Bike Test – Juliana Maverick 2020
I was recently lucky enough to swing a leg over a Juliana Maverick a couple of times, so I thought I would share a few of my initial thoughts with you. I would be interested to hear what you made of the bike if you have had a chance to put it through its paces.
The Juliana Maverick is effectively the “lady counterpart” to the Santa Cruz Hightower. It is a 29 inch wheeled 140mm/150mm all-mountain machine. The Maverick was announced last summer, alongside new iteration of the Hightower, and it was a wholly new addition to the Juliana line up (of course ladies aren’t legally forbidden from purchasing a Hightower these days!). It is precisely the same frame as the Hightower and so, received the same full makeover, including lowering the suspension linkage, steepening the seat tube and generally giving it the longer, lower and slacker treatment.
Seemingly, the Maverick is the aggressive all-mountain 29-er that Juliana was missing from its line up. With a 140mm suspension at the back and 150mm suspension at the front, it makes it a well-suited machine for fast and aggressive riders. Perhaps strangely, with the untimely demise of the Juliana Strega (aka Nomad), the Maverick is now one of the longest travel bikes in the lady stable, only the Rouibon (aka Bronson) comes in burlier, with 10mm more travel all round but on a 27.5″ wheeled frame. Other than the slight difference in travel and the wheel sizing, there is not a whole lot between the Rouibon and the Maverick; I suspect it would be a choice dictated primarily by your wheel size preference.
I’ll be honest. I was reasonably apprehensive when it comes to sitting down on this bike. First of all, I went into this with a strong opinion that wagon-wheeled bikes did not suit riders of my height (I am 5ft 6) and I had allowed my views to be coloured by comments from those who had tried before. The bike seemed to be a bit marmite in that sense. On the other hand, the bike looked very much ready for action, with the low suspension linkage, and the Hot Tomato colour scheme.
Being lucky enough living close to Stif Cycles, I was able to secure a demo bike for a few hours, before that I also spent a few hours on the Maverick at the Hope Tech Enduro.
The bike I was riding was one of the higher specced versions, it came with the premium “CC” carbon frame and a SRAM XO1 finish, this build could set you back around £6,599, which is more money than I could get for one of my kidneys, possibly both, I’m not up to date on organ prices at the moment. The build I tried came with a Lyric Rockshox Ultimate and RockShox Super Deluxe Select Ultimate (just rolls off the tongue!). The drivetrain is Sram XO1, which can’t be faulted, and the bike boasts Sram Code RSC’s stopping power, which is probably the best brake I have tried in recent years. If you fancy spending a bit more, you can throw in Carbon Reserve Wheels for extra £1,200, in for a penny in for several more pounds I guess. The lifetime warranty on the wheels probably makes them a bit more worthwhile, however.
While generally, the build is pretty phenomenal, there are a few areas where you might be left wanting a bit more. The RS Super Deluxe Select Ultimate is not the creme de la creme of the Super Deluxe range (although you can choose coil or air at no extra cost) and when you are putting down this for a new bike, I would expect a bit more. For example, for a relatively similar price, Mr Betty’s recently purchased a Yeti (another member of US bike brand royalty) that has Kashima coming out of every orifice and same spec in terms of drivetrain and brakes. There are other things that I would change on the Maverick like tires, grips and the saddle. However, these are all personal preference, rather than necessary upgrades.
When I sat down on the Maverick for the first time, I felt a bit out of place. The wheels felt huge, compared to my 27.5″ Meta Am, and I felt like I wouldn’t be able to get on with them, images of me wrapped around a tree on the trail flashed through my brain. I spent a bit of time-shifting the saddle back and forth, the levers up and down and fiddling with the suspension before setting off but I was undoubtedly warming to it.
When comparing the Maverick to the 170mm travel, 27.5″ wheeled, coil suspended oil tanker that I usually ride, it was nothing short of amazing. The long fire road climbs suddenly became much more comfortable, and things that generally would leave me panting would merely register puffing, a significant improvement. With a generous insertion length in the seat tube, no jokes please, the dropper post can be as long as 150mm on a small bike. Pairing that with a steep seat tube angle (77.1deg effective), the climbing position felt much more comfortable on steeper climbs.
Similarly, that VPP suspension platform handled pedalling with the suspension open, I never needed to reach for the climb switch (which is lucky, because that would be hard with the lower linkage arrangement). Technical climbs were also surprisingly more manageable considering all the points above. The 29-er wheels brushed over rocks and ledges, and the longer wheelbase (for me at least) did not present too many difficulties on switchback climbs (whereas a recent demo of the Yeti SB150 did interestingly!). The only thing that I might fault is the low BB height resulted in a few pedal-strikes, albeit I had the bike in the low setting.
Being a fan of technical twisty descent, I was worried that this bike might be too “trail bike-y” or otherwise too difficult to manage when pointing it downhill, but I am happy to report, I was wrong.
I had to make a few adjustments to riding this bigger wheeled steed, though quickly I forgot that I was riding a 29-er and ended up with a number of my fastest times on sections. The VPP system made this bike playful but fully planted at the same time. It tracked the rocks well, and when required, it could easily pop over some obstacles. It was more manoeuvrable than I expected, though the stock 800mm carbon bar (on a small-sized bike!) made some dents in trees. The bars are easy to cut through, and I would recommend doing that if you are a smaller rider, I don’t think many 5ft4 riders have the shoulders for 800mm bars.
Interestingly, despite it having less travel than my Meta AM, and generally being less burly, I felt far more comfortable dropping off bigger ledges or attempting to hit some jumps. There’s a lot to be said for the geometry on this bike and, dare I say it, I did rather miss having an air shock, although not on some of the rockier descents.
If you are an adventurous UK rider and you have a little bit (a lot) of cash put aside this bike would be an excellent fit for you. This bike would be at home in trail centres, natural singletrack or probably bike parks and you would enjoy every minute I think.
This bike is for those female riders that look for a bike that can do it all but is on the lighter end of that “do it all” range. It is a well-balanced bike that will allow you to both have a long day in the saddle and descend some burly downs on a shuttle day, as long as you’re not hucking to flat on pro-lines
I would discourage shorter riders from buying this bike without trying it out at least. There is no extra small available for this specific bike model which is a rare occurrence for Juliana.
Overall, I was a big fan of Juliana Maverick, which appeared to be far more capable than the numbers initially suggested. For 95% of my riding this would undoubtedly be enough bike, albeit there are going to be those times (Alps trips, Whistler Trips, Revolution Bike Park) where, if we ever get out of COVID-19 lockdown, this might not be enough. With that in mind, I’m hoping to get my leg over a Megatower in the next few weeks, despite it not having a Juliana equivalent (which is devastating!).
To find out more about this bike, visit the Stif bikes website.
April 29, 2020