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Cannondale Lefty Custom Wheelbuild

The Cannondale Lefty is a fantastic suspension fork, no doubt about that. There are lots of people who don’t like them but they generally seem to be in the camp of never having ridden one and unable to overcome the psychological hurdle of a single sided fork.

Custom spec wheels for the Lefty are a bit rarer. Cannondale isn’t famous for supplying particularly inspiring wheels on anything other than range-topping bikes, and even then you may not be happy (the wheels on the Slate are a bit disappointing, for instance). 

The Lefty hub itself is fantastic. Incredibly light, good bearings and well designed. The bearings are pretty easy to change too, which is a bonus. Other companies (Tune, Project321, Chris King, Circus Monkey etc) make exceptionally expensive Lefty-compatible hubs, and it’s great to have the option but unless you are desperate to have a fancy colour or an unusual spoke count, Cannondale’s own is generally the most cost-effective option.

This Lefty wheel is to replace the factory original on a Slate Apex1. Weighed side by side with the original wheel and dressed in the same tyre and tube, the new wheel is 250g lighter despite using mid-range parts. When the rear wheel is built to match, it’ll be a weight saving of half a kilo, which is really quite significant! The higher spoke count and stronger butted spokes should also make it more reliable and comfortable.

Original WheelNew Wheel
HubLefty “50” 28-hole, blackLefty 32-hole, white
RimMavic Xm419 27.5″, 28HWTB Frequency Team 27.5″, 32H
SpokesDT Swiss plain, blackSapim D-Lite double-butted, silver
Rim tapeMavicWTB
TubeMichelin AirstopMichelin Airstop
TyreClement XPlor MSO 650x42bClement XPlor MSO 650x42b
Total weight2000g approx1750g approx

A point to note: The original wheel was supplied with Alu nipples. They didn’t survive their first winter and were replaced by Cannondale with brass. Most sources say that this makes the wheel 17g in total heavier than originally specified. Not so significant in the greater scheme of things.

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A Sonder for the Coed Y Brenin Enduro

Sonder by Alpkit

This monster Sonder with 3″ wide tyres and a bad attitude came in for a brake service ready for the Coed Y Brenin Enduro.

Looks like it was a great event this year and certainly this is the bike for it with carbon rims on King hubs and super-plush Fox forks.

Our man beasted the 42k route with a time just a minute over three and a half hours. Well done Andy!

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Refresh for an unloved single-speed

This customer has had this as a singlespeed bike for quite a few years, but in the last 3 years it has only moved to get from one shed to another.

Time for a refresh! It’s hard to beat the simplicity and reliability of the Sturmey Archer hubs. The new design with the rotary hub shifting mechanism hides the cable behind the chainstay and keeps the bike looking smooth. Rear hub brake is smooth and silent, needs minimal maintenance over its lifespan and prevents those beautiful tyres from getting unsightly brake dust all  over them.

After a long debating the lighting situation for a while, it’s hard not to justify a dynamo & LED system. We recycled this used Shimano hub into a new wheel with a Supernova LED front light with a view that a USB charging system can be added at a later date for self-sufficiency on the road when mains electricity won’t be available.

The rims are Ryde Dutch 19. Wide, with a 30mm section, they look great, are very strong and very reasonably priced. Not particularly light though! But ideal for a bike like this.

The full waterproof Alpkit luggage looks fantastic and when combined with the rear under-seat pack will give enough storage for a few days away lightly loaded.

Ben was so keen to get out on this that I didn’t have time to photo it before he got it all grubby, so the very honest muck is visible!

The ride is very smooth. The more I use these Sturmey hubs, the more I like them.

  • Sturmey Archer RX-RD5 hub with Ryde Dutch 19 rim, Sapim Race butted spokes: £195 (includes shifters, cables, sprocket and hardware)
  • Shimano DH-3N30 dynamo hub powering a Supernova LED always-on light.
  • Stronglight (made in France) chainset
  • Brooks B17 saddle on Nitto post
  • No-name singlespeed alloy frame
  • Worryingly flexible Bontrager carbon fork — replaced with new no-name carbon fork subsequently
  • Alpkit waterproof framebag, top tube bag

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Ambrosio P20s on some red bling hubs

Boy Racer Marinus wore out his ancient Rolf wheels and needed something in a hurry. The red hubs are unbranded, probably Novatec, and have lovely smooth bearings although are cosmetically imperfect with occasional scratches. However, they are very cost-effective.

He specified a modern, wide rim with tubeless compatibility. Really there’s only one answer: The Ambrosio P20; a surprisingly light, strong, tubeless compatible rim with 20mm internal width. I’ve built up several sets of wheels for different purposes now (cyclocross/offroad terrain touring,  Alpine Climbing, these for winter training, etc) and everyone loves them.

28 Sapim Race double-butted spokes per wheel.

These came in at £199

These should be strong enough to take his high-mileage all-weather winter abuse. I’ll update in 6 months with how they survived 😉

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Tuesday Pop-up Cycle Service at Pwnc Café, Newport, Pembs

New for Tuesdays I’ll now be at Pwnc Café in Newport to service bikes, offer advice and sell spares. If it’s quiet I’ll be building wheels.

All new at the moment but currently there from 9.30ish onwards: Call 01437 887633 for enquiries.

The Café is great: fantastic coffee. fresh baked tasty treats and wholesome lunch options. Already a keen favourite with riders from across the county.  — Fuel for Brave Living!

If I’d have taken any photos last week, I’d have put them here. Left my camera in the van and the weather was wet enough not to want to go back for it.

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1980s Dawes Diploma refresh

This was originally my grandfather’s bicycle. When a friend, who suffers from chronic lateness, got a job a mile away from his home and I learned he was having to drive there to make it on time, I gave him this in its original guise as an 80s 3-speed city bike with sidepull brakes. Not being one to leave things alone, within a couple of months he’d decided he needed to go to town on upgrades and improvements, bought in a load of stuff, stripped alot of the parts off this frame and was then frequently spotted driving to work again. Hey, it was nice while it lasted!

Meanwhile, I’m asked to put the machine back together with the new parts and some very specific requirements.  See what you think.

For geek value, the specification that isn’t obvious is as so:

Sturmey Archer 5-speed hub with hub brake, Sturmey Archer front dynamo hub with hub brake, Mavic 319 rims. Black/silver SAPIM spokes. Custom lacing pattern. FSA/Gravity chainset with Doval oval chainring. KMC white chain. MKS pedals.