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Every 30 days, we award the Top User Reviewer with a little prize. This month Jenson USA pitched in a $100 gift card! Vital MTB member Vegas Jekyll Rider wrote a few in-depth reviews that we'd like to highlight. They helped earned him the Top Reviewer spot.

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2015 Cannondale Jekyll 27.5 4 - "The secret to the all-around performance of the Jekyll lies in two areas.  The first is the Fox Dyad rear shock.  This technology is nothing new so I’m not going to go into discourse about how it works, but I will simply say it works very well.  By simply flipping a thumb shifter type lever you transform the bike from a 160mm bike with DH soft suspension to a 95mm travel XC bike.  This technology does require a bit of extra set, because you have to set two pressures.  The process is simple.  One thing that I will point out is that the suggested settings are on the stiff side.  With my riding gear on I weigh 180lbs.  The recommended settings are 340lbs in the positive chamber and 300lbs in the negative. With these pressures the long travel setting is stiff and the short travel is downright harsh.  I have found that reducing the pressures one and a half setting is just about right.  I am running 310 and 275 respectively.

The Rock Shox Pike RC solo air is simple to set up.  I set it up with right about 30% sag to match the rear.  For me this is about 35lbs which is significantly off of what Rock Shox recommends.

The other brilliant part of this bike is its geometry.  It seems like the heart of all enduro bikes now days centers around the top tube length.  My size large has an effective top tube of 24.4 inches.  This puts it right where it should be for this type of a bike.  I like to stretch out a bit so I increased the stem length by 20mm.  The head tube angle is a somewhat steep 67 degrees.  Many other companies are going as slack as 64 degrees on their enduro bikes.  For a bike that is intended to an all-around monster the 67 degree head angle allows this bike to pedal up steep terrain without the front end excessively wondering.  To improve this even further, when you put the bike into the short travel mode the head angle steepens an additional half a degree.

Climbing

As pointed out above the bike will climb like a XC monster in the short travel mode, well as fast as a 31lb CC monster can climb.  In the elevate mode there is little to no pedal bob and it seems as it every bit of your input is rewarded.  The one gripe is that on exceptionally rough climbs you may want to climb either standing or in the long travel mode increased traction.

The dialed geometry allows you to maneuver steep switchbacks with ease.  It took me a while to adjust to the “new school” low bottom bracket height to avoid hitting obstacles with my pedals while climbing, but with the high engagement rear hub of my new wheels I soon found myself ratcheting up these technical climbs with ease.

The Rock Shox Pike RC lacks a low speed compression adjustment but I have found that the stock setting is supportive enough for aggressive seated climbing.  If you are doing extended climbing there is an easily accessible compression damping adjuster on the top of the right fork leg.  This has 13 clicks and will take you from full open to a near lock out.  I ride with it in full open most of the time unless I am on the road.

Descending

I guess WOW is the right word.  For me descending is an aggressive pedaling experience where simply riding down the hill perched atop a marshmallow is not good enough.  I need to be able pedal and have that pedaling rewarded with an increase in downward momentum.  The Jekyll does just that.  This bike is not a playful park bike that pops off of every lip and hit.  Instead it is a planted peed sled that encourages you to beat your PR every time down the hill.

This bike loves to be cornered aggressively!  Go in hard, brake late, get off the brakes and let it rocket out.  I have never been real comfortable railing berms but my Jekyll keeps asking me to hit them harder and higher.  Steep chutes are no problem either.  Just point and shoot and the long front center will guide you through without a scratch.

Perhaps the area of riding that this bike has improved my riding the most is in the area of drops.  Not the “let’s go hucking” kind of drops but the kind where you fly off a 3-4 footer, land on a foot and half wide trail and then make 90 degree left turn. On other bike I would land with a bounce and feel out of control going in to corner.  My Jekyll has increased my confidence in these situations because of the way it immediately plants you and allows you to set up for the next obstacle.

Overall Impressions

When you view the changes that have been going into the building of trails in today MTN biking world, the needs of our bikes have changed.  We are basically demanding mini-downhill bikes that can be pedaled quickly and efficiently up any and all hills.  With these criteria in mind the Jekyll will exceed your expectations.  It truly is a bike that can do it all.  It is not perfect.  The weight is a bit high, and the “middle ground” between the two suspension settings can leave something to be desired, but I haven’t found a bike that can do what this bike does as well."

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Atomlab DHR Handlebar - "I picked up the Atomlab DHR bars after seeing them at Interbike 2014. I was looking to replace the stock cockpit and was impressed with both the DHR bars and SL stem from Atomlab.  They have several colors to go with the scheme of most bike, but I went with the white decal black bars and black stem to coordinate with the white accents on my 2015 Cannondale Jekyll.

The bars are wide (800mm) and have a good feel with 5 degrees of upsweep and 9 degrees of backsweep.  A lot of bars have 10 degrees of backsweep which works well with shorter bars, but on something this wide the angle is a bit extreme at the grips, so I was happy to see the slightly slack angles on the DHR's.  The anodized finished is the nice glossy kind, and the decals are razor sharp.  When you look at these bars they scream "my bars are more expensive than yours".

When I installed them on my Jekyll, I intended to cut them down, but after 7 months and nearly 1000 miles of hard desert miles, they are still 800mm wide and I am enjoying the control they give me.  The feel of the bars is very comfortable and I find myself getting less soreness in my hands on long rides than in the past.

I ride the ledgy, rocky, technical trails in and around Las Vegas, so falls and crashes are a given.  At 800mm wide, the handlebar is likely to hit the ground first and take the brunt of the impact.  After numerous crashed my DHR bars are still straight and there are no scratches in the finish.

After extensive use of this product I can say that it is quality.  The finish is worthy of a bike of any price.  Carbon bars might be a bit lighter, but the durability of aluminum is the best, and I like the fact that these bars cost less than half the price of a carbon bar that has a warranty that is worth a darn.  If you are sick of the same old Spank, Easton, and Race Face bars, give these a try.  My only gripe is I wish they had center indicators to help in set up.If this was the case then I would give them 5 stars."


Big congrats to Vegas Jekyll Rider! Thanks for helping out the riding scene with your thoughts on these products.

Want to be in the running for next month's award? Start reviewing the parts you use in the Vital MTB Product Guide and keep an eye on the Top Reviewer leaderboard. We'll announce the next winner in early May.

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