Spy Shot! New Cannondale Lefty Suspension Fork in Testing & More!

spy shot 2013 Cannondale Lefty suspension fork in testing by Jeremiah Bishop

Jeremiah Bishop testing a new Lefty fork prototype. Photo: MTB Mike.

When we posted the photo showing a new Mavic 29er wheel, we also noticed something peculiar about Jeremiah Bishop’s fork. A couple of phone calls to JB as he was packing to head to the World Cup race in South Africa yielded a bit of intel.

The most prominent difference is the moto-esque rock shield hiding the lower stanchion. If you’re not familiar with Lefty forks, the slider is on the bottom and is typically hexagonal shaped. The flat surfaces keep it from rotating and give the needle bearings something smooth to roll on. The result is a very stiff, very smooth suspension action that’s also pretty lightweight.

UPDATE: More photos of the fork and wheels posted here.

JB told us that he can’t tell us specifics about changes to the internals (in fact, Cannondale likely hasn’t even told him or other Cannondale Factory Rider teammates specifics), but he did say it’s a bit lighter and noticeably stiffer than the current production model. Another big change he noted is that the new lower stanchion is round…

Bishop said the new design was inspired by motocross, hence the guard, and that they’ve been running them without the dust cover boots. He said they’ve even run the current model without the boots for quite some time, that they’re not really necessary…maybe not when you have a team mechanic, but whatever. Here it is on one of the bikes he’ll be making his USA Olympic team bid on, so we’re guessing it works.

Compared to the couple-of-years-old Lefty Evan has on his bike here in the office, this one looks to have a slimmer lower section where the axle and disc brakes mount, too.

As for performance, Bishop says the prototype version he raced at Mellow Johnny’s Classic and this past weekend at Angler’s Ridge in VA felt very good with only subtle changes over current models.

Now, about those wheels…He wouldn’t give much in the way of details, but after a bit of pressing, here’s what we got: The tubeless rim makes mounting tires super easy, they’re lighter and “the key difference was noticeably improved lateral stiffness and…improved lateral stiffness. With early 29er wheels, you saw benefits just with the bigger wheels to roll over things. Then they dropped weight, but they were flexy and noodley. Now, we’re seeing 29er wheels that are serious about performance. Did I mention these were laterally stiff? OK, you get the idea.”

Cannondale’s PR guy Bill Ruddell wouldn’t comment other than to say they’re always testing new things under their athletes.

More as we get it…

Big thanks to MTB Mike for the photo!

Comments

Topmounter - 03/12/12 - 8:42pm

Let me test my understanding of this rumor:

Mavic and Cannondale are going to update their products so they are lighter and stiffer than this season’s current products?

Mortimer - 03/12/12 - 9:49pm

A completely round stanchion on a single legged fork. That’s going to steer well! I don’t think so. There has to be some interface to make the to and bottom turn. I thought it was April 1st for a moment.

Tom - 03/13/12 - 1:50am

Surely the big news is Nino Schurter winning the XC in Pietermaritzburg on a 650b scott?

Bill - 03/13/12 - 1:54am

My guess is it still has the square interface for the bearings, they just moved it up in the ‘fork’, closer to the crowns. This would increase the stiffness by moving the twisting forces to the stronger part of the fork. This would also allow them to remove material in the lower sections, thus decreasing weight. The lower section of the ‘slider’ could them be left round, allowing them to run a more traditional seal at the bottom. they would also be allowed to run a bushing close to the end to further increase stiffness, while adding minimal weight. Overall, this would produce a lighter, stiffer, and probably smoother fork. Seeing as the lefty already owns all of these titles, this could make all other fork companies really feel like thay are fighting a losing battle.

Mindless - 03/13/12 - 6:34am

@Bill: all the other companies are just fine. They use standard wheels and they work great. As for stiffness – Magura’s are very stiff.

J-dog - 03/13/12 - 6:49am

http://blogcannondale.blogspot.com/2012/03/du-neuf-pour-les-lefty-en-2013.html

That might shed some light.

The new Lefty is a bearing / Bushing Hybrid.

29er users will see big stiffness gains against Fox, RS etc.

Skeptics need to try this fork before they speak.

vhom - 03/13/12 - 10:22am

I had a Rush with a Lefty and thought it was okay at best. The fork tracked well, but it it never felt right for me. This one looks beefy and the tubing on it looks larger than current models. I don’t think Fox and Rockshox have nothing to worry about.

Nivlac - 03/13/12 - 3:34pm

I raced two seasons on a Scalpel with the Carbon DLR2 – best fork ever. The air volume is so large, you could run the fork much softer than a traditional 2-legger. Fast tracking, great bottom out resistance, incredible stiffness, maintenance free(for my 2 seasons of racing, the Scalpel had new bushings each year), rock solid lockout. The downside is wheels selection, and mounting it on a wheel-off roof rack.

gringo - 03/14/12 - 3:23am

stiffness of the fork is ‘forgettably’ offset by the floppy Lefty wheels on the market that must use narrower hubs than traditional front wheels.
Also, while Leftys ride well, the recomended maintinance schedule is a pain the arse.

stgriffi - 03/14/12 - 8:06am

Off topic – What kind/brand of sunglasses is Jeremiah wearing in that picture?

MTB - 03/14/12 - 8:41am

stgriffi,

Oakley radar.

As for lefty maintenance, I have a lefty terralogic stock from a 2006 bike and never had to send it in for maintenance/never lost air (but probably should for tune up).

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