Review by Megan Welch, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
I've been on the Juliana Strega for about 5 months now and I have already said "This is my forever bike". Coming up on 5 years of riding mountain bikes I have a pretty good grasp on what I look for in a bike that is best suited for my style of riding. The Strega felt natural. I call her "The Witch" since the name Strega is Italian for witch so it seemed appropriate. She is a perfect matte green with a beautiful gold "Juliana" decal stretched across her down tube. I've done no big custom changes to the bike besides the saddle and a custom red top cap that reads "Love the bike you ride", The Path motto. The Witch is suited up with E13 wheels, X01 Eagle drivetrain, Raceface SixC carbon handlebars, Rock shox lyrik RCT3 fork, Rock shox Super Deluxe RCT rear shock, and Shimano XT brakes. Weighing in at 32lbs, shes a big girl but that aint a big deal.
Before the Strega I rode the Juliana Roubion which was a little shorter travel of a bike with a less aggressive downhill geometry. While the Roubion was a great and fun bike, the slight geo differences the Strega has naturally allows me to be quicker on the downs. Which my friends, is what I am here for. The bike has two geo settings, High and Low, which you can adjust at the lower link. The high setting sets the Strega at a 65 degree head tube angle and the low at 64.6. The low setting also changes the bottom bracket 5mm and in this sport, a little goes a long way. So it is nice to have these slight but helpful options depending on the trail, especially on race day when you either need to it pedal better or descend quicker.
I can write a few paragraphs on why and how the Witch handles the downhill but I will try to keep it fun with an example that sums it up. Back in August I raced The Sturdy Dirty, a women only enduro race, which is a series but I only did the one in Oakridge, Oregon. The course did have some "pedaly" sections but to me the majority of them were a short or flat pedal. Most of the racers didn't know what the trail was going to be like or what bike would have been ideal and I figured "It's an Enduro? My long travel 27.5 duh". When the race organizers and some fellow racers noticed what bike I was racing, they expressed their worry for me. "You're doing it on that bike? Dang.";"That is a big bike, good luck." All in good spirit of course and to be honest it didn't phase me. I was feeling good at practice and the bike felt smooth on the obstacles. I can't say that the pedaling is what helped me win but I'll get into its ascending capability in a minute. So what was it you ask? What got me the gold? It was the cornering. I have never had a more flik-able and responsive bike. The corners were chunky, tight, and successive. I would stay high in the entrance of the tight corners and the moment I looked through the turn the bike and I were traversed and on our way. I truly believe only 20% of this was due to my skill and any ex bike of mine would not have been as active as quickly. My green machine excels in downhill beyond just the turning aspect, when pointed down a fast technical trail she soaks up the hits with ease at a high speed that is almost scary. Have good brakes my friends!
I've read a ton of reviews on the Strega and the Nomad to find that most don't give the bike enough credit on how well it climbs. Let me start by saying the obvious... yes, you know what you are buying and this isn't the worlds best climbing bike. Coming from a Roubion to the Strega I see the front end on the bike a bit more but the seat tube angle allows me to obtain good pedal power. The Stregas seat tube angle measures out to 74.5 degrees while the Roubion is 74, not such a big difference. After a professional fit on the bike (Thanks Tani and Ian!) where we made some adjustments on saddle position and seat post height my legs feel strong on the climbs. We also played with the headset spacers during the fit to see where I felt the most comfortable but also what would allow me to have good control on the climb. I ended up with one 5mm spacer on the top to still be able to get over the front of the bike during a climb. So as I hinge forward for a steep climb the tires stay grounded and don't wander. Long story short, get a fit no matter what style of bike you ride. It is surprising what how the little changes can make you love your bike a lot more. There are times when I want to shift into a harder gear, stand up, and crank up a steep climb but the long wheel base and head angle don't make it easy. But that is a very small price to pay for all the fun this bike offers.
I've found that I've stopped dreaming of other bikes after owning the Strega. Which is probably why I feel like it is my forever bike. She turns quick and accelerates over obstacles just as quick. She climbs just fine. Also, she's green.