Rosie Holdsworth spent the summer putting the Juliana’s 150mm travel, 27.5″ wheeled Roubion through its paces, here’s what she made of it.

The sister to Santa Cruz’s Bronson, the Roubion is a firm favourite amongst the Juliana crowd, but what did our Rosie Holdsworth make of the enduro weapon after a summer of fun?

Photos by Pete Scullion and Kieran Curran.

Key features:

  • 150mm VPP travel.
  • 27.5″ wheels.
  • Carbon frame.
  • Fox Rhythm fork and Float DPS shock.
  • SRAM NX drivetrain
  • RaceFace Affect crank
  • £3,899.00 RRP
  • JulianaBicycles.com

Summer fun.

The Roubion has accompanied me through a varied season of riding, with a couple of races thrown in the mix. It’s handled everything I care to throw at it and has left me seriously impressed and yet to find the limits of the bike’s capabilities.

The long, dry summer was the perfect excuse to make the most of the Roubion and it was well used on my local trails and accompanied me on many a trip to the Lakes.

Straight out of the box it was evident that I was going to get along with the Roubion. I was determined to take it easy on the first few rides, keen to avoid a repeat of many an over-enthusiastic new-bike crash. However riding the Roubion slowly isn’t really an option, it politely but firmly demands to be thrashed.

Clunkers.

I’ve never been a particularly stylish rider, preferring the Northern-British elbows out, red-faced and muttering obscenities approach. But the Roubion flatters you and gently eggs you on until, before you know it you’re riding faster and smoother than you ever have before.

The frame really is a triumph, it seems like Juliana created a bike specifically for me when they came up with it. The C model frame I’ve been testing is slightly heavier than the more expensive CC option, but the bike certainly never feels heavy and sluggish. The frame is wonderfully stiff and composed, with a shock tune that offers a silky smooth ride.

The “clunk” that the shock developed after the first couple of rides (see my first look) was easily cured by simply emptying then replacing the air in the shock.

Gnadge.

The frame feels fantastically nimble and lithe and I really enjoyed how easy it was to chuck about through corners and technical rocky terrain. Even being laden with overnight camping gear didn’t reduce the Roubion’s athleticism.

It’s simultaneously massively confidence inspiring and incredibly engaging and will flatter your riding style whether you’re a seasoned racer or it’s your first proper bike.

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I rode the 2019 Roubion in Vermont earlier in the year and had a blast, but the longer wheelbase, slacker geometry and bigger fork risk losing some of the 2018 Roubion’s agility on the tight gnadgery trails that the UK does so well.

The Roubion is confidence-inspiring and flattering to ride, without dumbing-down the experience. It remains endlessly engaging and entertaining regardless of the trails you ride; unlike any other bike I’ve ridden. It’s amazing fun on a local woodland jaunt, sketchy Lakeland rocks, super speedy bike parks or flat out mass-start race tracks.

No time to look at the view on the first descent of the day. This washed-out bridleway features ‘classic’ Lakes gnar. All the rocks and just ride what is in front of you.

Riding style.

I raced the Roubion at this year’s Foxhunt and it gifted me with a sudden ability to ride off-camber grassy corners, something which I’ve never previously been able to do with any sort of style or confidence and had just written off as “not really my thing”. This was just one example of the many times the Roubion just made something click and work.

Whether that be an aspect of my riding style that’s always let me down and cost me time in races, or a section of well-known trail that I’ve never quite nailed. It’s the bike I wish I’d owned when I was starting out.

With all the incredible strengths of the frame, the compromise of the C R model I was testing was the spec of the build with heavier wheels, lower spec suspension and cheaper brakes than the higher C S model.

Droppin’! If you like riding rocks, get yourself to the Lakes, there isn’t much else up high. With the summit slapped and the wind picking up, our intrepid two start the long, rocky descent towards Thirlemere.

Flexing.

The flex in the Fox Rhythm 150 fork and slightly weedy Sram Level T brakes were my main bug bear with the bike.

I first noticed the flex in the fork on some of the ludicrously steep woodland tracks of my home patch. Trying desperately to contain my speed to avoid ploughing into various spiky shrubs; under braking on steep ground the forks vibrate and judder to become pretty distracting. This annoyed me again on slow steep sections of rocky terrain in the lakes, where the flex of the fork made the front end of the bike occasionally unpredictable when I found myself in a tight spot.

I’ve also found that the SRAM Level T brakes lack the stopping power I’d really like for long Lakeland descents, or Alpine holidays. Had this been my bike, rather than a long termer I’d have swapped in bigger rotors and sintered pads.

Even with the compromise on the build specs, the Roubion C R is an incredible bike. Yes you could buy a better specced bike for the money and feel smug. But the smugness might wear thin when alternative-universe you is riding faster and smoother, hitting bigger drops, finally riding gaps, smashing the heck out of grassy corners and having the of her life on her Roubion whilst you calculate the weight savings and try to keep up.

What do we think?

The 2018 Roubion frame really is up there as one of the best I’ve ridden. Here’s hoping that the tinkers and changes to the frame for 2019 won’t diminish the fun and flattering ride of this amazing bike.

We love:

  • Stiff frame.
  • Confidence inspiring geometry and suspension.
  • Low spec doesn’t ruin the ride.
  • No need to change the rubber.

Could do better:

  • More potent stoppers.
  • Lighter wheels.
  • Stiffer fork.

Check out the Juliana range and the Roubion frame and spec options over on Juliana’s website here.


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