The Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 was a hugely important bike for Cannondale, if only because it showed that the american brand could make a bike that was uniquely theirs without using 90% proprietary parts and designs. As a result, the Jekyll was, at it's core, better in every way. However, as major mountain bike brands zigged with long travel 29er mountain bikes, Cannondale zagged and didn't release one of their own. This changes with the new 2019 Cannondale Jekyll 29
In the quickly-growing long-travel 29er mountain bike scene, the Jekyll 29 needs a way to separate itself from the pack. And without the Fox Dyad rear shock and Lefty Supermax fork of yore, does the 2019 Jekyll 29 all-mountain bike have what it takes to draw in fans outside of Cannondale? In a word, yes.
The 2019 Jekyll 29 is based around a link-driven single pivot suspension, just like the Jekyll 27.5 released a little while back. Each frame uses Cannondale's Ballistec carbon and alloy swingarm. There's space for one water bottle, though it shouldn't be larger than a bottle like a Camelbak 24 oz.
While the Jekyll is a single pivot shock design, Cannondale does it a bit differently. By placing a leveraged link between the swingarm and shock, it allows engineers greater ability to customize leverage ratios. Translation? The suspension remains active under braking (a problem with lesser suspension designs), without sacrificing stiffness, reliability, and the durability of a single-pivot design. This design also allows for any metric shock on the market to be used.
Frame geometry is pretty similar to the 27.5 model, with the frame's 65-degrees and 75 degrees head and seattube angles remaining. However, the wheelbase necessarily grows to accommodate those wagon wheels, while the fork rake actually goes to a modern 42 mm. Cannondale's Ai offset again makes an appearance here; while the rear wheel uses Boost spacing, Cannondale moves the hub 6mm to the right, making for a stronger wheel and shorter chainstays.
Each Fox rear shock on the Jekyll 29 pairs to a Cannondale-specific Gemini air spring. Simply put, it reduces rear shock travel from 150 mm to 120 mm in two modes called Hustle and Flow, respectively. The Flow setting is unique in that it limits air-spring volume rather than simply increasing compression damping. This allows the shock to be fully active and predictable, regardless of suspension travel. This isn't new to us, as Scott features a fairly similar design on their full-suspension bikes. The difference here comes in the Gemini design as opposed to a proprietary design, and like nearly any other shock there's still a compression setting switch on the shock itself to perfectly dial in what you're looking for.
All in, the tech is pretty cohesive, and it pairs well to the hard-charging nature of the Cannondale Jekyll 29.
Riding the Jekyll 29
We were able to ride the new Cannondale Jekyll 29 in the heart of New Jersey, along with other new Cannondales. Cannondale touts this bike as rage ready, and after riding this there's little reason to believe otherwise.
First off, it's important to rank the Jekyll 29 against the bikes most will compare it to. At our shop, we have the Santa Cruz Hightower LT
, Orbea Rallon
, and Scott Genius 900
, all of which are the cream of the crop in a field of long-travel 29er mountain bikes. And while the new Jekyll 29 is technically in the same realm as those bikes due to suspension travel numbers (150 mm), suspension travel, like age, is just a number.
The first thing I noticed was the climbing position. For whatever reason, it's not as good of a climber as a bike like the Genius. Perhaps it was due to how the bike was set up, because looking purely at geometry they're remarkably similar. Or perhaps it's due to the Cannondale having a more linear shock rate, where it isn't as firm around the sag point, but it uses all of it's travel effectively? Perhaps it's all in my head. Either way, my body told me it was a heck of a climber, but not quite on par with the Scott Genius.
The second thing I noticed was that the Jekyll 29 is exactly as Cannondale markets it: a point-and-go rocket. Out of all of the bikes I've ridden, this bike is the one with which I felt most confident not picking a line and just going for it. There is a bit of a trade-off, in that for all of the stability this bike has at speed, it can't be considered playful in the same way as a Scott Genius would be. Really rocky sections were a piece of cake; I didn't even have to think much about the next bump or rock. I just hit them and kept going. Pretty darn cool.
Cannondale touts their Hustle and Flow suspension remote as two bikes in one. While I didn't use the Hustle setting too much, the times I did made the bike an assuredly better climber, though I wouldn't want to use it outside of steep terrain where I was climbing. The suspension is exceptionally plush, with just enough firnness at the bottom to prevent harsh bottoming out. A suspension this linear pairs really well with a rider who likes to point-and-go, but it has enough shove for riders to easily push into when coming off a jump. Clearly this is a bike made for going downhill without worrying about the most technical line. A lot of people will love that.
This is a very exciting bike for Cannondale, and a bike they definitely needed to do. It does exactly as Cannondale says: it's stable, stiff, and certainly well-designed while still being easily approachable during high-speed chunk runs.
Importantly, it does it with all with smart spec, great colorways, and at excellent price points. I test rode the Jekyll 29 2
, which at $5300 has everything I would want in a bike right out of the box, with limits higher than what I can push the bike past. Even the Jekyll 29 3
at $3800 feels like a great value that anyone can go out and enjoy.
If you're looking at long travel 29er mountain bikes, the 2019 Cannondale Jekyll 29 is absolutely worth a look. We're happy to help answer whatever questions you might have to get exactly the bike you need.