Evaluate: Juliana’s Wilder is a Wildly Succesful XC Mountain Bike
With the 2022 Blur and Juliana Wilder bikes, Santa Cruz took the perfect of its fashionable Superlight and Blur fashions to create an all-new 29-inch XC racer, re-invented for the modern-day rider.
Even in cross-country, the terrain is changing into extra technical and extra demanding. One is predicted to fly up the climbs and likewise sort out rockier, burlier options on the way in which again down. The Juliana Wilder and Blur are Santa Cruz’ reply to those calls for. The bike is tremendous mild and slack, but billed as “a full-on light-weight XC race rig”.
Mild like an XC racer, succesful like a path bike, and stocked with further eyelets for carrying an additional bottle or mild gear. Is that this one other N-1 bike or a quest for the do-it-all unicorn, not in contrast to the beforehand revamped Juliana Furtado and Santa Cruz 5010 path bikes?
I’ll admit that I struggled to position this bike. Right here’s why.
The 2022 Juliana Wilder X01 AXS TR with Reserve Wheels
Juliana is the youthful sister to the Santa Cruz model, and it’s well-known that their bikes share the identical frames, albeit in numerous colorways. The dimensions choices, contact factors, suspension tuning, and constructed kits, nonetheless, differ relying on the model identify. On this case, the Santa Cruz Blur has notably extra mannequin choices than the Juliana Wilder.
Whereas each frames can be found within the common two carbon choices we’ve come accustomed to from Santa Cruz, the Blur additionally has a staggering 12 completely different constructed kits, whereas the Wilder is proscribed to 5. Moreover, these within the Blur have a selection between a race-ready 100mm suspension bundle or a much bigger 120mm/115mm “TR” suspension bundle. The Wilder, in the meantime, is just out there with the party-light bundle of 120mm within the entrance and 115mm within the rear.
We acquired the top-of-the-line Juliana Wilder X01 AXS TR, full with Santa Cruz’ fancy carbon Reserve 28 wheels.
This premier construct additionally consists of SRAM’s Eagle AXS wi-fi 12-speed bundle and wi-fi dropper put up together with a Fox 34 Step Solid Fork and Fox Float Manufacturing unit rear shock. The dear bundle certainly helped get the load low, however the true weight financial savings are within the new Superlight™ suspension system.
For 20 years now, Santa Cruz and Juliana have constructed their bikes round their tried-and-true Digital Pivot Level (VPP) suspension. It’s a twin-link, multi-pivot system that connects the rear and entrance triangles and permits the rear triangle to clean out the bumps whereas sustaining pedal effectivity. Their new Superlight suspension makes use of a single pivot design paired with flex stays. In easy phrases, the chainstays at the moment are immediately related to the entrance triangle, and flex within the seat stays makes up for the lacking linkage. It’s meant to supply extra traction whereas the lowered variety of shifting components, bearings, and linkage shaved 289g (over half a pound!) from the earlier Blur body.
With my top-of-the-line mannequin coming in at 24 kilos, it’s certainly a reasonably light-weight full-squish.
This fourth iteration of the Blur additionally comes with a brand new geometry. Occasions are a-changin’, and this geo is reflective of the extra technically demanding programs we now see in competitors, and/or a need to fulfill the calls for of a buyer who might not have already got a number of bikes of their shed.
The Wilder is slacker and notably longer than any XC bike I’ve ever raced, however that size is all within the rear. The pinnacle tube angle (67.1°) is a bit of steeper and the attain a bit of shorter than its older sister, the Juliana Joplin. The Wilder’s seat tube angle is slacker and the chainstays are longer as nicely. What you get is a motorcycle that’s responsive and aggressive sufficient for the climbs whereas secure and succesful on the descents.
The bike’s wilder facet can be obvious within the stable downtube safety, a tough rubber chain guard, and a sequence information to carry on to your chain when issues get bouncy. There are mounting bolts for a complete of three bottles — two contained in the body and one on the downtube.
The one factor not rowdy about this bike is the tire choice. The Maxxis Rekon doesn’t have a lot in the way in which of knobs, which within the moist climates of Oregon makes for a slippery journey.
On the path
Having offered my 23-pound XC race steed in favor of a path bike final 12 months, I used to be desperate to journey the Wilder. I promptly took the bike to all my favourite climby trails, hoping to chase down my former PRs. Now think about my shock after I didn’t come near my former instances on the uphill however PR-ed a number of the downhills! Wait, what? I’ve been bombing down these descents on my very succesful, squishy path bike for months now, and but… the clock doesn’t lie.
What can I say, the Wilder likes to get rowdy. The 29er wheels will eat up rock gardens and bomb down something, however the slacker geo and little bit of additional size maintain the rider firmly planted. The bike handles capably and predictably. As a Juliana Furtado proprietor, I couldn’t shake the sensation of how acquainted the 2 bikes really feel.
The fashionable geo, paired with a 120/115mm suspension bundle, allowed me to really feel completely snug using all the paths at my common path networks. I used to be whipping across the berms and taking small jumps, utterly forgetting that I wasn’t on my path bike.
Maybe my shock of the bike’s functionality was partially because of the firm’s advertising and marketing and positioning of the bike as a “carbon XC race rocket” and a “full-on light-weight XC race rig.” I’d argue that sells the bike brief. Constructed as is, it isn’t a pure race steed, and that’s a very good factor. Nevertheless, for these seeking to race XC, I do want Juliana would additionally present a 100mm suspension choice for the Wilder, simply as Santa Cruz does for the Blur.
Cross-country races do nonetheless are usually received on the pedaling sections. It’s a take a look at of health for the riders, and a problem of shaving weight and maximizing pedal effectivity and responsiveness for the bike producers. For a lot of, the 120/115mm suspension bundle might merely be an excessive amount of.
For me, the Wilder creeps into the all-day path enjoyable facet of the spectrum greater than the pure race performer. Or maybe it’s in a brand new spectrum altogether: XC Path. Which, for almost all of riders, is a unbelievable new growth.
For the pedal-happy and trail-curious riders on the market, the Wilder comes fairly near being that “one bike to do all of it”. It ought to meet the wants of these seeking to rack up the miles in all-day consolation, these racing epics, and multi-day stage races, in addition to those that are out there for his or her first full-suspension bike to take their abilities to the subsequent degree. This XC wild baby is inspiringly succesful, mild, quick, and — most significantly — a pleasure to journey.
The Juliana Wilder is obtainable in 5 element builds starting from $4,599 with Fox Efficiency suspension and a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, to $9,449 for the CC body with Fox Manufacturing unit suspension, SRAM X01 AXS digital gruppo, and carbon rims.