Simply Grin-Inducing: Juliana’s Much-Loved Furtado Gets Even Better [Review]

Juliana’s best-selling Furtado got a makeover. Photo credit: Anne-Marije Rook

Juliana’s much-loved and best-selling model, the Furtado, received an overhaul this year, including more front suspension, more slack, and a new rear shock placement.

While the rear shock was previously found under the top tube, the 2021 Furtado has switched to a lower-link VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension, located low behind the seatpost. The redesign is said to offer better damping and ride feel as well as easier adjustment. It also means that the frame can now fit any shock currently on the market whether it’s a modern air or coil system — ensuring some longevity for the frame design and customizability for the customer. 

Other changes are seen in the added 10mm travel in the fork —140mm instead of 130mm— and some tweaks to the geometry, including a slightly longer reach, relaxed headtube angle, a steeper seat angle to aid in pedal efficiency while seated, and size-specific chain stay lengths. The latter is meant to ensure every rider sits well-balanced on their Furtado, regardless of size. 

The 27.5″ wheels with 2.8″ tire clearance and flip-chip adjustable geometry carried over from the last generation.  

All in all this revamped Furtado is billed to be more capable than its predecessors while remaining maneuverable and playful. 

We couldn’t wait to put those claims to the test.

Juliana is the younger sister to the Santa Cruz brand, and it’s well known that their bikes share the same frames. In this case, the Santa Cruz 5010 and the Juliana Furtado are near twins, differing only in their paint jobs, contact points, and suspension tuning. Like the Furtado, the new Santa Cruz 5010 received the same make-over.

But whereas the 5010 is available in sizes extra-small through extra large, the Furtado comes only in sizes extra-small, small, and medium. I point this out only because I surprisingly found myself riding a size medium Furtado, which is the maximum size. Standing at a mere 5’5” tall on a good day, me riding the tallest size option is an unprecedented occurrence. The medium Furtado is suggested for riders 5’5” up to 5’9”; taller riders should look to the bike’s Santa Cruz twin. 

While I’m on the bottom end of the suggested rider height for this frame size, I felt perfectly comfortable on the medium Furtado and wouldn’t want a smaller size. 

Like its previous generation, the Furtado features a flip-chip adjustable geometry that sits at the rear shock mount. Using a 6mm hex key, you can loosen the bolt and toggle between the bike’s high and low setting. 

In the high position, the head tube and seat tube angles become slightly steeper and the bottom bracket will be higher. This provides a more upright position, which is good for efficient pedaling. In the low position, the head tube and seat tube angles shift to become slacker, and the bottom bracket height is lower. This geometry is meant to add stability and control while descending and cornering at speed.

Personally, I found the swapping of positions easier said than done due to the hard-to-reach location of the bolt’s nut in the seat tube tunnel. It took quite some fiddling.

For my test rides, I mainly rode in the “low” setting, which sports a reach of 447mm, a 65.4° head tube angle, and a 427mm chain stay length. As mentioned above, the chain stay lengths are noteworthy as they’re frame-size specific to ensure the rider sits well centered in between the two wheels. 

For pure speed and rollover capability, 29-inch wheels would have been welcome, but it would have come at the expense of agility and BB height. Between the slacked frame, wheel size, and added suspension, this new Furtado creeps closer to the all-day trail-play side of the spectrum than the stiff, pedal-happy performer. That’s not a complaint. Quite on the contrary. This bike brought a grin to my face the moment I got on it. 

Tweaks to the geometry include a longer reach, relaxed head tube angle, longer wheelbase, a steeper seat angle to aid in pedal efficiency while seated, and size-specific chain stay lengths

On the trail

The “one bike to do it all” approach is increasingly common across the bike industry with many companies coming out with their take on a quiver-killer. This is a bike that’s light and nimble enough for climbing or racking up the miles, while also offering enough suspension and stability to float over rock gardens, rip down fast and twisty singletrack, and to get safely over jumps or small drops. 

It’s a quest for a unicorn of mountain bikes. In trying to attract both downhill daredevils and XC speed racers, someone is usually left disappointed. What I have found is that these all-rounder bikes often prioritize capability and stability to the point that it dulls the riding experience overall. They’re a blast on the downhill but a slog on the way up. 

Pitched as “the one bike to rule them all,” the new Furtado is Juliana’s take on a modern all-rounder. Yet despite its more relaxed geometry, it’s as lively as ever. This bike has the personality of a young trail dog: it just wants to play. 

On my first long, exposed climb I was pleasantly surprised by the bike’s climbing prowess. Sure, it’s some five pounds heavier than my carbon XC bike, but the bike’s agility and responsiveness make it fun to climb, and it’s even pretty fast. Plus, armed with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain and a 52-tooth cog in the back, steep climbs are a non-issue. 

Any wishful thoughts of 29er wheels on the climb are quickly forgotten on twisty-turny and rolling terrain. Quick accelerations, sharp turns, carving berms — the 27.5″ wheels are nimble, easy to maneuver, and a pure joy to ride. The resulting grin alone should be a resounding testimony to the Juliana engineers’ decision to stick with the smaller wheel size. 

On the descent, the bike performs capably and predictably. Its stable geometry and suspension package — 140mm RockShox Pike in the front and 130mm or rear axle path with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate in the rear — keeps the rider centered and in charge. 

The lower-link VPP suspension design, powered by 130mm rear travel, smooths the trail efficiently. This is especially noticeable across small bumps or rooty terrain, allowing me to stay planted, keep traction, and carry speed. You do feel the trail and it may not devour rock gardens like a beefier, taller bike, but it’s not jarring.

The Furtado is also very easy to get off the ground, almost encouraging you to hop, pop, and bounce your way down the trails. 

Before long, the Furtado had my trust and emboldened me to ride technical downhills with less hesitation and more confidence than I usually would.  This experience was completed with the help of the grippy Maxxis Minion DHR II tires and SRAM G2 brakes. 

The only downside to the 2021 Juliana Furtado is that availability is scarce and there’s quite a wait for “new bike day.” Additionally, the new Furtado is currently only available with a carbon frame, starting at $4,099 (available at evo) with a SRAM NX Eagle build and topping out at $6,899 (available at Competitive Cyclist) for a SRAM X01 equipped Carbon C model. For Shimano fans there’s a Shimano XT model, priced at $5,999 at Backcountry

Conclusion

With the revamped Furtado, Juliana has created a capable all-rounder with the personality of a young trail dog. It’s an agile climber, stable descender, and a fast and playful companion that’s easy to love. 

⭐️ Find the Juliana Furtado online at Backcountry, evo, and other online retailers.

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