For the new Jekyll, Cannondale went back to the drawing board to produce a purpose-built machine for “high speed mobbing”; whether it be at an enduro race on the world stage, or sessioning the local bike park. The Cannondale Jekyll specs include 29” wheels on both ends, the carbon fiber-only frame pairs 165mm travel out back with a 170mm travel, 38mm chassis fork, to offer serious capability for aggressive gravity riding.
There’s plenty to talk about with how Cannondale designed the Jekyll, and we covered them all in great detail here, in our Dissected Feature and interview with Cannondale. To briefly summarize that feature, the most obvious talking point is the suspension platform Cannondale selected. Rather than hopping on board the high single-pivot bandwagon, Cannondale instead used the familiar Horst link suspension design with a raised main pivot, producing a mid-high pivot system that afforded them increased control over the kinematics to produce the ride characteristics they sought after. The result is an axle path that features a healthy amount of rearward travel, but not quite as extreme as others. Just at mid-stroke, the path arches forward towards the start point at bottom out. Cannondale hoped to reduce the drawbacks that a higher pivot can produce, and we think they did. This mid-high pivot design is paired with a steel “Guidler” idler pulley/chain guide combo that sits concentric to the main pivot and reduces the effects of chain growth on the suspension performance. Cannondale didn’t stop at their new platform design though, with size-specific kinematics that should produce the same great handling characteristics for riders of all sizes.
The resulting kinematic with the Guidler in place gives anti-squat levels of around 100% at sag in the larger cassette cogs, which progressively reduces as you move down the cassette. This anti-squat drops off through the travel, to improve bump absorption when pedaling without sacrificing efficiency on smoother terrain. Anti-rise sits at roughly 65% at sag and also drops through the travel to improve suspension recovery on bigger compressions when braking, at the sacrifice of reduced geometry preservation. The leverage curve changes significantly with the frame size, with the small frame’s 13% progression through to the extra large’s 20% progression. This is done so that riders of different sizes and weights can achieve full travel and have an optimal experience. Regardless of the frame size, harder hitting riders will be best served by an air shock and some volume spacers, but a coil shock should still be suitable if desired.
The Cannondale Jekyll 1 29 has an exclusive carbon frame with CNC’d aluminum links and the aforementioned steel Guidler. To position the shock exactly where they wanted it, Cannondale created the “Gravity Cavity”, which sees the downtube split into a twin-spar design and nestles the shock in the center. This concentrates the bulk of the frame weight into the lowest and most central position, giving a lower center of gravity that should yield greater stability and maneuverability. Of course, the downside to that shock placement is its proximity to debris and the ease of accessing it for tuning purposes. To address that a large plastic guard serves to protect the shock from damage and dirt ingress, with provisions made to allow water and debris to escape.
The rear hub and drivetrain are offset with Cannondale’s AI (Asymmetric Integration) system, which improves spoke bracing angles and tire clearance but requires a specially dished rear wheel. Otherwise, things are as you would expect on a ‘22 frame with a tapered integrated headset and BSA BB, save for the lack of SRAM’s UDH hanger that we’d love to see it come with.
Geometry on the Jekyll is modern without going ultra-long and features their proportional response approach to tailor the rear center length to each size of rider to maintain weight balance between the wheels. Across the S-XL size range, the head angle is 64°, effective seat tube angle is 77.5° and the bottom bracket sits 30mm below the axles. The reach figures range from 425mm to 510mm, with the large sporting our preferred 475mm figure, and the stack goes from 625mm to 652mm. Seat tubes are relatively short on small to large, ranging from 390mm to 445mm, but the XL sees a 500mm seat tube to cater best to the longer-legged riders. The rear center length starts at 430mm on the small frame and increases progressively to 450mm on the XL. Wheelbases total 1,193mm on the small through to 1,311mm on the XL, with our large coming in at 1,264mm, which should offer a reasonable blend of stability and agility.
Cannondale offers customers three options for purchasing the Jekyll: a $3,700 frame with Float X2 shock; or a choice of two complete bikes from the $4,500 Jekyll 2 to the $6,100 Jekyll 1 build tested. The Jekyll 2 features an entry level build kit offering, with a Rock Shox ZEB Select fork paired with a Fox Float DPX2 Performance EVOL shock, Shimano Deore 12-speed gearing and M6120 brakes, a WTB STX i30 rim on Shimano MT400 wheelset, and an in-house alloy cockpit with a TranzX dropper.
The Jekyll 1 tested is a considerably more premium level kit for the discerning shredder, with a Fox 38/Float X2 factory suspension combo; SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and CODE RSC brakes on 220mm front and 200mm rear rotors as standard; a WTB KOM Trail i30/Formula hub wheelset; and in-house carbon bar and 170mm dropper. It’s great to see Cannondale offering a budget build on their flagship enduro machine, but we’re sure glad we got to test the higher spec build.