Ever since her debut into endurance riding at Relentless 24 (solo) in 2015, Janey has loved pushing her physical limits on the bike and has become accustomed to that ‘Type 2’ fun. After riding on an older unforgiving carbon hardtail for a few years, Janey got her first Blur as the first wave of lockdowns swept the UK early 2020. With the enduro trails closed, the Blur quickly cemented itself as her go to bike for exploring the quieter spots in the Tweed Valley. As a predominately Enduro rider, Janey tends to favour steep and technical terrain, but the Blur re-kindled that old love of epic all day rides with big views and bigger climbing stats. As trails reopened, the Blur was pushed to its limits on some of the Golfies steepest tracks, proving there’s more to this bike than just munching miles.
Fast forward to winter 2021, and after a much anticipated wait, Janey’s brand new Juliana Wilder is here. Sharing the same frame as its Santa Cruz stablemate, the Blur, they use a totally new suspension platform and are lighter than ever.
We find out more about Janey’s new Wilder below…
Janey is 158cm (that’s 5’2”) and she rides the Small CC frame, which fits well and creates a comfortable riding position for long days in the saddle.
Why the Wilder?
Throughout my years of racing Enduro, I always loved doing some XC rides as part of my training to keep my fitness up and do something different every once in a while, especially as I was riding trail bikes five or six times a week back then. It’s always been refreshing to blast up the climbs and enjoy coming back down on the more mellow trails, where an enduro bike feels a bit sluggish.
When I finished up with racing back in 2018, XC and marathon riding quickly took over - not in a competitive sense, but I thrived on those big days out in the hills, linking the valley’s best trails together, and pushing the limit of what the little bike could do. It’s just awesome and I’ve had the love for it ever since. My 2019 Blur was a lifesaver during lockdown when all the technical mountain biking trails were closed for a few months - it let me explore areas of the valley I hadn’t before, and more importantly spend hours and hours of time up high in the hillside - I had some proper adventures close to home that year.
As soon as the new Juliana Wilder was released in June 2021, I knew that was the new bike for me! The new Wilder shares the same frame as the Blur TR from Santa Cruz, in essence slightly more suspension travel (115mm, up from 100mm on the Blur XC) and a slightly slacker head angle make this bike a touch more capable on the descents than the out and out racer that is the Blur XC. A steeper seat tube angle than the previous Blur puts me in a more comfortable climbing position, without going so steep as to make it uncomfortable pedalling flat sections of trail.
I have quite a lot of bigger adventures and bike packing trips planned for 2022 and the Wilder will be the perfect partner for that job.
Suspension Set Up
The Wilder comes with a Fox 34 Stepcast fork. A new fork from Fox, the Stepcast 34 is designed for modern XC and light trail use. The Stepcast lowers mean the travel is limited to 120mm, but in return you get a fork with any unnecessary weight trimmed to give a class leading strength to weight ratio for a trail fork.
I have my Stepcast 34 setup with 60psi in the spring, which isn’t too far off the pressures recommended by Fox. The Factory spec fork comes with a 4 way adjustable damper, which makes it possible to get the fork setup exactly as you need.
The Stepcast 34 uses Fox’s Fit4 damper, which has a 3 position compression dial on the top, open, medium or firm. I’ve left it all the way open so far, and the only time I would anticipate using it would be if I have a long smooth climb ahead of me. The open mode has a low speed compression adjuster, that I have set 15 clicks from fully closed.
The rebound is set to 11 clicks from fully closed, which gives me a good rebound speed to match the relatively low pressure in the fork.
To match the lightweight, XC/trail focussed fork, Juliana have specced the Wilder with a Factory Float DPS rear shock. This gives the Wilder 115mm of rear travel, which feels so efficient to pedal I haven’t felt the need to use the lockout lever on the shock at all yet.
The shock is set up with 135psi and 14 clicks from fully closed on rebound.
In the few weeks I’ve ridden it so far I’ve been so impressed not only with the pedalling characteristics of the bike, but also how confident and sure footed it feels on the descents.
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 around. Plus, narrower bars are excellent for squeezing through the Tweed Valley’s tight trees. The bars are complete with Burgtec’s original bartender grips - the Bartender’s are slimmer than the more popular Minnaar grips, but it’s all down to personal preference.
The Level TLM brakes are super lightweight and give great modulation which I prefer to the on/off feel of other models.
The Wilder comes stock with a Syntace LiteForce 60mm stem which is working well for me to give the cockpit a comfortable seated climbing position for big days in the saddle
Wheelset & Tyres
I’m riding the new Santa Cruz Reserve 28s this year and they’re noticeably stiffer than the aluminium wheels I had on my old Blur. I’ve ridden Reserves on my Mavericks for the last couple of years now, and have only given them a little true up once in that time. From a maintenance perspective, I’ve never experienced better, and am confident this will be the case on the new Wilder set up too.
My tyre pressures are set at 19psi on the front, and 21psi on the rear - being a smaller rider I don’t feel I need any more than that, and there’s enough give that there’s plenty of grip under tyre too, both up and down, whilst still feeling efficient to pedal.
I have a SRAM XO1 AXS drivetrain, with 170mm cranks and 32T chainring. The huge range on the SRAM 10-50t cassettes gives me plenty of scope to moderate my efforts over longer rides while still giving me harder gears for when I’m pushing on. AXS is new for me this year, and so far so good, the shift quality is definitely some of the best I’ve used, and while I can’t speak for long term reliability yet, I’ve heard lots of good things.
Frame/Shock: Juliana Wilder CC size small with a Fox Float DPS Factory shock
Fork: Fox 34 Factory Stepcast 120mm
Wheelset: Santa Cruz Reserve 28 XC race on DT Swiss 350 hubs
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb 125mm
Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race 29x2.4wt EXO
Cockpit: Santa Cruz Handlebar at 740mm, Syntace Liteforce 60mm Stem, Burgtec Bartender Grips
Drivetrain: SRAM AXS X01 rear derailleur, SRAM GX AXS shifter, SRAM X01 Eagle 10-50t cassette, SRAM 32t chainring
Brakes: SRAM Level TLM with SRAM CLX 180mm rotors
If you’re interested in a Santa Cruz Blur or Juliana Wilder drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org