Santa Cruz women’s line delivers on features, philosophy
We found the 125mm-travel Juliana Furtado Primeiro a great all-arounder that’s appropriate for riders of any experience level. Photo by Byron Swezy
“Put your hand on this,” was the oft-repeated introduction we used on people who seemed interested in the burnt-orange, carbon Juliana Furtado Primeiro we rolled around the Sea Otter Classic expo. At just 18mm in diameter, instead of the traditional 22mm, the Juliana-branded honeycomb grips—attached to a similarly narrow, custom handlebar—are a small, but significant differentiator on this for-women-only shred machine. We got a lot of “whoas.”
Newly relaunched after a few dormant years, Juliana Bicycle Company is the spunky kid sister to Santa Cruz Bikes—grown up from a single women’s-specific model to the fully-equipped brand it is today. Aside from grips, saddle and some variety in paint job, each of the Juliana bikes are built up from an equivalent frame in the Santa Cruz line, this model included.
Our Juliana Furtado Primeiro test bike is a medium-travel trail bike based on the popular Santa Cruz 5010 platform. Although groomed for getting rad on the descents, this 125mm-travel bike does just fine on the way up too, thanks to its lightweight(ish) carbon frame and helpful technology like FOX’s CTD (Climb/Trail/Descend) suspension settings. Juliana’s moniker for the Furtado—Monarch of the Mountain—is perfect. With its Strava-esque paint job and a crown on its headtube, this bike is dressed for QOM hunting.
The Juliana headbadge is reminiscent of the Speed Queen appliance logo, but the job this bike does is much more fun than laundry. Photo by Byron Swezy
Our first ride was in Juliana’s own backyard—Santa Cruz, Calif.—and we definitely felt right at home. It took about two pedal strokes to feel totally comfortable. Concerns about the nearly 3,000 feet of planned climbing quickly melted into burning lungs and quads—the day’s only limiters.
The Furtado Primeiro comes with a mostly Fox and Shimano suspension/drivetrain combo, along with a RockShox Reverb dropper post. Photo by Byron Swezy
The stock bike weighs just over 28 pounds and we think there’s room for improvement here. While we appreciated a little ring for some of the steeper climbs, a triple chainring these days feels like a disappointment, especially on a $6,000 bike. With SRAM’s XX1 or the new Shimano offerings, a 1×11 drivetrain could shave another pound-and-a-half off the total. For women—whose power-to-weight ratio is especially critical—a lighter bike can make a big impact.
Riders who agree with this line of thinking might opt to shop the mirror model in the Santa Cruz line—the 5010—where you get the same frame with more build options. Lighter Shimano XTR componentry, a 2×10 set-up, or lighter carbon wheels are all choices you get on the 5010. With the Juliana Furtado Primeiro, the complete-bike option you see online is what you get—and to date there is no frame-only option.
The Juliana on its home turf—the Emma McCrary Trail in Santa Cruz, Calif. Photo by Byron Swezy
That’s not to say the stock Furtado Primeiro isn’t up to snuff. A full Shimano XT build, including Shadow+ rear derailleur with clutch to limit chain slap means ripping through your gears is easy, reliable and fairly quiet. With the RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper seatpost helping create bike/body separation, coming into a corner with a little heat is no problem for the Furtado. It leans without wobbling and is lively exiting turns under power. If you can’t find your flow, the Furtado Primeiro has a way of helping you get back on track.
To really push its limits, we took the bike to the Snow Summit Bike Park in Big Bear Lake, Calif. to try it out in big berms, jumps, drops and rocks. While it’s not a long-travel rig by any stretch, the Primeiro’s slack, confident geometry did very well in big bike country, soaking up everything we threw at it and asking for more.