Juliana Roubion - first ride

A game changer in the women’s bike arena

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Juliana bicycles has expanded its offerings and added a sixth bike to its female-focussed line up. The Roubion is a 650b (27.5in) wheeled, carbon frame that spots 150mm Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension, and is designed for women who want to explore both the ups and downs of big mountain terrain. Like the rest of the Juliana range, the Roubion is closely linked to a model from its sibling brand, Santa Cruz; in this case, design cues have been take from the Bronson.

Juliana Bicycles describes the bike as a "Bronson with the spirit of Juliana"; essentially it's the same frame with an alternative colour scheme and female-friendly components. Katie Zaffke, Juliana Brand Manager, said the brand didn’t feel the need to change the geometry when offering the bike in their women’s line. “We are here to offer women the best trail-riding experience possible that comes with 20 years of experience, which is what the guys at Santa Cruz offer, so we didn’t feel like we needed to shorten the top tube or change the height of the handlebars," she said.

The Roubion, or "Bruliana", as it's been dubbed, was initially brought into the fold to provide Juliana rider Anka Martin with a capable steed for racing the varied trails of the Enduro World Series. After a successful year riding the prototype (a painted-up Bronson made to look like the Juliana Furtado) and strong interest from the female market, it was decided that the Roubion would be rolled out for consumers.

We headed out to the Maritime Alps to put the bike through its pace on the Trans-Provence trails and the area it was named after, Roubion.

The Roubion was a capable all-day companion

Ride and handling: a definite crowd-pleaser for everyone from descent lovers to all-day adventure riders

We were riding the top of the range Roubion model, which comes decked out with ENVE M60 Forty carbon rims, a SRAM XX1 drive chain and a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock soaking up the rear. Over the course of three days of riding over the varied trails of the Trans-Provence, the bike was subject to high alpine rock strewn descents, twisty forest switchbacks, remote village tracks, bike park trails and everything in-between, with some long climbs thrown in for good measure.

The long rough, rock and root-riddled descents were alleviated by the controlled composed RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork, which provided good tracking on the loose shale-like sections and never felt as though it was going to bottom-out when taking bigger successive hits. With plenty of adjustment available, the Pike was confident and reliable regardless of the terrain.

The Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock is highly tunable – and is a US$200 upgrade

With the RockShox Pike locked out and the Cane Creek Double Barrel switch set to climb, the bike proved to be very capable on the ups and didn’t lose any traction or rear-up. It only began to feel limited on the steeper extended climbs, mainly because of the 34T chainring, which is being changed for a more forgiving 32T on production models. Transitions between climbs and descents were made smooth and hassle-free thanks to the RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post.

During some of the rockier descents we did become aware of pedal clearance, and while the bottom bracket is not the lowest (13.6mm), we still encountered a couple of rock hits although the stability of the ride from the lower centre of gravity far outweighed the odd rock scuffle. The Roubion is a confidence-inspiring bike, nimble and easy to throw about, but at the same time you can point it down a rock garden and know it’ll handle it. Precision was aided by the ENVE M60 Forty rims – their immediate response made technical descents easier to navigate, and reliable traction came courtesy of Maxxis High Roller II tyres.

ENVE M60 Forty 27.5 carbon rims provided exceptional precision

The highly tunable Cane Creek Double Barrel Air, with its four-way independent adjustability, took a little bit of fettling with to get set-up to its optimum with some pointers from the guys at Cane Creek we were able to tune the shock so it worked in perfect harmony with the bike. The results were an extremely planted ride and a feeling of complete synergy with the frame small bump sensitivity was exceptional and soaking up big hits was plush without the downside of any wallowing. When this is added into the mix with the VPP suspension, you get a bike that pedals extremely well, pedal bob was pretty much eliminated, and descends like a mini-downhill bike.

The Roubion is a whoop-and-holler kind of bike. It will put a smile on your face whatever the terrain and will make you feel like a riding goddess. It was a stiff, stable and smooth ride yet nimble and fun at the same time. Whether you’re pointing it up or down, riding it for pleasure of thrashing it at race speed, it's hard to find a fault with this bike. It's a serious shredder for women who want a bike that can cope with it all.

Frame and equipment: a proven carbon frame with as much high-end gear as your heart desires

The Juliana Roubion frame shares exactly the same geometry to the Santa Cruz Bronson.  

“It’s a concept that’s just blowing people’s minds,” Juliana Demo Event Organiser Kathy Pruitt. “People don’t understand that to be women-specific you don’t have to have women-specific geometry, you can be a women’s brand.”

The frame benefits from the engineering expertise of Santa Cruz and is topped off with Juliana branded bars, saddle and grips. We only had the pleasure of the Roubion for three days so can only give a first impression, but if you’re wondering what the verdict is after a while in the saddle, take a look at this review of the Bronson from BikeRadar technical editor Josh Patterson, who shares his thoughts after six months on the frame.

XX1 drives the top-end model but there’s the option of X01 on lower spec builds

We didn’t have any scales to hand, but Juliana claim a medium frame will weigh in at 5.5lb and the complete at 25.8lb, which makes the Roubion a manageable weight for big all-mountain rides, multi-stage races and times when those exploration rides turn into a hike-a-bike situation.

With the mechanic in mind, Juliana has kept the Roubion's cables routed externally, apart from the Reverb Stealth hose which is housed neatly in the seat tube. A creak-free 73mm threaded BB makes servicing easy, compared to the numerous press-fit BBs in the field. The pivots are double sealed and have grease ports for low maintenance and the bike comes with a five-year warranty and a lifetime bearings and crash warranty.

There are a few female-friendly nods with the Roubion, mainly the contact points and comfort – you’ll find the brand’s own handlebars, grips and saddle on all its fleet.

The Juliana own-brand 720mm carbon bars up front were just a little bit too narrow for our personal preference, but most the women on the launch found them to be the perfect size. The compact grips are designed to suit smaller hands and proved to be comfortable after a full day in the saddle and we found the grip to be sufficient even in the monsoon-like alpine storms. There were no complaints from any of the other eight female journalists about the comfort of the Juliana Primiero saddle.

The 720mm Juliana carbon bars are a good width for the majority of women riders

Juliana has realised that women want the option of high end kit and have provided the Roubion with a top-of-the-range spec list and upgrade options. With the choice between X01 and XX1, Fox Float CTD and Cane Creek Double Barrel Air, you really can build the Roubion of your dream – wallet-allowing that is.

There’s no denying that US$10,000 is a lot of money for a bike. But women longing for a Juliana will be pleased to hear that, for the first time, Juliana will also be offering its bikes in a frame-only format with prices starting from US$2,899 and complete builds starting at US$6,599 (UK and international pricing has yet to be announced). Available in S, M and L sizes the Roubion range will fit women from 5ft to 6ft 1in.

Build options and pricing

Here’s a look at the pricelist:

Frame only

  • Roubion C with Fox Float CTD Adjust: US$2,899
  • Roubion C with Cane Creek Double Barrel Air: US$3,099

Complete bikes

  • Roubion C with XO1 + Rockshox Pike RCT3 150mm Solo Air: US$6,599
  • Roubion C with XX1 + Rockshox Pike RCT3 150mm Solo Air: US$8,299
  • Roubion C with XO1, ENVE + Rockshox Pike RCT3 150mm Solo Air: US$8,599
  • Roubion C with XX1, ENVE + Rockshox Pike RCT3 150mm Solo Air: US$10,299

(All prices above with Fox Float CTD Adjust shock. Add an extra US$200 for Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock.)

The Roubion will be available for order on 16 June, with arrivals estimated for early July.

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