Introducing the brand new Juliana Strega, launched today.
The Strega is a 170mm, 27.5″ women’s mountain bike that is designed around the Santa Cruz Nomad.
Rosie Holdsworth reports from the official launch…
Photos by Sven Martin.
• 170mm VPP™ travel.
• 65 degree head angle
• 150mm Reverb compatibility on medium, 125mm on small, and 100mm on XS.
• Full carbon frame and swingarm, with a lifetime warranty
• Suspension tuned for lighter riders
• Low standover height for better maneuverability
• Progressive lower-link shock configuration
• Bolt on shuttle guard, downtube protector and shock fender
• High and low geometry settings via flip chip in link
• Available in CC and C
• Sizes: XS, S, M
Check your bank account:
- Strega C R RockShox Super Deluxe R, Yari RC 170 £4,299
- Strega C S RockShox Super Deluxe R, Yari RC 170 £4,999
- Strega C XE RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, Lyrik RCT3 170 £5,599
- Strega CC X01 RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, Lyrik RCT3 170 £6,399
- Strega CC X01 Reserve RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, Lyrik RCT3 170 £7,599
- Strega CC XX1 RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, Lyrik RCT3 170 £6,799
- Strega CC XX1 Reserve RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, Lyrik RCT3 170 £7,999
- Strega CC frame only RockShox Super Deluxe RCT £3,199
Minty green Witches
A mysterious invitation from Juliana (Santa Cruz’s women’s division) to come and ride bikes in France and Italy was always going to have me pretty giddy with excitement. Add to that the fact that a quick Google search of Sospel-Triora made it clear that I was headed to Italy’s ancient witchcraft hotspot and I was positively beside myself.
The initially tenuous link between bikes and witches quickly became a whole lot clearer when, on arrival, I was greeted by the mint green behemoth I was to pilot for the next few days: The all new Juliana Strega (that’s Italian for Witch).
The Strega – what you need to know
The Juliana Strega is the longest travel women’s specific bike on the market and is essentially the women’s equivalent to the Nomad, with dialled in suspension tuning and women’s finishing kit, as well as smaller sizing and lower stand-over height.
A 170mm travel, 27.5” wheeled bike is a pretty bold move from Juliana and is a really exciting development in women’s specific bikes which I was desperate to try out.
The set-up of the bike is almost identical to the new Santa Cruz Nomad 4. Markedly different from previous iterations of the Nomad, the Nomad 4 and Strega have the shock mounted on the lower link, making it more similar to Santa Cruz’s V10 than earlier models.
This configuration provides a mega-supportive shock stroke and can (in the Nomad’s case) be used effectively with an air or coil shock. The shock’s position on the link can also be adjusted from high to low, making the Strega and Nomad more versatile. The shock on the Strega is tuned specifically for lighter riders, ensuring female riders get the most from the new suspension design.
And another surprise – Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels.
• 29-inch wheels in three widths: 25, 27 and 30mm internal
• 27.5-inch wheels in two widths: 27 and 30mm internal
• 28-spoke, 3x lacing
• DT Swiss Competition Race double-butted spokes
• Available with DT Swiss 350 or Industry 9 Torch hubs • Sapim Alloy Secure Lock Nipples
• External nipple access for easy servicing
• Built in Santa Cruz, California
• Lifetime Warranty
The Strega also boasted a mysterious carbon wheelset which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be yet another surprise from the Santa Cruz box of tricks. A new development for Santa Cruz which carbon engineer Nick explained to us was a result of Santa Cruz’s belief that they can turn their expertise in carbon engineering to any challenge.
The Santa Cruz Reserve wheelset is designed to be the most durable and reliable wheelset available, with everything about the wheels designed to be functional and effective. Given my record with horribly pringled and mangled wheels, I was looking forward to putting that claim to the test.
Will, Santa Cruz’s marketing honcho, explained that it was an earlier trip to the area with Juliana ambassador and all round bike wonder-woman Anka Martin which had sown the seeds for the Strega. The Strega will be in a class of its own amongst women’s specific bikes. With progressive slack and low geometry and a whopping 170mm of travel, there’s few other women’s trail bikes which come close, Santa Cruz themselves say “it’s the most niche bike we’ve ever produced”.
It’s designed to be as fast as a downhill bike, whilst remaining as civilised as a shorter travel trail bike to pedal up-hill. Perfect for the wonderfully technical, fast and switchback laden mountains of Sospel and Molini which just so happen to be my perfect kind of trail!
Riding the Juliana Strega.
The first morning’s riding was spent on fast narrow trails, tinkering with suspension set-up and getting a feel for the new bike whilst (mostly) avoiding plummeting into the gorse bushes and brambles which lined the trail. The bike certainly felt fast and very stable at speed and reassuringly stiff through corners, but it was the steeper rockier trails of the next few days where it really came into a class of its own.
Over the next two days we ventured from Sospel, France (heartland of the Trans Provence) over high mountain passes and into Italy’s Valle Argentina expertly guided by Ash, the man behind the Trans-Provence and Ady and Jo from Riviera Bike. The whole area is so utterly beautiful, and the trails such fun, that I had to remind myself to concentrate on the bike, rather than try to admire the view. My tendency for spotting wildlife caught me out more than once, and I had a few crashes to remind me to keep my wits about me.
Coming to life
The Strega really came to life in the steeper rocky descents. Rather than wallowing and lawn-mowing through rough sections like some long-travel bikes can, the Strega felt lithe and fun.
A great balance between feeling as though you could ride over anything, but without having the excitement diminished; no doubt a result of the re-imagined suspension set-up. The bike felt invincible, but incredibly engaging; rewarding hard riding and constantly goading me into exuberant cornering and some horribly irresponsible games of switchback cat and mouse with the other riders.
One thing I did notice was the BB height – to me it felt low. That was great for corners and aggressive riding but did need me to adapt my style to avoid clattering cranks.
For such a long-travel bike, the Strega felt refreshingly nimble through gnadgery slow speed corners and over rocky obstacles. Although our trip was mostly uplifted, we did enough pedalling for me to figure out that the bike climbed rough technical trails better than I did, again surprising for a 170mm bike.
I would like more of a chance to pedal this bike on home soil and a chance to see how the bike pedals on long, tough days out. It’s definitely a big, long travel bike and I’d like to see what that means over a full day of riding where there are no lifts on hand.
After three days aboard the Strega I was mightily impressed with what Santa Cruz have managed to pull off. I hope that this incredibly capable and ludicrously good fun all mountain rocket sledge is a sign of more ambitious women’s specific things to come and will encourage more manufacturers to delve into the murky corners of hardcore female-specific bikes.