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  1. #1
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    New question here. Bad Lefty Failure..

    First, The last thing I want this to turn into is a Lefty bashing thread.. I have two lefty's myself and dont see that changing. I did want to put this out there to see if: 1) anyone has seen anything like this before 2) in the event this happens to anyone again.

    I wasnt present when this occurred, but have met the racers and other racers who were present. It occurred during a state XC racing series (FSC/ Florida State Championship racing series) at Ft Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach, FL. The racer was going "downhill" (a term I use loosely since this IS Florida after all, and it was an XC race).

    The racer was in Cat 2 40-49. He was injured; fracturing his sternum, jaw, and a vertebrae, along with breaking at least one of his teeth. He was airlifted from the scene and required surgery.

    He was riding a 2011 or 2012 29er Scalpel with an aluminum Lefty.



    Now if youre familiar with a Lefty, you know that particular area of the clamp appears to have holes on the underside, maybe to shed more weight? A picture of the underside of the clamps from my own personal bike:


    So has anyone ever seen a failure like this? When I heard the failure, then saw the pictures, I was surprised as it was not where I would have expected.
    Put a mountain biker in a room with 2 bowling balls and we'll break one and lose the other - GelatiCruiser

  2. #2
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    I ride the same bike and would like to hear from Cannondale on this!

  3. #3
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    I've pictured something like that happening when riding, but never seen or heard about anything remotely like it until now. My oldest lefty is a 2004 and it works like a charm.

    More pics of the damage and of where it happened would be needed to even make an uneducated guess.

  4. #4
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    A friend of mine sent me this pic knowing I have a Lefty on my Flash Carbon 29r. I still feel there is more to this story then what we actually know about. I am guessing that he either hit something before the fall at speed, or the fork was damaged in someway before this race. I have a hard time believing it just broke causing the fall. I hope there is a way we can eventually get the full story. I know I will be checking out my fork before every ride, but I am not going to be afraid to ride it at all.

  5. #5
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    More information will surface with time. Unfortunately the rider is still in the hospital. The only updates are of his medical status. Im sure once he is out and mobile again, we will have additional pictures and information. Since it was the first lap of a 3 lap race, he was probably in a pack, so there might even be video of the incident.

    here is a video of a race from the prior year, so you can get an idea of what the terrain is like: FSC#2 Ft Clinch State Park - Fernandina Beach, Expert FL 40 to 49 - YouTube
    Put a mountain biker in a room with 2 bowling balls and we'll break one and lose the other - GelatiCruiser

  6. #6
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Ouch.

    My only guess would be that someone over tightened the ever lovin' piss out of the clamp bolts.

    If tight is good, tighter still, is always better, right??????

    Between folks tightening their hubs on so hard that they pull the helicoil out, to clamps developing cracks at the bolt holes from the same thing, yeah, over tightening is my bet.

    Never seen a failure like that, now I can say I have!

    Glad the guy is okay overall though.....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

    - FrostyStruthers



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  7. #7
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    Let the mass hysteria begin.

  8. #8
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    Looking at the video I doubt it was anything to do with the course. I would be more inclined to think it was what Mendoncycle said. Again, we have to wait this out. Hopefully the guy comes out of this with no issues.

  9. #9
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    Interesting failure. Glad the rider is "OK".

    I have the same fork, weigh about 220 geared-up and have bombed (and crashed) fairly gnarly DH repeatedly with it. Bent a front wheel. Zero indication of damage to the Lefty, though.

    My crazy out of left field BS bogus nonsensical hypothesis:
    Over time, the brake hose rubbed a divot into the Lefty "triple clamp" creating a stress riser that ultimately resulted in the failure.

    More likely - as Mendon said: over-trq'ed the clamps to all hell.
    '95 M2 StumpJumper FS
    '11 Cannondale RZ 120-two

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Let the mass hysteria begin.
    OMG...................OMG........................O MG
    My lefty is dangerous, must selllllllllllllllllllll
    I have a 2006 carbon max with 140 mm travel upgrades to 2012 internals. I will let it go for $4,200. Please don't ask for free shipping as that is as low as I can go.



    -
    -
    -
    -



    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  11. #11
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    If someone removed the travel limiting spacers, tire could have jammed into the bottom of the head tube.

  12. #12
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    Crazy... I was racing there as well that day. Apparently it was making a minor clicking noise and then gives out....Head impact and then black out. The hills on this course are at best 6' at the highest point. My elevation profile on strava looks like a bunch of little speed bumps. Lots of sand and roots, but nothing that I would think that could cause it to snap apart like that despite how poor of a line one chose. Unfortunately, one of those "1/1,000,000" failures.

  13. #13
    o°<o NYC pebble jumper!
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    After watching that video... definitely do not feel there was anything significant on the trail that would cause failure.

    I would also be lead to believe that the failure of the part was due to poor negligence of the bike.

  14. #14
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    the man that this happened to is James Miller: https://www.facebook.com/j4m3z He was banged up prity bad but is recovering from the crash. Send him some love and well wishes.

  15. #15
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    whatever the cause - i hope the chap has a good recovery, and gets out riding again very soooooon!!!

    good luck man.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by skene View Post

    I would also be lead to believe that the failure of the part was due to poor negligence of the bike.
    And you know that how?
    Less isn't MOAR

  17. #17
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    Sorry... should I have first put up several hundred posts before my opinion is of worth?
    Or should my qualifications in metals be questioned?

    I'm not an MTBR pro. I don't have enough posts here to prove that.

    However I have worked with enough metals when I worked with manufacturing and designing of race engine parts. Even through the rigors of mountain biking, the metal isn't subject to extreme tolerances where the aluminum is consistantly being heated and cooled. With forged aluminum, the metal is not heated and cast. It is milled out of raw blocks of aluminum which there would be no air pockets in between the metal. So the only things that would cause forged pieces to fail are excessive stress placed onto the metal itself.

  18. #18
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by skene View Post
    Sorry...
    Any Lefty failure discussion = flame, Sideknob = moth.

    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  19. #19
    No good in rock gardens..
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    Quote Originally Posted by skene View Post
    Sorry... should I have first put up several hundred posts before my opinion is of worth?
    Or should my qualifications in metals be questioned?

    I'm not an MTBR pro. I don't have enough posts here to prove that.

    However I have worked with enough metals when I worked with manufacturing and designing of race engine parts. Even through the rigors of mountain biking, the metal isn't subject to extreme tolerances where the aluminum is consistantly being heated and cooled. With forged aluminum, the metal is not heated and cast. It is milled out of raw blocks of aluminum which there would be no air pockets in between the metal. So the only things that would cause forged pieces to fail are excessive stress placed onto the metal itself.
    You have not even examined the item in question. Have you seen detailed photos of it? I'm just interested in why you think the guy hasn't maintained his fork. If you make a remark like that it's fair for people to ask why you have formed that opinion.

    Mendon - as you know I'm not a Lefty kiss-ass like some. Lefty is great. I love mine.

    When it's working....
    Less isn't MOAR

  20. #20
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    I don't think lack of maintenance caused the issue. I think lack of appropriate knowledge on how tight the clamp bolts should be caused the issue. Obviously the clamps sheered off. The big question is why. If the clamps were too loose, its immediately noticeable when you try to turn the front wheel. If the clamps waaaaay over torqued, you'd conceivably start making cracks on the opposite side of the clamps. What I can't get my head around is how tight that must've been. In order to break the clamps like that you'd have to tighten the bolts to the point where the entire face of the open end of the clamp is jammed up against the other side. You'd really have to work at it...
    www.msmtb.org - Mississippi Mountain Biking

  21. #21
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    Regardless of what caused it, I hope the guy makes a full recovery!!

    Question, how many people have just walked through to the other room and checked there Lefty Clamps??

  22. #22
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    I had two titanium rods with associated screws installed along my spine to stabilize and fix a crushed T6 vertebrae. I'm recovering one day at a time. Cannondale is sending an engineer who is literally on his way to my house as I write this to take pictures of the bike. The medical prognosis is that I should make a complete recovery, albeit with a lifetime of airport metal detector hassles from now on. Not sure if I'll race again, but I will definitely ride again. To answer the question that people seem to have most: The fork just failed. I was in 4th place after getting a decent hole shot in the beginning and was flying along normally and then I woke up on the ground with another rider pouring water on my face. I don't know what happened, but it happened. I didn't torque the **** out of the bolts. I've been racing and riding for years and am not a newbie to any of this. It's just a very unfortunate, and life-altering, catastrophic failure. Metallurgical reports might reveal more about how it might have occurred. I'll post updates when I have any. Thank you to everyone who has shown concern for my well being. The cycling community has been very supportive and so far Cannondale is showing a willingness to accept responsibility and step up with paying medical expenses. I'll certainly keep everyone posted about that aspect of it as well. There are definitely more negotiations about money in the future. My only hope is that they negotiate in good faith. I was doing nothing but riding the bike in the manner for which it was designed. It was professionally maintained as I am a sponsored by my bike shop who is a well-known local Cannondale dealer here in South Florida. Thanks to Jim's Bicycles in Deerfield Beach for all the support over the years.

  23. #23
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    I wonder if for your own sake, you should delete the legal obligation stuff towards Cannondale.
    You don't want to disclose info or make assumptions on a message board. It might bite you in the a$$ later on. : )

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by j4m3z View Post
    I had two titanium rods with associated screws installed along my spine to stabilize and fix a crushed T6 vertebrae. I'm recovering one day at a time.
    Sending you best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

  25. #25
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    Re: Bad Lefty Failure..

    Good luck with your recovery...

  26. #26
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Indeed, hope you're out rolling again, very soon!
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

    - FrostyStruthers



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  27. #27
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    So far Cannondale has reached out to me and been very sympathetic and helpful. I'm counting on that trend to continue and I'm hopeful we'll be able to come to an agreeable to everyone settlement without the need for lawyers. Until proven otherwise I expect this to be a possibility. I have nothing negative to say about Cannondale.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by j4m3z View Post
    So far Cannondale has reached out to me and been very sympathetic and helpful. I'm counting on that trend to continue and I'm hopeful we'll be able to come to an agreeable to everyone settlement without the need for lawyers. Until proven otherwise I expect this to be a possibility. I have nothing negative to say about Cannondale.
    I hope you get well soon.

    Is this Lefty under warranty? If you mentioned it, I must have missed it
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  29. #29
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    Good luck and speedy recovery.

    PS: I have a heap of stainless steel in my right humerus and it doesn't set airport scanners off.
    Less isn't MOAR

  30. #30
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    J4m3z,

    3 words for u, my friend: retain a lawyer.

    You need to be very careful about what you say, and be very careful about properly preserving the evidence so that YOUR expert can examine it and opine on the failure.

    Cannondale has lawyers and is acting with the benefit of expert legal advice - u should too if u want an even playing field.

    Wishing u the best of luck with all aspects of this and a speedy recovery.
    '95 M2 StumpJumper FS
    '11 Cannondale RZ 120-two

  31. #31
    aka: Buck eFikes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpjumpy View Post
    J4m3z,

    3 words for u, my friend: retain a lawyer.

    You need to be very careful about what you say, and be very careful about properly preserving the evidence so that YOUR expert can examine it and opine on the failure.

    Cannondale has lawyers and is acting with the benefit of expert legal advice - u should too if u want an even playing field.

    Wishing u the best of luck with all aspects of this and a speedy recovery.
    I could only echo this sentiment. They put knife to bone and now you have hardware installed?! You're in for a lifetime of potential issues related to your repairs. Maybe not soon, but somewhere down the line. I commend you for not going all gonzo on the lawyer thing but you seriously need some representation on such a serious issue. When you heal from this initial event....it's not over for you. Trust me, I know. Been there, done that, got the avatar.

  32. #32
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    Yes, retain a lawyer ASAP. Getting one doesn't mean that you have to sue Cannondale for billions (or even take an adversarial position); it just means that you have someone representing your legal interests. That's why Cannondale has them, right? Their lawyers aren't looking out for YOUR interests at all. Equal footing is imperative when negotiating issues like this.

    If I were you'd I would take down your posts immediately, and then follow the advice of your lawyer until everything is wrapped up.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by TobyGadd View Post
    Yes, retain a lawyer ASAP. Getting one doesn't mean that you have to sue Cannondale for billions (or even take an adversarial position); it just means that you have someone representing your legal interests. That's why Cannondale has them, right? Their lawyers aren't looking out for YOUR interests at all. Equal footing is imperative when negotiating issues like this.

    If I were you'd I would take down your posts immediately, and then follow the advice of your lawyer until everything is wrapped up.
    Retaining a good law firm is critical, whether or not Cannondale is offering to do the right thing. Long term medical concerns and future expense need to be factored into any type of settlement. Retaining a lawyer does not mean your an aggressive claimant or gold digger. In regards to removing or deleting any or all of the post, don't bother, they're already archived in numerous places and any forensic investigator worth their hourly fee of $300.00 will find them in minutes ( and probably bill out for 3 full hours).
    Good luck and stay the course..

  34. #34
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    Before retaining a lawyer, see what is Cannondale is offering.
    At the end of the day, you get pennies on the quarter where the lawyer gets the 24 cents

    I would delete whatever you posted about financial or personal dealing within Cannondale and FB.

    All the best and wishing you the best. I have seen a few bad spills @ getting to the ER. Thankful that it was not a $22k flight to the ER

  35. #35
    OMZ
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    It is very easy to crack the crowns of Leftys if the pinch bolts are over tightened. They certainly cannot be tightened as much as the pinch bolts on a traditional stem.

    Best of luck and heal up soon!

  36. #36
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    So two things....

    1.) How tight is correct?
    2.) Weren't there some failures with the Cannondale sponsored downhill riders someone around 2k5 or 6? I seem to remember hearing about it then. If anyone remembers that, was the failure in the same part then as well?
    </g33k> ::: allg33k.com

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbg33k View Post
    So two things....

    1.) How tight is correct?
    2.) Weren't there some failures with the Cannondale sponsored downhill riders someone around 2k5 or 6? I seem to remember hearing about it then. If anyone remembers that, was the failure in the same part then as well?

    7-9 NM, 62-80 INCH lbs
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  38. #38
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    It IS amazing how many shops do not use trq wrenches on various high-end delicate parts. They have some ham-fisted kid reassemble stuff. I got my bike back one time with a grossly over-tightened and busted seat post clamp and crushed carbon post. The shop took care of it, but the level of negligence scared me. I DIY everything now.
    '95 M2 StumpJumper FS
    '11 Cannondale RZ 120-two

  39. #39
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    Same here on the DIY.
    When I'm wrenching on my Cdale, I've got the scalpel, Lefty, and Fox manuals out for the Torque references.

  40. #40
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    OUCH!

    Hope you have a quick and full recovery!

  41. #41
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    Thanks for the good wishes and advice. I'm not paying a lawyer if it's possible to get this settled amicably. I'm aware of my injury and it's potential problems down the road. I'm no babe in the woods. I'm looking out for me. Don't need a lawyer until I need a lawyer. I'm good natured but not stupid.

  42. #42
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    Having just purchased a Scalpel with a lefty myself, Im curious how heavy of a fella are ya? Im pushing 275lbs and do moderate trails for execize, no crazy downhill racing..But this thread has me concerned.

  43. #43
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    I was a svelt 195. Less now after the accident. I would have a chat with your local Cannondale rep or call them and ask. 275 is pretty hefty but I'm no expert and my situation is certainly not the norm.
    Last edited by j4m3z; 10-24-2013 at 09:03 AM. Reason: typo

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dajerseyrat View Post
    Having just purchased a Scalpel with a lefty myself, Im curious how heavy of a fella are ya? Im pushing 275lbs and do moderate trails for execize, no crazy downhill racing..But this thread has me concerned.
    Don't be too concerned really.
    Many, many leftys are in service and get the piss beat out of them and they keep rolling.

    I have seen many brands of forks fail. So, this is not something to only Cannondale.

    All bike parts can fail for one reason or another. I've seen a Trek carbon road frame bottom tube collapse on a lady (maybe 130 lbs). My buddy has a similar Trek carbon road frame and beats it to death and it's more than happy to take it.

    Just make sure ALL you bike parts are properly installed and torqued. If you are not sure how to do it, or you don't have a torque wrench, take it to a shop. Many of us are happy to offer help but your milage may vary.
    Last edited by ziscwg; 10-24-2013 at 10:07 PM.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  45. #45
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    My 2010 bike has a carbon lefty. Last year I had a pretty bad crash resulting in my front wheel crossing up and twisting into nearly a 45 degree angle. The bike was thrown 10 feet in the trees. The fork is fine and shows no signs of fatigue or wear.

    My LBS does all of the maintenance on the fork.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dajerseyrat View Post
    Having just purchased a Scalpel with a lefty myself, Im curious how heavy of a fella are ya? Im pushing 275lbs and do moderate trails for execize, no crazy downhill racing..But this thread has me concerned.
    Why would this thread have you concerned? It is anecdotal and devoid of anything to indicate WHY the fork failed.

    If you search MTB Forums, you can likely find anecdotal evidence of failure for EVERY MTB product under the sun. Some things fail from misuse, lack of maintenance, incorrect assembly, defective design, defective manufacture, defective materials, defective fasteners, crash impact, etc. Without knowing the cause of failure, no conclusions can be drawn.

    Lefties are rigorously professionally raced. If the fork crown was defective, you'd see a bunch of failures.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Bad Lefty Failure..-fumic-jump.jpg  

    Bad Lefty Failure..-fumic-dh.jpg  

    '95 M2 StumpJumper FS
    '11 Cannondale RZ 120-two

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpjumpy View Post
    Why would this thread have you concerned? It is anecdotal and devoid of anything to indicate WHY the fork failed.

    If you search MTB Forums, you can likely find anecdotal evidence of failure for EVERY MTB product under the sun. Some things fail from misuse, lack of maintenance, incorrect assembly, defective design, defective manufacture, defective materials, defective fasteners, crash impact, etc. Without knowing the cause of failure, no conclusions can be drawn.

    Lefties are rigorously professionally raced. If the fork crown was defective, you'd see a bunch of failures.
    Those same rigorous professional racers also have rigorous professional mechanics, to be fair...
    Less isn't MOAR

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpjumpy View Post
    Why would this thread have you concerned? It is anecdotal and devoid of anything to indicate WHY the fork failed.

    If you search MTB Forums, you can likely find anecdotal evidence of failure for EVERY MTB product under the sun. Some things fail from misuse, lack of maintenance, incorrect assembly, defective design, defective manufacture, defective materials, defective fasteners, crash impact, etc. Without knowing the cause of failure, no conclusions can be drawn.

    Lefties are rigorously professionally raced. If the fork crown was defective, you'd see a bunch of failures.
    Well because I just got the bike a week ago and just joined the forum and this is one of the first threads I see.. Initially I was concerned with my weight being an issue on an dual suspension bike to start with, but so far that has not been an issue. I am an athletic 275 BTW not a complete lard ass..lol..The guys you speak of racing these bikes appear to be well under 275lbs, like 100 lbs under..Im sure lefty;s dont fail often, but the way the fork is designed if it does fail, it appears it will be a bad one resulting is some significant injury to the user. What type of poor maintenance can cause failures of the lefty's where they crack off like the one pictured? Not debating just asking what I need to keep inspecting regularly. Also Im sure professional racers get their equipment replaced fairly often from the manufacturers.

  49. #49
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    Dajerseyrat,

    I hope I could ease your mind a lil' about the Lefty with this picture. I'm about 255lbs (probably more now) without gear. It's a Lefty Max Carbon 140mm SPV on my 2006 Prophet 4x. Had some issues with the internals due to bad way of transporting my bike, but Mendoncyclesmith sorted that out. Still going strong since...

    Bad Lefty Failure..-img_0979.jpg

  50. #50
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    [QUOTE=Stumpjumpy;10702666]Interesting failure. Glad the rider is "OK"

    My crazy out of left field BS bogus nonsensical hypothesis:
    Over time, the brake hose rubbed a divot into the Lefty "triple clamp" creating a stress riser that ultimately resulted in the failure.




    Not such a "crazy out of left field" concept. I have seen beginnings of such divots on both of my Lefty lower clamps. I keep a sacrificial material (currently a plastic zip ty) between said clamp and cable.

    Cannondale recommends (they provide the plastic sticky patches) protection of any area where a cable rubs a frame or part, so pay attention to any such area(s) when checking out your bike.
    Forks are for eating, Lefty's are for racing,

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