2020 Juliana Joplin/Santa Cruz Tallboy Review: Mostly Rock & Roll | Pinkbike Field Test

2020 Juliana Joplin/Santa Cruz Tallboy Review: Mostly Rock & Roll | Pinkbike Field Test


– So, Santa Cruz actually
debuted, debuted? – [Crew Member] De-butted. – De-butted? (all laughing) I don’t usually say that word
out loud, (laughs) debuted? (upbeat music) ♪ I don’t got so much ♪ ♪ I’ve been wanting something ♪ ♪ I don’t got so much ♪ ♪ I’ve been wanting something ♪ (woman laughing) – Hey there I’m Sarah Moore and we’re here in Pemberton
for the Pinkbike Field Test. And right behind me here
is the Juliana Joplin, which the brand says
is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll and with a 120 millimeters
of travel rear suspension, 130 millimeters of travel for the fork we think that the downcountry category is perfect for this bike. So the Juliana has the same frame as it’s Santa Cruz
counterpart, the Tallboy, just has a different
shock tune, grips, saddle and of course the different branding and graphics on the frame. In addition the Joplin is only available in extra small, small and medium while the Tallboy is
available in sizes extra small through extra extra large. A couple of the component
highlights on this bike are the RockShox Pike Select, the Fox FLOAT DPS
Performance Elite rear shock. It has SRAM G2 breaks
and an XO1 drivetrain. It also has Reserve carbon wheels, it also has that new VPP
lower link suspension design which you’ve seen on
the Hightower, Bronson, and the Nomad of course. So a couple of features of this frame: there’s internal cable routing, so there’s a downtube protector, there’s a ribbed chainstay protector, and then there’s also a little mud flap so that your shock doesn’t get covered in
grime from the trail. (upbeat music) – So we both rode this, actually, in the short chainstay length, so we rode the chainstays
at 430 millimeters . – And conveniently, we’re
very close in weight too so the suspension actually
ended up being very similar, not quite identical but pretty close. – [Sarah] So for my 155 pounds,
I rode the fork at 90 PSI with eight clicks of rebound from closed and then, in the rear shock I ran 27% sag with 10 clicks of rebound. – I actually ran my suspension
a little bit softer, with 83 PSI up front and 30% sag out back and I also ran my rebound
a little bit slower at both front and rear. So we ran a 2.4 DHR II rear and a 2.5 DHF up front, both with the EXO+ casing because the conditions around
Pemberton can be pretty rocky. (light jazz music) So like a lot of newer
bikes out there right now, the Juliana Joplin has a
pretty steep seat tube angle, 76.3 degrees in this case. That does a really good job of
keeping your weight centered, especially when you’re
going up a steep climb. Now even though the head tube angle is a pretty slack 65.5 degrees, the front end is nice and long, too, so with your weight nice and centered, you can kinda just stay relaxed and keep putting the power down and you don’t really have to worry about the front end
wandering around on you. So, with that being said, I
kinda find the Juliana Joplin to be a good, but not great climber. I mean, there are bikes out
there that really feel like they wanna kinda, like,
really squirt forward when you put the power down, and to me the Juliana was not that bike. It does bob a little bit
under power but you also don’t necessarily get a big
traction benefit out of it, and for me, my most effective
technique when climbing was to just kinda stay
seated and stay with a smooth pedal stroke as opposed to standing up and hammering. – Yeah, it doesn’t have that, kind of, ground-hugging traction that
the Guerrilla Gravity did. Also worth noting is that it’s light, but it’s not XC light. (light jazz music) – So for me descending is where
the Juliana really shines. So that same body position,
with the steeper seat tube angle and the long and slacker front end, as much as it keeps you centered climbing, it also keeps you
centered when descending. So I didn’t feel like I had to fight to keep my weight where I wanted it to be. I was always, kind of,
a comfortable distance behind the front wheel, and I really felt like I could push pretty hard forward without the front end washing out, or the bike wanting to swap ends on me when things get slippery. So I also found that the
suspension worked better, for me, descending than climbing too. I mean, it does a really good job of not really completely
erasing everything on the trail, but it totally neutralizes things to a point where you can feel it, but it doesn’t affect your line, or it doesn’t affect the way that you’re, kind of, hammering through the section. – So the Joplin is a super lively bike. It feels like a downcountry
bike in all of the right ways. So you know that it’s
120 millimeters travel when you’re riding it, but it’s also really supple and
it feels like a bigger bike. So when you really push
it into the corners, it’s confident, it’s comfortable,
you don’t have to worry about picking and choosing
your lines so much. You can kinda just go through whichever line is fastest on the trail. – Yeah, and I like how overall it just felt really nice and planted. – [Sarah] So I did use all
of the travel on this bike, but in a good way, it was
in appropriate situations, and it wasn’t a harsh bottom-out. – Yeah, I think it’s
also worth noting that even though I ran my
suspension a little bit softer, and we weigh pretty much the same, I also used all the travel, but I never felt a hard bottom either. (upbeat music) So I actually posted my
fastest time on the Joplin, which was a little bit surprising to me. It was only about 2% faster
than my best time on the Trek Top Fuel, granted,
not a big difference, but the fact that the Top Fuel is meant to be a much racier bike, with a more cross-country base, I think it says a lot about
the Joplin’s capabilities. – My fastest descent was
actually on the Joplin, and then, as for the climb, it wasn’t that much slower
than a bike like the Top Fuel, which was surprising to me as well. (upbeat music) At this price point, I
personally would have liked to see a little more
adjustability on the suspension, in particular up front. This bike comes with the
RockShox Pike Select Plus instead of the Ultimate. But, in fairness, I never had any issues with the damper that’s in here right now, and, for the price, it’s
a fair trade for the Reserve carbon wheels that you get because I like the way
that they feel, personally, a lot of people just
like having carbon wheels on their bike in general, and Santa Cruz does back these
with a lifetime warranty, so it’s nice to have that peace of mind if you’re riding somewhere where you’re prone to cracking your rim. (mellow music) – So some of the pros of this bike are just that the details
are really sorted. There’s room for a 150 millimeters dropper on the size medium. There’s also room for a large bottle tucked easily inside the frame. And then, on the handling
side, it’s just really lively and really easy to maneuver. I also think this bike is
really aesthetically pleasing, so the shape of the tubes, the
graphics, the shock position, it all just is a really nice package. It’s kind of a Jack of all trades, so I think that’s definitely a pro. You can, kind of, ride it on steep trails, you can ride it on climbs,
and you’re gonna have fun no matter where you’re riding it. (mellow music) – So cons, the bike is, to me, not the most enthusiastic pedaler. It’s good, but not great in that respect. And then, kind of related to that, because the rear shock
placement is so low, the bike does benefit from
having a climb switch on it, but it’s hard to find, and it’s also a really
long reach down there. And while it’s a jack
of all trades, for sure, it’s also kind of the master
of none, as the saying goes. For me it’s a bike that’s really good at an awful lot of things, but no single performance aspect really kind of sticks
out at me on this thing. (upbeat music) – So the Joplin is probably
the most even-keeled bike in the downcountry category, I might not choose it for a
one day cross country race, where all-out climbing speed
is really what wins the race. But for a stage race,
something a little bit longer, it would definitely be a good option. It just won’t beat up your body as much as a shorter travel bike will. – I feel like this bike
will be an absolutely great super-safe pick if this
is gonna be your only one bike for everything. For cross-country racing,
for marathon racing, for some gnarlier trails,
if you had one bike, this would be great. But to me, if this was
gonna be your second, shorter travel bike to go along with your bigger, longer travel bike, to me, it’s not quite sharp-edged enough. – So that was the Juliana Joplin,
or the Santa Cruz Tallboy. Stay tuned for more videos
from the Pinkbike Field Test, and we’ll also have a downcountry
round table at the end, so stay tuned for that. (upbeat music)