- Cannondale’s Jekyll 1 27.5 is the company’s top of the line Enduro bike that delivers an almost no-compromise build for $8,200. While expensive, the price is actually quite competitive with the kind of build it comes with.
- The bike has a lively ride and the low weight build works surprisingly well with the lower travel ‘Hustle’ mode.
- It may not have the downhill-bike-like suspension of a purebred race bike, but it’s more than capable at tackling even the harshest courses.
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Jekyll 1 27.5
Frame & Fork: Lifetime, Components: 1-year
WHERE TO BUY IT:
Jekyll, BallisTec Carbon Frame and Swingarm
SRAM X01 Eagle
Cannondale HollowGram 30 Carbon
Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5 x 2.5″ front, DHR II 2.4″ rear
SRAM Code RSC Hydro Disc brakes, Cannondale C1 Riser, Fabric Scoop Shallow Race saddle
S, M, L, XL
Enduro is the hottest thing in mountain bike right now, and every MTB manufacturer is working hard to put a competitive Enduro bike in their line-up. Over the past several years, the formula for what makes excellent do-it-all geometry has been refined quite a bit. The development of mountain bike geometry has is so far along that you’ll be hard pressed to find a modern Enduro bike from any major manufacturers with major flaws in its geometry. This refinement means that just about all flagship Enduro bikes hit the mark, but only a few of them truly excel and come together to form a bike that’s more than just the sum of its parts.
The current iteration of the Jekyll was introduced in 2017 and it represents a stark change in design philosophy from Cannondale. The previous model was like many other Cannondale bikes before it, exotic. It had a pull-shock and used Cannondale’s proprietary Lefty fork. It wasn’t a bad bike and different isn’t necessarily bad when it works, but the bike was getting left behind in the geometry revolution. Cannondale has rebuilt the Jekyll from the ground up with a more conventional design and has also taken a confident step into aggressive “modern” geometry.
Frame and Geometry
The Jekyll 1 is Cannondale’s top of the line model in the Jekyll line up, and there’s literally more carbon on the bike than metal. The Jekyll 1 frame is made from a carbon front triangle, rear triangle, and rocker arm. This is noteworthy as a lot of manufacturers who advertise carbon bikes only have carbon front triangles and have yet to fully embrace the material as Cannondale has.
One bandwagon Cannondale hasn’t jumped on is the trend of switching over to a four-bar linked after the expiry of Specialized’s FSR patent. The Jekyll 1 remains a linkage-actuated single pivot. This isn’t a bad thing and, generally, four-bar bikes and single pivot bikes only differ with braking characteristics. The former having the option to tune braking that’s independent of the suspension and the latter having to stick with suspension packing up from braking. One isn’t generally better than the other and it’s often down to personal preference but it still plays a significant role in how a bike behaves. This has been reflected in how manufacturers are starting to sell brake induced suspension pack-up as “preserving geometry under braking.”
The biggest specification change on the bike is the geometry. They’ve slackened the front end of the bike out from 67° to 65°, steepened the seat tube angle to 75° and shortened the chainstays from 440mm to just 420mm, one of the shortest on the market.
Despite embracing a more conventional design, Cannondale has retained the Jekyll’s rear travel adjust feature. “Hustle” and “Flow” are how Cannondale describes the 130mm travel setting and the 165mm travel setting, respectively, on the Jekyll. This is adjusted through a lever on the handlebar which reduces the volume of the rear shock and, consequently, how much it can compress. It preserves the geometry of the bike but “Hustle” mode definitely has a significant effect on the behavior of the bike. We will go deeper into this on the ride test.
The look of the bike has also changed dramatically in the transition to a more conventional design. We wouldn’t say that look has changed for the better, either. The quirky Jekyll of old did have its charm and raised eyebrows quite often. Moving the shock above the linkage and filling in the vacated space with a water bottle mount seems like more like a rushed way to get rid of the pull-shock. Let’s face it, looks matter! Especially when purchasing an almost eight-thousand-dollar bike in a niche that is filled with drop dead sexy machines.
The build is on the Jekyll 1 is flawless but, for almost eight thousand dollars, it better be. It comes with a top of the line Fox 36 Float Factory 170mm fork with a 44mm offset, which is already beginning to get outdated. A shorter offset on a fork is a new trend on slack Enduro bikes. A shorter offset on a slack bike is designed to reduce to the sloppy disconnected feeling of the front end that slack bikes experience at low speeds. Cannondale has not bought into this yet and still specs the longer offset. Luckily, you can shell out a little bit more cash and buy a new aftermarket short offset fork if you want to try one out.
The bike rides on Cannondale’s in-house carbon Enduro wheelset, the HollowGram 30. The rims have a 30mm wide internal diameter and have the weight and finish that you would expect from any independent carbon rim manufacturer. The wheelset is wrapped with a 2.5” Maxxis Minion DHF in front and a 2.4 DHRII in the rear. They will still come with tubes installed but they’re certainly ready for tubeless conversion. We recommend upgrading immediately to make the most out of the strengths of this bike and to bring the weight down a little more.
The drivetrain is an SRAM X01 Eagle with a XX1 rear derailleur. Although the X01 Eagle is as good as it gets when it comes to drivetrain performance, a build this expensive deserves the full bling of a full XX1 package.
The brakes are handled by a pair of SRAM Guide RCS’ which thoughtfully come stock with a 200mm rotor in front and 180mm in the rear. These brakes have become ubiquitous among built bikes but many other brands have started to offer SRAM Codes on their Enduro bikes; we wish Cannondale was one of them. For a bike that is at home on the slopes, strong stoppers can mean the difference between enjoying a ride or suffering through an arm-pump-plagued descent.
The rest of the componentry in the build is mostly Cannondale in-house products. A nice touch among them is the carbon handlebar and a Fabric Scoop saddle with titanium rails. Premium is expected with a build of this price and here it delivers.
The RaceFace Turbine dropper is one of only two minor disappointments with the build. The dropper post works fine, but this is a premium bike which has the factory treatment on its Fox suspension and it really does deserve a Kashima-coated Fox Transfer post. The only other gripe we have with the build is that Cannondale stuck with the Float X Evol shock – likely to make Hustle and Flow travel adjust features possible. It’s not a bad shock by but this is an Enduro bike built for descending and there is no question that a Fox Float X2 blows that Float X out of the water when it comes to performance and adjustability.
‘Enduro’ has assimilated an entire range of bikes, from aggressive trail bikes all the way to bikes that would have been called short travel downhill bikes had the term ‘Enduro’ not come along. With the spec and geometry of the Jekyll 1, you would expect it to fall on the gravity side of enduro, but in the flesh, it is actually one of the bikes that rides lighter on the trail.
This isn’t a rare trait on Enduro bikes but it is one that is usually found on those with shorter travel, in the 140mm-150mm range. This gives the Jekyll a bit of a niche in the very crowded enduro field. Its lively suspension characteristics and super short chainstays give it a distinct poppy ride. But it still has 165mm of rear travel! This means that the light ride of a trail bike is backed up by enough travel to be forgiving on the big hits.
The short chainstays and lively suspension do show their teeth in the rough and tumble, though. Many longer travel Enduro bikes, like the Santa Cruz Nomad and the Kona Process, take after their big brothers in terms of suspension characteristics. They have suspension that numbs out the trail but, in turn, feels dead and only really comes alive when bailing you out of sketchy situations. This type of ride is great when you have gnarly trails where the limits of the bike and your ability are pushed every ride. The Jekyll would have no problems with these kinds of trails but it would not give you the kind of ride that invites you to push the limits of your ability. But it does give you the kind of ride that invites you to push yourself on the tamer trails that most of us ride on a daily basis. The ‘Hustle’ mode, which limits the bike to 130mm of travel, is surprisingly more than just a gimmick. It makes the bike even more snappy and makes it great for riding rolling single track and roads. It won’t feel like a legitimate trail bike, because of the 170mm fork, but it’s a feature that got a surprising amount of use during our tests – almost as much as the dropper post.
What really stuck with us from riding the Jekyll was the kind of versatility you got from having a bike that was lively enough to enjoy your local trails on but had enough travel to let you enjoy a real gravity run or try that big drop you’ve been eyeing up. It’s weight, fun factor, and capability absolutely make it a strong candidate for a do-it-all bike.
Cannondale offers a lifetime warranty for the frame and the fork chassis but the Cannondale-branded components, including the fork internals, only have a warranty of 1 year. This covers factory defects and not damage resulting from normal wear and tear. The normalization of the Jekyll is an improvement in the lifespan of the bike. There’s no more Lefty to make you worry about spare parts and the proprietary rear shock can still be replaced by a standard one should worse come to worst.
- Flawless premium build with no parts that negatively affect the bike.
- Lively ride that ups the fun factor significantly.
- Not a cheap bike, but it comes in cheaper than some other top of line bikes with similar builds.
- The rear shock could be better.
- Doesn’t quite compete in the looks department.
The Jekyll 1 is Cannondale’s flagship entry into the ultra-competitive Enduro scene. Although pricey at $8,200, it has the parts to back it up. Many flagship bikes from other manufacturers come in one or two thousand dollars more expensive with the kind of parts spec the Jekyll 1 carries, especially the carbon wheels. This hefty price tag buys you a bike that is capable of, not only performing on a wide range of riding styles but actually excelling at many of them. The Jekyll 1, with its premium build, has the lightweight to fully take advantage of the travel adjust on the rear shock to transform the bike into a smaller trail bike. It works because the bike is already built so light and this is what helps it achieve the practicality of the adjustable rear travel compared to many other manufacturers that have attempted to make the feature work before. The liveliness is not free though, and it loses a bit of the resolute stability that other long travel Enduro bikes have. This may not be a bike that is purely bred for racing but it is most certainly capable of being a competitive Enduro racer, especially on flatter mellow tracks. The strongest aspect of the Jekyll 1 is that the premium build reduces the weight enough for the bike to pass a trail bike, especially when complemented by its lively riding characteristics. This all amounts to a bike that is optimized for the common rider that rides more conventional trails but is absolutely capable of getting you through a race weekend should the need arise.