Back in October 2019, our Head Tweed Valley Guide and Dirt School Coach, Janey, made the switch from the Juliana Roubion, to bigger wheels aboard the Juliana Maverick (Juliana’s version of the much-loved Santa Cruz Hightower). We thought we’d take a closer look at her bike and share some of her thoughts and set up with you.
Janey is 158cm, that’s 5ft 2 inches, and weighs in at 54kg – she rides the small CC frame, which is a perfect fit.
Why the Maverick?
Since moving on from the days of 26” wheels, I have always owned 27.5” bikes and had never spent much time on a 29er. I had initially written them off as being quite a small person, I thought bigger wheels might be a bit hard to handle, but it turns out that’s not the case! After spending a year riding the revamped 2019 Roubion, I thought I would try something a little different and wanted a bike that would be ideal for coaching at Glentress but also guiding folk around the steepest trails at the Golfie. I do make trips to the Alps and Finale most years and wanted something that would be up to Enduro racing if I chose to make a reappearance on the Scottish Enduro scene.
The Maverick it turns out, is the perfect all rounder for the Tweed Valley. The larger wheels soak up the chatter and furrows super well and it’s incredibly stable for a slightly shorter travel bike. In all honesty, I don’t notice that the Maverick has less travel (140mm) than my Roubion did (150mm), and at no point have I felt “under biked”.
Are 29” wheels an issue for the shorter amongst us? Simply put, no. I get the occasional wheel buzz when tackling steep tight corners with drops on the entry, but it doesn’t affect the way I ride at all.
Suspension Set Up
As I was going down the route of a custom build, I opted for the 160mm travel Fox 36 Performance Elite Grip 2 fork. This is a little more travel than the stock bike comes with, but I wanted a slightly bigger fork to give me a bit more cushioning on longer descents. Fox have a helpful guide on the fork legs, and I’ve ended up with settings that aren’t too far off that for my weight. I run my fork at 53psi, with the high speed rebound at full slow and low speed rebound 12 clicks from full slow - I have only tuned it based on low speed. I run 4 clicks of low speed compression and no high-speed compression.
Since I’m running the longer 160mm travel fork, the flip chip on the bike is set in the high/steep mode to balance out the head angle and reach, putting it back close to the geometry of the stock bike. My shock is the Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate, set at 120psi with rebound set 1 click from full fast and no compression. I never use the lockout lever as the bike climbs well with it open.
Cockpit Set Up
I run the Santa Cruz Carbon handlebars, trimmed down to 740mm. I believe your handlebar width should be roughly the width of your comfortable press up position, this is your strongest position on the bike. As a smaller rider, handlebars that are too wide leave you feeling overstretched and don’t give you much room to move on the bike. Plus, narrower bars are excellent for squeezing through the Tweed Valley’s tight trees.
The Hope E4 brakes give great modulation which I prefer to the on/off feel of other models and they rarely need bled which is ideal for someone who rides their bike as much as I do.
I am also running a 50mm Hope Stem. The trend seems to be heading towards shorter stems these days, however, personally I find a short stem feels twitchy to ride. The 50mm stem gives me the stability I need to ride with some weight on the front of the bike and maintain the ideal neutral body position
Wheelset & Tyres
I’m riding the Santa Cruz Reserve 30s this year for the first time and they’re noticeably stiffer than all of the aluminums wheels I’ve ridden over the years. I’m yet to feel them flex and haven’t needed to true them at all in 8 months of riding 5 days per week.
The Industry Nine Hydra Hubs which are incredibly fast to engage when you want to put the power down.
I’ve been riding WTB tyres for several years now, and the 2.5 Verdict High Grip, Tough Casing paired with the 2.4 Judge to match is the perfect Tweed Valley combo. I switch to the Verdict Wet in the winter to make use of the slightly bigger tread when it gets slick under tyre.
I have a SRAM GX drivetrain, with Hope 170mm cranks. SRAM GX is perfect as it functions well but doesn’t cost an arm and leg to replace when I inevitably smash my rear mech off a rock! I have a 30T Hope chainring which gives me an extremely easy climbing ratio and is perfect for epic long days out in the saddle.
Frame/Shock: Juliana Maverick CC size small with a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock
Fork: 160mm travel Fox 36 Performance Elite Grip 2
Wheelset: Reserve 30 rims on Industry Nine Hydra hubs
Seatpost: KS Lev Integra 150mm
Tyres: Verdict 2.5 High Grip Tough Casing, Judge 2.4 High Grip Tough Casing
Cockpit: Santa Cruz Handlebar at 740mm, Hope 50mm Stem, Thin/Race Compound Deathgrips
Drivetrain: Hope 170mm crankset and bottom bracket with SRAM GX drivetrain
Brakes: Hope E4 brakes with floating rotors, 200mm front and 180mm rear.