Cannondale Jekyll 3
Every manufacturer likes to make a song and dance when they release a new bike, and they will all invariably claim that their newest creation is the absolute best bike in its category. For the release of the new Jekyll, Cannondale took it one step further by creating a whole new category dubbed ‘Over Mountain’; with the one and only such bike on the market they absolutely guaranteed theirs was the best!
Released in 2011, worldwide demand was so high that up until now they were about as rare as lips on chickens here inAustralia, but finally we’ve been able to get our sticky mitts on a mid-range Jekyll 3 to play with. Bristling with unique technology, Cannondale claims it’s able to switch personality effortlessly between the mild-mannered doctor and his far more rowdy alter ego; the main difference being you control when are where it changes persona with the flick of a switch. Could this split personality bike really be the legendary quiver-killing machine come to life?
The Jekyll is available in four spec levels ranging in price from $3,999 to $6,999; the top two use a high modulus carbon fibre frame, whilst our $4,499 test bike is the upper of the two alloy-framed models. Its parts mix is mostly mid-range stuff from both of the ‘big S’ brands; the brakes and cranks come fromSRAMwhile the transmission is primarily Shimano. Fox handles suspension duties. There’s a 32mm TALAS RL fork up front, with a custom pedalling platform instead of the normal lockout. Following up the rear is the unique and purpose-built DYAD pull shock that is common to all Jekyll models (we’ll come back to the shock in a minute).
With mostly straight lines, clean graphics and big tubes (you could split the downtube in half and use it as a canoe), the Jekyll has a purposeful and stylish appearance. Our large test bike weighed 13.75kg without pedals (frame and shock 3,380g), so it’s far from light, but it does have a range of features designed to keep it solid and stiff, and the rear shock weighs around half a kilogram on its own.
Creating a Monster
The Jekyll was designed from the ground up for Cannondale by Peter Denk, who previously worked for Scott Bicycles to bring the Spark and Genius models to life; his design work is distinctive and readily recognisable. Common to all models are a range of frame features including a straight 1.5-inch head tube (and matching fork), they use ultra wide thru-axle style pivots for the rocker link and a correspondingly massive down tube. There’s also a BB30 bottom bracket shell, dual row rear pivot bearings and a light and stiff Syntace 142x12mm rear axle.
All of these features are designed in line with Cannondale’s concept of ‘Enhanced Centre Stiffness–Torsion Control’ (ECS-TC); basically the middle of the bike is designed to resist twisting under load, but the rear end is allowed a little lateral flex to aid compliance. In practice this holds pretty true, as the front triangle’s enormous tubes keep it impressively rigid, whilst there is some noticeable flex in the rear swing arm. Rather unusually, the main pivot bearings are probably the smallest in the entire frame; whether this will affect long term durability is impossible to say at this point, but most manufacturers go out of their way to oversize this highly stressed pivot.