First Ride : Aoife Rides the New Juliana Furtado CC XO1 Reserve.

Juliana Bicycles, sister company to Santa Cruz, has updated its flagship Furtado with some significant changes to its travel, geometry and build options.

Pitched as the ideal choice for the one-bike-quiver the Juliana Furtado is playful enough to make flatter trails fun and well-enough equipped to tackle bigger, more technical terrain.

Aoife got some time on the new bike ahead of its general release.

Photos by Phil Hall.

Key features:

  • RockShox Pike Ultimate fork
  • RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock
  • SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed drive
  • SRAM G2 RSC brakes
  • Santa Cruz Reserve 27 rims on DT SWiss 350 hubs
  • RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper
  • £7,599.99 RRP
  • JulianaBicycles.com

The Furtado is the most popular bike in the Juliana line-up; a 27.5inch wheeled short-travel do-it-all trail bike designed to be nimble, agile and fun.

Its versatility probably has a large part to play in its popularity. I’ve tested and reviewed every version of the Furtado and it has evolved to be ever-more capable, combining efficiency in climbing and pedalling with a playful nature that makes flatter trails a whole lot of fun, but with enough in reserve to handle gnarlier terrain.

Version 4 sees some major changes, boosting travel up to 140mm front and 130mm rear. A re-engineered frame has the shock in a lower position, bringing it more in line with the rest of the Juliana Bicycles range, and with a shock cave that’s roomy enough to make the new Furtado compatible with all shocks on the market, both air and coil, claim Juliana.

Other changes include updated geometry with an on-trend slacker head angle and steeper seat-tube angle combo over previous versions.

Juliana is the sister company to Santa Cruz and makes no secret of it. All Juliana bikes share a frame with a corresponding bike in the Santa Cruz lineup, with both having unisex geometry. In this case, the Furtado shares a frame with the 5010.

Where the Juliana bikes differ is in contact points, shock tune and colour. The shock tune is lighter, designed to work better with the on-average lighter weight to height of women. The Juliana saddle is women’s specific with a central channel to help alleviate pressure on soft tissue.

Finally, the new Furtado comes in a colour that Juliana calls Spicy Red Wood and is a glorious satin metallic copper colour.

This range-topping model is built around a premium Santa Cruz CC carbon frame. Santa Cruz, and therefore Juliana, offer two types of carbon; the C, and the premium CC which is lighter and stronger thanks to different carbon fibre quality and layup.

Geometry

The new Furtado geometry features an on-trend 65.7 degree head angle and 77.9 degree seat tube angle with a bottom bracket height of 338mm.

Updates extend beyond frame angles however, and the Furtado finally gets the lower shock position that its siblings the Roubion, Maverick and Strega have. This involves moving the mount from the upper link and top tube to the lower link and downtube via a shock cave through the seat tube.

This also means that there is now enough room, Juliana claims, to fit any shock on the market, air and coil. This means if you’re a fan of short travel bikes but like to push them to the limit and ride them hard, then you could swap out the shock it comes with for a coil shock and go wild. It also suggests that future frame updates might be in the pipeline for the other bikes in the Juliana and Santa Cruz ranges to allow for this.

The Furtado is offered in sizes XS to M, which Juliana says covers a rider height range of 4’8”/142mm to 5’9”/179mm. I’m 5’8 or 176mm tall which means I sit towards the top end of the size medium and personally found the bike a tiny bit short for me, but I generally prefer longer bikes and the shortness does make for nippy handling particularly when the going gets tight and twisty.

Leatt DBX 4.0 helmet

Juliana has also varied the chainstay length between the XS/S sizes and the M to give a more uniform feel, balance and performance across the sizes so there isn’t a compromise in the handling, and there is a high/low chip to allow you to tweak the geometry to a slacker, lower mode.

Another significant development is the addition of the impressively named SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger. This is one hanger that will, in the future, be compatible with all Juliana and Santa Cruz bikes, so no more hunting for the unique derailleur hanger that goes with your bike and only your bike. It will be available to all shops making repairs a whole lot simpler, and is designed to rotate in the frame in the case of a large impact, to help protect the derailleur.

Build and spec

The version of the Furtado I tested was the range-topping model which comes in at a hefty £7,599. For that you’re getting a seriously premium build with the aforementioned CC carbon frame plus Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels, RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, RockShox Pike Ultimate forks, SRAM X01 Eagle 12spd groupset with X1 Eagle carbon cranks, powerful 4-piston SRAM G2 RSC brakes, RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper seatpost and Santa Cruz carbon riser handlebars.

If you don’t want to splash that much cash, the Furtado range starts at £4,099 for the C R build with the slightly less primo C carbon plus FOX Float Performance DPS shock, FOX Rhythm 34 fork, SRAM NX groupset plus RaceFace handlebar and stem.

Or, if you prefer to build things up yourself, the Furtado is available in the CC model as frame only, at £3,299.

One particularly noteworthy element of the spec is the brand new 52-tooth SRAM Eagle cassette. The massive cog on the cassette makes spinning up super steep slopes a doddle, and takes the pain out of technical climbs too. If you’re dealing with any post-lockdown lethargy it’ll make getting back into riding less of a slog-fest, or if you simply like to conserve energy for longer rides with an easy gear, it’s got you covered.

There’s plenty of clearance around the rear wheel, which is good news for anyone who rides in muddy conditions. So most UK-based riders then. The Furtado comes specced with MAXXIS Minion DHR II EXO tyres with a chunky 2.4’ width, though Juliana says you can fit up to a 2.6’ tyre if you want more.

First impressions

A few days of riding around the Somerset Mendip hills and the Forest of Dean is enough to get a taste of how the Furtado handles and where its strengths and weaknesses lie, but to really get to know the bike more riding is required.

The combination of the lowered shock position with an updated suspension leverage curve gives the bike a noticeably planted feel on flat corners. The suspension offers grip off the top of the stroke that bites back into corners, offering noticeable grip and reliable traction from entry to exit.

Climbing has always been a strong point of the Furtado, and this has only improved with the version 4 updates. The steeper seat tube places the weight in a nice centred position over the bottom bracket which makes pushing hard or spinning easily a more comfortable, efficient prospect. And of course the huge range provided by the 52t cassette doesn’t hurt either, quite literally.

I got a taste of its playfulness when on trails that might not be the most technical, but that give the Furtado more than enough to work with. It’s a bike with a poppy, playful feel that encourages you to mess about while you ride.

Juliana Furtado price and availability

So, you’ve got a wedge of cash burning a hole in your pocket, you’re after a new bike and the copper-coloured Furtado is the mountain bike of your dreams. The good news is that it is, or should be, available in the shops as of right now, as Juliana aims to have new bikes available to coincide with the launch.

The model tested here will set you back a significant amount of cash but that buys you a frame that will stay current for several years, a lifetime warranty on the frame, bearings and Reserve wheels, excellent kit, is eminently upgradeable, and is downright fun to ride.

Juliana reckon the Furtado is the ideal choice for your one bike quiver, and so far I can’t say that they’re wrong, but stand by for a full test coming soon.

You can check out the full Juliana Furtado CC XO1 Reserve and the rest of the Furtado range on Juliana’s website here.

Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of the Juliana Furtado on our Bike Reviews page here.