CANNONDALE JEKYLL CARBON 2

CANNONDALE JEKYLL CARBON 2

Split-personality beast

Enduro bikes are arguably the most talked about machines in the bike world. They’re what young riders are saving up their hard-earned cash for and daydreaming about. Companies are working hard to keep up with that excitement by building bikes that weigh close to what a cross-country bike does but have the geometry and suspension to handle the most technical downhill trails. Cannondale has a reputation for creating bikes that forgo industry standards, often inventing technology to reach optimum performance. The Jekyll is a product of Cannondale’s tireless commitment to innovation. Love it or hate it, Cannondale isn’t afraid to rattle the cage a little when it comes to building a new bike. This is their enduro bike.

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

With studs like Jerome Clementz winning the Enduro World Series on the Jekyll, there is no doubt that Cannondale designed this bike for racing. Like most Cannondale bikes, the Jekyll is suited for riders looking for the most efficient bike for their discipline. With 160 millimeters of travel, the Jekyll offers seasoned and aspiring enduro racers versatility.

This is one of two carbon models that Cannondale offers, with the Carbon 1 just above it, which comes with the Lefty SuperMax fork. Our test bike comes stock with a RockShox Pike, which is a little easier for some potential converts to stomach. Retail is $6070 from your local dealer.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

The Jekyll Carbon 2 uses a full-carbon front and rear triangle made from Cannondale’s proprietary BallisTec Hi-MOD fibers. BallisTec Hi-MOD is a denser carbon which Cannondale claims still provides a lightweight frame and rear triangle. The frame tubing on the Jekyll is impressive to look at. Most tubes are oversized, but the downtube has a dramatic shape that gets bigger as it nears the bottom bracket shell. In going with the theme of stout tubes and junctions, the head tube is 1.5 inches in diameter to accommodate a Lefty fork. Cannondale does make a headset reducer so riders can run non-1.5 forks, such as the Pike that came stock on our test bike.

Cannondale uses its ECS-TC technology to connect the frame to the rear triangle. ECS-TC is a series of hollow, 15-millimeter axles that are used at the contact points between the frame and rear triangle. This keeps the bike stiff and the overall weight down. The rear triangle also uses a 12×142 thru-axle.

Not to be overlooked, the DYAD RT2 shock is one of the most unique parts of the bike. Cannondale and Fox collaborated to create a dual-chamber pull shock that offers two separate travel modes for going up and down the mountain. The Elevate position puts the bike down to 95 millimeters of travel for climbing and for smoother, less-technical terrain, while the Flow mode is 160 millimeters of travel and slacks out the bike for aggressive descents. These modes can be switched at the handle- bar with the remote lever.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

Our test bike came with a mix of SRAM X1 and X01 parts on the drivetrain and Guide RS brakes, which were the biggest standouts during our testing. Cannondale did spec the Carbon 2 with its relatively new SpideRing—a direct-mount, narrow-wide chainring that is light and stiff. We would like to have tried out the Lefty SuperMax, but the RockShox Pike gave us all the performance we could ask for.

You’ll need it: The Carbon 2 comes stock with 180-millimeter rotors in the front and rear that gave the bike a racy feel. Riders doing more trail riding than racing probably won’t need much more stopping power. The Guide RS brakes were a confident match for the Jekyll.

Stiff, like really stiff: The linkage on the Jekyll uses a 15×110 thru-axle (like what is used on some front forks) and provides a healthy amount of stiffness between the frame and rear triangle. This translated to quicker response out of corners and confident handling over technical terrain.

Spider Ring: To keep the weight down and integration up, Cannondale designed their own narrow-wide chainring to match their light and stiff Si cranks. We didn’t experience any dropped chains during our testing, but more aggressive riders might want to add a chainguide as an extra insurance policy.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setting sag is usually pretty straightforward, but the DYAD RT2 requires a little more effort than most shocks. The DYAD is a high-pressure shock and uses a special shock pump that Cannondale supplies with the purchase of the bike. All of the air in the negative chamber has to be let out, then added to the positive chamber. Once air has been added to the positive chamber, air can be added to the negative chamber to complete the process. To see if the sag is properly set, a small part of the shock shaft will be exposed at the top when you sit on the saddle. Cannondale built a sag guide into the shock to simplify the process slightly.

Moving out: Once we set the sag we dialed in the reach and saddle position. Cannondale specs the bike with an incredibly short 40-millimeter stem and wide 780-millimeter bars that gave us a very compact position we loved.

Lean hard: The wide bars gave us plenty of leverage to push hard through corners. With the beefy linkage and stiff rear triangle, the cornering capabilities of the Jekyll felt endless and of course fun.

Cornering: We couldn’t get enough when it came to cornering on the Jekyll. The geometry felt playful and aggressive, and the wide bars and compact reach gave us plenty of leverage. The rebound on the DYAD feels very unique and seemed to allow the rear wheel to stick through corners. The stout thru-axles on the linkage added to the frame’s stiffness and gave the Jekyll a confident feel when pushed hard into corners.

All the big stuff: Speed is generally your friend through rock gardens, and the Jekyll is quick to provide it.

Climbing: Considering that enduro racing can include quite a bit of climbing, race bikes need to be able to make it to the top quickly. With the DYAD switched into the Elevate mode, the rear end felt stiff and responsive. The whole frame responded when we were out of the saddle and pedaling hard up steep punches. The close stem did put our weight over the front end a little too much at times, though. Riders who plan on climbing more aggressively might want to consider a slightly longer stem.

Descending: We had heard quite a bit about just how well the Jekyll could rip downhill, so we were eager to see just how fast it could descend. With the DYAD in the Flow mode and the Pike wide open, the Jekyll feels like it’s gliding at high speeds. The Jekyll has a slightly steeper head angle of 67 degrees, which doesn’t feel unstable, but it gives the bike a more aggressive position to handle technical sections of trail.

It was difficult to ignore just how stiff the frame and rear triangle felt, which gave our testers a little more confidence at high speeds and over technical sections of trail. The short stem and wide bar combo gave the Jekyll a very playful feel that allowed our testers to have plenty of fun. The compact feel of the Jekyll made it easy to throw the bike around and push it to take almost any line that we wanted.

TRICKS, TIPS, UPGRADES?

The Jekyll Carbon 2 is light, stiff and has a solid build kit. We would have liked to see a higher-end set of wheels, especially given the price. Riders who invest in the Carbon 2 won’t have any issues with what comes stock, but will see a big increase in performance if they upgrade to a lighter set of wheels. The medium size comes stock with a 125-millimeter-travel dropper, but we would definitely recommend going to 150-millimeters of travel if your saddle height allows.

At nearly $6100, this is hardly a “budget bike,” despite the fact that Cannondale puts a “2” on the downtube. For that price, we’d like to know that the bike is in it for the long haul. The pull shock is difficult to set up and is simply not replaceable with anything else on the market. It also doesn’t really offer any performance benefit. It seems to be different simply for the sake of being different. As a result, we feel it’s a “feature” that holds this bike back.

BUYING ADVICE

The Jekyll has a range of personalities on the trail—from stiff, aggressive climber to burly downhill shredder—and it would be hard to ignore the successes that enduro racers have achieved on this machine, especially if you’re looking for your next race bike. In addition, despite the long-travel and enduro-oriented ride, the Jekyll offers versatility (that might be a little overkill at times) that even less aggressive trail riders might appreciate in a do-it-all trailbike.


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