This single leg, twin crown unit is one of the stiffest forks available, with surprisingly good tracking and lack of brake ﬂutter, but until now it was only available if you bought a complete Cannondale. The new Lefty For All programme changes that. The air-sprung alloy-legged monoblade 110mm-travel fork (140mm version also available) is now available for use on all bikes with a conventional 1.125in head tube.
There are three areas almost all riders question with the Lefty: performance, technology and looks. Granted, the single fork leg can make the front end look odd, the stubby front hub is awkward (removing the front wheel means removing the brake, and reattaching the wheel on the fork spindle is an acquired art, however puncture ﬁxing is simple as you can leave the wheel in place) and means buying a new wheel, and twin crowns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – they raise the front end of the bike, which can affect ride position.
We rode a 10-hour marathon race with a DLR Lefty and throughout the fork was smooth, stiff and faultless. In truth, there are no vices to the single leg: it doesn’t steer left, even ridden no-handed; the hub axle doesn’t ﬂex a millimetre, even when landed hard off jumps; it’s reliable, even with air and damping all crammed into one leg; and the build quality is fantastic.
Technologically it’s up with the best from RockShox and Fox and with performance to match or exceed other top-end forks. The latest Lefty DLR has Cannondale’s OPi (one piece integrated) CNC-machined upper leg including integrated twin crowns, which is a new feature for 2010. OPi strips excess material from the unit to bring the total weight down to 1,365g (a 100mm RockShox SID Race weighs 1,475g, although it does cost considerably less at £535).
Fitting the fork is ﬁne but requires a vice or slide hammer to seat the crown race. Fitting all the spacers and headset parts in order as you slide the head tube into position, however, is like a Krypton Factor test and requires two people. However it’s the ride that’s the deﬁning test of any suspension fork, and whether zipping over small ripples or dropping down steps the new DLR 110 is awesome. The rebound dial seems more responsive than on the ’09 Speed Carbon, and the lockout makes smooth surfaces a blast. If only it were cheaper.
Long-term test update after 650 miles
The anti-Lefty fork brigade will have the knives out for this mono leg suspension fork, but sadly they’re all misguided sorts content to regurgitate horror stories from a decade ago. True, in its past Lefty was a bit of a troublemaker, but not with the modern era forks. We’ve run this Lefty For All – the first ever Lefty designed specifically for use on bikes that aren’t Cannondales – damn hard this year.
Trying to fill it in with dust, sand, water, mud and snow has done nothing to reduce its ability to give a great floaty feel through the rough stuff. We’ve been able to set it up deep and plush and firm and racy with not much more than a few extra squirts from a shock pump. The rebound dial was set and largely left alone, though we did use the on/off leg top fork lockout switch a lot more than we thought we would.
We’ve tried to find things it couldn’t do but largely failed as we’ve sailed through the worst obstacles the trail could offer. For those who cling to the ‘it’s flexy’ propaganda, that’s waffle too. We’ve been able to hit the finest lines with accuracy. Okay, it’s still an engineering ‘because we can’ project for Cannondale, but so what? It’s a fork that works at least as well as the best twin leg models, and better than most.
Looks-wise it’s a Marmite thing and this year has either made or ruined each bike we’ve used it on according to whether you’re a lover or a hater. We’ve been both over the years, but mostly now fall into the lover camp. This latest version of the genre has proven to be a reliable workhorse that's well worth a place in your stable