dakota ridge hogback golden colorado

Product Review: The 2016 Juliana Roubion II

ColoRowdies Ambassador Leigh Bowe picked up a new Juliana Roubion from Golden Bike Shop back in February. Here, she tells us everything we need to know about her rig.

Now that I’ve had a few months on a couple of continents to get a feel for the 2016 Juliana Roubion, I think it’s time to share my thoughts.

roubion photo 2

Last year was a rough one for me. Without my bike, I doubt I would have survived 2015.  Read my post about how Bikes are Medicine if you want more backstory, but suffice it to say that I had no complaints about last year’s Juliana Roubion.

I was excited and nervous about the changes that Juliana made to the 2016 Roubion II. However, first and foremost, I was not excited about the color. Last year’s Evergreen (greenish-teal) is my very favorite color and I was sad to see it go in exchange for Stonewashed (smoky lavender), which I was comparing to an Easter egg color until I actually saw mine in person. I’ve grown to love the new color, as it looks strong, dirty and feminine all at the same time. I know, I know, I shouldn’t focus on the color, but it’s actually something that is fairly important to me. If I can’t stand to look at my bike or be seen on it for something as up front and in your face as the color, it doesn’t really matter how the bike performs.

roubion 3

Now on to the juicy stuff.

The Juliana Roubion is the exact same frame as the Santa Cruz Bronson. The differences are in the contact points (Juliana uses grips and saddles designed for lady-parts) and in the aforementioned paint color. It’s a 150mm-travel trail bike with 27.5 inch wheels that utilizes Santa Cruz’s tried-and-true VPP linkage design. I use this rig both as my training bike on XC trails and I downhill on it at Keystone. There is not a trail on this planet that I wouldn’t ride with my Roubion. New for 2016, the head-tube angle got slacker (66° instead of 67°), the seat-tube angle got steeper (now 74° vs 73° last year) and the chain stays are slightly shorter (by about 1/10th of an inch). What does all of this mean? Well, if you believe the hype, it means the bike should: descend with more confidence (due to a slacker head tube angle); climb a bit more efficiently (due to a steeper seat tube angle); and be more agile in tight corners (due to shorter chain stays and a hair lower bottom-bracket height).

The first day I took out my new and improved Roubion, I was frankly appalled at how sluggish I felt while climbing. I resigned myself to the idea that the slacker geometry up front must have a price and it would be worth it on the descent. So I was not surprised that when I started down the techy descent on Dakota Ridge, that Grimace could handle almost anything with ease and confidence. What a difference one little degree can make! I was still a little frustrated that she just wasn’t as responsive as my previous Roubion had been, but I figured it was the price I had to pay for all that stability on the descent.

A few months later, I managed to tick one of my long-time goals off my list and cleaned the entrance to Horsethief Bench in Fruita.  This is a fairly extreme, albeit brief, section of technical rock drops, ledges and sloped slick rock. This happened despite my still feeling like the changes in geometry made the new Roubion just a wee bit less playful and more sluggish.

It has taken a few Good Suspension-Samaritans helping me to tinker and dial in my damping, but now that I have everything sorted out, I’ve realized that the Roubion II can do just about anything. I swapped out the shiny Fox Float X Factory shock for a Cane Creek Inline, and I tinkered with the rebound and compression (and continue to tinker). I no longer feel at all sluggish on the climbs, but instead, I feel a little more comfortable than even on last years model. Especially on techy climbs- that is where the geometry changes really sing.

roubion 4

2016 Roubion Pros:

The Stonewashed color.

Climbs handsomely, especially on tech bits that demand effortless front-wheel lifts.

Descends like she owns the trail. Incredibly forgiving geometry that makes up for all my short-comings.

The leaps and bounds by which my cornering skills have progressed on this bike are mind-boggling.

 

2016 Roubion Cons:

Lower bottom bracket has seen a few more pedal strikes than I would like.

The Stonewashed color. 😉

 

I don’t feel like this review would be complete without mention of the female-specificity of this bike. For starters, its not all that female specific (see above for the very slight differences between this bike and the gender-neutral, Bronson. That said, I LOVE riding a women’s specific bike. I love that when I chick a guy on the trail, there is not a doubt in his mind, that he was chicked (definition of chicked) by a girly-girl. I love that when I’m racing in South America, and the crowds want to cheer me on, but don’t have a clue who I am, they can yell out the brand of my bike, and I feel like they are my pals, screaming my name. I love that I think I’m more approachable to other women, because I’m on a women’s bike, which probably means that I like seeing other women out riding, so we might as well be friends. I’m not going to try to spin a tale about how my body needs suspension tuned to a woman’s lower center of gravity or that my torso is shorter, so I need female-specific geometry because I know that humans come in various shapes and dimensions, regardless of their gender. What’s important to me is that I’m on a bike that I love to ride. I love to ride the Juliana Roubion.

roubion photo 1

My build:

2016 Juliana Roubion frame Medium (I’m about 5’6″)

Shock: Cane Creek Inline

Fork: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 150 Solo Air

Derailleur: SRAM X01 1×11

Cranks: SRAM XX1 170mm

Chainring: MRP Bling Ring

Pedals: XPEDO Baldwin

Wheelset: Industry Nine Torch Enduro

Tires: 2.4 Vittoria Gomas

Brakes: SRAM Guide Ultimate

Grips: Ergon GE1 slim

Saddle: Selle Italia Diva

Frame pack: Oveja Negra Snack Pack

Thumbnail photo credit: Alex Molick of Capture Colorado Photography

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About Meredith Goss