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Cannondale Jekyll Review

by Jeff Richardson (Uprighter456@cox.net)



           
Often times it is the weekend warrior who offers the most valid opinion on a bike since obviously ther are no sponsorship obligations, advertising influence, which all boils down to bike selection based entirely on performance. Since purchasing my Cannondale Jekyll 600 disc in March, I have logged over three hundred miles on it,  not bad in a nine month span considering I'm a weekend warrior.  Each mile has been a pleasurable one in regard to ride comfort and handling attributed a lot in part to the frame.  I'll begin by discussing the the Jekyll's frame which indeed is quite impressive.


Frame:



           This frame is a masterwork in any price range.  The welds are all ground and sanded for a seamless look, and the overall craftsmanship is outstanding.  This bike is very pleasing to the eye, and functional to boot. The rear swingarm combines with an
efficient shock which all adds up to an extremely stiff rear end that tracks very well in the wooded hills of New England.  Terrain around here is quite varied with many rock gardens, mud puddles, fire roads, and twisty singletrack.  The Jekyll handles all such terrain in stride.  Its laid back geometry is a major asset in the downhill sections without hindering the climbing ability of this bike.  I have left my setup in the stock mode, but the geometry can be changed via
an adjustable threaded shock mount.  The headtube can be slackened or raised, depending on the rider's preference.  As I mentioned, the bike suits me well in the neutral position.  This frame is stiff and reasonably light for
an all around trailbike.  While it is heavier than some of the other bikes in its price range, the smooth ride and supple suspension make the weight easy to forget about.  Besides, I'll believe I could become faster by lightening my body rather than starting with a lighter bike.



            While the Jekyll frame is strong, stiff, and dependable, it is not without a few shortcomings.  For one, the protective clear coat on the frame is easily scratched and worn away.  I figure for $1500, the paint could be much tougher.  The cables wore through the paint, down to the aluminum in just a few rides.  It was especially noticeable at the headtube and linkage
areas of the bike.



            Part of this was due to the cable routing the frame design necessitates.  The cables seem to be routed through some tight spaces, causing some sharp bends which contact the frame in the swingarm area.  The rear brake cable routing is rather questionable.  It runs down the downtube to the bottom bracket, and up on the swingarm to the brakes.  The brake boss
for this is completely exposed to anything the front tire digs up.  Because of the way the cable runs up and over to the brake caliper, dirt collects in the lowest point of the cable housing.  Every few months I have to remove the housing and clean all the dirt out of it.  If the cable was housed all the way back, there would be no way for the grime to get in the housing and
foul up the rear brake.  Both the paint and cable routing issues are not really problematic, and do not greatly hinder the bike.



Components:



Ahhh.  Every cyclist in the world loves components.  Who doesn't like to tell their friends "See my new ____?  It's the new _______ from _____.  Its super light, looks cool, and best of all, you don't have it."  (Until it's on reduced by 40% next summer!)  It the past Cannondale has been known for making outstanding frames, but often skimping on the parts, especially on mid range bikes.  I really can't be objective here because this is the only bike I've spent $1200+ on.  My previous ride was a '94 (?)Pro-Flex 855 World Cup, so even the worst bag of parts will compete with that bike's setup.  My Jekyll is mostly stock.  Here are some of the major component reviews:



Manitou Black Elite fork w/ Rapid Travel Wind Down: I really like this fork.  It is very plush, and has more adjustment than I will ever need.  The steering is strong, and it doesn't bob under power or while climbing.  I have it set with 90mm of travel with the rebound in the middle setting.



Fox Float RL:  This is a very responsive and supple shock.  I added the lockout to it for climbs, but it's not always required.  I pumped the shock equal to my weight and haven't touched it since.  No problems whatsoever.



Avid Cable Pull Disc Brakes:  For me, disc brakes are the best thing to happen in the history of cycling, and these brakes are incredible.  The let me test my skills, and take chances.  They have comparable power to a hydraulic system, but require much less maintenance.  They work flawless in all conditions and I have yet to encounter a problem with them. Honestly, I could recommend them to anyone.



Shimano LX/Sun wheels:  These wheels have stayed perfectly true since I bought the bike.  I have beaten on them quite hard (I weigh 185) and they have taken every bit of abuse I threw their way.  These are solid wheels for general trail riding.



TruVativ crankset:  I was surprised to find these cranks to be as flexi
as they were.  I have a set of TruVativ cranks on my cyclocross bike, and I love those.  I swapped out the stock cranks for a Cook Brothers' F crank.  A little ol' skool never hurt anyone!



Hutchinson Scorpion Tires: As a New England guy riding on New England trails, I must say these tires are lousy for the conditions I've encountered.  Traction wasn't as good as it should be as they continued to slip around.  Unfortunately, I cannot positively comment on  them based on the riding that I do.  However, I do know a few riders who speak highly of them.  Tires are a touchy subject, so try them for yourself.  I'm running IRC mythos tires now- a major improvement on my terrain.



Fizik Saddle:  One word- Horrid.  This was the most uncomfortable seat I had ever put a cheek on.  I understand many others agree.  Get something else.  Switched to a WTB Speed V.  Loving it.



Shimano XT/LX group:  Solid, reliable, and smooth.  No complaints about the group.



Conclusion:  While Cannondale may have skimped in the past, I feel the setup on this bike is indeed a great one (with the exception of the tires and saddle). The Jekyll 600 Disc is a great value, and can hang with any bike in its price range, and even with a few above the $1500 mark.  My major complaints are, as a whole, minor ones. As I've mentioned above, they can be easily fixed.  This bike is a total blast to ride, looks great in its black scheme, and suits my area of the country perfectly.  While the Jekyll got bumped off the line by the new Prophet, I would still recommend it to anyone.  My Girlfriend has the Jekyll 600 Feminine, and reports that she loves her bike as much as I love mine.