First Impressions: Racing the New Cannondale Jekyll 27.5
What Better Way to Test the New Jekyll than to Race it Blind in a Spanish Enduro?
Words by Brice Minnigh
Photos by Ale di Lullo and Jake Hamm
One of the highlights of this year’s Cannondale Factory Racing camp was the chance to ride the company’s new 27.5-inch-wheeled Jekyll on some of southern Spain’s steep and rocky trails. What made this even more special was the fact that our first ride on the new bike was in an enduro race on some seriously sick courses just outside the whitewashed mountain village of Ojén.
Of course when given the opportunity to ride high-speed racecourses on a brand-new, carbon all-mountain bike—in lovely weather, surrounded by sweeping views of mountains and the Mediterranean Sea—it’s kind of hard to think critically about the bike itself. This is especially true when you’re focused on sticking it to the other mountain-bike journalists you’re racing against.
Almost as exciting as the race itself was the opportunity to watch some of the world’s fastest enduro racers—including Enduro World Series champion Jerome Clementz, who will use the new Jekyll as his weapon of choice this season. All of Cannondale’s OverMountain team members—Clementz, Ben Cruz, Jason Moeschler, new addition Marco Osborne and injured veteran Mark Weir—have been heavily involved in the development of the new Jekyll.
Among the main changes are the slackening of the bike’s head angle from 68 to 67 degrees and the steepening of its seat angle from 73.6 to 74.9 degrees. The Jekyll’s new angles felt incredibly well-balanced, especially for the quintessential European enduro-racing terrain. The slacker head angle, coupled with the stiffness of the brand-new 160-millimeter-travel SuperMax Lefty fork, immediately instilled confidence when launching off the many steep drops we were riding blind.
On the long fireroad climbs between the descending stages, the steeper seat angle made for a more comfortable climbing position, especially when the suspension was flipped into the ‘elevate’ mode, which is designed to make the 95-millimeter-travel rear shock behave more like a cross-country air shock. When left in the wide-open ‘flow’ mode, the shock is intended to feel more like a coil-sprung DH shock. When descending the course in ‘flow’ mode, the suspension felt plenty plush, and achieving a balance between the plushness of the rear shock and the stiffness of the SuperMax Lefty required a fair bit of fiddling with the shock’s rebound. By the second stage of the race, however, I felt confident and ready to charge—if only I’d had the legs to maintain on the steep-and-punchy climbs between descending sections.
The editors of Bike will be doing some longer-term testing of the new 27.5-inch Jekyll and Trigger models in the coming months, so stay tuned for updates as we get some more time on the bikes. But for now, we’d prefer to focus on the experience of racing the new Jekyll in such an idyllic environment.
Of Cannondale’s OverMountain enduro team racers, new addition Marco Osborne—a 22-year-old native of Novato, California whom Mark Weir and longtime friend Ben Cruz have helped bring into the Cannondale fold—was king of the day, finishing his two stages with a faster combined time than Clementz. Even though the race was a lighthearted affair and the OverMountain team was saving themselves for the more critical contests of the coming months, the fact that Osborne finished so strongly bodes well for his future success in the discipline.