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!