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Cannondale Lefty Close-up Review

The Cannondale Lefty blasts out, as the lone-ranger with an unmatchable ambition for being one of the best XC innovations out there! It’s absolutely unparalleled in its compliant and rigidity ratio, and we at SPARK BIKE love it!

I had the pleasure of experiencing the Lefty 2.0 on Cannondale’s Scalpel-Si, a few weeks ago. I was blown away with its performance, weight and stability. A perfect all-round package for any XC racer, were my first thoughts.

Lefty 2.0 

When looking at the composition of the Lefty 2.0, you notice innovations that were made with the rider in mind. Strictly, taking performance into account and maximizing the value of rider benefit. Cannondale’s core on this stand-alone shock is the XLR Isolated Damper. Since the Lefty has one shaft that channels shock upwards, the XLR Damper can be more effective at getting in the way of those vibrations and even be more sensitive in some cases.

The XLR Isolated Damper, may have taken care of things when the shock was in open mode. However, it was Cannondale’s XLoc Full Sprint mode on the Lefty that brought stiffness to the table when it was needed most. Easily activated with the remote on the handlebars, XLoc Full Sprint let no energy go to waste on climbs. When I was going flat-out, the lockout also came in handy, as I noticed slight increases on my speed, through specific sections, compared to other bikes.

Cannondale took the time to make this Lefty fork their own, by exercising a fine XC specific tune. The result was a perfect happy medium between springy, absorption and slow enough compression rate.

The Measurement Game     

The Cannondale Lefty 2.0 comes out with a XC classic, of 100mm of forgiving travel. Short enough to aid handling, yet long enough to blunt even the sharpest of inconsiderate bumps. The Lefty also doesn’t push to the limit of sloppy handling, with its 55mm offset. That kind of offset got a good centre of mass going on the bike itself.

A Lefty Journey

The Lefty 2.0 provided an exceptional ride; one that redefined my perception of cross-country riding. First, it showed that me that cross-country riding can be fun, and somewhat less unnerving. Secondly, that I could be confident on corners at high speeds. Thirdly, that rock-gardens are merely sections of XC tracks that simply seek more attention than others.

Focusing on the rebound of the Left; it was a different vibe, but in a good way. Initially the first 20mm of travel, compressed relatively slowly. The next 60mm opened up more to prevent large bumps from becoming a threat. Compression then slowed down with the final 20mm of the shock, probably to prevent bottoming out. Ultimately, the Cannondale Lefty compressed well at high speed over large bumps, while still remaining sensitive to smaller bumps.

Cannondale never forgot the inevitability of climbs along a cross-country course. Therefore, they designed the Lefty to be especially rigid when it came to facing ascending giants. The nature of the Lefty came across super stiff when in lock-out mode. I could get out of the saddle and sprint without any jogging in the front of the bike. A perfectly all-rounded front shock in my opinion.


Ultimately, the Cannondale Lefty held its line through the test course. Because of the Lefty’s nature, you can tackle long cross-country races and come-off as the best. It saves energy, and show-cases a compliance game.

Cannondale Lefty

By Joel Meintjes

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Bike guide

Built for: Dual Suspension Trail
Year launched: 2022