Project Niner Air 9 Carbon – Uber Light Race Bike – Part 2

So now that we have selected the frame that we are goung to use for project build, the next thing to consider will be the fork. By the way, the Niner frame is not the lightest frame out there that we could have used for this project. At 1240 grams it is in the medium lightweight category for hardtail 29er frames. However, as stated from the beginning of this project, we are going to build a bike that is raceable by a 175 pound racer (me) that feels stiff and controllable, not noodlely and fragile. So the Niner frame is the backbone of such a build, and we will drop the difference in weight in other areas that are not as critical as the frame. This makes snese on many levels and especially when you consider the nice touches that Niner includes on all thier frames. There are a few frames out there that are at 1000 grams or a little less, however with a rider weight of 175 these tend to get a little noodlely, and if the frame is noodlely them the whole bike feels fragile. These frames may work for a rider weight of 150 or less, but thats not me.

So, the fork we selected for this build is the all new Cannondale 2013 Carbon Lefty. It is the lightest 29er fork out there, and it is still stiff and functional. So, the weight we lose on the frame we make up on the fork without compromising functionality. We are a Project 321 dealer so we were able to get an adapter that will allow us to mount a Lefty to any MTB frame. I have been riding and racing the Lefty for a year now, and it is my new all time favorite fork for XC. The small bump compliance of this fork is amazing when compared to other $1000+ forks. I have a SID world cup on my current Niner and Wow, what a difference between the SID and the Lefty. The Lefty is sooo much more plush and stiff, and for a fork that weighs 1240 grams, that is pretty freaking amazing. So theLefty will mount to the Niner using a Project 321 adapter.

Let me tell you, this fork is stiff. I have been riding and racing mountain bikes for 15 years now. I have owned almost every fork on the market. From the early Judys, to F100’s, Durin SLs, SIDs, DT’s Carbon XC you name it, I have run it. This new Lefty fork is da bomb. The reason it is stiff, is it has 40mm stanchion on the top and a 32mm stanchion on the bottom, dual crown where is connects to the steer tube, and the slider mechanism inside is a set of square tubing that can’t twist as easily as a bridged tubing setup. All of this beefiness and the for is still the lightest on the market? OK I’m sold and Im not even a Cannondale dealer. Right now Im going to make a bold statement that all my future XC race bikes will be sporting a Lefty.

So here is a picture of our dream bike fork.


And here is a picture of the fork on the scale without the remote.I think the remote adds about 60 grams.


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