The all-mountain category of mountain bikes is a difficult category for bike manufacturers. On one hand, we, the riders, require long-travel bikes—not downhill or freeride long-travel, but long nonetheless. On the other hand, we require a nice stable pedaling platform. Too much mush and you have to freeride. Too little travel and you’re in the XC category.
Although the all-mountain bike doesn’t worry as much about weight, performance is key. Before there was an all-mountain category, Cannondale had a Cannondale Prophet for it in the Jekyll.
The problem most people had with the Jekyll was the complaint that it didn’t pedal well—it had too much pedal-induced bobbing. In 2005, Cannondale has introduced the Prophet. If the name means anything, then Cannondale feels they have found “it”—the perfect all-mountain bike for the masses.
Components Cannondale Prophet
The component spec on the Prophet 1000 is a very nice pick of great-working components. Most of the drive train is SRAM, including the TruVativ Stylo GXP crankset with out-board bearings. The shifters and rear derailleur are also SRAM. The SRAM trigger shifters look quite a bit like Shimano’s, but they are different.
Different enough to avoid a lawsuit, and different enough to make you think about shifting if you’re used to Shimano shifters. Once accustomed to the different activities, though, we found it every bit as easy to shift with SRAM, as with Shimano.
The Prophet also comes stock with Avid Juicy 7 disc brakes (also SRAM). With all the SRAM parts we were surprised to see a Shimano LX front derailleur instead of SRAM’s new X-Generation. Upon closer inspection, however, we found that the Prophet was designed for an e-type front derailleur. (Interestingly enough, SRAM doesn’t make an e-type X-Generation front derailleur.) The handlebar is an FSA 31.8mm diameter riser.
The stock tire on the 2005 Prophet 1000 was the Maxxis High Roller UST 2.35. This is not only a huge tire (950g), but also it is a slow tire—slow because it uses low-rebound super tacky rubber and very large knobs.
Riding with these tires is like riding in the sand—they seem to require every ounce of one’s energy just to move forward. Yes, they grip well, but I couldn’t wait to replace them with the new Ignitor UST 2.35. This is a much lighter tire (700g) with a faster-rolling tread pattern.
The Ignitor will be stock on 2006 Prophets. This move was a good one on Cannondale’s part. Though they don’t hook up as well as the High Roller (not many tires do), they roll much better. I had a problem with the Ignitor was its loose fit on the rim—making it very difficult for the tire bead to seal—especially when using a hand pump on the trail. When I ride the Ignitors, I carry a spare tube.
All in all, it is good parts pick that functions well together. I didn’t have any problems with anything during the testing period. The only thing I can complain about is 31.8mm handlebar. I’ve never found a good handlebar to be lacking in strength, and my cycle computer and GPS actually fit on standard handlebars—not so with the 31.8 FSA. Like them or not, however, 31.8mm handlebars and stems are here to stay.
It is impossible not to notice what is, er, not really there to be noticed at all. That is, the right leg of the fork, er, strut, which isn’t there. Uh, let me start over. The most distinguishing feature of the Prophet isn’t the frame at all, but the Lefty—a one-sided fork (a strut, really) that is unique to Cannondale.
Cannondale has been making the Lefty for a number of years, though by the looks it gets on the trail, you wouldn’t think so.
To start with, let me dispel some myths. First, while riding, the Lefty doesn’t pull the bike to the left. Second, as far as tracking goes, this fork tracks better than most on the market. In other words, there is no problem with the single-leg twisting.
Though normally spec’d with a Lefty MAX SPV+, our test bike came equipped with a Lefty MAX TPC. This uses a titanium spring to supply the 140mm of travel. Compression and rebound damping are externally adjustable via knobs on the top and bottom of the fork leg. Though springs provide a nice linear compression, they aren’t usually as adjustable as air-sprung forks. Such is the case with the MAX TPC.
To adjust pre-load, it requires removing the top cap, pulling out the spring, and adjusting preload via a knurled nut. If the acronym TPC sounds familiar to you, that is because it refers to the Manitou internals found in the Lefty and in their own forks.
As I mentioned before, the Lefty handles terrifically. Not once did I feel it wandering around corners or large rocks. Although I never felt like I was getting the gobs of travel that 140mm is, it managed to swallow up everything I hit. At 4.35 lbs, the Lefty MAX TPC is a long-travel fork with mid-travel weight.
Frame Cannondale Prophet
Cannondale’s Jekyll is a very adjustable and stiff full-suspension all-mountain bicycle—born in a time when there was no all-mountain category. Unfortunately for Jekyll, many complained it didn’t pedal well. Although stable platform shocks helped with the pedaling, Cannondale decided to wipe the slate clean and start over.
Gone is the trunnion-mount rear shock with the infinite-adjustable angles. To replace it, Cannondale has two shock mounts—one that delivers a 69-degree head tube angle and the other for a more relaxed 67.5 head tube angle.
These are conveniently labeled XC (69 degrees) and FR (67.5 degrees) and are adjustable via two hex bolts. There is still the reliability and easy maintenance of a single-pivot and solid rear triangle. The rear shock is a 3-way Manitou Swinger Air with SPV.
Some of the nice touches include internal rear-derailleur cable routing, easy-to-maintain elevated chainstays (so the chain doesn’t cross through the rear-triangle), and a replaceable derailleur hanger. Cannondale claims the chainstays are custom-formed for both vertical compliance and lateral stiffness.
With 140mm of rear travel, this frame weighs in at a mere 5.25 lbs. Interestingly enough, though this is a new design, the front triangle is reminiscent of Cannondale’s original Delta-V of years past—which debuted the same time as the original Headshok suspension fork. The “F” series bikes were the first Headshok bikes that didn’t have the delta-V frame.
The Ride Cannondale Prophet
Somewhere in the midst of the great parts pick, the smooth-pedaling, long-travel Prophet frame, and the stiff Lefty MAX TPC, lies a great riding bike. The Prophet has plenty of travel to smoothly soak up everything in its path. We really like the adjustability of the 3-way Swinger. Whether you want mushy or firm, you can find the right feel with an inexpensive shock pump. We found it easy to get a smooth ride with a nice stable pedaling platform. While we would have liked the convenience of adjustability found in an air-sprung fork, we loved the fantastic tracking of the unique Lefty. Downhill rocky sections were especially fun because the Lefty tracks so well.
The Stylo cranks are solid and the chainrings are shaped right for crisp shifting. All in all, the drive-train knocks off shifts flawlessly. As we’ve mentioned in another review, the Juicy 7 brakes work very well. They are powerful enough for all-mountain riding with lots of adjustabilities.
Cannondale set out to replace the highly adjustable Jekyll with a bike that pedals better. In the Prophet, they have created a great successor to its older brother. While it rides better, if I were a Jekyll owner, I wouldn’t immediately jump on this bike. However, if you are looking for a great long-travel, all-mountain ride with a unique look (and great components), you will find it in the Prophet.