Jamie spent winter on the travel adjustable Cannondale Jekyll 3. The aluminium version of Cannondale’s go anywhere, ride anything trail bike
It might just be me but some marketeers certainly love to talk about their bikes providing the very essence of adaptability these days. How many times have you read ‘This is the one bike you will ever need’?
Whether or not you buy into this argument is not really the point here, though I couldn’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, a little bit of this do-it-all-magic might actually be bundled into the Jekyll’s healthy mix of gloriously oversized aluminium tubing. It feels like a balanced and purposeful mix but those Fox 32 forks certainly look dwarfed in comparison.
Drivetrain duties are taken care of by Shimano’s best and Avid Elixir 7s do the stopping. As a rider of Sasquatch proportions, I particularly appreciated the ham-fist-friendly grips but I switched from the rather long stem and narrow bar (90mm/680mm), to a more appropriate 50mm/780mm pairing, out of the box. The Syntace X-12 bolt-through rear axle and 15mm bolt-through axle on the fork help the chassis feel very stiff, too.
In the form vs. function stakes, it’s a healthy score-draw. Liquorice black brought to life by Pacer Spearmint Chews’ green and white. A pretty good colour combination, but how does it taste?
Up hill and down dale
Setting up the rear Fox DYAD shock is a drawn-out affair. After studiously reading the manual in the time-honoured male fashion (who believes what they read on paper anyway?) and a bit of healthy trial and error, I managed to settle on a pressure combination for the two travel modes which felt right. I say ‘felt right’ as the rear shock is a closed unit and it’s not possible to do the tried-and-tested O-ring method to set the sag.
Winter’s damp squib has revealed a bike that’s well capable of slogging it out with the best of them on tiresome, mixed terrain adventures. Where it really delivers though, and in a very obvious way, is by taking it out into the type of terrain it was intended to be used in and subjecting it to rides with a bit more altitude, some long technical climbs and long, long descents.
In use the switchable travel mode very quickly becomes second nature, as intuitive as gear shifts. 90mm travel helps pedal stompers eke more efficiency out of their climbing and there is little spit when grappling with traction. Flip to 150mm and you are rewarded with a controlled rear end that never feels out of its depth descending. The relaxed geometry gives a very centred feel and you sit in rather than on top of the bike. In my opinion, that’s a very good thing.
There are a few niggles worthy of mention. The 2.3in tyre fitted is about as big as you can go and the A-stay bridge between the chainstays provides the perfect place to build up a mountain of mud. With levers for remote travel adjust, brakes and shifters on the bars, there is a danger it might start to look busier than a Lambretta, too.
Flip the trigger
The Jekyll 3 has quietly plugged away without drama. Other than a slightly loose oversize BB30 bottom bracket which was quickly wrestled into submission, it’s been faultless.
The reward for working your right thumb a little more often is a hard-hitting trail partner that is clearly intended to give maximum flexibility and a ride character that’s switchable on demand. The alloy ‘3’ model offers everything I’d need in a bike, with plenty of room for upgrades. The carbon ‘2’ is nice but – of course – it’s a chunk more cash.
Overall: Depending on your viewpoint, the Jekyll provides a complicated – or uncomplicated – solution for exploring your ‘all-mountain’ riding options.
- Fork Fox 32 TALAS RL 150mm 15QR
- Shock Fox DYAD RT2 dual shock
- Hubs 15mm front, 142x12mm rear
- Rims SunRingle Inferno25
- Tyres Schwalbe HansDampf 2.35in
- Chainset SRAM S1400 44/33/22t
- Front mech SRAM X7
- Rear mech Shimano XT
- Shifters Shimano SLX
- Brakes Avid Elixir 7 180mm
- Stem Cannondale C1
- Bars Cannondale C2 riser, 680mm
- Grips Cannondale alloy locking grips
- Seatpost Cannondale C2. 31.6mm
- Saddle Cannondale Stage CrMo
- Size Tested Large
- Weight 30.0lbs
Posted on: May 2, 2012