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Advantages and disadvantages of Lefty forks

Advantages and disadvantages of Lefty forks

Cannondale has always been a revolutionary brand in terms of bicycle technology. His Lefty fork, one arm, is the best example of that innovation policy that has always shown the American brand. A suspension fork away from the classic two -bar chassis model, whose maximum purpose is to provide a front suspension with the best commitment between absorption, stiffness and weight. Apart from presenting as a very versatile suspension fork, the Lefty fork provides benefits that go beyond its rigidity and lightness, such as softness and speed of response or its customization options. That does not mean that Cannondale's is not the final fork, since it also presents some inconveniences of use, mainly due to its greater mechanical complexity. We list both the advantages and inconveniences of this Mountain Bike so fork, which causes love and hatreds in equal parts.

Lefty fork history

Cannondale scalpel bicycle It should be reviewed the origin and development of the Lefty fork to know better the purpose with which it was created and the improvements it has received in its more than 20 years of history. Cannondale It was one of the brands that contributed the greatest solutions for the suspension of the mountain bicycle in the 1990s. In 1992 he introduced the Headshock, an unpublished front suspension system, based on a shock absorber between the steering tube and the rigid fork. This shock absorber slid through the tube by four metal and rectangular strips with needle bearings, which significantly reduced internal friction to achieve a very soft operation suspension. This was the system in which Cannondale was inspired seven years later to create its monobrazo fork. Why only one? Because the brand engineers wanted to continue taking advantage of the effectiveness and softness of the Headshock in the fork itself, but that meant using two headshock, one for each bar, and add an extra weight that would include performance. Therefore, starting from the design of its motorcycle fork for descent and taking the double plating structure - which had already been used precisely in motorcycles - Cannondale "left" in two the fork. He was left with the left arm to lighten weight and continue using the Headshock system. Thus the Lefty was born (whose name refers to that left arm) in 1999.

Technological evolution: from the double lefty 8 of the unique crown

Lefty fork Models as mythical as the scalpel, Jekyll or F-SI have set up this fork for standard. His famous arm has also received improvements regarding weight and rigidity. Just two years after its launch in 1999 the first Lefty was marketed with carbon bottle, also investing the position of the bar with respect to the bottle, staying the first below. In 2010 the platerine was welded to the fork arm in the aluminum version, thanks to the OPI (One Piece Integration) technology. This solution endowed the front train with more lightness, greater rigidity and increased turn precision. And from there it was evolved to the last great progress of the Lefty: the launch of the model 8 (8th generation) in 2018. A revolutionary Lefty fork, 100 or 120 mm (according to version), which dispensed with the double plethine by First time and anchoring to the steering tube was like that of any other conventional fork. This would be the possibilities of assembling the Lefty in other bicycles that were not Cannondale.

Advantages of Lefty forks

Lefty fork Beyond the striking aesthetics that a Lefty fork contributes on the mountain bike, the truth is that this type of suspension of a single arm provides some advantages, among which we highlight the following:

Greater sensitivity

The sliding of the bar through needle bearings and not by friction bushings, as in the rest of the forks, makes the Lefty provide greater initial sensitivity. Also because of the fact that the bar is located closer to the wheel axis. That is, when rolling with it on stony terrain, near and successive obstacles, the suspension reaction is immediate and recovers its initial position quickly.

Great softness

This friction by needle bearings provides a better sliding of the bar. Greater softness is synonymous with better response, recovery of the fastest route and greater control of the bicycle on the technical paths.

Balance between weight and rigidity

One of the ailments of the previous Lefty fork, the double platerine, is that in the years immediately prior to the appearance of version 8 it was already at a disadvantage if we compared its weight with the new Fox 32 and Rockshox Sid for XC. By eliminating the double platerine, the Lefty has saved 250 grams on the scale and has a very similar weight (1,446 g without blocking control) to these forks of the competition. Likewise, having a bar with straight internal sections, instead of circulating, provides extra stiffness in several directions: vertical, torsional, etc., which improves the efficiency of the pedaling of the biker (avoiding losses of the power transmission by the Suspension movement) and the general maneuverability of the bicycle.

Settings and compatibilities

Assembly compatibility with any conical steering tube (Tapered) of any Mountain Bike box has definitely opened the Lefty market beyond Cannondale. In addition, it has the same or even more compression or rebound settings than the rest of the forks and spacers can be introduced to reduce the volume of the air chamber. Mention at this point that the only arm of the fork houses both the air chamber and the hydraulic cartridge, which in the conventional forks are separated and installed one in each arm. In addition, Lefty 8 is offered for both wheels of 29 "and 27.5" (the latter only in aluminum option).

Disadvantages of Lefty 8

Lefty fork Obviously, not everything is perfect in Lefty forks, which still have margins to improve in certain aspects. We highlight the following:

Specific bushing need

While it is already possible to install the Lefty in any Mountain Bike box with conical steering pipe, it must be clarified that you need a specific wheel bushing. This means performing an extra expense to condition the wheel to the fork.

Slower wheel assembly and disassembly

In the previous versions of the Lefty (2.0, opi, etc.), mount and disassemble the wheel could bring the occasional headache, since it was necessary to also disassemble the brake clamp. In the Lefty 8 this problem has been improved by incorporating an eccentric release screw in the Stopock support of the clamp, postmount type. Touring the 180º screw using a 5 mm Allen key The clamp is quickly released, being able to extract the wheel laterally. However, the disassembly is still done in two phases: first remove the clamp and then loosen the axis fixing screw (also necessary an Allen key). Thus, the operation remains somewhat slower than by extraction of the axis, typical of the rest of the forks.

Less available technical services

The Lefty fork, even having improved its compatibility beyond Cannondale bicycles, remains an exclusive product with specific operation. That is why its maintenance must be carried out irremediably in Lefty technical services. And this network of workshops is not as widespread or as wide as that of the great brands of suspensions. However, and regardless of their exclusivity, maintenance deadlines They are very similar to those of their competitors in the market. The Lefty fork must go through the technical service at least once a year for a basic review (seals, oil and cartridge check), with a cost that the brand figure at 100 euros.

Should I change my fork to a Lefty?

Cannondale Scalpel Possibly and after reading this article you can ask this question. If your picture is compatible with the Lefty 8, even if it is not Cannondale, and you want to have a short -quality, light and rapid response fork, you should undoubtedly consider the change. The price of the Lefty fork can be a barrier (1,599 euros the carbon version) and also the need to have a specific bushing for its installation. However, Cannondale offers an aluminum version of 500 euros cheaper (1,099 euros) that matches it in price with the rest of high -end XC forks on the market. Likewise, Cannondale launched in 2016 a variant of the Lefty for Gravel, the Oliver, with 30 mm of travel and that has recently adopted the design of the 8 with the same compatibilities. Finally, keep your level as a biker and the type of routes you make if you want to make the most of the Lefty. It is an initially created fork to compete and adapt to XC routes of high physical and technical demand. If you only use your MTB as fun or to make sporadic routes, it might suit you to opt for a less exclusive conventional fork and more adapted to a type of more recreational Mountain Bike.
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