You may have already seen the new Juliana Wilder or updated Santa Cruz Blur in either of the first two World Cup XCO events this year. If not, here it is, officially and ready for purchase. The California-based brand isn’t well known for full-suspension featherweight XC machines, and the last time either of them offered one it was called the Superlight. That little race bike is back, ready to be covered in salty sweat and hopefully some champagne. This latest iteration is 289g lighter than the previous Blur, thanks in part to its use of flexing seat-stays in place extra pivots and linkage.
The Wilder and Blur are identical 29er frames with different touchpoints and suspension tunes to better suit women and men, and either bike comes in a balanced 100mm XC option or a party-light version called TR with 115mm out back and a 120mm fork. All of the new frames leave room for a pair of water bottles in the front triangle.
The 2021 Juliana Wilder comes in small, medium, and large sizes, with a sweet violet colorway, while the new Santa Cruz Blur adds XL and XXL sizes in black or orange. Based on the geometry table below it’s safe to say this is not your parent’s XC race machine. The reach has grown significantly to accommodate a shorter stem for improved handling, while the seat tubes are relatively short to allow folks to size up if they like. The seat tubes slacken as frame sizes increase, and they look well suited to the reach numbers to provide an aggressive seated position. Cross country racers will be happy to see short head tube measurements, allowing for the lowest handlebar position possible. The headtube on the XC and TR setups is slacker than my first gravity bike, giving these machines a fun descending posture in case the race isn’t won on the climb.
The flexing seat stays change length across the size run to better balance bikes as their reach numbers grow. The brand says that this little single pivot depends on its leverage curve for support, in lieu of a high anti-squat value or heavy damping at the shock. Santa Cruz reports that “this results in a lower and more consistent leverage curve which enabled us to reduce anti-squat, and therefore chain influence on the suspension.” That should all equal an efficient suspension system that provides better traction.
In terms of builds, there will be two carbon options as usual, and the two travel options are built up with components to match their intentions. The full XC bike gets lightweight Maxxis Aspen tires, a lightweight dropper, a remote shock lockout, and RockShox SidLuxe and Sid SL suspension. The TR build kicks up the traction a notch with a set of Maxxis Recon tires, it has a full length dropper post, drops the lockout, slows with a larger set of rotors, and uses the new Fox 34 Stepcast fork up front.
The Juliana Wilder will only be available in the 115/120mm configuration, with five component builds ranging from $4,599 with Fox Performance suspension and a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, to $9,449 for the CC frame with Fox Factory squish and a SRAM X01 AXS electronic gruppo.
Santa Cruz Blur builds are available in a staggering 12 different options, in both C and CC carbon frames, coming in the XC or TR build. Component spec will run the gambit, from a Fox Performance and SRAM NX model at $4,599 to a “this thing better win me some races” version with SRAM XX1 electric bits, Fox Factory suspension, and carbon rims that retails for $11,599. As ever, all of the bikes and their bearings come with a lifetime warranty, as do the optional Reserve carbon wheels.