The Cannondale Jekyll is a big bike meant to do big things. For 2018, Cannondale gave the Jekyll a significant update, increasing the travel and giving the bike a more traditional suspension design. The proprietary DYAD pull shock is gone, replaced with the more conventional, but still unique Gemini Fox shock. More notably, there’s no longer a Lefty fork. Instead, the Jekyll is equipped with the benchmark for beefy forks, the Fox 36.
Travel is ample with 165mm in the rear and an almost absurdly long 170mm in the front. The geometry has been modernized with a head angle that has been slacked out to 65°, chainstays shortened to 420mm, and reach that’s been lengthened. It still has 27.5" wheels, giving you plenty of burly tire options. All this was done with the goal of making the Jekyll the best enduro bike possible.
Sitting on the bike, its intentions are immediately clear. The combination of the 170mm fork and slack headtube puts the wheel far out in front of you. It’s incredibly reassuring when descending, giving you that feeling like it’s impossible for you to go over the bars, no matter how steep it gets, or how hard you hit something. The tradeoff is that you generally have to ride the bike aggressively to get the most out of it. This is true of many bikes in this category.
With the front wheel so far forward, you need to really commit, ride with confidence, and put your weight to the front to get it to bite. When it does, you are rewarded with glorious rock smashing, berm destroying send powers. But if you sit back too much and hesitate, the bike starts to feel slightly unwieldy and ponderous. The upside of this is that once you learn to ride how a bike like this demands to be ridden, you develop confidence naturally as the bike encourages you to push it harder, go bigger, and try things you may have never thought to do before. That, to me, is the true beauty of a big bike like this.
That being said, if you’re riding the Jekyll on easier or flatter trails, the bike does begin to feel like a bit too much. The immense travel makes slower flow sections feel like a lot more work. Fortunately, the Gemini shock works to counteract this with its Hustle and Flow modes. Hustle shortens the rear travel to 130mm and ramps up the spring rate.
I usually don’t use lockouts on my enduro bikes unless I’m climbing a road, but the Gemini is different. I actually found myself using the handlebar remote to access Hustle mode constantly on my local trails. It livened the bike up to make it feel much more snappy when riding flow trails and made hitting smaller booters and jibs feel much less cumbersome.
Hustle mode and the short chainstays help the Jekyll feel surprisingly easy to manual and play around with for a bike of its size. Coupled with the SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, it’s possible to pedal this beast (my test bike weighed 31.5 lbs) up almost anything you need to. You won’t exactly be fast, but it never was as painful as I feared.
Still, the wide open Flow mode is where this bike is meant to live. It’s a bike that really needs to be ridden hard and fast to get the best out of it. If your riding consists of gnarly and steep downhill trails or lots of high speed park laps, or if you’re an enduro racer looking for a competitive edge, then the Jekyll will handle everything you throw at it with ease.
Bruce is a writer who loves getting his bikes dirty, trying new tech, and riding tough trails that make him suffer for hours at a time.