Review – Cannondale Jekyll 2
Cannondale is well known for being one of the top innovators in the cycling industry; however, like all of the other big dogs, Cannondale had humble beginnings. Back in 1971, the founders set up shop in a small loft above a pickle factory. The company quickly grew and caught the attention of the cycling world with its oversized aluminum frames, which were lighter and stiffer than other bikes on the market at the time. Cannondale has worked with many of our sport’s top athletes, including Missy Giove, Cedric Gracia, Christophe Sauser, Tinker Juarez, Aaron Chase and Brian Lopes. Its current enduro race team has no lack of talent, either, with wicked-fast pilots such as Jerome Clementz and Marco Osborne, both of whom are racing one of Cannondale’s latest editions to its fleet. That bike, of course, is the all-new Jekyll, an enduro race bike built with the goal of winning the world’s toughest races. The 2017 Jekyll received a complete makeover from the previous year, ditching both its Lefty fork and DYAD Pull-Shock. This all-new enduro rig caught our attention as soon as we spotted it during the recent Enduro World Series season. Our testers have been patiently awaiting the arrival of this bike to see if the newly updated Jekyll is truly the ultimate enduro machine.
- 170mm travel Fox Float 36 Performance fork
- 165mm travel carbon frame
- SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain
- SRAM Guide RS brakes
- 31.5 pounds with XT Trail pedals
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Jekyll’s long travel may suggest that it’s a bike built just for descending, but that’s not completely true. Although the Jekyll will favor a rider who enjoys racing downhill against a clock, many trail riders will find this bike appealing because of its ability to shorten its rear travel, increasing its climbing capabilities. The rider who will be drawn to the Jekyll is one who lives for the descents but isn’t afraid to earn his turns.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Jekyll 2 is constructed from Cannondale’s proprietary BallisTec carbon and pairs its front triangle with a SmartForm C1 aluminum swingarm. Looking for an all-carbon version? The Jekyll 1 has you covered; however, the Jekyll 2 will save you a pretty penny over the top-notch build.
Cannondale did away with the DYAD Pull-Shock and introduced the new Jekyll with a Fox Float X Gemini. This shock comes with a remote that switches the Jekyll between its two travel options. In Hustle mode, the shock is shortened to 130 millimeters and adds ramp to the shock’s spring rate, allowing riders to hustle their way up a climb or sprint through a finish line. The Flow mode is designed to open up all of the Jekyll’s 165 millimeters of travel for when the trails get rowdy.
The suspension is constructed from a large carbon link and has a LockR thru-axle pivot system to help provide stiffness. The Jekyll’s geometry is also updated with a slacker head tube angle, steeper seat tube angle and shorter 16.5-inch chainstays. Cannondale made these short stays possible by combing Boost hub spacing with Asymmetric Integration (Ai) technology, which moves the rear end slightly towards the drive side, increasing tire clearance and wheel stiffness.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The most obvious change from last year’s Jekyll is the new Fox suspension that replaces the proprietary Lefty fork and pull shock; however a closer look will show this bike is packed full of brand-new, top-notch components. Cannondale decided to use a Fox Float 36 with 170 millimeters of travel to match its new Fox Gemini shock. The Jekyll also features an X01 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, along with WTB wheels, a Race Face dropper post and a Cannondale carbon handlebar. The Jekyll has burly Maxxis tires ready to take on any racecourse and a pair of SRAM Guide brakes to keep this wild steed under control.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: What first caught our attention when tossing a leg over the new Jekyll was its Hustle/Flow switch mounted to the handlebars. The Hustle mode not only limits the travel to 130 millimeters, it also reduces the shock’s air volume, giving the spring rate a more progressive feel. Cannondale claims this mode isn’t just a switch to aid riders when climbing; it’s a setting that should be used on smoother trails, allowing the rider to pump speed out of the corners and over rollers. The Flow mode, on the other hand, leaves the Gemini shock wide open, allowing riders to blast down the steepest and most technical descents.
Setting sag: The Jekyll’s adjustable-travel shock may sound complicated to set up, but our test riders found that not to be the case, and it’s certainly easier to set up than last year’s. We quickly set the rear sag to 30 percent, leaving the shock in the open Flow mode and the three-position compression lever in the open mode as well. From there, we adjusted our fork to 25-percent sag and made a few clicks of adjustment to our rebound and low-speed compression knobs.
Climbing: Although the Jekyll is designed to win enduro stages that consist mostly of downhill segments, the Jekyll doesn’t shy away from a climb. We took on our first few climbs with both the Hustle/Flow switch and compression lever set wide open to get a feel for this bike’s pedaling efficiency. To our surprise, the bike actually climbed well in both modes; however, if you’re in a hurry to make the start of your next stage, then simply toss this bike into Hustle mode and give the compression lever one click. With these settings, a rider should have no problem getting to the top.
Cornering: The Jekyll’s aggressive geometry lends confidence when railing turns. Cannondale lengthened the top tube, slackened the head angle and shortened the chainstays in order to give the new Jekyll a more nimble feel. Our size large test bike came equipped with a 150-millimeter-travel dropper post that allowed us to stay low in the corners. Our Maxxis tires dug into the dirt well, providing excellent traction. If races are won in the corners, then the Jekyll has a strong advantage.
Descending: The Jekyll has enduro racing written all over it; however, this bike is more than just a race machine. It is always ready to rip at full speed, but it doesn’t demand it from its rider. We often found ourselves slowing down the pace to find bonus lines, manual through rollers or head back up to session a trail-side jump. Riders who love to go fast will find the Jekyll is more than willing to do so, but if you’re a trail rider who just wants to have fun, this bike will suit you well too.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Jekyll 2 comes with a great build kit that will satisfy most riders and won’t require many, if any, upgrades. We recommend spending some time rearranging the cockpit so that all the controls can be easily reached. The left-hand side of our bars was a little cluttered due to the dropper remote and the Hustle/Flow control, which our test riders used quite often. Making the travel adjustment switch easy to use will allow you to get the full benefit of its design.
Cannondale specifically built the Jekyll with enduro racing in mind; however, its ability to climb and its playfulness on the trails makes it a great option for a variety of riders. We figured the Jekyll would be overkill on mellower trails, but while this bike does beg for gnarly, steep terrain, it’s more than happy to make the best of whatever trail is put in front of it. For obvious reasons, this bike will likely never win a cross-country race, nor is it expected to, but it is a bike that won’t shy away from any long climb so long as there’s some sweet singletrack to rip back down.