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  1. #1
    High Alpine Adventure
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    I've been Leftified

    Drank the Kool-Aid and liked it...

    I first got intrigued with the Lefty after doing a quick parking lot roll on a 2009 Cannondale Caffeine conveniently parked in the bike rack at a local bike shop.

    The dampening action seemed smooth and responsive and the dual crown front end seemed solid. So I did a little reading on this thing called a Lefty and I became more and more impressed. No seals to cause "stiction", just 88 smooth rolling needle bearings supporting the travel with a Rock Shox Cartiridge Design for dampening. A "25mm to 15mm" Tapered Roller bearing front wheel hub provides a smooth rolling wheel with lots of rigidity. And a carbon design makes it really light. Like 2.5lbs light!!!

    So I decided to take a chance and swap out my Reba on the Orbea Alma 29er Race Rig with a Lefty. I found a deal online for a 29er ready fork and contacted the folks at Project-321 to procure a wheel hub and a 1 1/8" steerer tube. A little magic wheel building and yes, some fussing and fidgiting, and low and behold, I have a Lefty on my Orbea.

    So what's the bottom line here Goat, you may ask? Well first off I dropped a whole pound off the bike. I went from 23lbs-10oz down to 22lbs-10oz, right off the bat. Not bad! I also lost 20mm of travel from 100mm down to 80mm for the Lefty. But the Orbea is a Carbon HT Racing platform that is designed around an 80mm travel fork, so no sweat there. The Axel to Crown dimension did change by 20mm, so the geometry was impacted.

    Now when I rolled out the other night on my initial ride, the first thing I noticed was this change in geometry. I had gotten use to the 100mm Reba and with the Lefty I could feel that I was weight biased on the front wheel a bit more and felt a little more on top of it. Not a bad feeling mind you, just different. I was wondering how that would impact the feel of the front end; the stability, the control and the dampening. So I took note and off I rode.

    The first thing you notice about riding the Lefty is it's solid feel. The dual crown design and the large diameter strut combined with the square shaft/needle bearing design are rock solid. I could detect NO flex what so ever in the front end. Definitely more solid than the Reba or the Fox 29er I've ridden previously on this bike.

    Those who know me, know I am a real believer in "dual crown" XC forks. Going back to my experience with the early days of the Maverick DUC 32 and up to my current favorite all-around trail bike, the Spez Enduro SL, I have always felt that a dual crown fork is way more ridgid and solid than any oversized 1.5" or tapered headtube will ever be. And the Lefty just re-affirms that belief in my world. If I have an option, I'm going dual crown!!!

    The geometry change did liven up the response of the steering, but I wouldn't call it hyper-active or twitchy. In fact, I think the solid nature of the fork actually compliments rather than counteracts the "responsiveness" of the steering. You can literal put this bike where you need it at a moments notice and not have it go swinging it's head in reluctant disregard. It is very confidence inspiring when you know you can truely point and shoot. Combined this with the "demands" that a 29" front wheel places on the handling and I think its a winning combination of strength, response and traction.

    So the handling is great but what about the dampening. This is where I think this fork really shines. The needle bearing design and lack of seal stiction come together on the trail in a very real way. Almost instantly I could feel the response of the fork to small bumps and trail undulations. It's almost hyper-sensitive to trail input in a way that is surreal. You actually feel all of the nuances of the ground below you. It "ground tracks" in a way I have never felt on another fork. The best way I can describe it, is that with conventional seals and stiction there is a delay in feedback from the trail to your hands. This delay causes a lack of connectedness that can be interpreted as poor small bump compliance and feedback. With the Lefty's design its like a veil has been removed from the reponse to the trail and you are now in a hyper-aware mode of judging the traction and response of the front end. It really is that significant!!!

    So how does the dampening feel? Well it uses a proven design in the Reba Cartridge Technology but they actually take it one step further. Maybe some would call it a limitation, but I actually think of it as added simplicity. With the Reba you can add Negitive and Positive air pressure to not only change the spring rate (rate at which the fork stiffens up under compression) but to also change the initial ride characteristics from firm to plush (ie; sag).

    With the Lefty they have combined the Negative and Positive Pressure adjustment into one valve. So you don't have as much adjustability, but it is simplier to set. In effect they have taken a middle of the road approach to setting the folk dampening and they seemed to have guessed(?) pretty well where that is at. I put 100PSI into the fork for my 175lb weight and the fork rode somewhat firm, but ate up all of the admittedly limited ruggedness of ome of our local trails. To challenge it a bit, I threw some Bunny Hops off of ledges to flat and the fork compressed well, ramped up smoothly all without bottoming. In other words, it felt pretty spot on which is a testament to how much design and development has gone into the Lefty over the 10 years or so that Cannondale has been developing this thing.

    Now you may wonder, with the reduced travel and the forward weight bias, did I ever feel like I might go over the bars? Did I feel the fork might have limitations on what it could absorb. I didn't push it that far, but I never got that feeling. I ride pretty smart so I know how to keep the front end from getting over whelmed. Not that I never endo, but for the riding I would do on this rig, I wouldn't say the fork would be a limitation. It ramps up smoothly and feels pretty bottomless. It's interesting because if you do the "Handlebar Push" test, you might think the 80mm fork travel would be a limiting factor. This is something I was initially concerned about. But when you are on the bike with your weight balanced, the fork travel really isn't something I would consider an issue.

    So what is the REAL bottom line? I have a bike that is a full pound lighter than before. I can feel that weight reduction when I ride; the bike is livelier. The handling is more responsive and much more solid than before. The fork dampening has a much improved tactile feel and ramps up in a smooth progressive manner. Bottom line? This is a modification that has tranformed the way I feel about my bike. I didn't go into this with some sort of Lefty bias, but more of wondering what it would be like. All I can say is it has proven to be one of the best modifications I have ever done to a bike. That's how strongly I feel about this.

    Next up will be a conversion of my Titus Racer-X 29er with a Lefty 130 PBR stepped down to 100mm. It will be interesting to see how a Full Suspension Lefty 29er feels!!!

    Now get out there and ride!!!!
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    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  2. #2
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    Damn that looks hot...whats the weight?

  3. #3
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    Thats a beauty... the Lefty look makes any bike stand out... its the best.. I have 5 of them!

  4. #4
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Light is right...

    Quote Originally Posted by karlmichael
    Damn that looks hot...whats the weight?
    Hey Karl...

    Went from about 23lbs-10oz down to 22lbs-10oz... I definitely noticed the weight drop. Bike is a lot livelier...

    I was an "early adopter" within my small community of riders on an Airborne B-29er, and I predicted that in a couple years 29ers would be a large component of the Mt. Bike whirld. People scoofed a bit then, but low and behold.

    I predict the same thing for the Lefty. That it will ultimately become the "go to" fork for 29ers... and if it's good enough for a 29er, then why not a 26er!!!

    It definitely opened my eyes to this whole Lefty thang!
    Last edited by DaGoat; 07-02-2010 at 05:00 PM.
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  5. #5
    Genius
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    Hey Goat,

    I am glad to see I am not going to have the only Lefty in New Mexico anymore!! OK, maybe I'm not the only one but most of the time I feel like it. Anyways, I couldn't agree more on your review. It is well written and you should consider sending it to a magazine. I have ridden a lefty for years. I don't see myself going back to a conventional fork. Every time I have demo'd a bike with a fox or whatever, I have left disappointed.

    I can hear the excitement in your words and wish you safe riding. Now go ride all your trails again. With the lefty, it just might feel like your riding them again for first time.

    .
    "I think im gonna go to walmart and look at the mountain bikes and see if i can salvage the rear frame."- Nick_Knipp 3/21/12

  6. #6
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    negative rise stem and riser bars

  7. #7
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    The newer Lefties actually do not look bad at all. Hey, if you can get reliable and good performance and lose a lb off the front, there isn't anything to not like. That bike looks ridiculously fast!

  8. #8
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    The newer Lefties actually do not look bad at all. Hey, if you can get reliable and good performance and lose a lb off the front, there isn't anything to not like. That bike looks ridiculously fast!
    Yeah Flyer... Faster than me!!!
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  9. #9
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    Nice!!!!
    '05 Prophet 1000
    '09 F3
    '93 Delta V 700
    '08 F6 Lefty (son's)
    '08 F6 (daughter's)

  10. #10
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Many trails to roam...

    Quote Originally Posted by HAL 9000
    negative rise stem and riser bars
    Hey Hal... you actually touch on a good point! Now you might think I'm a little wacked, but I've found that really small changes in the bar relationship can really change the character of the handling. To give you an idea, I'm still playing around with the bar height by adding and removing spacers. The spacer on top in the pictures above was actually below on my first ride and I reset it to the existing position.

    The first ride I felt like I was on a "trail bike" but the handling was actually a little slower and more controllable. The present setup is a little more comfortable from an XC standpoint, but the bike is definitely twitchier and nervous. I think it has to do with the weight on the bars and the relationship of the leverage point to the wheel axle. I am going to go up by another 1/2" next ride out.

    The same thing can be said about stem length and its impact on reach. Obviously you want to start with your seat position and your relationship to the cranks. You want to get that "on top" but slightly behind feel that gives you the power up those grunty climbs. But once you establish that, the stem length is critical to making sure you can "pull up" but not wheelie up the climbs. It's a fine balance that you can fine tune by adjusting the seat position.

    So to your point about the negative stem and the riser bars. I probably could have used a zero degree stem and a flat bar and achieved the same thing, but I had a 12 degree stem, so the riser actually zeros that out. Plus I like the 10 degree pull back on the Salsa Pro-Moto which I couldn't find on a flat bar (most are 5 degree).

    Now here's where you'll think I'm really wacked, but I actually feel like I have a subtle improvement in control and leverage when my hands are above the connection point on the stem. It's one of the reasons I ride "risers" and not "flats".

    Like I said, I may be weird and even though I'm a degreed engineer I couldn't explain the Physics behind what's going on, but all I do know is what I have set up there evolved from a flat bar and positve rise.

    And it feels right to me... I guess that's what really matters!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails I've been Leftified-img_1687web.jpg  

    Last edited by DaGoat; 07-02-2010 at 05:11 PM.
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  11. #11
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bobby9
    Hey Goat,

    I am glad to see I am not going to have the only Lefty in New Mexico anymore!! OK, maybe I'm not the only one but most of the time I feel like it. Anyways, I couldn't agree more on your review. It is well written and you should consider sending it to a magazine. I have ridden a lefty for years. I don't see myself going back to a conventional fork. Every time I have demo'd a bike with a fox or whatever, I have left disappointed.

    I can hear the excitement in your words and wish you safe riding. Now go ride all your trails again. With the lefty, it just might feel like your riding them again for first time.

    .

    Let's get together and ride sometime Bob... PM me with your email!
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  12. #12
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    Are those custom ano'ed Elixirs?

  13. #13
    High Alpine Adventure
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    Quote Originally Posted by amillmtb
    Are those custom ano'ed Elixirs?
    Not sure if they are custom or some sort of OEM thang... I bought them on EBay. Nice braking power but the Stan's Alu Rotors are about fried... been running them for a couple years now.

    I think I'll probably go with the Aligator Rotors when I trash the Stan's... almost as light and with the braking power of steel...

    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/162...p=115%20ALISR7
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaGoat
    Plus I like the 10 degree pull back on the Salsa Pro-Moto which I couldn't find on a flat bar (most are 5 degree).
    just off the top of my head...

    http://www.edgecomposites.com/handlebars/mtb.aspx

    http://www.ritcheylogic.com/dyn_prodfamily.php?k=358534

    http://salsacycles.com/components/whammy_flat_bar/

    http://www.profile-design.com/titec/...r--handlebars-

    http://www.ninerbikes.com/fly.aspx?l...122&parts=true

  15. #15
    High Alpine Adventure
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    What ever Hal.... Been racing this bike for over three years now... wonder how many of those bars where available in 2007! And why would you put an aluminum bar on 22lb race rocket? So you can scratch Niner and Profile Design...

    I will say the Ritchey Logic looks interesting. I have ridden an Origin 8 Space bar (Similar to an On-One Mary)and thought that felt good. Took a while to get over the feeling of pushing a wheel barrow, but once I started rolling it in earnest I got use to it and it actually felt pretty comfortable.
    Last edited by DaGoat; 07-05-2010 at 09:56 PM.
    Dug-Da-Goat

    Something changes at 12,000'
    ...so welcome to the Odyssey!

    Building your trails at FooMTB

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