tabs. The threaded bottom bracket is another feature that we've come to just 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 interface of press-fit models. Understandably, the frame's clearance decreases as a 29er, but it still accommodates most 2.35in tires, which we think occupy the sweet spot of plush traction without getting top floppy and muddying trail feel.
- Transcend genres with Juliana's XC turned trail steed
- 110mm of VPP travel pedals like XC but drops in like all-mountain
- Longer, slacker geometry is more stable through big lines
- Juliana's alloy frame sheds cost for a pocket-friendly ride
- SRAM's Eagle drivetrain includes the ultimate bailout gear
- 29er wheels conquer trail obstacles without sacrificing speed
- Juliana Bicycles sets the standard for women's race bikes