Let me just make this clear: I am not Juliana's intended audience. Juliana Bicycles is unapologetic about their model line being geared toward women who seek out women's specific branding. They're also unapologetic about the similarities between the new 2020 Juliana Maverick
mid-travel mountain bike and the new Santa Cruz Hightower
, which we cover HERE
. That allows me to have some say on how I felt the Maverick, and by extension, the new Hightower, rides.
As I said before, there are plenty of similarities which amounts to just about everything being the same outside of touchpoints and shock tune. The shock tune of the RockShox Super Deluxe was designed in conjunction with the engineers at RockShox and is aimed toward better performance for lighter-weight riders. The Maverick also gets a women's specific saddle and grips, but all the other goodies - the supportive suspension, the maneuverability, and smart component spec - are covered in our Hightower First Look. Four price points are available, all with a 140 mm rear shock and 150 mm fork and 29er wheels. I was able to ride this alongside a wide range of Juliana's mountain bikes at the request of Juliana, to get a good feel of what the Maverick is about. The first piece of the puzzle is the low-mounted VPP shock setup, which gives the Maverick a linear progressive suspension curve, and a pretty darn supportive suspension feel on the trail. This makes pedaling, be it to gain speed before a ledge, up something steep and loose, or just from lift to lift, remarkably efficient. Set it and forget it riders rejoice, because the Maverick pedals well even with the rear shock wide open.
Maneuvering the Maverick, either through back-to-back features or tight bermed corners, was easy and definitely preferred to chucking it down a rocky descent. The Santa Cruz Megatower sometimes feels like it would rather go straight than corner, but the Maverick has a playfulness that wants the rider to bob and weave. That means that the Maverick doesn't have quite the ability to make up for poor line choices as the Megatower does. Even still, the 29er wheels, slack head angle, long front-center, and quality suspension still made the bike much more planted than the original Santa Cruz Hightower, and considerably more planted than something like the Juliana Joplin
. As a flyweight rider (130 lbs wet), the shock tune made the Maverick remarkably simple to dial in at just over 30% sag and no other changes to the stock setup. Attribute that to the L1 compression tune Juliana uses here, but also to the engineers at Santa Cruz for doing their homework.
Overall, the Maverick feels energetic, even more so than it's 150 mm fork and 140 mm rear end might suggest. The bike is planted through rough terrain and loose corners, but eggs you on to go off every feature and take the more challenging line. Not many bikes manage to do that as well as this bike does while managing to pedal with any amount of efficiency. It's a worthwhile combination and one that plenty of women (or anyone) will love riding. This 29er mid-travel mountain bike is geared first and foremost to be a trail bike, but on tighter trails that require quick maneuvering, this can work well as an enduro bike. At least the Juliana EWS team seems to think so - they're pairing 160 mm forks to this bike and letting it rip. Not everyone needs that though, and for a majority of riders, the stock suspension setup will handle just about anything while retaining a sense of nimbleness.
Have any questions about the 2020 Juliana Maverick trail bike? Give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to firstname.lastname@example.org