Perhaps the most obvious change, aside from the looks is that the latest Habit iteration drops Cannondale’s signature Lefty in favour of a standard fork. While the frame might look a little more mainstream, Cannondale has packed in some interesting touches, most notably something they call “Proportional Response suspension design”.
Through this approach, the engineers have tailored the kinematics to ensure riders across the size curve experience a consistent suspension feel. Where many bikes will have a single suspension design across all sizes, the Habit has unique pivot points per size to optimise the response.
The Habit 2 frame that we tested features a BallisTec carbon front triangle with an alloy rear triangle. It provides 130mm of rear travel enabled by a Fox Float Performance Elite DPX2 EVOL shock (that’s a mouthful!) while upfront is a trusty 130mm Fox Float Performance Elite 34. A flip chip allows the rider to switch between 29” or 27.5+ wheels with clearance for up to 2.6” and 3.0” tyres on the respective wheel sizes (brand depending).
Visually, the frame is a significant evolution on the departing Habit. The angular tubes and contemporary aesthetic are finished off with a unique, understated paint job and a touch of flair in the green anodised linkage. Cables are all routed internally via carbon tubing and yes, there is room for a water bottle mounted on the down tube.
Specifications & local availability
Before we get stuck in let's get some details out of the way when it comes to specifications and availability. Our demo bike was a close proxy for the stock Cannondale Habit 2, aside from the carbon wheel-set, tyres and rear derailleur, but is a higher spec build compared to what's currently available in our market. The Cannondale Habit Carbon 3 is available in South Africa as a complete build with the same frame in a stealthy 'Black Pearl' colour-way, SRAM Eagle GX/NX groupset, SRAM Guide R brakes, Stan's Arch rims and a lower specification Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL shock. Weight wise, it sneaks in just under 14kg and you can expect to pay around R 60 000 for the Habit Carbon 3.
Specifications - as tested
- SizesS, M, L, XL
- FrameAll-New Habit, 130mm travel, BallisTec Carbon front triangle, SmartForm C1 Alloy swingarm, Proportional Response Tuned, Ai offset drivetrain, ISCG05, PF30, Post mount brake, tapered headtube
- ForkFox Float Performance Elite 34, 130mm, FIT4 Damper, 3-Pos adj., 15x110, tapered steerer, 51mm offset
- ShockFox Float Performance Elite DPX2 EVOL, 130mm, 3-Pos adj.
- HandlebarCannondale C3 Riser, Alloy, 15mm rise, 9° sweep, 4° rise, 780mm
- StemCannondale C1, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 0°
- SeatpostLyne Contour Dropper
- SaddleFabric Scoop Shallow Elite, cro-mo rails
- ShiftersSRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
- Rear DerailleurSRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
- BrakesSRAM Guide RS hydro disc, 180/180mm Centerline rotors
- Brake LeversSRAM Guide RS hydro disc
- CassetteSRAM XG-1275, GX Eagle, 10-50, 12-speed
- ChainSRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
- CranksetTruvativ Stylo 7K, 30T
- Bottom BracketCannondale Alloy PressFit30
- WheelsetZeroTwo Carbon
- TiresKenda Regolith Pro 29x2.4
On the trail
Getting on the bike, I was immediately pretty comfortable. With long legs and a short torso, I’m on the cusp of sizing and although typically riding a large, I felt at home on a medium Habit. The frame gives a generous enough reach at 430mm on the medium frame and for a bike, in this class, the head angle is progressively slack at 66 degrees.
Since all my go-to trails start with a long climb this was the first experience of the bike. The Habit is a capable climber, it pedals well in open mode and aside from a few test-driven sprint bursts, there wasn’t a need to lockout for any part of the climb. The position is comfortable and the steering response is suitably nimble for a trail bike.
What goes up must come down and this is arguably what the Habit is biased towards. Tested on a variety of terrain from fast and flowing non-technical trails, to rocky and weather-beaten tracks with mild drops and boosts, the Habit was a joy. The bike is super responsive and feels snappy in and out of turns.
The slack head angle, Fox Float 34 and grippy tyres work well in combination to soak up the bumps and guide you through rough terrain. While test bikes often take a few rides to get accustomed to, perhaps it was a bit of luck in the setup, or perhaps it was the geometry, but I was instantly comfortable and pushing the fun factor on the trails.
As an avid stage racer and mildly competent trail rider, a bike like the Cannondale Habit excels in giving you that extra bit of control and comfort while providing good pedalling efficiency. Where on a typical 100mm marathon bike I’d be on the edge of control, or simply avoiding gnarlier trail features, the extra travel and relaxed geometry provide room for more confidence and more fun.
All round the Habit is a genuinely well-balanced bike. It pedals well enough on the climbs and flats to get you to the trailhead. And when the trail narrows, gradient steepens or things get the right kind of twisty, it’s all about capability and fun. For a casual weekend ride at your home trail, a local Enduro or even a shorter, single-track heavy stage race, the Habit would be a blast. With a single water bottle in the frame, you’re not going to be blitzing through water points or spending uninterrupted hours in the saddle, but that's not the sort of thing you ought to make a habit of on this bike.
Cannondale Habit Carbon 3
In case you missed the earlier note, currently you'll be able to get the Habit Carbon 3 in South Africa which does sport a lower spec than the build tested, but features the same frame and suspension platform with a decent component list.