Built for durability as well as for cross-country speed, Mr Hyde is no monster, but will bring out your aggressive alter ego.
Identiti’s Mr Hyde frame is billed as a ‘freeride hardtail’, built from 7075 alloy to last rather than to impress the weight-weenies.
It shares a lot of super-tough DNA with Identiti’s hardcore Dr Jekyll and Krisis four-cross frames, but it’s lighter and longer for a more all-round character.
The Mr Hyde comes as a frame only, but we had ours built up with ruff ’n’ tuff parts from Ison Distribution and you could get your local bike shop to do the same – with this spec, for about £1700.
Ride: bombproof but not light
Climb aboard and the ﬁrst thing you notice about the Mr Hyde is that it’s utterly bombproof. Hit anything badly or land from a great height and the Identiti just shrugs it off. You might get a little ﬂex in those double-butted tubes to take the sting out of things, but even the chunkiest, most reckless rider would have to have a really bad day to push this bad boy beyond the limits of its strength.
Get up to speed and the Mr Hyde is stable over rocks and roots, the Marzocchi forks working hard to neutralize the worst of them. It’s an unshakable force on the descents, taking on swoopy singletrack with a balanced assurance.
Our Mr Hyde came with a Rohloff Speedhub that provides 14 evenly spaced gears at the twist of your wrist. Select the wrong one or come to a standstill in unseen gloop and you can shift across the range in an instant without turning the cranks. Plus, the chain never comes off and spanner-phobics will love its maintenance-free performance.
On the downside, it’ll set you back £650 and there’s a lot of weight concentrated in that back wheel, making it harder than normal to hoist the back end up and over obstacles. In most situations you can adjust your effort to give a little extra oomph when you ﬂick, but occasionally it’ll obstinately stay anchored to the trail.
The ﬂipside to all the Mr Hyde’s strength is that its extra mass means it’s harder work on the uphills than hardtails built in the classic cross-country lightweight manner. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll get up there if you’re prepared to sit and winch, but it’s not one of those bikes that puts in the effort for you.
Frame: tough do-it-all platform
The CNC-machined head tube is reinforced top and bottom, and an elaborately shaped gusset reaches out underneath the down tube for an incredibly long weld area and added strength. That down tube is scaffold-like in diameter to clamp the full width of the bottom bracket, while box-section stays make for a super-taut back end.
The seatstays extend up past the seat tube to join with the sloping top tube; only the gaps are gusset-ﬁlled, so the junction area below the seat post clamp is, frankly, massive.
The forged chainstay yoke offers generous tyre clearance, while the double-bolted Adjustable Dropout System allows you to – have a guess – adjust the dropouts, so you can ﬁt, among other things, a Rohloff hub gear, as used here.
Although the main tubes are double-butted to save weight, the Mr Hyde certainly isn’t from the classic cross-country mould. Definitely no lightweiht, it’s a tough, do-it-all chassis that can look after itself when things get ugly.
Components: tough fork and kit keeps it all rolling
Marzocchi’s 55 ATA2 all-mountain/ freeride fork provides 160mm (6.3in) of travel through the dual-rate air spring. At 2.6kg it’s a decent weight and is reasonably well tunable with external rebound adjustment, simple compression/ lockout control, and the ability to wind the travel down to 120mm (4.7in) with the turn of a dial. Once we’d pumped the spring rate high, even our 16-stone riders were struggling to use the full travel despite some irresponsible behaviour, while the thru-axle clamps the front wheel in place good and tight.
The Diatech disc brakes aren’t the most powerful ever, but they’re consistent, and the rest of our hard-hitting equipment handled the knocks easily, especially Gusset’s super-sturdy cockpit kit which just wouldn’t ﬂex.
Summary: spot-on for serial frame-wreckers
The Rohloff gear set-up of our test bike isn’t to everyone’s taste, but that’s not a problem; you can have a Mr Hyde built up however you like. The frame itself is about as strong as you’ll get while retaining a cross-country bias.
Sure, the Identiti is sluggish on the climbs, but if you’re a serial frame-wrecker looking for durability, or you just feel the need to dish out punishment, this might just be the mount for you.