Project 321 Lefty Installation

First things first: it looks good.

Looking good is important, because I haven’t been able to ride it yet.  Grrrr.  Trails have been too wet, muddy or snowy.

Why a Lefty?

The Spearfish is 100mm travel up front, 80mm in the rear.  It’s an XC bike that I use for everything offroad, other than fatbiking.  It’s light, it’s fast, its eloquent.  It screams.  Dropping a pound or more of weight off of the front sounds wonderful.  The Lefty is purportedly stiffer than the stock fork, while being lighter and having less internal friction.  Win, win win.  With the 2013 redesign and the replaceable cartridge design, most of the standard criticisms of Leftys appear to have been addressed.

Project 321 came up with an eloquent way of converting a 2013 Carbon Lefty XLR (or many other Leftys) to work with tapered steerer mountain bikes.  Let me start by saying that everyone I talked to at Project 321 was awesome.  They were incredibly nice to work with, unbelievably knowledgeable about Leftys and Lefty conversions, and produce very nice kit.  The tapered steerer adapter is featured here.  I also used one of their Project 321 Lefty hubs, because they’re nice and light, and very pretty.  They’re also well-reviewed by those that use them.

The actual conversion took about 30 minutes.

Goodbye Fox Fork.

There are many Leftys.  This one is mine.

Everything was packed with care.

The tapered steerer adapter has a aluminum steerer tube with a pressed on fitting at the bottom that goes through the bottom clamp of the Lefty.

There’s a red, split-ring spacer (barely visible here) that fits inside the bottom race of the bottom of the head tube bearing, and the race goes above it.

At the top, the aluminum steerer tube goes through the head tube bearing as per normal…

As you can see, the Lefty top clamp is wider than the steerer tube, and fits above the head tube.  That means another adapter bushing is necessary:

Once that’s all assembled, you cut the steerer to length, install the stem, torque the stem per your standard practice (pulling the whole steerer and adapters up securely against the bottom of the lower crown race), and then torque the 2 Lefty clamps.  I was short a steerer tube spacer (and needed the front wheel to be built), so I asked Chad at North Central Cyclery to knock those parts out for me.

The Lefty hub is pretty simple, and eloquent.  I dabbed a bit of grease on the mating surfaces before sliding it on the Lefty axle.

On the ‘outside’ face of the hub, you insert the small screw that holds the wheel on, and then screw in this trick cover plate.

Note that in these pictures, the brake rotor is not on (as the front wheel had not yet been laced).

This is what it looks like all together:

You can see the retention screw in this picture:

Try to ignore my light-blue downhill rig in the background, and focus on the Project 321 Awesomeness.

You do have to install the shield (which now replaces the old boot on former models), the brake, and route the brake line.  Cannondale supplies a nice brake line clamp with the Lefty.

The Carbon XLR uses a RockShox hydraulic lever to control fork lockout.  It mounted easily in my 1×10 cockpit, on the left side.

A Thomson X4 Stem rounds out the build, of-course replete with bling kit.

The wide bars/short stem combo has been adopted on here after my success with the El Mariachi running a similar setup.  800mm bars are way-overkill on this bike…but I couldn’t pass up the swap that netted these, so voila.  After I get some time on them, I’m guessing I’ll cut them down, at least to 750 or so.

I’ll obviously do a ride review once I get to ride it.  It’s fatbike season in Illinois.  If I was building bikes solely to look at, the Spearfish would be mission accomplished.

Again, I cannot emphasize how painless Project 321 made this.  If you’re contemplating a Lefty conversion, they have kits that will fit many, many bikes.  Give them a call and chat about your thoughts.  I’m usually all about local products…in this case, Project 321 offers a unique product, made in the US, that is both functional and blingtastic.  It’s worth checking them out.



8 thoughts on “Project 321 Lefty Installation

  1. That blue Dh rig is nice , but the only thing I can concentrate on is the spacers below the stem ! Anyway to get that bar any higher ? 🙂
    Anyway , really enjoy yr blog , keep it up , Txs
    Cheers Caspar / DK

    • That’s a lower headset race that’s horribly dinged up.

      It got nicked when removing it from the old fork. I didn’t have a new one handy when doing the initial assembly, which is when I took the pics. The seal side of it was fine, but I agree, it looks terrible in those pics.

  2. Never felt the lefty fork as stiff in any way shape of form. Maybe if you do the obsolete tire between your legs test, but how about the folding the wheel in axle flex test. Much different story, this is why they don’t do long travel lefty forks. Anyways great products.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by either “test”. The test, for me, is how it rides. Even at my flyweight, I’ve ridden forks that felt flexy. The Carbon Lefty does not. Ever.

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