Bike Review: Juliana Furtado Primeiro

Santa Cruz women’s line delivers on features, philosophy

27.5 All Mountain Trail Women's

Juliana Furtado Primeiro

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.

Juliana Furtado Headbadge

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

Giddy up!

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.

Juliana Furtado Equipped

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.

Juliana Furtado Primeiro Ride Tight

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.

Continue to Page 2 for more on the Juliana Furtado Primeiro and full photo gallery »

About the author: Kristen Gross

Kristen Gross loves bikes, all sorts, and above all, XC mountain bikes. She races in the pro category and gets a lot of joy from teaching others the way of the trail as a mountain bike skills instructor—especially women who are just discovering cycling. She is a USAC-certified coach, and she runs her own freelance writing business based in Carlsbad, Calif. You’ll find her either writing or riding, bringing over 10 years experience to both. Why does she ride? To offset her addiction to Coca Cola and Lay’s Potato Chips.

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  • singlespeedr says:

    Explain to me how a $6k carbon bike specified for typically lighter riders comes in at 28+ lbs? I understand it’s more enduro oriented, but I agree with the writer that it seems unreasonably heavy.

    • Max says:

      The weight is right there with other 130mm travel carbon bikes at that price if we’re including the dropper-post.

  • DaveG says:

    18mm diameter grips? Might want to check that figure…

  • Allan says:

    So it’s a Santa Cruz that’s been painted more “girly.” Way to keep sexism alive.

    • Mtbr says:

      Allan- You’ve missed the point. If anything the new Santa Cruz Nomad has more of a stereotypically “girly” paint scheme than any of the Julianas. Contrary to your comment, SC is trying to build an authentic women’s brand with Juliana and they’ve staffed up with women in product management, marketing and events. Juli Furtado also still provides significant guidance, all of which we fail to see as sexist.

  • Jeff says:

    Santa Cruz wants my wife to buy a $6000 bike that needs a replacement drive train? Sorry marketing team, she’s going to buy a men’s bike for much less money because everyone wants a 1x these days.

  • scott says:

    My wife rode a juliana around the parking lot the other day, she said the grips were way to small for her. She wears a size medium glove and rides a size medium bike, maybe she’s just more used to regular sized grips, but I for one really like the biggest grips I can get. Try playing tennis with a too-small grip!!!

  • Bikethrasher says:

    My wife and three of here friends have been on a demo tear lately. They have ridden bikes from Scott, Giant, Trek, Specialized, Niner, Pivot, Juliana. Of all the bikes the girls rode the Juliana was the one that stood out the most. It had better parts than any of the other bikes. A full 2×10 XT kit yes a 2×10 kit is optional at no extra cost, Fox Kashima Fork and Shock, Reverb Dropper and the much loved Maxxis High Roller 2 tires front and rear. All the girls liked the grips and the shape of the bar. The saddle not so much. The fit of the bike seemed to work well for the girls as well. Probably do to the fact that Santa Cruz bikes have always had short top tubes. My wife loved this bike and we are making some sacrifices to get her one ASAP.

  • Teleken says:

    Call me passe all you want I’m glad SC put a 3x on my Tallboy.

  • roger says:

    SC could have just painted the Bronson or 5010 with another color saving some marketing and manufacturing expenses and called a day. Gender specific bikes, good luck with that!

    • Luke says:

      Umm….did you read the article? This is a 5010 painted with another color (and different bars, grips, saddle). As to the marketing end…well, if you think you can sell anything to women in the same way you can sell it to men then I don’t know what to tell you, except don’t go for a job in marketing.

    • Luke says:

      @Teleken: yeah, at the very least I fail to understand the thinking that somehow a 2×10 is an “upgrade,” or why it has anything to do with value…the “triple chainring…feels like a disappointment, especially on a $6,000 bike?” So they leave parts off and convince you it’s an upgrade. Cheaper to make, sell it for more. Seems to me it’s really just a preference thing, especially 2x vs. 3x, ’cause you still have to shift in either case. I’m still undecided as to my preference, but I’m very glad 3x remain an option at all price levels.

  • Bikethrasher says:

    Luke, Simple fact, all suspension designs are designed around one ring usually a 32t. The farther away you get from that 32t up and especially down the more you compromise the suspensions performance. The VVP suspension has improved Greatly since it’s introduction and works very well without the need to flip levers constantly. With a 3×10 drivetrain on this bike you will have some pedal feed back. With a 2×10 drivetrain you really have to be focusing to notice it at all. With a 1×11 it’s almost undetectable.
    Fact number two. The gearing spread on a 3×10 is barely wider than a 2×10. But the 3x system has around 8 overlapping gears. Redundancy is a reduction in performance not an improvement.

    • short geezer says:

      First, a quick arithmetical check proves 3×9 or 10 gearing is going to offer significantly lower gearing, unless your 2x uses a 22 chainring. Second, saving a half pound with 1x or even 2x systems is totally imaginary in terms of climbing benefits (although the lack of water bottle cage mounts will save you a couple pounds I suppose) compared to real granny gears; last, most Weigle suspensions utilize chain line differences so grannys actually modify the rear traction characteristics, something morons tossing different gearing systems on obviously don’t think, or care about versus the Sales Hype.
      Also, short riders will never be adequately served by 27.5 or worst, 29 wheels, as is well understood in fitting small road frames. The ability to create market gibberish which fools especially new riders exceeds the ability to actually create revolutionary breakthroughs year after year. If weight is so important, why is my 12 yr old softtail Ti 24 lb, and most of these uber-pricey carbon trendy things still 2-4 lb heavier than even alu XC bikes of just 3-4 years ago? Because fewer folks care to actually pedal uphill anymore, daring to be challenged not just by the speed of the down, but the climb up as well?

  • COMtbGirl says:

    I have tested most women’s specific bikes out for 2014 due to being in the market for a new full suspension bike this season. What was frustrating was how low specked and seemingly overpriced most women’s lines are. They do not compare at all to men’s bikes within the same price point. I cannot help but feel shortchanged being a small woman rider that rides quite aggressively, I would prefer a bike that is equally as competitive to the men’s bikes. I would, and often times do, end up getting a man’s bike although I would prefer the fit of a woman’s bike if there was anything remotely close to my preferred specs.

    Going back to the Juliana Furtado, I have tried this bike and taken it out on the trail for a demo having considered it as a serious contender for my new trail/AM bike this season. The performance was ok and geo/fit pretty good, but I do not appreciate the fact that it felt heavy at over 28lbs for a 6k carbon bike! I tried the giant lust 1 and that bike weighed a measly 25lb for the aluminum version at 3,200, half of the Juliana carbon’s price! It also came equipped with a 2x and a capable rockshocks sid front fork. It is ridiculous how the Lust 1 is the same weight as the Lust Advanced 2 Carbon version priced at only $300 more.

    Given the relatively lower priced, comparatively specked and better valued Giant wds bikes, Julianas do not even come close to what Giant offers for women riders. The giant bikes are not only made and designed specifically for women they went so far as to make molds for these bikes to fit women. They are not men’s bikes painted in girlie colors, they are bikes made for us instead of just being “marketed” for us women. At the end of the day, wiser women riders will NOT and should not be duped into getting on a bike that’s touted for being designed for them when in truth it is just branding. Small cranks and handlebars do not make a women’s bike! Take that Juliana/Santa Cruz!

  • Bikethrasher says:

    COMtbGirl, You do realize you are comparing a 4″ travel XC race bike to a 5″travel trail bike. The Giant Intrigue would have been a better comparison. It’s considerably heavier than the Lust. Even with super light Nobby Nics it’s still heavier than the Juliana. If you swapped out the Maxxis tires and the took the Dropper post off the Juliana and put those Scranny Racing Ralph’s and a standard post from the Lust. They would weigh about the same. Except you would have an extra inch of cush. Juliana does offer the Furtado with a 2×10 at the same price. Also keep in mind that carbon isn’t just about weight savings. The difference in ride between and good carbon bike and a good aluminum bike is drastic and aluminum loses by a lot. As for the geometry you might want to compare the two before you go claiming Giants doing something really special. As for the money saved on the Giant. You better be saving money buying from the largest bike manufacturer in the world. But sadly the parts spec on the Giant are well low end. When compared to the Juliana. Take the time to see what the parts on each bike cost. Giant is selling you less for more. Santa Cruz is actually a better value.

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