We first featured the new Cannondale Jekyll back in April ‘17 and described it as a real, ‘Marmite’ bike with a split personality you either loved or loathed. After 10 months of ripping the knobblies of a Jekyll 2.0, did we discover the results of a mad professor’s evil experiment or a gene-splicing ride of genius conception?
In the flesh, the Cannondale Jekyll 2.0 looks spot on; it just looks fast in deep metallic green and ‘retina ripper’ yellow, the same paint job as Jérôme Clementz rig. Now we all know, when combined with Jérôme, the new bike is a podium-stealing racing weapon but, in the real world and piloted by an average joe, can the Jekyll be the gnar loving all-rounder that most riders need?
Specification of the Cannondale Jekyll 2.0
The Cannondale Jekyll 2.0 frame features a carbon front triangle and carbon shock link but, unlike the more expensive Jekyll 1 uses an alloy swingarm. The cockpit looks complicated with a plethora of cables, knobs, dials and switches: the most unusual of which sits on the left of the bar next to the dropper and is the main artery to the heart of the Jekyll, a Fox Float X Performance Elite EVOL shock. This customised shock features the dual mode Gemini air spring and is the main cause of the Jekyll’s personality issues as it gives the bike two rear travel settings: Flow Mode at 165 mm and Hustle Mode at 130 mm. Handling business up front is the 170 mm Fox Float 36 Performance Elite fork which uses the same internals as the factory model but you have to live without the initial baby bottom smoothness of the Kashima coated stanchions, which is a bit like pulled pork without the applesauce.
SRAM provides the winning formula of an Eagle X01 drivetrain with carbon Truvativ Descendant cranks combined with Guide RS brakes. It’s a race-ready groupset with a huge gear range and stopping power – everything you need to tackle the steepest of climbs and the fiercest of descents. The contact points are also excellent; the in-house carbon 780 mm bars and 35 mm stem feel spot on with the frame geometry and the Fabric Scoop saddle is a favourite. Seat dropping duties were performed by the Raceface Turbine unit with the Hop-Up lever upgrade, other than a cable change, the post has received no attention and is running smoothly. We tip our cap to Cannondale for speccing premium rubber in the form of the Maxxis DHF/DHR combo. Matched to the WTB i29 mm rims, they had the perfect profile and gave predictable grip in any conditions.
It’s clear that Cannondale has paid attention to details throughout the Jekyll’s build; with a carbon downtube protector, Di2 ports and a perfectly positioned bottle cage mount, which keeps the weight low and protected from mud, with plenty of room to strap on a tube.
- Fork: Fox Float 36 Performance Elite, 27.5, 170mm, Fit 4,
- Rear Shock: Fox Float X Performance Elite EVOL
- Rims: WTB Frequency Team i29, 29mm inner
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5×2.5″, DHR II 2.4″ rear
- Crankset: Truvativ Descendant Carbon Eagle
- Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle 10-50t
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RS 200/180mm
- Stem: Cannondale C1 35mm
- Handlebar: Cannondale C1 Carbon Riser, 15mm rise, 780mm
- Seatpost: RaceFace Turbine dropper
- Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
Cannondale Jekyll 2.0 Geometry
Billed as a bike that’s, ‘ready to race and ready to win’, geometry is the typical ‘long, low and slack’ but none of the numbers are radical, making it a bike that most riders will instantly get on with. However, 420 mm chainstays are radically old-skool and amongst the shortest of any enduro bike. Bucking the trend for longer and longer stays, short stays trade stability for light-footedness, is this further example of a bike with an identity crisis? As a race bike, surely a long rear end would give more stability at speed and give the front wheel more grip?
|Seat tube||400 mm||430 mm||460 mm||520 mm|
|Top tube||584 mm||609 mm||634 mm||662 mm|
|Head tube||102 mm||115 mm||127 mm||140 mm|
|Chainstays||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|BB Drop||8 mm||8 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Wheelbase||1166 mm||1193 mm||1220 mm||1250 mm|
|Reach||426 mm||448 mm||470 mm||495 mm|
|Stack||590 mm||601 mm||612 mm||624 mm|
Riding the Cannondale Jekyll 2.0
Can you have ‘too much bike’? Yes, of course: if you ride a bike that wallows and bobs about on mellow trails for 99% of its life, only coming to life for a tiny proportion of your riding when you finally hit some appropriately gnarly terrain. However, the Cannondale Jekyll 2 thinks differently – claiming to pedal well and be fun to ride when the trails are more subdued but then, at a flick of a switch, delivering an adrenaline injection that activates the beast mode within. Thumb the lever to activate ‘Hustle’ mode and the shock adjusts the rebound and compression accordingly so it feels like a trail whip, not just a compressed travel enduro bike. It really rides like a trail bike, those short stays and 27.5 wheels make it nimble and fun to pop off features and, with its low weight and 75° seat angle, the Jekyll climbs like snow leopard in 5:10s.
Switching to full travel and fully open on ‘Flow’ mode, traction is now at maximum and the Jekyll ate up everything before it. With 30% sag, the BB felt even lower than its numbers suggest and you have to remember you are not in ‘Hustle’ mode as you are now prone to pedal strike when pedalling through the rough.
With its super short chainstays, the Jekyll requires more rider input than other ‘long’ bikes that you ride ‘in’. It likes being ridden off the back wheel so needs deliberate shifts in weight to load the front wheel for steep turns or the front end can get too light and loose traction. Once properly weighted, the long overall wheelbase keeps the front planted and feels more evenly balanced than you may think.
All bike designs have a certain Marmite element but there is not much to dislike about the Jekyll 2.0. The Jekyll is designed as the ultimate enduro race bike but it would make an excellent hard-hitting all-rounder. It climbs well and has more pop and play than a long travel bike should but we can’t help thinking that it doesn’t need its split personality, and would just be simpler with a decent shock with an adjustable platform. The Jekyll 2.0 is yours for £5500 but it may be worth spending the extra bucks to get the Jekyll 1.0. Upgraded carbon stays and rims plus Kashima coated Fox Factory shocks may convince you to raid the piggy bank.
+ Fun and versatile ‘Quiver Killer’
+ Superb spec and attention to detail
– Gemini shock may be unnecessary
For more information, check out Cannondale’s website.
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Words: Thomas Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey