The new Cannondale Jekyll has to be one of the worst kept secrets in mountain biking this year, thanks to Jerome Clementz’s use of the bike while racing, but it’s now official and we’ve got the inside line.
The Jekyll is Cannondale's 165mm enduro race bike, with a nifty travel-adjusting Gemini system built into the rear shock and a 170mm fork up front. There are four bikes in the range, from the range-topping Jekyll 1 with full carbon construction down to the Jekyll 4 with an all-alloy frame.
The bike is meant to be an uncompromised enduro race bike, so has been built with descending as its forte. Staying nimble was also a key feature of the design, with Cannondale not wanting to just build a mini-DH bike.
The Gemini system
The Gemini system has been built in collaboration with Fox and effectively gives two travel modes (named Hustle and Flow), with correspondingly different spring rates. This is done through the use of a closeable bulkhead built into the shock, which blocks off a portion of the shock giving a smaller volume air can or a large volume one at the flick of a bar-mounted switch.
With the bulkhead closed, the smaller air spring volume gives a more progressive ride with a lot more support through the suspension curve, but less travel (130mm) — this is called the Hustle mode.
Open the gates though and you get the 165mm Flow mode that's best suited to steep, challenging, rough terrain where the extra travel and softer suspension lets you open the brakes and charge forwards. In this mode it’s possible to add ‘Ramp Rings’ to a carrier in the shock to further tune the spring rate — two are already installed, and a further two can be added (Cannondale says only by a dealer or tuner though as it requires a special tool).
The Gemini system is built into Float X and DPS EVOL shocks, depending on the spec level of the bike.
Cannondale says that it’s not a climb/descent system, however. In Hustle mode the additional progressivity allows you to pump harder through compressions and turns, generating extra speed. On faster motorway/rollercoaster trails I was encouraged to engage Hustle mode to gain extra speed — the bar mounted lever is fairly easy to access while riding.
Cannondale says that there’s no slow bleed of air between chambers, keeping performance consistent, and it can be used on the fly. The shocks are the new Metric length, so if you really don’t like the system, a normal Metric shock can be fitted.
When the climbs do get painful there is a three-position low speed compression lever available on the shock to lock it out.
The carbon and alloy frames all share the same platform and geometry, however varying combinations of materials are used across the range. The Jekyll 1 has a full carbon build, the Jekyll 2 and 3 have a carbon front and alloy rear, while the Jekyll 4 is alloy front and rear. All four models share the same carbon link, however.
The Jekyll uses Cannondale’s AI frame design, where the drivetrain is pushed 6mm outboard, giving extra mud clearance and allowing the rear wheel to be dished with the rim more central over the spoke flanges, giving a stiffer, stronger wheel, while also allowing shorter chainstays.
Geometry is up there with the more progressive enduro bikes; a large has a reach of 469mm, a 35mm stem, 420mm chainstays, 65-degree head angle and steep 75-degree seat angle. The bottom bracket is a tall-ish 349mm with a drop of only 8mm.
The frames are built to allow space for a 500mm water bottle, so long as a side-entry cage is used, while Di2 batteries can be fitted. A carbon downtube protector comes as standard.
The Jekyll range
Cannondale Jekyll 1
The £6,000 / $7,749.99 / AU$TBC Jekyll 1 has the full carbon frame, Fox Factory Float 36 forks (in all their full Kashima, Fit 4 damped glory) and Float X EVOL shock (also Kashima’d).
The 30mm internal carbon wheels are shod with Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR WT 2.5” tyres and have a 3C compound and EXO sidewalls. SRAM provides the stop-and-go with XX1/X01 Eagle 12-speed groupset and Guide RSC brakes.
A RaceFace Turbine dropper holds a Fabric saddle.
Cannondale Jekyll 2
The Jekyll 2 has a 36 Performance Elite fork and Float X shock, while the wheels are based on Frequency Team i29 rims from WTB and shod with the same tyres as the Jekyll 1.
XO1 Eagle gets you up the hills while Guide RS brakes bring it all to a halt. This comes in at £5,500 / $5,999.99 / AU$TBC.
Cannondale Jekyll 3
For £4,000 / $4,199.99 / AU$TBC you get the Jekyll 3 with a Performance 36 and Performance DPS EVOL shock.
Frequency Race wheels come with non-triple compound Minions, while Shimano takes care of moving and braking with an XT/SLX drivetrain and SLX brakes.
A TransX dropper finishes the package.
Cannondale Jekyll 4
The cheapest model, at £3,000 / $3,199 / AU$TBC is the Jekyll 4. This comes with the same suspension as the Jekyll 3, but with slightly narrower i25 rims, a SLX drivetrain and Deore brakes.
The Jekyll clearly has enduro intentions — it’s clearly capable when the trail points down. The long reach and slack head angle give plenty of stability at speed and it doesn’t feel too cumbersome in tighter situations. The tall bottom bracket leaves you feeling a bit perched on the bike, however I’d recommend adding all the spacers to the shock and perhaps running it a touch softer to lower the bike and give extra confidence in the turns.
The suspension system is a linkage driven single pivot, with the main pivot located just behind the chainring. I was pretty impressed with the feel from the back end, if we assume more spacers are added to the rear shock (I felt it could do with having a touch more mid-stroke support in Flow mode). There’s a hint of pedal kick-back, but not too much to feel sketchy in rough terrain, but just enough chain growth to keep the bike manageable when the trail points back up.
Swapping from Flow to Hustle mode makes a reasonable difference to the feel of the bike. It becomes taughter and more responsive through whoops and compressions, allowing you to push the bike harder. That said, we only used Hustle mode on smoother descents, allowing the full travel Flow mode to take care of things when it got rougher.
The shape of the bike gives a decent front/rear weight balance between the wheels, and with a touch more support from the back end the suspension should feel nice and balanced.
I rode the top-spec Jekyll 1 and as you’d expect from a £6k bike, the kit was nigh-on flawless.
Looking at the range, if you’re in the market for a top-end bike I’d probably ignore the Jekyll 2 and spend the extra £500 on the 1 (sadly US and Australian customers don’t benefit from this pricing difference) – this gives you the carbon back-end and wheels, as well as the Kashima level suspension, which from experience feels noticeably better on the trail.