By Jon “Wheezy” Whisenand
Every year there’s a bike that I’m dying to get some rides on, last year it was the Cannondale Jekyll, with such an innovative design who wouldn’t want to give it a go? Our Cannondale rep was nice enough to set up a shop demo day where he brought a fleet of bikes and let us go have some fun. My initial impression of the bike was it climbed like a rocket but I was less than impressed on the descent, the problem was more the set up than the bike. I’m used to wide bars and wide tires with low psi. Unfortunately the XC build clouded my first impressions and thus didn’t live up to my expectations. So my conclusion… Cool bike, just not for me.
Fast forward a year, I come in to work on Monday and notice a little gem sitting in the back of our shop… a 2013 Carbon Jekyll 1, XTR, Fox 34 Talas, Carbon Reynolds AM wheels with tubeless 2.35 Hans Dampfs, dropper post and the best part… 800mm wide Gravity bars!!! I got a hold of the rep and lo and behold, it’s a demo bike. Now it’s time for round two!
The bike weighs 28lbs 4oz (w/o pedals), which is pretty impressive for the build. Climbing was the same as my first experience, flip the switch on the on the bars to put the DYAD shock in the “Elevate” mode and go. In the 90mm travel setting the bike feels like an XC bike, super fast and efficient. You really forget you’re pedaling an all-mountain bike.
However, I was more impressed by the descent. When you flip it to “Flow” mode the bike goes to its full 150mm of travel and it‘s time to pin it! This bike is light and playful, it wants to be jumped and whipped around on the trail like a fun short travel bike would but handles the rocks like you would expect out from 150mm of travel. A lot of times with bikes this light you get a wet noodle bouncing thru the rocks, not the case with the Jekyll, this thing is stiff! Unfortunately, I didn’t get too many corners in on this bike but it seemed like you can confidently lean it over and hit the turns hard.
My conclusion: I redact all former statements about this bike. If you are looking for a true all around machine you should take a long look at the Jekyll. The pull shock may seem a little crazy but they make sense and Cannondale really pulled it off perfectly. The travel doesn’t feel exactly like a standard compression shock, but it’s no better or no worse, just a little different. There are a few things however that I would have changed if I designed the bike; I prefer a tool-free rear axle like the Fox/Rockshox/DT rather than the Syntace axle system. It just makes life easier on the trail if you flat. Also, this bike has a lot of cables, front and rear derailleur, front and rear brakes, dropper post, DYAD shock lever. A little better cable management would clean up the look of the bike. But those are some small points to argue about on such a well-put together bike.
Name: Jon Whisenand AKA Wheezy
Job Title: Warehouse/Receiving Manager
Currently Riding: 2012 Specialized Enduro Carbon, 2012 Specialized Allez with Sram Red, Specialized Globe The Mean Dean Single Speed Machine
Art’s Cyclery Employee since 2007
Wheezy started off his professional life in the automotive world and quickly realized that working on hot rods would become a hobby rather than a career path. When he found that all the money he earned working on cars went straight into upgrades on his bike, he knew it was time for a change and began working for Art’s in 2007. Now Jon is the manager of our warehouse operations and is a mountain bike product test rider.
While Wheezy mostly sticks to mountain biking, he has been known to dabble in some road riding, especially if it involves contending for the mailbox sprint title. Outside of riding Jon likes to play with his wife and two little kids and is rebuilding a 1967 RS/SS Camaro.