The Lefty Ocho is available in two versions, the Ocho Carbon and the Ocho Alloy, and only on the Cannondale F-Si hardtail mountain bike (for now). This 100 mm travel fork compares nicely to the top dog Fox 32 Stepcast fork, as well as the Rockshox SID; at 1446g for the carbon fork (1735g alloy) it offers comparable weight to the Stepcast fork and is actually lighter than the SID. Lefty Ocho’s trump card, however, is that Cannondale claims the Ocho as the stiffest XC fork around, with the least amount of friction around.
Specifically, Cannondale claim that the Lefty Ocho design reduces dynamic friction (during movement) by 75%, and static friction is cut by a whopping 141% compared to a Rockshox SID or a Fox 32 Stepcast fork. Big deal, especially for Lefty aficionados. They do this by using a single, keyed, triangle stanchion (as opposed to the four-sided shape of before). The triangle rolls on four sets of needle bearings (as opposed to the three of before). This design is inherently heavier, but the result is a fork that is smoother and more compliant throughout the suspension travel.
Cannondale has also overhauled the damper, and have done so for the better. They’ve brought in one of the minds behind the latest tech with the Rockshox Pike fork, meaning a closed damper design that closely resembles that of other brands that they call their Performance Piston. Volume tokens are newly available. No pioneering here, but instead an eye toward what’s reliable and proven to work. They’ve geared it toward quality low-speed compression; as cross country bike riders spend more time in technical and sloppy riding, suppleness is key. The Lefty offers incrementally tunable compression instead of the typical three position lockout, and combined with the mechanical remote lockout makes for a fork that more tunable and user-friendly than ever.
There’s plenty of other details with the new Lefty that make a substantial difference. The traditional Lefty Ocho’s fork guard is made of carbon fiber and features an integrated hose clamp. The single crown profile uses a standard tapered steerer, making the fork usable on just about any mountain bike (unlike before). The fork itself is slightly less stiff than the outgoing Lefty 2.0, which Cannondale says makes for a fork that tracks better through rough terrain without sacrificing the direct steering Lefty is known for.
Currently the Cannondale Lefty Ocho fork is available on the new Cannondale F-Si cross country hardtail, and not yet available aftermarket. What can be said, however, is that this is a significant release for Cannondale: a fork that weighs the same as the very lightest forks, but is smoother and stiffer than the competition. No easy task, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s Cannondale.