Down Time: Short chainstays paired with ground-hugging suspension. If you like steep and techy trails, the Jekyll likes you. I mean, it like-likes you.
The Up Side: Without the Gemini system, the Jekyll is a bit squatty on the climbs. With Gemini, you get more power, comfort and traction than any bike that even approaches the enduro category.
Dollar For Dollar: The Jekyll offers a suspension feature no other enduro bike does, which is worth paying a premium for—if you'll use it. And it's sold at a bike shop, which also is worth paying a premium for—if you'll use it.
We forgive our enduro bikes for relying on little blue thumb levers to pass on the climbs. But those thumb levers dull our shocks' sensitivity and, more importantly, they're nowhere near our thumbs. Cannondale's Gemini shocks solve both problems, as long as we can rise above the uniquely North American stigma against remote-controlled rear suspension. Words like "nerdy" and "Euro" were tossed around the tailgate before we rode the Jekyll. But after, we faced the fact that this bike climbed better than any other we rode, provided we used its nerdy Euro lever.
Our longest climb was a steep, locals-only backdoor to Killington's mid-mountain. And it sucked. It really, really sucked. Recent rain left it slippery, and recent neglect left it cluttered with deadfall. But on the Jekyll, it sucked less. Flipping the Gemini shock from Flow to Hustle mode essentially shrinks the shock's air chamber volume. It doesn't cause the stiction you feel with traditional damping-based firming levers. The Jekyll keeps its traction, aided by its naturally active and supple single-pivot linkage. Most importantly, it rides higher and firmer, meaning we were more comfortable and more powerful, aided further by the 75-degree seat angle. That's why this concept makes so much sense in the enduro category. Instead of sinking into alll that travel, you sit above it. That's just as true during sloppy frantic sprints as it is for calm, seated spins.
Without the lever switched, the Jekyll was a bit of a slouch on the climbs. Cannondale's Gemini-specific volume spacers would help, but the bike's natural tendency is sensitivity, not support. Trails with undulating terrain or descents with periodic climbs will beg you to use the Gemini lever every time. The above benefits still apply every time, so it's worth it, but it means coordination with rear shifting and post-dropping. The lever has to sit above and behind the bar where our dropper levers used to be, but if you got used to those, you'll get used to this.
The gushyness that was a liability on the climbs was, of course, an asset on the descents. The suspension had a ground-hugging capability that approached that of the Devinci Spartan or even the longer-travel YT Capra. Although we wished for a lower standover, we found it particularly adept at moderate-speed, windy, messy, steep tech where no other enduro bike is more at home. That's likely because no enduro bike has 420-millimeter chainstays. It turns out, there's a reason for that.
We couldn't quite relax on our high-speed, high-consequence test track. We took that to mean it's not made for relaxing. Combined with its light-underfoot feel, the Jekyll's geometry is always ready for a last-minute re-position, slide or manual. The front-center is plenty long, and our large-size test bike sized like many other brands' XL. So it's not cramped, it's just precise.
The Jekyll is a true backcountry machine. Whatever terrain you encounter, it can find a way of dealing with it. And it thirsts after epic quests for those encounters like no other enduro bike can.
Q&A with Scott Vogelmann, Senior Product Manager at Cannondale.
There are a lot of skeptics (especially in North American) of remote-control rear shocks. Why is Cannondale committed to them on bikes like the Trigger and Jekyll?
We believe in the versatility that Gemini delivers and that the remote is a reasonable price to pay for that benefit. If the rider really can't stand it, nothing stops them from ditching the remote and running the shock like a standard great Fox shock.
Riders have been asking for shorter and shorter chainstays for years, but some of us wondered if 420 millimeters was going too far. What was the motivation for pushing the limits that far?
420 is indeed short, but nothing crazy for a 27.5 enduro bike. Short is great for ripping corners, manualing and getting your weight back for charging down steeps.
The rear shock and, consequently, the toptube was relatively high on the Jekyll. What about the bike's linkage and frame design made the higher standover necessary and worth it?
A: The standover on Jekyll is pretty standard actually. Lower across the board than a Trek Slash which has a vertical shock and pretty much the same as a Yeti SB6. We keep the shock high because we want to hit our suspension performance goals AND fit a water bottle, which unlike the SB6, we can. And we want to keep the weight low. A full bottle weighs a lot more than a shock.