The expression ‘less is more’ isn’t often used in the mountain bike world, but in the case of the Juliana Furta- do, it seems perfectly on point. The Furtado CC we tested came with a 130-millimeter RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, but rode like a bike with 150 millimeters of travel. With clean lines and a minimalistic cockpit, she's a simple machine, but a burly one. Boasting the same geometry and similar componentry as her Santa Cruz counterpart, the 5010, the Furtado is a true trail bike capable of handling a wide range of terrain.
We expected great things from this bike and were mostly pleased by its performance. We loved that it felt like a mini- downhill rig through rougher sections of trail; it was easy to get in the air and ate up everything in its path, making its $8,100 price slightly less traumatizing. While that is not an affordable bike, it is representative of the build. Shifting was smooth and effortless with SRAM's XX1 drivetrain, and SRAM's top-of-the- line Guide Ultimate brakes offered amazing modulation and stopping power. The RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post with 150 millimeters of travel–a rare find on a women's bike– was flawless. Perhaps the most intriguing feature on the 2016 bike is the addition of Industry Nine Torch hubs featuring 148 spacing in the rear and 110 in the front, making the ride on the Easton ARC 24 rims feel stiff and stable.While the Furtado was an absolute riot on the descents, climbing steep, punchy ascents could have been easier had the bike come spec'd with a smaller chainring than the 32-tooth ring ours had, but that's an easy swap. Plus, Juliana offers three other build kits in the CC range, two of which are equipped with granny-gear drivetrains. Testers also had an is- sue with clipping pedals, a tradeoff for the 13.1-inch bottom- bracket height. The testers who teeter between small and me- dium frames felt like the Furtado was long for a medium, due to a 23.5-inch toptube and perhaps the wide, 760-mil bars.
Riders with a penchant for aggressive descents will love this bike. With four sizes (the extra small will be available in April), and several kit and frame options ranging from $3,600 to $8,700, there is a Furtado to suit a variety of budgets.
Q&A with Katie Zaffke
Before this year's test bikes rolled into our barn, we had questions about them–some of the same questions that you might be asking yourself when you start poking around at a new bike. Here's what Katie Zaffke, Brand Manager at Juliana Bicycles, had to say in return. –Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator
Vernon Felton: This bike can do a lot of things–what kind of rider did you have in mind when you were designing?
Katie Zaffke: The Furtado is the do-it-all women's bike. So, the ideal rider is just that, the kind that likes to do it all. More specifically, the woman who's going to love this bike is the one that shreds hard and fast five days a week on her hour lunch loop, while she dreams about her five-hour ride she has planned on the weekend. That weekend ride takes her deep into the woods, up and down and all around, with rocks and roots and turns and berms in the middle. By the end of the day, she's stoked on the ups and stoked on the downs, and can head to the local pub for a burger and beer that are well deserved. If she likes to do it all, Furtado is the ideal choice.
VF: Are there conditions in which you feel the Furtado really excels and, if so, why?
KZ: The Furtado is perfect for the trails of Santa Cruz, perfect for Moab, and Sedona, and Crested Butte, and the like. Since it's a powerful descender and nimble climber, these areas that are fun and technical (but would never be compared to the likes of Whistler) have the ideal conditions.
The longer top tube (which allows for the use of a shorter stem), the new head angle (at 67 degrees), and the shorter chain stays (10 millimeters shorter), are the main design attributes that keep the Furtado responsive, snappy, and confidence inspiring through technical terrain. And, with 130 millimeters of travel (that's five millimeters more than the old design), it can handle most rocks and roots with ease on the descents, while still allowing for quick and efficient climbing.
VF: There aren't a ton of women's-specific bikes in the aggressive trail riding/all-mountain category. What sets this model apart from some similar bikes that riders might be looking at this year?
KZ: We haven't seen many other women's bikes that have the same modern, aggressive geometry paired with high-end spec options that the Furtado has. We believe that women need longer reaches, shorter stems, and wider bars, just like men. We've also ensured that women have their pick of high-end kits, along with lower-price-point options. There's not too many brands out there that can say the same thing.
VF: Are there any aspects of the frame design that you guys are particularly proud of? If so, what are they and why?
KZ: We spent a lot of time on the suspension tuning for the Furtado, and we're very happy with the ride that results from the combination of frame and shock tune. The bike is light on its feet, but also happy to monster-truck down the trail. And, the lighter-weight riders out there will be extra stoked on the light compression and rebound tune on the shock.
VF: What were you aiming for with the spec on this bike and how did you achieve it?
KZ: Our strategy with spec is to offer solid, consistent parts throughout the bike. For a given price point, there are no weak links that we've hidden in the spec. We've found that some brands pair an expensive fork and rear derailleur (as these are the most visible parts) with no-name hubs, low-end brakes, or house-brand components. With the Furtado, and the whole Juliana range, what you see is what you get with our spec, with no unpleasant surprises.
VF: Are there any details/features on this bike that you think are particularly critical to its performance that might be easily overlooked by riders at first glance?
KZ: Our frames utilize market-leading carbon technology and processes, which results in a very stiff frame at a competitive weight. Many of our competitors use frames that are multiple pieces bonded together (we use one piece for the front triangle and two for the rear). These bond joints have excess material around them, which leads to either more weight, or a weaker frame. We use our carbon very efficiently, so the consumer is getting the most stiffness and strength out of each gram of carbon. You can't see that from looking at it, but it's something we're very proud of, and something that is key to the bike's overall performance.
VF: How short of a rider can fit the smallest Furtado model? 5'1"?
KZ: Yes, 5'1". Our shorter consumers will be happy to know that we will be launching an XS Furtado in early 2016, which will accommodate riders down to 4'8".