At a Glance
Cannondale has undergone somewhat of a transformation of late. New riders, new style and new bikes, most notably the acquisition of Rat Boy and the latest incarnation of the Habit. Usually renowned for one-sided forks and quirky technology, they clearly have moved on from old habits in more ways than one.Buy Trail Bikes on
No Lefty, no switches and no special shock, this is an exceptionally normal looking bike. 130mm front and rear (you get 140mm forks on the Habit 1 for some reason) delivered by a rather familiar looking Horst Link. The angles suggest a thoroughly modern trail bike with a long 490 reach on the XL and a 66 head angle. The 435mm chainstays are middle of the road, and it's all pretty standard stuff. Seat tube length is slightly long, with 520mm on the XL, meaning sizing up is out of the question for most and rules out an extra long dropper for me at 195cm tall. There is a flip chip if you want things a little steeper, but access to a 66 head angle is a real bonus on a bike of this travel.
Proportional Response refers to Cannondale tuning each sized bike to the rider, by changing linkage and pivot layout to get the best kinematics for that rider. This, in theory, gives the best ride characteristics for all sized riders.
The frame at this level is a carbon front and aluminium rear affair and looks exceptionally neat and tidy. The smooth carbon front end is matched with some great graphics, which gives the Habit a stylish look and sets it out from the crowd. There is good attention to detail on the downtube protector and internal routing removes much chance of cable rub. The frame does, however, feature a press fit bottom bracket, which is not always a good thing.
The spec on the Habit 2 fits the trail bike focus on the bike and is sprung on a Fox DPX 2 Elite and a set of 34s up front. The wheelset sees Stan's Arch rims paired to Cannondale own brand hubs, and although I know little of their hubs, the rims have proven themselves to be a great hoop. The drivetrain is mostly GX Eagle but they've splashed out on an XO1 rear mech and the braking is controlled with Guide RS brakes. At £4,399.99 it's not cheap but there are models down to £1800 and up to £6000 if you really want to splash out.
On The Trail
Cannondale claims that the Habit 'climbs and descends like a champ' and it's easy to get on board with that sentiment. Get on the bike and it really feels pretty hot on the pedals, giving an efficient vibe to its climbing and general cruising abilities. Sat on board it's a comfortable and neutral position to be in, nothing feels too slack, or not slack enough. Pedalling is easy and if you have a good set of legs and lungs the Habit will really go with you and certainly not hold you back on the climbs.
The steepest climbs feel a little overwhelming, especially with a high seat position on the XL. The actual seat angle (rather than effective) is pretty slack and once high it puts your weight a little too far back, but this is an XL size issue and probably wouldn't present on other sizes.
The tyre choice is pretty good, especially the 2.5 Wide Trail Minion up front which really encourages confidence in turns, but the High Roller out back is a double edge sword. It's narrower at 2.3 and rolls a bit faster, but lacks the grip of the front, which felt a bit sketchy on the slightly damp spring trails and struggled a little on the climbs. Tyres are personal, and for most riding, this combo will suit the Habit perfectly.
Dropping into some more wild trails the 66 head angle is a real winner and allows a confident approach despite the 130mm of travel. The bottom bracket drop keeps things low-slung and stable, again helping the Habit to perform better than it's travel would suggest. Where it shines best is on fast woodland trails scattered with roots, jumps and berms, where the agile nature of the bike can be exploited. Where the Habit comes unstuck is where things get really rough and the 130mm becomes very evident. This definitely isn't a bike that feels like it's got more travel than it does, this Habit definitely only has 130mm and reminds you of this regularly.
I felt the back end lacked a little in plushness, yet still didn't produce a particular lively feel as compensation. Tweaking the shock (which requires 300psi and more for heavier riders) and winding off the compression damping in open mode helped liven things up and certainly made more sense. The fork again lacked a little in stiffness given what the angles are capable of, so again I was drawn back to the woods to rail berms and skip over roots rather than seek the more wild and challenging terrain. It's this style of riding that kept me coming back to the Habit. It is a trail bike, and as such has to hit a huge range of trails and expectations, which it does very well. Long days in the saddle are comfortable and energy efficient, yet point it down something silly and it will look after you.
Components have been great on the Habit 2 and given the price that should be expected. The only issue I had was with the dropper post, which doesn't feel particularly smooth and the lever is way behind the current crop of dropper levers and lacks adjustability to make it comfier. Further to this, the 520mm seat tube is long for an XL and won’t easily allow riders to run longer than 150mm posts.
As a Cannondale, I'm left feeling slightly sad that this bike is so normal. It's lacking many of the out there concepts that made Cannondale is famous, but in turn, they have produced a great trail bike that will appeal to a huge audience.
Cannondale turns over a new leaf with the Habit of creating a versatile trail bike that balances climbs and descents with great style. Fun, playful and fast, despite feeling under-gunned in the rough, its solid geometry keeps it on track and a smile on your face.
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This review was in Issue 58 of IMB.For more information visit Cannondale Bicycles
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.