Two shock mount positions on the swingarm mean you can swap between FR geometry or steep XC angles. However, the actual geometry is slacker than stated on the frame, as the Prophet was designed around a shorter Lefty fork. Additionally, the extra height of the lower headset cup — used to step the 1.5in head tube down for conventional 1-1/8in forks and give the clearance for the fork dials — slackens the geometry further.
When climbing we experienced a slight knock in the Fox 32 Float RL fork. Initially we though it was caused by the compression circuit, but it was actually occurring on the rebound stroke. Also the fork didn’t feel as plush off the top as the other 32 Float RL on test. This caused some hand ache and mild arm pump on longer descents. Obviously the knocking would be covered under warranty.
On the rear we always ran the ProPedal lever on the RP23 shock in the open position, as the Prophet pedals well enough without any extra low-speed compression damping.
Because Cannondale has specced 2.35in tyres on what are effectively XC rims, the Maxxis Ignitors feel more unstable than normal. We wouldn’t recommend bigger than 2.1in tyres on Mavic XM317 rims, and even then you need to run them pretty hard. Worse still, the tyre/rim combination makes the back end of the Prophet feel more flexy than it really is.
We had to bleed the Juicy 5 brakes on the Prophet as the levers pulled straight to the grip, right on the first outing. Once bled the brakes performed flawlessly and were a reminder that aftermarket lever blades are pointless for Avid brakes.
The powder-coated seatpost may look good in the catalogue but the paint start flaking off the first time we adjusted the saddle height. Flakes wedged between the post and the seat tube making it increasingly difficult to raise or drop the saddle. In the end we were forced to remove the post and clean out the seat tube. A black anodised post would be preferable.
Like the Orange, the Prophet has plenty of room up front. In fact the position felt stretched with the 90mm stem. Swapping to a shorter stem improves the reach and steering response with the slack 66.5-degree head angle and the 27in wide bar. If you are stepping up from a hardtail or a short travel XC bike and find the geometry too big a change, or if you need extra pedal clearance, you can always use the steeper XC setting.
Once we fitted our control tyres, slammed the stem down and moved the shock into the FR setting the ’Dale was ready to rock.
With a high forward pivot location the Cannondale pedals neutrally in the big and middle ring, but pedal feedback is noticeable when you drop it into the granny on the climbs.
Overall it is the handling and geometry which make the ’Dale so much fun to ride. The slack head angle inspires confidence as you’re not constantly fighting the front end on rough terrain. Basically, we never felt like we had to back off on the Prophet.
If the Prophet 1 was £2,000 or more we would’ve score it an 8 because of the teething problems and spec issues. But seeing as fitting a shorter stem, new seatpost and a set of tyres that better match the rim profile and your local riding conditions won’t set you back more than £150, it’s still a hell of a lot of bike for the money. However, it’s not just about value, as the Prophet 1 never felt out of its depth and without any modifications it’s still a very capable and versatile trail bike straight out of the box.
MBR RATING: 10/10