Cannondale Clearance Sale on now!
March 07, 2019
The 2019/2020 Cannondale Habit is coming of age and this version is one of the best, balanced, capable trail bikes I've ridden.
I'm fortunate to be able to ride new bikes and change them often. With so much time spent on different bikes, it's worth sharing some of my experience with riding some of the Cannondale and GT mountain bikes here on Melbourne trails.
My latest steed, the Habit, is the mid-travel cross country trail mountain bike in the Cannondale line. This bike has lightweight features for climbing, accelerating and maneuverability, but balances it with a very capable chassis, tyres, geometry, and suspension that makes it a weapon for rugged trail riding.
Previously, I rode the alloy 27.5+ Bad Habit, and then the purple beast, the carbon Habit SE up until late 2018. The New Habit grabs a little of what I liked about both of those previous bikes and adds a few new features...
The frame. Although it's not talked about openly by the product managers at Cannondale, the new swingarm design is a big departure from decades of single pivot designs. This new platform uses a Horst Link - the small pivot on the chainstay just in front of and below the rear axle. This little pivot packs a big punch because it decouples the rear axle and brake caliper from the frame and mounts them on a floating seatstay. The effect you feel while riding is very different. The rear end tracks the ground up and down while hard braking whereas the older "single pivot" design stiffened a bit when under hard braking, causing the rear wheel to skip across bumps instead of tracking up and down over them. This allows for a lot more confidence cooking hard into a corner and slamming on the brakes. I would expect more of the Cannondale models to have this design as more platforms are refreshed over the coming years. GT, the sister company of Cannondale, has put the Horst Link on all their new frames, dubbed the "LTS". Also, the carbon main triangle mated with a rigid aluminum rear end is pretty much standard now for carbon mountain bike frames. Full carbon has had more flex in the rear with older models, so balancing weight with stiffness can prove difficult.
At 14kg it is not the lightest trail bike I've ever owned, but certainly the most capable. The new headtube angle is slacker combined with a fork and trail measurement that still keeps it fast-handling enough to whip in & out of the trees on Blair Witch in Lysterfield at top speed. I took it to Derby, Tasmania in February 2019 and tested it out in some slippery, bumpy, rooty, bermy, rocky, heavenly trails and felt very comfortable once i got the suspension dialed.
Tyres: The tyres are Minion DHF front & High Roller rear, a little more tyre than I need for the weekly Lysterfield nightride, but certainly a popular choice given the trend towards more beef on trail bikes. I will be lightening it up with a Maxxis 2.4 Ardent ft/2.25 rr in the coming months. Always tubeless, all the time. Stay tuned.
Suspension: Getting the right suspension on your bike can be a key to better downhill Strava times and getting a few metres on your buddies flying through your favourite trails. The Fox 34 Elite fork has high & lowspeed compression damping for tuning your ride in a little better for your local trail, and the rear Fox DPX2 has the same. I use the slowspeed compression dial on the rear shock back & forth for a little efficiency boost on some smooth sections, but otherwise leave it open for good traction over the roots & loose climbs.
Drivetrain: The X01 shifting is noticeably smoother and less finicky than the NX and GX cassettes and derailleurs I've had on previous bikes, so the higher spec 12speed you get, the better in my opinion. It's worth the decrease in hassles on the trail.
Brakes: The Guide RS brakes I have no complaint about, love the dial for adjusting reach so I don't bust a knuckle while middle-finger braking on rough, long descents.
Dropper Post: The Cannondale-branded "Downlow" dropper post seems to work as well as my favorite (the KS Lev), the lever is easy to position correctly, and has worked seamlessly in the first few months. I use my dropper as much as I change gears, so a sticky, low-performing or troublesome dropper screams out to me when I end up one one.
Overall: I notice I have to be more careful with pedal strikes than my previous Habits since this has a slightly lower BB, even with the proper sag. I intend to experiment with a little more rear shock pressure in the coming months and see how that affects the ride. I also feel the rear shock is a bit more progressive-feeling in it's compression. Even with the slow and high speed damping backed all the way out, it still jolts on fast hits a little too much for my liking. I might look to see if we can do something to get a more supple feel from the rear suspension in the future. The braking into corners over rough terrain gives me more traction than I had on previous Habits, a noticeable improvement.
Verdict: The Habit with updated geo and Horst Link suspension, the latest in high end Fox suspension, plus a higher-spec 12speed Sram drivetrain make this bike a leader in it's category for sure. I look forward to making a few small tweaks and getting that little bit better for where I ride and how I ride.
Best opportunity for upgrade: Carbon bars, carbon wheels. Shave some grams and make it climb and accelerate out of turns faster. Also, lighter faster-rolling tyres that still have a good bit of grip (for me),
December 05, 2019
So after some months How is the ride with the habit?
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September 26, 2023