Identiti is a well known bike brand in the UK and more recently the United States and Canada. Their first frame the Dr Jekyll, first debuted in the golden days of dual slalom back in ’98. Six years later the Jekyll is still going strong. It has also finally landed on Australian shores. So what’s all the fuss?
Of course, bikes have come a long way since ’98, especially in the geometry department. Suspension forks have longer travel, triple chain rings are becoming rare, beefy gussets are all the fashion and a lot of people are deciding between 24 and 26 inch wheels. To keep in line with the changes Dr Jekyll has seen some geometry refinements and gained some new features along the way.
The head angle has been steepened, bigger gussets added, chain guide mounts put on and chain stays are now adjustable in length. You can also happily run a set of 24 or 26 inch wheels.
On first look the frame is dead sexy. Nice welds, good looking geometry and tubing, funky adjustable chain stays and some cool decals. The sort of frame you could mount on your wall rather than an expensive painting.
The good and bad thing though is that the decals have been clear coated so you cannot remove/replace them. This is not such a bad thing, but there were a couple stickers that I really didn’t like (on the seat stays, the “Adjustable Dropout System”). In the end I opted to buy some white gaffe tape and cover them up. The good thing about the gaffe is that I could use it in areas where cable rubbed the frame that typically leave black or dirty marks.
One thing I do have to stress before diving in and buying one of these frames is to do some homework and make sure you have the right buildup. I actually found myself the victim of a poorly setup bike. I setup the Jekyll as I would a 4x race bike. A 26 inch wheelset, 4 inch forks (psylos with way too much sag), 0 degree/50mm rise stem, and 2 inch rise bars. They were the components of my mistake. The combination of a really high bottom bracket and my really low front end build up (low forks/stem/bars) put me in a very award and uncomfortable riding position. My feet were high and my hands where low. While this is good for drag motor bikes, it’s not real good for hitting jumps and steep descents. Damn scary actually, you feel like you are going to kiss the front tire over each bump.
What I would suggest is a 5-10 degree rise 50-60mm stem, and/or some higher rise bars (not too high though, 3 inch?). I’d still stick with 4-5 inch forks as anything with larger forks are make the handling ugly and make the bottom bracket even higher!
Errors in judgment aside we’ll look at the specifics. The specs are as follows (for the Jekyll XL):
Weight: 2.65 Kg (5.83Lb)
Material: 7005 Heat Treated Aluminum.
Seatpost: 30.4mm Diameter
Size: 34 cm
Headtube Angle: 71.5 deg.* (5 inch fork)
Seattube Angle: 73 deg.
Top Tube: 568mm (22.4")
As you can see it’s quite heavy for an alloy hardtail, but light for the category of bike. Chunky tubing and welds, gussets etc add quite a lot to the weight of this frame. I categorize the bike as a street/jump bike, so you can compare it to other 6-8 pound alloy and chromo alternatives. The headtube is CNC machined with a 7mm thick lower re-inforcement ring, so I don't think its going to ovalize anytime soon. With the headtube that thick and the added gussets you could quite comfortably run a dual crown fork. Though, bear in mind the high bottom bracket will be even higher (and I mean really high).
A closer look at the adjustable stays.. (and the gaffa)
The adjustable chainstays are quite a nice feature to have. The design and functionality is good, at no point was I worried about them slipping forward or back. My only qualm is that the shortest adjustable stay length is 420mm (16.7 inches). While this is a very good length (the Orange Msisle, Yeti DJ and quite a lot of other bike have this exact measurement) it is quite long to being with. Any longer is almost unusable. Fully extended you have stays that are about 445mm (17.5 inches) long. Say good bye to wheelies and manuals! If I had any input I’d have them shorten the shortest stay length 10-15mm to make it more useful.
The main geometries of the bike are good, the head angle is fairly steep but for the type of riding the bike is meant for it is good. The XL version has a 22.4 inch top tube which I think is about perfect for me (I’m 5ft 11), you’d have to be pretty short for the normal version of the Jekyll with a 21.4 inch top tube. I’d probably recommend that frame for anyone shorter than 5ft 7. Any taller than that you’d end up smashing your knees on the stem.
As I mentioned earlier this thing has a high bottom bracket height, especially with 26 inch wheels. Even being an inch lower with a 24 inch wheels the bb height is comparable to a downhill bike. This makes the bike not a very good trail/4x bike, but does make it a very good street bike. The amount of stuff you can ride over without touching the chain guide is crazy. Even with a downhill sized bash ring I could roll up onto park benches without being close to touching.
Overall Identiti, have themselves a killer frame. With close attention to build up, you’ll have something that is extremely solid and great performing. There’s not much that can go wrong with it really. If the geometry is right for you, then what are you waiting for? It’s not like its going to break (let me know if it does, because I’d be VERY surprised.)
Supersports at this point are only bringing the frames in. Later down the track we may see full bikes (which I am informed will be really good value). The complete bike is specced with gusset parts and halo wheels. The frame's RRP is $950, putting it the higher end of the market but not too high. Make sure you drop the nice guys at Super Sports an email if you’re interested.
Thanks to Super Sports for supplying the review frame.
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