Cannondale 27.5 Jekyll Carbon Team
Togoparts’ first look at Cannondale’s new 27.5 Jekyll Carbon Team reveals a few surprises.
It was a day of firsts for me. I have spent a lot of time on a lot of bikes in the past, but never tried out Cannondale’s Lefty fork or pull shock suspension design. Today was the day of my first rip around BT on the new Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 Carbon Team, and it was looking like I was in for something different. Surprise me, I said.
Cannondale debuted the Lefty fork some years back and it has always seemed to me at least to be primarily a light weight XC option, however the Jekyll is a heavy hitter boasting 160mm travel front and rear, and the weapon of choice for Enduro World Series front runner Jerome Clementz. It is a much bigger bike than my usual ride so I was eagerly awaiting the downhill sections, but not so much the climbs. While the rear travel is adjustable from 160 to 95mm via the Fox DYAD RT2 shock, and individually tunable, I was still expecting a struggle on the uphills at BT, given the added weight and rotational mass.
Specification-wise, the Team model Jekyll really has it all. The build kit is what you would expect of Cannondale’s top of the range Enduro rig. It is equipped with WTB’s new i23 team edition 27.5″ rims laced to the indestructable DT Swiss 350 rear hub and Lefty front, shod in Schwallbe Hans Dampf, runs a Sram XX1 and XO1 11 speed drivetrain with Hollowgram cranks, a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth dropper post and WTB Siverado SLT saddle. The frame is full carbon construction and the fork is also the carbon model Lefty. The cockpit consists of a Gravity stem, nice and short, and a 740mm Gravity carbon bar from Cannondale’s bag of tricks. Braking is taken care of by Magura MT6 single pots with 180mm rotors. It is equipped for winning EWS races out of the box and would probably have been seen on the podium constantly this year if Clementz had not broken his shoulder so badly early in the EWS season.
First impressions of the ride had me noting that the big Hans Dampfs actually do roll well, tightly spaced centre knobs rolling fast on the short road and Greenway sections which begin my ride up to Bukit Timah. The real fun was yet to begin though.
I normally expect it to take me a while to get used to a new bike, especially as in the case of the Jekyll, It is just so different from my current 5″ trail bike. But after some minor seat and brake adjustment at home it felt good immediately. The cockpit felt perfect for me on the bigger bike, wider bars with a little more rise and upsweep in combination with the short stem providing the perfect amount of reach and precise steering through the big Lefty. One of my biggest concerns, which had led me to never before throw a leg over a Lefty equipped bike before, was the promise of flex. I mean, how could a fork with only one leg track over bumps and obstacles without a certain amount of flex? My concerns were met with solid, reliable travel through the fast rock gardens and sharp berms of BT, predictable and not a
hint of flex. On my first lap I quickly gained the confidence, on a new bike, to turn harder than usual within rock gardens and the Lefty tracked beautifully. The rear pull shock system was unusual for me too and the expanse of seat stays without any lateral bracing had me expecting more than a little lateral flex. Extremely wide pivot bolts on the down tube apparently provided all the stiffness needed for the rear end however, and it tracked straight and true.
The Jekyll is not so much a bike which will float over rocks and roots rather plow through them at speed. This perhaps seemed a little brutal at first but realizing the ground contact was just always there, the bike urged me to push harder. It maintains solid traction through the tricky bits, providing a sure footing, likely also due to the Hans Dampf’s big side knobs. Slack angles and masses of traction mean the bike simply inspires confidence.
But you expected it to slay the downhills, right? And while it does this without a hint of hesitation, this is a bike that is full of surprises. Pedaling is quite exceptional, even in 160mm travel mode. The 95mm travel mode provides a very firm pedaling platform, which I expect I could have tuned a little softer, given more time on the bike. I lost a bit of small bump compliance in the shorter travel mode on more technical climbs, where I found I could simply leave it in 160mm and grind through obstacles. On my second ‘hot lap’ of BT I chose to run the bike in 160mm the whole way and it adeptly climbed all the ups and smashed the downs. Of course the rear travel adjustment is easily accessed by a handlebar remote, only the press of a button away at any time.
It is hard to fault the component choices Cannondale have made, the XX1 drivetrain is flawless, offering a broad range of gears with the simplicity of a single chain ring set up. The 30 tooth ring up front seemed a little small to me initially but was appreciated on a couple of climbs. One suggestion would be a Reverb post with more drop, as anyone racing this bike in any serious capacity would want to get the saddle a bit further out of the way than the current 100mm travel post allows. The cockpit is also a bit untidy, with a few to many cables for my liking. The tyres were literally fantastic with big, solid sidewalls providing support with only 25 psi and tubes.
The Jekyll certainly seemed to take me through the downhill sections of BT faster than I had gone before, but how did the complete package stack up? I mean, it is a XC trail really, faster complete times are achieved by pushing the climbs harder, not bombing the short downhill sections. My first lap had me about one second faster than my previous record for BT, with several trees down which the bike needed to be carried over. While I am certainly not the fastest rider out there, the results I got in my week on the Jekyll showed I was on a very capable, all round bike.
Read more on Cannondale Jekyell 27.5Carbon Team here : http://www.cannondale.com/nam_en/2015/bikes/mountain/overmountain/jekyll/jekyll-carbon-team
The new Jekyll 27.5 is available from
Cannasia @ vertex
33 Ubi Avenue 3, #01-20
Tel : 6570 0634
Cannasia @ Frankel
83/85 Frankel Avenue
Tel : 6441 4772
Website : http://www.cannasia.com