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New Cannondale Lefty fork seen at World Cup #1

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Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) is using a flat FSA carbon bar on his Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er.

Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) is using a flat FSA carbon bar on his Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale is perhaps still working out final internal details on the new Lefty, judging by these rider-specific tuning notes.

Cannondale is perhaps still working out final internal details on the new Lefty, judging by these rider-specific tuning notes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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In addition to lending a more upscale appearance, we expect the new Lefty's semi-rigid guard to offer more protection than the current rubber boot, too.

In addition to lending a more upscale appearance, we expect the new Lefty's semi-rigid guard to offer more protection than the current rubber boot, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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These new Lefty fork guards are clearly one-off prototypes but with the new seal head in place, Cannondale can finally run the forks without the accordion boot.

These new Lefty fork guards are clearly one-off prototypes but with the new seal head in place, Cannondale can finally run the forks without the accordion boot. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale Factory Racing team bikes were fitted with new Lefty forks in Pietermaritzburg. Team mechanics wouldn't say a word about the layout but badging reveals there are still 88 needle bearings at work inside. We surmise the bearings are now further up in the chassis, however, and augmented by a bushing at the bottom.

Cannondale Factory Racing team bikes were fitted with new Lefty forks in Pietermaritzburg. Team mechanics wouldn't say a word about the layout but badging reveals there are still 88 needle bearings at work inside. We surmise the bearings are now further up in the chassis, however, and augmented by a bushing at the bottom. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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One of the few disadvantages of Cannondale's Lefty fork layout is the need to unbolt the front brake caliper if you need to remove the front wheel - though the single-sided design means you can repair flats without having to do so, anyway.

One of the few disadvantages of Cannondale's Lefty fork layout is the need to unbolt the front brake caliper if you need to remove the front wheel - though the single-sided design means you can repair flats without having to do so, anyway. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale's new Lefty configuration still uses 88 needle bearings but they've now apparently anchored on the lower leg and ride up the inside of the upper leg, thereby increasing the amount of bushing and bearing overlap as the fork goes deeper into its travel for even more stiffness than the Lefty already had.

Cannondale's new Lefty configuration still uses 88 needle bearings but they've now apparently anchored on the lower leg and ride up the inside of the upper leg, thereby increasing the amount of bushing and bearing overlap as the fork goes deeper into its travel for even more stiffness than the Lefty already had. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A team mechanic has wrapped Cannondale Factory Racing rider Manuel Fumic's Mavic rear hub with zip ties - perhaps to quell some creaking with the early prototype samples?

A team mechanic has wrapped Cannondale Factory Racing rider Manuel Fumic's Mavic rear hub with zip ties - perhaps to quell some creaking with the early prototype samples? (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Manuel Fumic's (Cannondale Factory Racing) Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er sits at the ready before Friday's practice laps.

Manuel Fumic's (Cannondale Factory Racing) Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er sits at the ready before Friday's practice laps. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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As usual, Cannondale's own Hollowgram SL cranks are installed on team bikes, complete with SRAM XX 36/29T chainrings.

As usual, Cannondale's own Hollowgram SL cranks are installed on team bikes, complete with SRAM XX 36/29T chainrings. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires set up tubeless on the Cannondale Factory Racing machines.

Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires set up tubeless on the Cannondale Factory Racing machines. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale says the flattened rear stays on the Flash Carbon 29er helps soften the ride.

Cannondale says the flattened rear stays on the Flash Carbon 29er helps soften the ride. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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A carbon fiber spacer is used on Marco Aurelio Fontana's (Cannondale Factory Racing) Cannondale Hollowgram SL cranks.

A carbon fiber spacer is used on Marco Aurelio Fontana's (Cannondale Factory Racing) Cannondale Hollowgram SL cranks. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Cannondale's single-leg Lefty fork absolutely requires some design element to keep the upper and lower legs from rotating relative to each other. We're guessing the needle bearings are further up in the chassis - and possibly firmly anchored into the top of the lower leg as opposed to the current full-floating layout - and now augmented by a lower bushing, which allows for a round shape for the lower leg and a conventional lip seal.

Cannondale's single-leg Lefty fork absolutely requires some design element to keep the upper and lower legs from rotating relative to each other. We're guessing the needle bearings are further up in the chassis - and possibly firmly anchored into the top of the lower leg as opposed to the current full-floating layout - and now augmented by a lower bushing, which allows for a round shape for the lower leg and a conventional lip seal. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article originally published on BikeRadar

The first UCI World Cup mountain bike race is always ripe with new goodies for the season and Cannondale's Factory Racing team continues the trend with an all-new Lefty fork design.

The most obvious trait on the new Cannondale Lefty fork is the round lower leg – well, at least the part you can see, anyway. Labeling elsewhere on the fork suggests there are still 88 steel needle bearings at work to keep the upper and lower legs from rotating relative to each other but we're guessing they've been moved further up inside the lower leg, out of sight and also further away from possible contamination.

Speaking of contamination, the round lower leg now finally allows for a conventional lip seal to be used in contrast to the current open – but covered – layout. A bolt-on semi-rigid plastic guard is now bolted on to protect the front and side of the lower leg from impact. As an added bonus, the now properly sealed layout should also perform much better in wet weather as compared to the current setup that could occasionally suck in water given the right conditions.

Moving the bearings further up inside the leg not only cleans up the appearance but it should also improve the fork's already incredible chassis stiffness. Hidden behind the wiper seal is possibly a supplemental bushing. This is anathema to the Lefty tifosi but assuming we're correct, such a change coupled with the proposed bearing relocation would actually improve the new Lefty's chassis rigidity, especially as you move deeper into the travel when you want that stiffness most – not unlike old Manitou forks, in fact.

If it's done right, adding a single bushing wouldn't necessarily add an offensive amount of friction, either.

Internally, it's much more difficult to tell what's going on with the spring and damper system and team mechanics wouldn't say a word. In fact, they jokingly wouldn't even acknowledge hearing our questions. That being said, Cannondale looks to still be using the single-valve, dual-chamber Solo Air system and XLoc hydraulic lockout system borrowed from RockShox, presumably again coupled to Cannondale own damper design.

Team mechanics obviously wouldn't comment on the new fork's weight, either, but it's unlikely to be heavier than the current version.

However, team rider Jeremiah Bishop did offer some commentary on the ride quality when we caught up with him at the team pit area in Pietermaritzburg. According to Bishop, the biggest difference from the previous design is a boost in lateral stiffness – something he especially notices with the 29" wheels.

We surmise the bearings are now further up in the Lefty chassis and augmented by a bushing at the bottom, which allows for a round shape for the lower leg and a conventional lip seal