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Review: Santa Cruz Nomad & Juliana Strega Enduro Mountain Bikes

By Bruce Lin
Photos By Chris Motta

The Santa Cruz Nomad and Juliana Strega are enduro bikes seen frequently on the circuit and ridden for an XL fun factor at downhill bike parks. We checked out the 2018 Nomad, and compared it to its rad sister, the Juliana Strega.

Check out our current Santa Cruz collection and Juliana collection.

Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike2018 Santa Cruz Nomad

 

Juliana Strega Mountain Bike2018 Juliana Strega

I have this small fantasy that sort of floats around in the back of my head, where I successfully compete in a downhill race against full-on, dual crown, 200mm DH bikes with an enduro bike. It’s not so crazy. Modern enduro and trail bikes have gotten so good at going downhill that being competitive in a such a scenario really doesn’t seem that infeasible. Sam Hill blew everyone’s mind last year when he got 6th in the Downhill World Championships aboard his enduro bike. I’m no Sam Hill, but when I’m riding a bike as capable as the new Santa Cruz Nomad, I sure can feel like him. If there’s any enduro/trail bike that truly embodies the spirit of what people call a “mini DH bike,” the Nomad is it.

Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike

Throughout Santa Cruz’s history, the Nomad has been the bike that pushes the limits of how downhill focused a non-downhill bike can be. Newly revised and improved, 4th generation Nomad, continues this tradition by further blurring the lines.

With 170mm of travel front and rear, the Nomad is a seriously big bike. That’s the first thing you notice when you sit on it and pedal it around. The front wheel looks like it is miles in front of you thanks to the big fork, super slack headtube, and long reach. 

Combine that with a low bb height and the Nomad feels unstoppable going downhill. 

Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike

The geometry inspires confidence descending by creating a sensation that you simply won’t go over the bars, no matter how steep and rowdy it gets. Helping you through the rough stuff is the Nomad’s revised VPP suspension. The shock has been moved lower in the frame with a new, more progressive leverage curve that mirrors the kinematics of Santa’s Cruz’s successful V10 downhill bike. The more progressive platform gives you excellent support for taking big hits and smashing berms and is usable with both an air or coil shock option.

Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Nomad Mountain Bike

One of the most amazing aspects of the new Nomad, however, is its green female counterpart, the Juliana Strega. The Strega is near identical to the Nomad in regards to travel and suspension kinematics.

Juliana Strega Mountain Bike

Where it differs is in geometry, contact points, and color. The slack headtube and low bb remain, but the stack, reach, and standover are tweaked to better suit women riders.

Juliana Strega Mountain Bike

What makes the Strega special is that it is currently the only bike of its kind. No other brand provides a women’s specific bike with so much travel and such aggressive downhill intentions. It caters to a segment of the market that has seen little support until now, and hopefully, it will help it grow.

Juliana Strega Mountain Bike

At the last big enduro race I did this spring, I was impressed to see that nearly a third of the women’s field were competing aboard Strega’s.

Since their release, the new Nomad and Strega have become a regular sight at enduro races and bike parks. Though Santa Cruz doesn’t market it as an enduro bike, it has seen plenty of success in the last year at local and national races. Ultimately, it’s a bike meant for getting rowdy and taking risks, whether that’s at the bike park, or after getting shuttled up to the top of a DH track. What makes the Nomad a useful bike for the everyday rider though is that it has enough support in the rear for you to still pedal it when you need to. It’s not as efficient as  Santa Cruz’s other VPP bikes, and it’s geometry and weight don’t make it the best for all-day adventures, but I think it’s still surprisingly good for what it is. I find with big bikes like this, you simply grow stronger and accustomed to the slog. In the end, it’s always worth the effort just to point this bike downhill.  

Check out our current Santa Cruz collection and Juliana collection.


Bike:

Nomad

Strega

Wheel Size

27.5”

27.5”

Fork Travel

170mm

170mm

Rear Travel

170mm

170mm

Head Tube Angle

65° / 64.6° (High/Low)

65° / 64.6° (High/Low)

Seat Tube Angle

74.5° / 74.1°

74.5° / 74.1°

Stack (Size M)

602mm / 605mm

593mm / 596mm

Reach (Size M)

440mm / 436mm

420mm / 416mm

Chainstay Length

430mm

430mm

BB Height

330mm / 339mm

344mm / 339mm