Updated: Aug 4, 2022
Last time we sat down with Emma Bateup, she was between adventures and training hard for Tour Te Waipounamu (TTW). Since then, Emma has completed the epic South Island ride – in six days and a half days, no less! – and has spent most of the summer riding and going on adventures, all of which she has done on her Juliana Wilder. We sat down with Emma to find out more about the bike itself: how she has it set up; the specs; and the best things about this model.
The complete package Emma’s bike is a Juliana CC Wilder – the highest spec carbon frame available in the Juliana stable. The premier build Emma has includes SRAM’s Eagle X01 AXS wireless 12-speed package, along with a Fox Factory 34 Step Cast Fork and Fox Float Factory rear shock. This package ensures the weight stays low; the original build is 10.88kg.
“The Juliana Wilder is my main bike. It’s a very nice bike – perfect for all the long-distance silly stuff that I do – like my recent completion of Tour Te Waipounamu,” says Emma. “In fact, if there was ever a bike suited to what I do, it’s this one.”
It’s all in the detail The Wilder features Juliana’s lightest carbon frame and all-new ‘superlight’ suspension design. In building the Wilder, Juliana made lightweight design a priority as well as ensuring the bike is highly efficient in all that it tackles, with every bit of energy translated into forward momentum.
The Wilder’s unique XC-trail attitude is also reflected in the geometry. The head tube angle (67.1 degree) and the 438mm reach on Emma’s medium size frame is a little steeper and a tiny bit shorter than a Joplin, to meet the demands of aggressive climbing. Yet the Wilder’s seat tube angle is a touch slacker, and the chainstays a little longer, than a Joplin in order to retain that familiar Juliana confidence on descents. Speaking of chainstays, each chainstay length is specific to the individual frame size; meaning riders of every height enjoy the same handling and performance no matter what.
Emma finds that the Wilder’s full suspension offers comfort, even on her longest days in the saddle – and there’s good reason for that. It’s been two decades now, and Santa Cruz and Juliana have built their bikes around their tried-and-true Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension. It’s a twin-link, multi-pivot system that connects the rear and front triangles and allows the rear triangle to smooth out the bumps while maintaining pedal efficiency. Their new superlight suspension uses a single pivot design paired with flex stays. In simple terms, the chainstays are directly connected to the front triangle, and flex in the seat stays makes up for the missing linkage. It is meant to provide more traction while the reduced number of moving parts, bearings, and linkage save weight.
SRAM’s Eagle X01 AXS wireless 12-speed groupset takes care of the shifting. The wider range of gearing offers plenty for Emma’s arduous trail rides and multi-day bikepacking adventures. The batteries for AXS do last a long time before they need charging but, for those interested, Emma plans ahead and takes extras when she’s on a multi-day trips into the backcountry. Speaking of backcountry, Emma’s Reserve XC | 28 wheels are designed to be light, but not at the expense of ride quality and durability. These wheels are tough and have gone through many rigorous rides, including TTW, underneath Emma’s Juliana Wilder. They’ve got acceleration-boosting functionality, but are technically confident, and the balance is spot on for most riders. The XC | 28s use Reserve’s latest broader asymmetric rim-bed design to even out spoke tension and provide a 28mm internal width footing for tyres up to 2.5”. The fibre layer is specifically designed to promote vertical mobility.
On top of all that, there is one small (depending how you look at it!) detail Emma is really impressed with, and that’s the fact the frame has not one, not two, but three bottle mounts on it. “You can put two bottles in the frame and one below it. For bikepacking, I put a frame bag in it then a bottle underneath. It means I’m never really short of water.”
The perfect bike Emma doesn’t do things by halves, so it’s important her bike is up to the task. Thankfully, the Juliana can handle whatever Emma throws at it – and then some. “I really like how capable it is,” explains Emma. “I’ve ridden some pretty gnarly stuff on it – particularly on TTW; there was some decent stuff out there. I passed a few people walking and just smashed on down the hill and thought, well I’m having a great time!”
Since July 2021, Emma has ridden over 6000 kilometres on the Wilder and it’s still in great nick – a testament to the bike and the Juliana brand. The Wilder frameset, along with the wheels and bars, all have a lifetime warranty. This is a great addition as it means the bike can withstand the abuse Emma puts it through, and she can rest assured knowing that these parts can be easily replaced without hassle if there happen to be any issues.
“The Wilder would be ideal for people who are into adventure racing,” says Emma. “I would also recommend it for bikepacking because that’s what I like doing on it. And just anyone wanting a trail bike that goes ridiculously fast up hills! It’s just so easy to ride up hills. I’ve had it loaded up with bags, preparing for TTW, and it’s so light that it still goes faster up hills than my mates on Enduro bikes. It makes you feel like a bit of a weapon riding up hills really! It would also be great for people wanting to do long day backcountry rides like Ghost Road, Heaphy and stuff like that.
The lightness also makes it easier for bike-carrying when bikepacking. There was a lot of bike-carrying on TTW so the fact that it was so light made that really good, even with bags it wasn’t much heavier than carrying my Enduro bike. The electronic wireless shifting on it is really easy to use. You just have to tap it. So, when I’m riding and eating at the same time I can just tap it with my knuckle, and it will change gear. Since TTW I’ve ridden the bike a few times, and my hands were numb for a few weeks, but it was still easy to ride compared to my other bike. I probably shouldn’t be riding when my hands are numb though….”
The only change Emma has made to the Wilder, is a different saddle and the addition of a tool. Everything else has suited her perfectly and she has really appreciated features such as the light weight and the electronic gear shifting.
“I put a different seat on it, just because I needed a slightly wider seat,” explains Emma. “But I only just did that right before TTW, just for the real long k’s, and I definitely found that comfier. I’ve put multi-tool in the steerer because I’m too lazy to carry tools with me otherwise so if it’s already there, I’ll take it. Other than that, it’s just all the same and I haven’t changed anything out. I mean, everything was just so good that you can’t really change it to anything else!
Emma’s ultimate teammate “It feels a bit like we’re a team!” laughs Emma. “I’ve had it since July 2021 and have travelled over 6500km on it since then. I recorded everything on Strava until just before TTW, and that was at just over 5000, then TTW was 1400 by the time I rode to the start, and I’ve done a little bit more since then – and it’s still in really good nick! I think we’ve taken it apart once or twice since I’ve had it and have just done a good tune up. It’s been pretty amazing to just lube the chain and go for a ride and the bike just keeps going and going.
It performed great on TTW. I had a really good time on all the singletrack we went on – and on anything downhill I just had such a ball. I had to rein it in so I wouldn’t hit a rock and slash a tyre. I’m not really a person who locks out the suspension, but I didn’t lock it out for the ride, not even on the road – the bike pedals really well. We did add a bit more pressure to the suspension, just to compensate for my bags loaded on it. So, it was really good on the road and the only mechanical issue I had was my pedal, which is separate to the bike really anyway! And that was just down to me not choosing the best pedals, longevity wise, so I need to do more research into that. But the bike was mint!”
Let’s take a look at the frame and specs Emma is running:
Frame: Juliana Wilder Medium Carbon CC Frame - Purple Sweetness and Lavender
Fork: FOX 34 Step Cast Factory, 120mm Fork
Shock: FOX Float Factory DPS Shock
Groupset: SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 12spd, SRAM AXS Controller,
SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon 148 DUB Crank,
SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-50t Cassette and SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd Chain
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB 68/73mm Threaded BB
Brakes: SRAM Level TLM Brakes, SRAM CLX Centerlock Rotors, 180mm
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated Headset
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Flat Bar Syntace LiteForce Stem
Grips. Santa Cruz Grips
Wheels: Reserve 28|XC Carbon 29" Rims on DT350 Hub Wheelset
Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race
Dropper Post: RockShox Reverb Stealth 31.6
Saddle: Fabric Scoop
Web: Juliana NZ
Words: Kerrie Morgan
Photography: Henry Jaine