Cannondale has revamped its aggressive trail bike range. Both the 2015 Jekyll and the Trigger have been switched to 650b wheels – and have had their geometry and shock fine tuned.
In addition, the single-sided Lefty fork is now available in 140 and 160mm travel Supermax versions.
Jekyll 27.5: enduro race development pays off
The 2015 Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 – revamped for enduro racing
Cannondale's all-mountain Jekyll platform may have helped see Jerome Clementz to overall victory in the Enduro World Series, but for 2015 it's had a serious overhaul to help make sure the best racer in the business can stay on top of the podium.
The Jekyll’s travel has increased by 10mm to 160mm at both ends. The rear end still uses the adjustable, twin chamber Fox DYAD shock, which can be stepped down to 95mm with a bar-mounted remote. The top-end bikes will also be sporting the new Supermax version of Cannondale's trademark one-legged Lefty fork.
Jerome Clementz puts the new Jekyll 27.5 through its paces
Cannondale's star-studded OverMountain enduro team were roped in to fine tune the bike. Clementz, Mark Weir, Ben Cruz, Jason Moeschler and new boy Marco Osbourne tested multiple development mules back to back, including, as the eagle-eyed among you may notice, a Mondraker-style zero length stem setup.
In the end, the changes made were more evolutionary than revolutionary. The head angle has been relaxed to 67 degrees from 68 to increase the front centre, aided by the unique 50mm offset of the Lefty fork. The chainstays have been lengthened slightly, to accept the new wheel size and to improve high-speed stability. The stem length has also been dropped from 60 to 50mm across the range, and while the axle-to-BB drop has increased, the overall BB height has raised slightly.
The seat angle is a degree steeper, now sitting at 74.9 for a more aggressive, front-weighted climbing position. It's certainly improved confidence over the older model, though the taut, light feel of the bike has all the hallmarks of a sharp-edged racer's steed rather than a easier-to-handle trail weapon.
The top two bikes of the four-model Jekyll range are made completely from Cannondale's Balistec carbon fibre. Cannondale believes that mixing materials, such as fitting a carbon rear end to a alloy front triangle, gives an unbalanced feel to the bike and is best avoided. This is also part of the reason why even the entry models now come with the Fox DYAD shock instead of last year's X-Fusion models, and a RockShox Pike fork instead of the Lefty. UK and US pricing is yet to be confirmed.
DYAD shock: simpler sag and valving changes
The Fox DYAD shock has also seen some revisions. A new sag meter makes setup a one-person job (rather than the 'find a friend' faff of old), and it can also be retrofitted to older models. Revised compression valving and shims on the long-travel ‘Flow' mode promise plusher mid-travel performance, while the bike is now optimised at around 30 rather than 40 per cent sag.
The unique twin-chamber Fox DYAD shock
Elsewhere it's pretty much the same unit, with the somewhat tricky-to-tune high-pressure, positive and negative air chamber balancing act eased by recommended pressure and rebound settings being printed on the frame. Because of the twin-chamber design, it's also considerably heavier than a conventional unit, but Cannondale reckons that's offset by the pedal efficiency gains to be had from the switchable travel.
Lefty fork: goes big
The Jekyll also gets an all-singing, all-dancing version of the Lefty, which uses new 'PBR' damping cartridge. This has a wider-mouthed damping piston for improved oilflow, as well as a larger piston shaft.
Cannondale makes some impressive claims about the Lefty chassis: not least that, gram for gram (a claimed 1,850g), it's the strongest fork in the world. The company also claims impressive stiffness. The large diameter, 46mm filament-wound carbon fibre upper leg certainly helps here, while the 36mm lower leg has a round, conventionally sealed, bushing-supported lower with a square, needle bearing-supported upper section, which it says is less likely to bind under braking or hard compressions compared with a normal bushing-only design.
The new Cannondale Lefty Supermax one-legged fork
Damping wise there's external rebound adjustment and a push-button climbing mode that stiffens the fork up without locking it out, all easily accessible via the fork crown. However, even on this very top-end model, there's no external compression damping adjustment, which seems like an omission compared with its rivals. Cannondale service centres can re-valve the fork for those who require it, but those who like to adjust the level of support on the trail will be left wanting.
Jekyll ride impressions
Cannondale repeatedly mentioned its aim for “coil-like plushness” from its suspension, so it's not surprising the suspension did a good job of swallowing the rough and rocky trails of our Spanish test tracks whole.
We only had limited riding time on the new Jekyll, which didn't help in trying to achieve a balanced feel from the front and the rear. We found suggested pressures to be slightly on the low side for more aggressive riding, so the bike felt like it could get bogged down in rougher sections, despite the mid-sized wheels and running minimal rebound damping.
Riders who like a bit more visceral feedback will need to play with the overall pressure and the balance between positive and negative chambers on the rear shock. We're keen to get a Jekyll for some more tuning and testing, because the chassis does display a willingness to be ridden hard that could be drawn out with more time.
Trigger 2015: harder-edged transformation
The 2015 Trigger 27.5 replaces the old 26in wheeled model, but it will run alongside the 29er, for the time being...
While the Jekyll may grab the headlines with its ‘enduro’ tag, Cannondale reckons the Trigger is the bike that'll suit most riders. Much like its brother, it's undergone a harder-edged transformation to give it a feel that's more rough-and-tumble. It has 140mm travel front and rear (the 26in wheeled model it replaces had a 130/120mm split). While the 26in wheeled version is no more, the the 130mm travel 29in wheeled model will continue to run alongside the new 650b Jekyll for the time being.
It has a 68 degree head angle and a 73.5 degree seat angle, in conjunction with a 60mm stem, which is 10mm shorter than the previous model’s. The Fox DYAD shock gives 85mm of travel in the Elevate climbing mode and high end models will once again be equipped with Lefty forks, though they don't get the more aggressive damping tune seen on the longer travel model.
The 140mm travel Cannondale Trigger has had a 650b overhaul to make it into an aggressive all-mountain rig
A total of five Trigger 27.5in (650b) models will be available, with two alloy framed base models joined by a trio of full carbon rides, including a top-end Black Inc model with a blacked-out, matt finish with high end components. Again, prices are to be confirmed.