In 2007, when I first made the jump to full suspension, I never thought I’d go back to a hardtail. Full suspension was faster everywhere, and more fun on top of that. About a year later I bought a relatively inexpensive rigid 29er singlespeed to mix it up. Earlier this year, after I sold my Yeti, I rode and raced that rigid singlespeed exclusively, and found myself really enjoying a hartail again. What changed??? I have no idea, but I liked it so much I decided to go with a hardtail 29er race bike.
I attempted ordered a Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er 1 and waited…and waited. After a month, a Flash 29er 1 Alloy arrived at the shop, and since I was in desperate need of a race bike I snatched it up. The stock build was very well thought out, with Stans Arch rims, a FSA BB30 crankset, and a XT build kit to round it out. I knew somebody selling a VERY lightly used XTR kit for a reasonable price though, so I picked it up. I preferred XTR overall for it’s slightly lower weight, double release shifters, and the 12-34 cassette options for closer ratios vs. a 11-34 cassette. I also purchased a set of EDGE XC clinchers as I was so happy with them on my Yeti.
Here’s my first impression of the bike as it was stock, before I rode it.
-Lots of tire clearance in width.
-Not much tire clearance from front of tire to Front Derailleur.
-Great stock build, only relplaced because I had a deal on XTR kit.
-Specs different from web site: XT Cassette (11-34)+, XTR Shadow Rear Derailleur +, Straight Gauge Spokes -, Fizik Aliante XM Saddle +.
-Great looking bike with a good finish.
-Stans Rims are a great spec., the Racing Ralphs aired up tubeless without issue. (Stan’s yellow tape & stems).
I’m happy to be on this bike, it fits me well, where the Yeti last year was just a bit to small. Better fit, combined with the larger wheels makes for increased confidence on the trail, most noticeable when rolling drops and through rock gardens. Overall I love the bike, and I seem to be faster than I was on the Yeti last year. I firmly believe that the Lefty is overall a better design than a conventional suspension fork, it is noticeably more rigid than a Fox with conventional dropouts. When used on a 29er it saves almost a pound over a competitive Rock Shox or Fox. I do, however, prefer the bump performance and tunability of a Fox RLC to the Solo Air/DLR damper and spring assembly in the Lefty, which is more easily overwhelmed at speed. Switching from the stock wheelset to the EDGE wheelset saved over a pound of weight from the bike and gave it a much lighter feel on the trail. Also seemed to handle high speed bumps better with less unsprung weight.
Do I miss rear suspension? No, not here in Northern Utah, where most of our trails are fairly smooth, rolling, and fast…if I lived in Southern Utah, however, I may feel differently. I don’t think I’d enjoy this bike as much as my Yeti on trails like Porcupine Rim or the Slickrock Trail.
I don’t think anyone sells a bike that can compete with the Flash 1 for price and weight. The bike that comes closest is the Cannondale Flash 2 Carbon, which weighs slightly less and retails for about $300 more.
Like I said, happy to be back on a hardtail!