Based on Cannondale's Judge, the Perp is designed to be a versatile extreme rig, capable of freeride, downhill and even being pedalled up a hill. Big brakes, big gussets, & low weight sum up its core personality.
As Cannondale's new flagship freeride rig, the Perp 1 is a pretty important bike for the Connecticut, USA bike builder. Its big brother got the thumbs up, but does the Perp live up to the family reputation?
Ride & handling: freeride impact eater
The Perp is light for the amount of material used but make no mistake, those twin cogs are for use on North Shore as opposed to long cross-country loops. Thanks to the 66 degree head angle and shorter wheelbase the stance is more upright than Cannondale’s Judge and weight movements count for a lot more.
Getting out of the treetops is pretty easy too – it’s blinding over drops and just eats up big impacts in a really controlled, progressive fashion. This is partly because of the long back-end (18in chainstays) that offers superb mud clearance, but this can make the bike an effort to flick around in tight corners.
The short front end and long back end work great for freeride, but work against you at downhill speeds, making the bike feel unbalanced. It is also a chore to pop the front wheel up.
Frame: adjustable for versatility
The heart of the Perp's versatility lies in its adjustable shock mount. To go from 180mm (7in) to 200mm (8in) the upper link pivot is shifted forward and the front shock mount is shifted to the upper position with a rotation of the shock. Sounds complicated, but isn’t. This also gives differing leverage ratios, the shorter suitable for freeride hucks and hits, the longer for downhill traction.
A 1.5in head tube resides up front and the obligatory ISCG mount and 12mm rear axle are all present and correct.
The bike comes in plain white, and can be customised with a sticker kit designed by T-shirt gurus rebel8.com. Our bike came with them all already applied though, making it look like Amy Winehouse falling out of a taxi.
Equipment: good kit but some minor problems
Stickers aside, you can’t go wrong with white and red, and the DT Swiss FR 2350 wheelset complements the frame nicely.
Up front RockShox Totem Solo Air forks are a good choice for freeride, but not ideal for downhill.
Shifting was taken care of by a faultless SRAM X-9 drivetrain and Avid’s Code 5 brakes are a good choice for solid stopping power.
The Fi’zi:k Free:k saddle is great if you’re into seatgrabs but otherwise you’re in for a bumpy ride – it’s not really designed for sitting on.
Summary: careful with the stickers
If you’re in the market for an off-the-shelf big drop machine that responds well to being taken by the scruff of the neck then the Perp 1 is a great little bike with some neat features and professional spec. Just take your time with the stickers…