Blister Brand Guide: Santa Cruz / Juliana Mountain Bike Lineup, 2022

Intro

When considering a new mountain bike, there are so many similar-looking bikes on the market being made by so many different companies, it is virtually impossible to (1) know where to begin; (2) quickly figure out which one or two products from a given brand might work well for you; and (3) determine what products from other brands might be the most similar and also worth considering.

So in our new “Blister Brand Guide” series, we provide an overview of the entire product lineup of a brand; highlight how each product stands out from the rest of that brand’s lineup; and help you figure out quickly and easily which bike might work best for you.

In our individual product reviews, we go very deep into the details of particular products. With these Brand Guides, the goal is not Depth, but Breadth. Our Brand Guides and full reviews are designed to complement each other — provide a broad overview of entire company lineups, and then also very detailed reviews of individual products. 

Our mountain bike Brand Guides are presented by CBGTrails. Learn more and start planning your trip today at cbgtrails.com, then download the CBG Trails app for info on the 750+ miles of singletrack and 150+ trails in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley, Colorado.

See our other MTB Brand Guides

About Santa Cruz

From their beginning in 1994, Santa Cruz has been doing things a bit differently, and their first bike was a “do-it-all” full-suspension rig at a time when that sort of bike was definitely not the norm. They place an emphasis on rider / customer support, and many of their products carry lifetime warranties. They now make everything from entry-level hardtails to carbon World Cup Downhill race rigs, and they only make off-road bikes, apart from their Stigmata gravel / cyclocross bike.

Santa Cruz offers aluminum and carbon frames, with two different carbon frame options: carbon “C” and carbon “CC.” Their carbon “CC” frames are roughly ~280 grams lighter (depending on model and size) than their carbon “C” counterparts, and correspondingly more expensive.

About Juliana

Juliana Bicycles describe themselves as the “original women’s bike.” Their first bike, made in 1999, was designed for and marketed to women at a time when mountain biking was mostly targeting men. Juliana became integrated with Santa Cruz in 2013, and exists today as Santa Cruz’s sister brand.

Juliana’s bikes all mirror a model in the Santa Cruz lineup, but the Juliana versions differ in terms of frame color, grips, saddle, sizing, and shock tune. Some of the Juliana versions are also available in more limited build kits, which we’ll note for each particular bike.

Both Santa Cruz and Juliana are based in Santa Cruz, California.

Current Warranty (for the original, registered owner)

  • Lifetime frame and pivot bearing warranty for models purchased after April 30th, 2015
  • Lifetime warranty on Reserve carbon wheels
  • Replacement frame parts available to the original owner at a minimal charge in the event of a crash or other non-warranty situation for the life of the bike.
  • For more information, visit this website.

Santa Cruz / Juliana’s Suspension design: Virtual Pivot Point (VPP)

Before we get into their specific models and build options, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on which build level to go with, and why.

First, when looking at complete bikes, suspension and wheels are going to make the biggest difference in how a bike really rides. Spend money on those before other things like higher-end drivetrain parts, cockpit parts (e.g., stem, handlebars, etc.), cranks, etc.

Tires make an enormous difference in performance, but are cheaper and easier to upgrade, especially since they tend to wear down quicker than other components. Upgrading a lower-end front tire to something better — and saving the original for rear-tire use — can be a good way to improve a bike while still making use of the originals, since front tires are generally a lot more important than rear tires when it comes to traction.

Drivetrain parts can be upgraded piecemeal as they wear out, or if you just want to upgrade down the line. Higher-end cassettes are mostly just lighter, while higher-end shifters and derailleurs get lighter, smoother, and sometimes last a bit longer as you go up in price.

We’ll outline here the different models in Santa Cruz & Juliana’s MTB lineup, organized from most cross-country-oriented (XC) to downhill-oriented (DH). In other words, the bikes at the top of the list are optimized to pedal and climb uphill very well, while the bikes at the bottom are optimized to handle very rough, steep, and challenging descents very well.

We’ve included some notable information for each model:

Available build kits & their MSRP

  • Best Budget Build: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people trying to spend the least amount without ending up with a build that’s going to immediately break or need to be upgraded.
  • Most Performance for the Price: These are the build kits that we think make the most sense for people seeking the best balance of performance and cost. I.e., if you don’t need to get the cheapest bike, but you also don’t need the absolute lightest bike or all the newest bling, this is the build we think makes sense for you.
  • Suspension travel (e.g., 100 mm of travel, 130 mm of travel, etc.)
  • Wheel size (e.g., 27.5”, 27.5+, 29”)
  • Frame material options (e.g., alloy vs. carbon)
  • Sizes available and height range accommodated for by those sizes
  • A brief description of what the bike was designed for and any notable design details.
  • Some of the bike’s most direct competitors from other brands
  • Which Santa Cruz or Juliana bike it’s most similar to
  • Reasons why you should buy it
  • Reasons why you should not buy it

Santa Cruz & Juliana Mountain Bikes

(Most Cross-Country-Oriented to Most Downhill-Oriented)

Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Santa Cruz’s dedicated XC race hardtail, designed to be efficient on the climbs. Fits three water bottle cages.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • R / Carbon C: $3,299 – Best Budget Build
  • S / Carbon C: $4,049 
  • XT / Carbon C: $4,699 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Specialized Epic HT
  • Trek Procaliber
  • Scott Scale
  • Orbea Alma
  • Giant XTC
  • Norco Revolver HT
  • Pivot Les
  • Canyon Exceed
  • Mondraker Chrono Carbon & Podium Carbon

Santa Cruz / Juliana’s full-suspension XC race bike. Completely overhauled in the spring of 2021, the latest version is lighter and uses a single-pivot suspension layout. “XC” builds have 100 mm of rear travel, paired with a 100mm-travel fork and very lightweight components. “TR” builds get longer-stroke shocks for 115 mm of rear travel, longer 120mm-travel forks, and generally more downhill-oriented components. Juliana Wilder is only available in the “TR” builds.

More like the Highball than the Chameleon.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

Santa Cruz Blur XC:

  • S / Carbon C: $5,199 — Best Budget Build
  • XT / Carbon C: $6,149
  • XT / Carbon C / Reserve: $7,449
  • X01 / Carbon CC: $7,349 — Most Performance for the Price
  • X01 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $9,149
  • XX1 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $11,299

Santa Cruz Blur TR / Juliana Wilder:

  • R / TR / Carbon C: $4,599
  • S / TR / Carbon C: $5,499— Best Budget Build
  • XT / TR / Carbon C: $6,449 — Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / TR / Carbon C / Reserve: $7,749
  • X01 / TR / Carbon CC: $7,649
  • X01 / TR/ AXS / RSV/ Carbon CC: $9,449
  • XX1 / TR/ AXS / RSV/ Carbon CC: $11,599 (not available for Wilder)
  • Specialized Epic & Epic EVO
  • Scott Spark RC & Spark
  • Giant Anthem 29
  • Cannondale Scalpel & Scalpel SE
  • Pivot Mach 4 SL
  • Orbea Oiz
  • Intense Sniper XC
  • Norco Revolver FS 100 & Revolver FS 120
  • Canyon Lux
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Santa Cruz’s most downhill-capable, fun hardtail. Complete with plus-size tire options and significantly more aggressive geometry than the Highball. Swappable dropouts allow easy conversion to a single-speed drivetrain.

More like the Tallboy / Joplin than the Blur.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • D / Aluminum / 29: $1,949
  • D+ / Aluminum / 27.5+: $1,949
  • R / Aluminum / 29: $2,399 – Best Budget Build
  • R+ / Aluminum / 27.5+: $2,399 – Best Budget Build
  • R / Carbon C / 29: $2,699 – Most Performance for the Price
  • R+ / Carbon C / 27.5+: $2,699 – Most Performance for the Price
  • Trek Roscoe
  • Specialized Fuse
  • Rocky Mountain Growler
  • Kona Honzo & Big Honzo
  • Devinci Kokain HT
  • Canyon Stoic
  • Orbea Laufey
  • Norco Torrent HT
  • Nukeproof Scout 290
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

The Tallboy / Joplin features lower-link mounted VPP suspension and progressive geometry in respect to its travel. High / Low geometry settings via flip chip. Note: the Tallboy/Joplin no longer has a 10 mm chainstay length adjustment flip chip.

More like the 5010 than the Chameleon.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • D / Aluminum: $3,349
  • R / Aluminum: $3,899 – Best Budget Build
  • R / Carbon C: $4,799
  • S / Carbon C: $5,699
  • XT / Carbon C: $6,799 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Carbon C / Reserve 30 SL Rims: $8,099*
  • XO1 / Carbon CC: $7,899
  • XO1 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $9,699*

* The Juliana Joplin is NOT available in these builds

Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Redone for the 2021 lineup, this bike got 10 mm more travel up front, longer + more slack geometry, and adopted a lower link-mounted VPP suspension design. Despite the update, the 5010 is still designed to be a fun-loving, jibby, playful trail bike. Chainstay lengths are specific to each frame size. Features high / low geometry settings courtesy of a flip-chip.

More like the Tallboy / Joplin than the Hightower / Maverick.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • R / Carbon C: $4,799 – Best Budget Build
  • S / Carbon C: $5,799
  • XT / Carbon C: $6,799 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,099*
  • XO1 / Carbon CC: $7,799
  • XO1 / AXS / RSV/ Carbon CC: $9,599

* The Juliana Furtado is NOT available in these build kits.

  • Giant Trance
  • Kona Process 134 27.5
  • Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt
  • Ibis Mojo 
  • Evil The Calling
  • Devinci Troy 27
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Santa Cruz / Juliana’s best Quiver Killer. The Hightower / Maverick is willing to climb for a worthy descent. Features lower-link mounted shock and long, slack, and low geometry. Features high / low geometry options thanks to a flip-chip on the link where the shock mounts. Can run 27.5”+ wheels and tires. Note: the Hightower uses a 55 mm-stroke shock and the Maverick uses a 52.5 mm-stroke shock, hence the 5 mm difference in rear suspension travel. (Check out our full review of the Hightower)

More like the Bronson / Roubion than the 5010 / Furtado.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • D / Aluminum: $3,549*
  • R / Aluminum: $3,999* – Best Budget Build 
  • S / Aluminum: $4,899* 
  • R / Carbon C: $4,949 – Best Budget Build (Maverick)
  • S / Carbon C: $5,949
  • XT / Carbon C: $6,949 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,249*
  • XO1 / Carbon CC: $8,049
  • XO1 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $9,849*

* The Juliana Maverick is NOT available in these build kits.

  • Trek Fuel EX
  • Pivot Switchblade
  • Kona Process 134 29
  • Yeti SB130
  • Specialized Stumpjumper 
  • Canfield Tilt
  • Commencal Meta TR
  • Giant Trance X 29
  • Rocky Mountain Instinct
  • Intense Primer 29
  • YT Jeffsy 29
  • Norco Sight 29
  • Devinci Troy 29
  • Evil The Offering
  • Scott Genius 
  • Cannondale Habit
  • Revel Rascal
  • Orbea Occam
  • Canyon Strive
  • Ibis Ripmo & Ripmo AF

The Bronson / Roubion is arguably Santa Cruz / Juliana’s most well-known bike, thanks to its mix of downhill capability and agility. It was fully overhauled in June of 2021, with the “V4″ version getting a mixed-wheel mullet setup (29″ front / 27.5″ rear), as well as slightly more modern geometry (slacker head angle, longer reach, steeper seat tube angle). Note: XS sizes feature a 27.5” front wheel.

More like the Hightower / Maverick than the Megatower.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • R / Carbon C: $5,049
  • S / Carbon C: $5,949 — Best Budget Build
  • XT / Carbon C: $6,949 — Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Carbon C / Reserve: $8,249
  • X01 / Carbon CC: $8,049
  • X01 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $9,849
  • XX1 / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $11,399*

*The Juliana Roubion is NOT available in these build kits. 

[Note: due to the Bronson / Roubion’s mixed-wheel setup and the rarity of that in this class, comparisons aren’t quite as straightforward.]

Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Santa Cruz’s longest-travel 29er Trail bike. Lower-link mounted shock and long, slack geometry designed to take on big, chunky descents. Features adjustable chainstay length, high / low geometry settings via a flip-chip, and air or coil shock build kit options. This bike is notably more biased toward high speeds and aggressive riding than the two above. (Check out our full review of the Megatower for more info)

More like the Bronson / Roubion than the Nomad.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • R / Carbon C: $5,149 – Best Budget Build
  • S / Carbon C: $6,149
  • XT / Air / Carbon C: $7,049 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Coil / Carbon C: $7,049 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Air / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,349
  • XT / Coil / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,349
  • XO1 / Air / Carbon CC: $8,449 
  • XO1 / Coil / Carbon CC: $8,449 
  • XO1 AXS / Air / RSV / Carbon CC: $10,249
  • XO1 AXS / Coil / RSV / Carbon CC: $10,249
  • Specialized Enduro 
  • Pivot Firebird 29
  • Trek Slash
  • Yeti SB150
  • Giant Reign 29
  • Rocky Mountain Altitude 29”
  • Transition Sentinel
  • Canfield Lithium
  • Intense Carbine
  • Nukeproof Mega 290
  • YT Capra 29
  • Orbea Rallon
  • Norco Sight 29”
  • Devinci Spartan 29
  • Evil The Wreckoning LB
  • Canyon Strive
  • Scott Ransom
  • Mondraker SuperFoxy Carbon
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Updated for the 2021, the new Nomad is actually not that different from the version it replaces, with the new version coming back slightly longer, slacker, and with a steeper seat tube angle. Also new is another swingarm upright for more support between chainstays and seatstays and updated suspension kinematics. Features adjustable high / low geometry via flip chip and air or coil shock build kit options. You can think of this bike as the more playful, easy-going alternative to the Megatower. Check out our full review for more info on the Nomad’s performance.

More like the Megatower than the V10.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • R / Carbon C: $5,149 – Best Budget Build
  • S / Carbon C: $6,249
  • XT / Air / Carbon C: $7,049 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Coil / Carbon C: $7,049 – Most Performance for the Price
  • XT / Air / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,349
  • XT / Coil / Carbon C / Reserve 30 Rims: $8,349
  • XO1 / Air / Carbon CC: $8,449
  • XO1 / Coil / Carbon CC: $8,449
  • XO1 / Air / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $10,249
  • XO1 / Coil / AXS / RSV / Carbon CC: $10,249
  • Yeti SB165
  • Commencal Clash
  • Transition Patrol
  • Revel Rail
  • Rocky Mountain Slayer 27.5”
  • Nukeproof Mega 275
  • YT Capra 27
  • Norco Range 27.5”
  • Devinci Spartan 27
  • Cannondale Jekyll
  • Canyon Torque
Blister Brand Guide; Blister breaks down Santa Cruz and Juliana's entire 2022 mountain bike lineup

Santa Cruz’s dedicated downhill bike. Separate 29”, 27.5”, and mixed-wheel platforms, adjustable chainstay length, and high / low geometry via flip chip.

Consider If:

Don’t Bother If:

  • DH S / Carbon CC / MX: $6,699 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • DH S / Carbon CC / 27.5: $6,699 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • DH S / Carbon CC / 29: $6,699 – Best Budget Build & Most Performance for the Price
  • DH XO1 / Carbon CC / MX: $8,899
  • DH XO1 / Carbon CC / 27.5: $8,899
  • DH XO1 / Carbon CC / 29: $8,899
  • Trek Session
  • Specialized Demo
  • YT Tues 
  • Giant Glory 
  • Pivot Phoenix
  • Devinci Wilson 
  • Commencal Supreme DH
  • Canyon Sender
  • Scott Gambler
  • Kona Operator

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