The Cannondale Habit is the bike of choice for Josh Bryceland and his crew, so Ben wanted to see if the Habit would bring the good times this summer.

Short travel 29ers seem to be all the rage of late, and the Cannondale Habit has some very stylish riders shouting its name from the rooftops. Can the Cannondale Habit be as fun as Bryceland and co. make it look? Ben finds out.

Photos by Dave Price.

  • 29” wheels
  • 130mm travel.
  • Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork
  • Fox Float Performance Elite DPX2 EVOL shock
  • SRAM XO1/GX Eagle 12 speed drive
  • Stan’s Arch Mk3 Rims
  • SRAM Guide RS Brake
  • £4,399.99 RRP
  • Cannondale.com

Frame and Build Kit

The Habit is a bike with smooth and flowing lines, made up of a carbon front end and alloy swing arm. It is immediately aesthetically pleasing although the metallic sage paint job divided opinions when leaned up against the cafe wall.

The suspension is a standard 4 bar linkage, however where the Habit stands out is with its Proportional Response linkage system. Basically Cannondale spec different linkages on each size bike so that it works well with light weight riders on small bikes right up to big bruisers on the larger bikes. It makes a lot of sense and should mean that lighter riders don’t need to get shocks pulled apart and re-shimmed as they often have to due to leverage curves designed for ‘typical’ 80kg men.

The Habit runs on Fox suspension front and rear, with a Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork and DPX2 rear shock controlling the 130mm of travel at each end. Having had a good experience with the Fox 34 on the NS Snabb 130 earlier this year I was confident that it would perform well under some hard riding conditions, despite the fact that I would usually prefer a more burly fork.

SRAM Eagle provided a 12 speed groupset, the highlight of which was the X01 rear mech. The rest of the kit was low end GX kit. It was all totally functional and I didn’t have any problems throughout the test period. On that note, I have never been a fan of Eagle as I have always found it too delicate and finnicky, however I have had consistently good experiences recently so hopefully they have upped their reliability game.

Braking was also SRAM with their Guide RS brakes, offering plenty of adjustment and enough power for a light, short travel bike. It was running 180mm centreline discs with a 6 bolt adapter which seemed a bit odd and overly complicated. The rear one also came loose during the test period.

Finishing kit was pretty much all Cannondale’s in components including their own DownLow 150mm dropper post which worked smoothly all summer. Finally, the Habit was rolling on some colour coded Stan’s Arch Mk3 rims which turned out to be a bit disappointing as you will find out.

Up Hills

This bike is a bit lighter than most bikes I end up testing. The carbon frame, short travel, light tyres and wheels all add up to 13.5kg without pedals which is a whisker under the ‘magical’ 30 lb mark. This helps to get things moving upwards, and with the saddle slid forwards on the rails it is comfortable and easy to spin away up the fire roads.

On singletrack climbs, the Habit has a direct feel when you apply power. I never used the pedal lever on the shock and preferred to have a little more traction and grip over rock and root. It has a generally firm feel around the sag point that lets you stand to pedal whilst never feeling wasteful of energy.

Long rides and climbs are also made easier by having space for a large water bottle in my size large frame which is always a bonus. The rear High Roller II tyre is fast rolling on road and fire road but doesn’t quite have the bite of its meatier Minion brothers when the climbs get loose and steep.

Merida eOneFourtyMerida eOneFourty

Down Hills

The story here is almost an exact repeat of the NS Snabb 130 that I mentioned earlier. It defies its small amount of travel with what can be done on technical terrain. The angles are contemporary for a trail bike, but not exactly pushing the boundaries, with the only real number of interest being the very low 339mm bottom bracket height.

The Habit is immediately easy to ride pretty fast. It feels balanced and wants to be leaned in and railed around turns. It changes direction quickly, often with a pop from the supportive suspension as you move from one tyre side wall to the other. In the turns I would have preferred a Minion DHR to the High Roller as I find them a bit square and in the end I ran various other tyres on the rear of this bike, all with heavier casings to protect the rim and offer more support than the EXO casing supplied by Maxxis.

Over smaller trail chatter and on smoother stuff the suspension is surprisingly comfy and well damped without feeling mushy or vague. When things get rough and chunky though, is quickly finds its limits and there is only so much that can be done with 130mm of travel. The good news is that when things got really gnarly and rough, I found that if you just let off the brakes and relax a bit it would skip over the trail, almost skimming the surface.

With a confident rider on board this bike can be really fast, you just need to let it go and trust that you will get to the next turn. It responds well to small inputs from your hands and feet to subtly weight the wheels and then to go light over roots and off cambers.

The only downside of how fast this bike can go is that I very quickly had to reach for the spoke key as both wheels needed truing after pretty much every ride. The rear wheel was pretty nailed by the end of the test period and even a pro mechanic could not get it to stay straight for more than a couple of hours riding. This bike begs to be slapped into turns and it would be greatly improved with a stiffer and stronger wheelset that can take that sort of abuse.

Reliability

The wheels were the only real issue as mentioned.

Compare

The Cannondale Habit Carbon sits nicely between 2 of my favourite bikes. At one end the Intense Primer (2018) is more direct, racey and probably faster on most trails. At the other end is the Snabb 130 with a 140mm fork, longer reach and a slightly more aggressive build kit that is more capable on steep terrain and on the occasional uplift.

The Habit is a true all-rounder and very capable and for the rider who values an engaging ride  and on tight and twisty trails, this is hard to beat.

What do we think?

With the Habit Carbon 2 you pay a premium price for a fun and energetic ride that is more capable than a 130mm bike should be. Just budget for some tougher wheels and rear tyre if you are a heavier or faster rider.

We Love

  • Fun and engaging ride quality.
  • Low BB for cornering

Could Do Better

  • Pretty expensive
  • Soft wheels

Check out the full Cannondale Habit range over on their website here.


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