Cannondale has up-specced the 2008 Perp 1 without a massive price hike, and followed RockShox’s lead with a DIY custom graphic kit. We find out if the Perpetrator can live up to its moniker.
The swingarm on the Perp 1 bears more than a striking resemblance to that found on the Judge DH bike and gives the ‘Dale a whopping 18.125in chainstay length. So to try and keep the overall wheelbase of the bike reasonably tight, for low-speed manoeuvres typical of Shore-style stunts now exported to every corner of the globe, Cannondale has had to lop length off the front end, giving the Perp 1 a front wheel weight bias. We took one look at the medium Perp 1 and immediately knew we’d need a large. Even when the upsized Perp 1 arrived, the dimensions of the front end weren’t big by anyone’s standards. The large ‘07 complete bike even came with a 70mm stem; thankfully Cannondale has addressed that for ’08, but what was it thinking in the first place? Did it expect riders to take this 40lb plus rig on an XC ride, or was it trying to compensate for a short cockpit? Either way the short 50mm stem is more appropriate on a freeride bike. Again a 150x12mm rear hub combines with a 83mm bottom bracket shell for improved wheel strength, and Cannondale is the only manufacturer on test to run a double chainring set-up and a front mech.
Swapping between the 180mm and 200mm travel settings on the Perp isn’t as easy as removing a single shock pin but it can be performed with two Allen keys in a matter of minutes. Clear markings on the swingarm make swapping all the bits around pretty much foolproof. Changing the travel alters the leverage on the Van R shock, and having tried both settings we stuck to the long-travel option as it gave us the right amount of sag for the 450lb spring fitted. Off the top, the suspension action on the Cannondale isn’t what you would call plush and it bottoms easily on larger drops. Swapping back to the shorter-travel setting cured the bottom-out issue but it also reduced suspension sag and compounded the highest bottom bracket on test. What we needed to get a better set-up was the volume adjuster found on the more expensive DHX5.0 shock.
It was only a matter of time before the Fizik Freak reared its ugly head again. It’s white, it’s durable, no actually it’s pretty much indestructible, and it’s not that dissimilar to sitting on a lump of wood. For 2008, Cannondale has ditched the Hayes brakes on the Perp 1 in favour of Avid’s Code5. Power and modulation is excellent, with a lever shape that is second
Having such a front wheel weight bias isn’t without its advantages, especially on longer-wheelbase bikes. It allows you to pivot the bike around on the front wheel in super tight turns. It also inspires confidence for high-speed flat cornering, as you know that the front tyre is never going to break away before the rear. The problems arise when you drop into a steep shoot with no transition to flat and you have to pop the front end up to stop yourself face planting. On the Perp 1 it requires a Herculean effort to lift the front wheel, and the breast plate on our Dainese body armour met the stem on more than one occasion when we underestimated the rearward weight shift required to lighten the front wheel, and our arms buckled under the impact.
We mentioned earlier that the suspension on the Perp isn’t the plushest, but what we neglected to say is that it is the worst on test at dealing with braking bumps. In fact you quickly learn that the Perp 1 is best ridden off the brakes, forcing you to either brake earlier or later to avoid the worst of the chop.
The Cannondale Perp 1 excelled on medium gradient fast-flowing trails that weren’t super rough. It pedals very well and it’s incredibly stiff but we felt that the forward weight bias of the bike isn’t ideal for freeride. As a complete package the spec represents good value for money but we’d forgo some of the bling bits to get a shock with a bottom-out adjuster.
MBR verdict: 7/10