Cannondale's Trigger 27.5 and Jekyll
WORDS Mike Kazimer
PHOTOS Ale Di Lullo
With winter still clinging on throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, Cannondale chose to launch their 2015 Trigger 27.5 and Jekyll
mountain bikes on the scenic southern coast of Spain, a region with perfect springtime weather, orange groves, and, as it turns out, a network of excellent trails. We were able to spend a day on each bike, just enough time to get an initial feel for their handling and general ride characteristics. But before going into our ride impressions, it's worth going over the changes that both bikes received for 2015. Updated Lefty SuperMax Fork and Fox Dyad Rear Shock
The Lefty is the calling card of Cannondale's mountain bike lineup, an instantly recognizable, single sided dual crown inverted fork. Internally, the fork's stanchion slides on needle bearings and one bushing (compared to the two typically found on each side of a traditional fork
), a design intended to reduce stiction and to prevent any binding under hard cornering. Based on looks alone, it's understandable that riders unfamiliar with the fork would have concerns about stiffness, but the dual crown, 46mm upper and 36mm lower combined with the square-within-a-square design of the internals goes a long way towards silencing these worries.
Fox Dyad RT2
Based on extensive feedback from team athletes Jerome Clementz and Mark Weir, Cannondale has altered the internals of the 2015 Lefty SuperMax to provide a more supple stroke with a wider range of rebound adjustment. To accomplish this, the shape of the internal piston has been changed, and the shim stack has been reconfigured. The tune of the fork depends on the bike model it is spec'd on, and the Trigger, with its more trail riding based design, gets the trail tune, 140mm version, while the 160mm fork on the Jekyll gets the enduro tune, which has a greater range of rebound adjustment.
Both the Trigger and the Jekyll use Fox's Dyad RT2 pull shock, a dual chamber system that allows for two different travel modes that Cannondale calls Flow and Elevate to be selected with the push of a handlebar mounted remote. The Jekyll has 160 or 95mm of travel, and Trigger riders can choose from 140 or 85mm. Swapping between the two modes changes the bottom bracket height by one centimeter and the head angle and seat angle by one degree. This change is due to the reduction or increase in the total amount of sag in each mode. Rebound and air pressure adjustment are independently adjustable for each mode, and although it does take a little longer than other shocks to set up, it's not any more difficult, especially now
that Cannondale has created a handy sag indicator that will come with all new Dyads, and can be retrofitted to any prior versions. Previously, set up had been a two person affair, since the pull shock made it difficult to sit on the bike and measure the sag at the same time, but the indicator makes this a thing of the past. In an effort to improve the Dyad's plushness and response to mid and high speed chatter the shock also received new compression valving and shim stacks for the longer travel Flow mode, along with a greater range of rebound adjustment. This new valving allows for the recommended sag to be reduced to 35% from 40%.
Trigger Ride Impressions
Cannondale touts the Trigger as a do-it-all, adventure bike, and with 27.5” wheels, 140mm of travel in its longer travel setting, and a 68° head angle, on paper it certainly looks capable of playing the part. Our ride began with a climb up a dirt road to a ridge that granted us views of the Mediterranean Sea and the coast line of northern Africa, followed by a winding, technical trail, filled with jutting limestone teeth, hungry for the taste of an XX1 derailleur. On the climbs, switching to the shorter travel Elevate mode makes an immediately noticeable difference, firming up the rear end and making the bike feel closer to a cross-country rig rather than a trail bike. Even when the bike was set to Flow mode it was a well mannered climber, and the longer travel setting provided extra grip and traction on the steeper, more technical bits of climbing, although the majority of our climbing was on the smoother side of things. The bike's fit felt comfortable, with the 60mm stem giving us enough cockpit room to achieve a proper climbing position, while also being short enough that the handling wasn't compromised on the descent.
While it's not surprising that a light weight, full carbon trail bike climbs well, how did the Trigger handle the descents? As it turned out, quite well. Even while threading the needle in rock gardens full of shark fin shaped rocks the Trigger kept its cool, with a lively feel that made it easy to pop off of features or dive in and out of corners. The bike's quick handling didn't seem to hinder it when the trail pitched down a steep rocky chute either – we never felt outgunned, even on sections of trail that a longer travel bike wouldn't have been out of place on. On sections of extended braking the Magura brakes did seem to lack the stopping power of Shimano's benchmark XT level offering, but Cannondale does offer an XT equipped version of the Trigger. Schwalbe's Nobby Nics are also a little skittish when pushed hard – we'd likely opt to swap them out for something a little more predictable. The stiffness of the SuperMax fork was especially evident on the descents, and although at first it is slightly disconcerting to only see one fork leg, it quickly becomes an afterthought, and the performance of the fork on the Trigger didn't give us anything to complain about. Overall, we could see the Trigger working well as a daily driver for a good percentage of mountain bikers, with enough travel to take the edge off the rough stuff while still remaining a capable climber. Jekyll Ride Impressions
The Jekyll will be Jerome Clementz's bike of choice for the 2015 season, and as the video above shows, he's off to a strong start on it. In addition to having Jerome on hand to showcase his ridiculous skills (and they are ridiculous – there aren't many riders on the planet as fast and smooth as the French phenom
), Cannondale brought in the promoter of the Big Ride enduro series to lay out a two stage enduro race in order for us to try the bike in its intended environment. What better way to get accustomed to a bike than riding it for the first time in a race environment on unfamiliar trails, right?
As it turned out, there wasn't anything to worry about. When climbing, the difference between the Trigger and the Jekyll isn't as noticeable as it is on the descents. The cockpit positioning on the Jekyll is a little more upright, and the extra travel can be felt when climbing in the fully open Flow mode, but when switched into Elevate mode and with the Lefty's Pop Top button (a feature that firms up the compression to a nearly locked out state
) engaged, its climbing performance was very similar. We will say that in the heat of a race it's easy to forget to engage the Elevate mode for a climb, and unless the climb was more than a few minutes long we'd probably just leave the bike in Flow mode, especially since it's just as easy to forget to switch back to the longer travel mode for the descent.
“Precise” would be a good description of the Jekyll's handling, and although it has 160mm of travel, the Jekyll isn't a bike for plowing willy-nilly into obstacles – this is a bike for bobbing and weaving like a skilled boxer, picking the fastest line and then speeding through it en-route to the finish. The smaller drops and jumps on the course were taken care of without any trouble by the SuperMax fork and the Dyad rear shock, although there weren't any larger obstacles to really push the bike to its limit. It would be nice to see an external low speed compression adjustment on the Lefty SuperMax - it felt like slightly more compression would help improve the fork's feel on sequential stutter type bumps, and being able to change this on the trail would be much simpler rather than diving into the internals to achieve this adjustment. Overall, the Jekyll certainly felt like a capable, race worthy rig, and we don't doubt that it can be ridden to the top of an Enduro World Series podium. www.cannondale.com