Meet Jake the Snake
When Cannondale announced the recall of thousands of their CAADX bikes, I was a little shocked. My bike was one of those recalled, and I needed to bring it in to have the fork and steerer replaced after several people were injured and at least one killed due to failure of those components. Yikes.
So, in anticipation of the CAADX being laid up for the cyclocross season, I went to the local hub of cyclocross, Campus Wheelworks to see what they had in stock. I glanced at the Giant TCX for about $2500, and then had a conversation with owner Alex about options. He had just returned from an event at Kona, and he was really excited about the new line of Jake cyclocross bikes.
The Jake series consists of the Jake the Snake (aluminum with carbon fork), the Major Jake (race carbon), and the Super Jake (race carbon and better componentry). Here is the link to the whole Jake lineup and specs. After discussing the benefits of carbon for a cyclocross hack, and the great specs of the base model Jake the Snake, we looked at sizes and ordered one up for me on the spot.
When the Jake arrived, I was struck by the great aesthetics. The gray scheme looks great in person. But when you get on the bike, you realize how it really shines. I couldn't wait to get it out, so I rode it on the road over to my baseball meeting about a mile away at Shoshone Park. No handed riding on the street was easy with the stable Jake platform, and blazing fast riding across the grassy fields at the park made it seem like the bike just wanted more and more power. The stock bike and wheels were fine.
The next day when the video was shot, I got out with the Jake and my Boyd wheels laced with Donnelly MXP tires. These really took the Jake to the next level. The bike just wants to go and go on the grass. It is super stable on rooty descents and it just gives you the feeling that you are flying over the grass. It really feels racey to say the least. I also love the square shape of the top tube underside, and it really helps when you shoulder the bike. A nice touch that shows that Kona knows racing and what a cyclocross bike feels like.
The Sram Avid 1x system works fine with the 11-32 cassette and 40 tooth FSA narrow wide chainring up front. It's a standard ratio/combo that works. The TRP cable actuated disc brakes are good, and I honestly cannot tell too much of a difference between these and the fully hydraulic Sram Rival on the CAADX. The TRPs were also easy to center when I changed wheels, also helped by the thru axle design as opposed to the CAADX's quick release skewers.
The WTB wheels are a tad heavy, but they set up easily with the Maxxis All Terrane tubeless ready tires after coming with tubes installed. The tape was perfect and the tires have been great. No levers needed to install. They are a good base component, every bit as good as some of the lower end Stan's stuff I have seen and slightly better than the CAADX's Maddux wheels. It is no doubt I will be using the Boyd wheels a lot, but I was slated to ride some gravel today (before we got 2.5 inches of rain in an hour) and I was planning on using the WTB and Maxxis combo with no hesitation.
I was immediately impressed by the WTB Volt Sport saddle. I was thinking of buying another Shimano Stealth for this, but I have to say I am impressed so far with the WTB and may just keep it on for the season.
If I have two minor complaints, I would say the bars are a tad oversized at 42 cm and that the bar tape is cheap feeling faux cork. Most people who would ride the 52cm cross frame (I am 5'9") would be better suited to 40cm bars in my opinion. The Kona bars are noticeably wide. And having just put nice Fizik tape on my CAADX and Gaulzetti (at $29 a pop), the Kona tape stands out like a sore thumb. Better bar tape would be a touch that really sets the bike apart, and I hope that more brands consider better tape on stock models. Why should someone have to immediately buy tape with a new bike?
The Jake, my Jake, at 52cm weighed exactly 22 pounds on my scale. It's a tad heavy, but does that really matter when you feel like you're flying? I think not. I'm super happy with the purchase, and I think I may even see a Super Jake frame in my future to replace the CAADX.