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  1. #1
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    Pros & Cons of the Lefty

    I'm interested in getting a Cannondale for the upcoming race season. But I've never ridden a Lefty fork (except around the parking lot of a LBS). I'd like some opinions on the Lefty fork. I've heard a lot of good things about them, and I've heard some bad too. Can someone tell me the benefits and the drawbacks of this "fork"?

  2. #2
    PCC
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    Positive: stiff, no sticktion, no possibility of the two legs of the fork 'camming' from an off-center hit.

    Negative: front wheel selection is limited, not too many shops will look at the front strut if you have a problem with it.

    I really like mine.

  3. #3
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    I agree with PCC. Great performing strut once you have it set up right. Take your time setting it up and it will reward you. Wheels are becoming less of a problem with Mavic, Shimano, and Industry Nine making wheels for them. One other Negative... If you use a fork mount holder for you bike in/on your car, you have to buy an adapter for the lefty. I still haven't laid down the money for one, although it has cost me a brake rotor from lying the bike down in the back of my car. Good luck.
    "Don't take life too serious. You'll never get out alive."

  4. #4
    mad aussie
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    Pro's-unbelievable stiffness for the weight (for the SL or carbon version), you get SID weight with stiffness the SID could only dream about with 110 mm travel, low stiction once broken in.
    No risk of dropouts breaking or your disc brakes pulling your QR wheel out of the droputs
    Easily tuneable with a little knowhow.
    Size specific negative springs and damping
    Looks different

    Con's-other than rebound and air pressure there is not a lot of external adjustment such as low speed compression. You have to pull the cartridge apart to make changes and not all bike shops have the knowhow. The Lefty Fox RLC addresses a lot of these problems
    You need to reset the bearings every 10-25 hours, about a 5 minute proceedure easily done at home, but if you are the kind of person who just puts a fork on and ignores it then forget it. They do require a little more service such as changing the air filter and greasing the bearing races every couple of months, but then again you are supposed to oil the foam rings regularly on a Fox fork, but lots of people dont and complain their seals go bad!
    As noted removing the front wheel is a little more time consuming, but a lot easier than a thru axle.
    Looks weird



    Kevin
    Last edited by Flying Wombat; 12-30-2007 at 02:40 AM.

  5. #5
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    A plus that wasn't mentioned - you don't need to take the wheel off to fix a flat.
    Another - you can put a multi-tool in the head tube for super fast access.

    I have had lots of Leftys and just got my first conventional fork, a Fox that came on my Trek 69er. Comparing to that, the Fox is plushyier and is softer on small bumps, that's about all I'll give it over my SL Lefty. The SL is much stiffer, lighter, tracks truer with much less bob. My SL went 1500 miles before it needed some work, other than the normal maintainance, but since then it has been to Cannondale twice. All seems good now and it has over 2500 miles on this season. The Fox is still new, so reliability is still open, but I doubt the 69er will see the kind of milage I put on my Rush.

    Mike
    Mike

  6. #6
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    When will the wheel thing end??

    You have a hub, build it with whatever rim spoke combo you like, end of story. This is soooo different from say, an XT or DT Swiss hub. Or buy Mavic, Shimano, I 9's offerings. This whole limited wheel availability thing is so silly.......

    BTW, there are also offerings from Woodman if you need a 36 hole hub, Cannondale offers 24 and 32. Golly, choices are so limited
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  7. #7
    Killer of Chains
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    Lefty Stem selection is limited, and working around the confines of the higher crown means that some lengths can't be used.

  8. #8
    mad aussie
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    If you are shorter than about 5'6" and like to have that handlebar a lot lower than the saddle then with the longer head tube, you couldnt use the SI stem steerer, but a -30 stem would get you there. It would be nice if they had the XC3 stem/steerer in the same sizing options as the individual stems.

    On the plus side if you are on the fence about 26, 29 or 650B all it takes is some spacers and a piston change to convert backwards and forwards.

    Kevin

    p.s. I agree with Craig on the wheel options. Now we have Shimano XTR, Mavic SLR, I9, Spinergy, Stans all with Lefty wheel options, or you can do what I did and build a custom set with the Lefty Omega front hub and whatever rims and spokes you like!

  9. #9
    Avenger of Evil
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    One of my deciding factors in my purchase of Cannondales, is the Lefty. I rode a friends Jekyll, and at that moment .....I needed a Lefty.
    They are light, strong, "buttery" smooth, and go where you point them. I now own a Jekyll, and a Prophet, both with Leftys.....(Soon to be a third...caffine 29er.. )

    There has been a lot of negative talk, but as Mendon said, once you have the parts, it's like any other wheel and suspension combo, only better.

    Try it, you'll like it.
    Famous Last Words....."Hey, watch this!!"

  10. #10
    FIRENZE rulez !!
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    i rode lefty since 2002

    no other fork on my bikes ...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MendonCycleSmith
    When will the wheel thing end??

    You have a hub, build it with whatever rim spoke combo you like, end of story. This is soooo different from say, an XT or DT Swiss hub. Or buy Mavic, Shimano, I 9's offerings. This whole limited wheel availability thing is so silly.......

    BTW, there are also offerings from Woodman if you need a 36 hole hub, Cannondale offers 24 and 32. Golly, choices are so limited
    Friend with a Lefty taco'd his front. Took the lbs a week to order the rim then another week to build it. We normally share stuff including wheels if a buddies bike is down but none of us have leftys. He eventually sold the lefty and switched to 32 Fox Talas.

    Pro: The lefty has super mud clearance for riding in clay type mud.

  12. #12
    Cannondale Snob
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    Umm... just buy a spare wheel-set. Eventually something is going to happen and you'll have to plunk down the money anyway, so just use a little fore-thought and avoid the inconviniance (sp?). A Cannondale Dealer worth their salt should really have a front wheel hanging about anyhow...
    '06 Cannondale Rush 1000 4" travel 27lbs
    '04 Cannondale F600 SOBE -STOLEN!
    '96 Cannondale Uber-V 6" travel 30lbs

  13. #13
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    I tried the lefty thing, it didn't work out for me(after two leftys blown). So I changed over to a normal fork, not only do I like it better but its also what everyone I ride with uses. So I didn't like the lefty, and I don't really understand why people think they are so great.

  14. #14
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    I think the maintanence

    may be the most noticeable "daily" issue. As stated above, loved the stiffness, smoothness, minimal stiction. But the only thing that used to really annoy me was the bearing reset. seemed like often times my TPC+ max was needing a reset in less than 10 hours. and even then, tough to get it back to full travel. My other lefty, SPV max seemed to need this less but may be that I rode it less.

    I keep up on my routine maintanence on my Marzocchis and Rock Shox but the Lefty seemed more finicky. But not a day goes by that I don't miss the ride and action of the Lefty fork.

    REEK

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiskEverything
    Eventually something is going to happen and you'll have to plunk down the money anyway, so just use a little fore-thought and avoid the inconviniance (sp?).
    Actually that's what my friend did. His son has a Specialized with a conventional QR wheelset. He figured it was better if he got rid of the lefty and switched to the convertional fork. He bought a spare wheelset that he & his son can share.

    Ironically he started raving about the fact that he could run a really short stem on a regular fork. The shorter stem got his weight way back over the rear tire that reduced his endo'ing on steep technical descents. The endo is what cause his wheel to taco in the first place.

    I agree that sh#t happens and you need to be prepared for it. On my summer trip to Whistler I figured I could buy most of the parts on my bike at Whistler. My only concern was my Magura Gustavs. Wasn't sure if spares would be available or how much down time to fix it so I pulled my mechanical Avids Disc brakes off one of my bikes and threw it in the lugguage. Didn't need it but I was prepared.

  16. #16
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    I love how the bb7 is like the never breaks down and can take anything brake

    as for pos.: basically what everybody has said already.
    neg.: wat everybody said already and also your always gonna meet some dick thats gonna annoy you all day about the 1 sided fork.

  17. #17
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    I've owned two lefty's both the same fork alu bonded dlr2's one on my scalpel and the other on my rush. I agree with all the pros that have been listed here in particular the stiffness off the fork is unparalleled, and I've never had any problems with migration which other people seem to have. Overall my opinion of the lefty is very positive.

    So I guess I'm going out on a limb here when I say that in my opinion the lefty has one glaring weakness.. It turns better to the left than it does the right.

    When I say turns better I'm talking about when you are pushing the bike, leaning it to the limit to try and get around a corner quickly with out washing off speed.

    TO THE LEFT it grips, the traction is dialled in, it tracks true and highlights the stiffness of the fork.

    TO THE RIGHT sometimes all of the above, other times depending on certain conditions (surface type/gradient/moisture) I find the traction is not there, its not as grabby, It doesn't track as well and I find myself autocorrecting the steering to compensate. I'm also 6'3" and so my center of gravity is higher than most.

    Nowhere is it highlighted as much as a local 3k loop dirt crit I do on Wednesday nights where if the course can alternate between clockwise and anticlockwise depending on the mood of the organizers.
    Anticlockwise - mostly left turning... all good, Clockwise - moslty right turning ... OK but not as good.

    I've talked to other lefty owners about this and some agree, some do not. I'm suprised I have never seen this mentioned on this forum so I would say my opinion is in the minority.
    My opinion is not based on a quick blast around the carpark. I'm talking about 4 years racing/trail riding many K's on both scalpel and rush.

    I'm aware I might be shot down in flames criticising the lefty is such a way but opinions are like a@@holes in that everybody has one.

  18. #18
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    bleebs
    your opinion on it's own is valid, but without some reasoning or evidence, it's not worth much.
    I DO have some explanations for why this might happen, but they're all to do with alignment, bot of the bike and you. (as a long time lefty rider I can definitely turn better to the right, not left, and I know it)
    I can't think of an engineering reason for the behavior your describing - care to offer one?
    To the original poster - go ride one. Cycling is sooo fashion based. A lot of people love leftys, some don't. If they were a real failure, so the company pushing them would be too, but it's got to be the right thing for you.

    Nick

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholasc2
    bleebs
    your opinion on it's own is valid, but without some reasoning or evidence, it's not worth much.
    I DO have some explanations for why this might happen, but they're all to do with alignment, bot of the bike and you. (as a long time lefty rider I can definitely turn better to the right, not left, and I know it)
    I can't think of an engineering reason for the behavior your describing - care to offer one?

    Nick
    Nick, An opinion is just that... an opinion, what evidence do you want? I explained how it feels and I would only add that I have washed out a lot more times turning right then left.

    I'd qualify myself to say that I haven't just discovered mountain bikes in the last 6 months, but have been riding them for 10 years and racing them for 6 of that. I have two lefty equipped cannondales hanging in the garage (scalpel and rush) as well as a 29er hardtail and another short travel race 26" dually as well as road bike so I do have a diversity of riding experience and bike choice to base my opinions on.

    It has nothing to do with alignment, I'm talking across different bikes/wheels/tyre combos over a long period of time. No where did this become more obvious then a dry and dusty enduro where I had an inappropriate front tire for the conditions, I was riding this tyre to the limit and had a torrid time of it washing out on quite a few occasions. It wasn't till the next day when looking at the scabs on my right leg that I recalled that every fall was to the right.

    I'm not an engineer but I would have thought that it was obvious at the lefty is not a symmetrical fork that it's turning properties in different directions would be different even if it is small.

    As for explanation and at risk of making myself sound like an idiot , when you turn to the left you lean to the left and the weight and momentum of the rider is transferred down through the left side of the fork where the lefty strut is through the wheel and in to the ground (most direct route - superior). When you turn right the you lean right and the weight needs to be transferred not through the right but through the left side of the fork then back through the hub and wheel into the ground (a compromised route - inferior), This is not the most direct route and on top of that its a different route so It seams obvious to me that as different dynamics are in play in the different directions that there would be a different feel.

    I would go as far to say that when you pushing the fork (i.e. racing) I find it hard that you do not feel the trait in the fork. As I say the lefty is a great fork, I have two of them, but when you talk about pros and cons of the fork I would say this was a definite con.

    Leigh

  20. #20
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    I'm not an engineer but I had a friend in college who majored in mechanical engineering. For one of his final projects he designed a suspension fork. After calculating all the forces he came to the realization that the Lefty was the way to go for its weight to stiffness ratio. I must also say that this guy hated Cannondale. He said he worked the numbers several times to try and disprove it. He couldn't. The junction of the axle and strut is stiff enough to handle the stress (remember, cars, planes, and little red wagons don't have connections on both sides of the wheel.) so left and right hand turns are identical.

    I have had my Lefty Max for over 2 years and have never noticed a difference from turning left or right. I probably average about 40 miles a week during summer and have been riding steadily since 1991. I typically ride pretty aggressively over the many rocks that New England has to offer and my Lefty has handled it all perfectly. From my experience it is much better at fast big hits than the Fox Talus.

    Like was said earlier, it is most likely your form an not the shock.

    As for resetting the bearings, it takes about as long as lubing the chain so I don't consider it an issue. It is a fair trade off for silky smooth needle bearings.

  21. #21
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    Nick I agree with your engineering friend whole heartedly, and the infinitely more qualified Cannondale engineers would agree with him to. I am not an enemy of the lefty or hate Cannondale..... I like the fork.

    You say you don't feel the difference between left and right, I respect that, you ride 40 miles a week in summer and talk about big hits, your ride a lefty max (prophet or similar) so you obviously don't race XC and your riding style is different to mine. And there is no problem in that.

    But I don't think that your 2 years of riding a lefty max can qualify you to say I that I am wrong in my opinion. I ride 200k+ a week and race XC most weeks in the year. I'm telling you the fork has the taint, leave it at that or otherwise your saying I'm mistaken or your calling me a liar. Just allow somebody else to have an opinion after all diversity of opinions is what these forums are all about.

  22. #22
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    i'm not a racer but i've tested the limits of the lefty and i'm gonna keep it. don't ride no handed!!!

  23. #23
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    Looking at the Lefty it does look like like most of the weight of the fork is on left side of the fork centerline. I don't see a counter balance but I could be wrong. I can see how the fork could feel different in performing a left turn and right turn.

    In making a left turn the bike will lean to the left. When this happens the fork leg is below the fork centerline. This means the center of gravity of the fork is also below the fork centerline.

    In making a right turn the bike will lean to the right. When this happens the fork leg is above the fork centerline. The means the center of gravity of the fork is also above the fork centerline.

    The lower center of gravity left turn could make the steering more controlable for some riders because the effort could be less. The right turn could have the opposite effect.

    If the fork is stiff it shouldn't affect the left or right turning performance. I can see a rider will have a different feel for left and right turns.

    Just my 2 cents.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by racerzero
    Looking at the Lefty it does look like like most of the weight of the fork is on left side of the fork centerline. I don't see a counter balance but I could be wrong. I can see how the fork could feel different in performing a left turn and right turn.

    In making a left turn the bike will lean to the left. When this happens the fork leg is below the fork centerline. This means the center of gravity of the fork is also below the fork centerline.

    In making a right turn the bike will lean to the right. When this happens the fork leg is above the fork centerline. The means the center of gravity of the fork is also above the fork centerline.

    The lower center of gravity left turn could make the steering more controlable for some riders because the effort could be less. The right turn could have the opposite effect.

    If the fork is stiff it shouldn't affect the left or right turning performance. I can see a rider will have a different feel for left and right turns.

    Just my 2 cents.
    What about your drivetrain? Can you feel the difference since it is all on the right? If so, then the Lefty might be the perfect counterbalance. I guess this is a testiment to how great the Lefty really is if people have to try and fabricate the cons.

  25. #25
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleebs
    It turns better to the left than it does the right.

    Odd, I guess all the BMW's with single sided rear wheels are washing out in corners one way too? Sorry, not seeing it. Not attacking you, but I'm not seeing it.....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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