CANNONDALE HABIT CARBON LT 1 REVIEW – THE ALL-MOUNTAIN WEAPON?
Cannondale’s coveted trail bike is better than ever.
CANNONDALE HABIT CARBON LT 1 REVIEW
As their most popular bike, Cannondale had some big shoes to fill when redesigning and revising their trail bike, the Habit. Now available in two distinct configurations, it aims to be one of the more versatile trail bikes on the market. The regular Habit sees a 140mm fork with 130mm of rear travel, while the LT is bumped up by 10mm on both ends. Cannondale claims the new Habit frame is built to be robust, straightforward to work on and easy to live with.
The Habit LT uses the same frame as the Habit, but is slightly slacker due to the longer fork and has more rear-wheel travel thanks to a longer stroke shock. All Habit frame sizes are built around dual 29-inch wheels, except for the XS frame, which sees 27.5-inch wheels. Cannondale is working with Cascade Components to develop an aftermarket link to convert the bike to a mixed-wheel setup for an even more agile ride, if that’s your thing. All carbon-framed models have individual size-specific geometry. The head tube angle sits at 64.7 degrees, and the effective seat tube angle is 77 degrees with a 475mm reach on the size large. No flip chips or geometry adjustments here, but size-specific chainstays are designed to give the Habit a balanced and agile feel across the size range.
Habit models feature an industry-standard headset, threaded BB, industry-standard shock mount, Metric shocks and UDH derailleur hanger. They have internal cable routing, with the carbon models getting full tube-in-tube routing. Bolt-on StrapRack carriers are also included on carbon models. The Habits also come with a new standard 55mm chain line for tire clearance. Overall, it is a simple and clean design, and we are fans of the way this bike looks.
The Habit and Habit LT are available in three carbon models (Carbon 1, 2 and Carbon LT 1) and three alloy models (3, 4 and LT 2). Habit models range in price from $2300 to $5550 for the carbon LT 1 model we tested. It has a SRAM GX Eagle derailleur, shifter and cranks that take care of drivetrain duties, and are paired with a set of Code R brakes. Cannondale-branded components take care of the cockpit and contact points, with a 30mm-rise HollowGram SAVE carbon bar, Cannondale 1 stem and TrailShroom grips. Our size large came with a 170mm Cannondale DownLow dropper post and Scoop Shallow Elite saddle.
Like the recent generations of the Habit, Cannondale uses a Horst Link suspension design to drive the rear shock. The shock mounts to the downtube, and the other end is bolted to the yoke that sits in front of the seatstay and connects to the rear triangle. Cannondale says that the suspension kinematics are also frame-size-specific. The 140mm of travel is controlled by a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ air shock that has a two-position climb switch and adjustable rebound; no compression adjustments here. The fork is a new 150mm RockShox Lyrik Select+ with high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments but no ButterCups.
ON THE RIDER: Cannondale Tract Adult Helmet ($125); Optic Nerve FixieMAX Mirrored Glasses ($99); G-Form Moab Mountain Bike Gloves ($49.99); Endura MT500 Burner Lite L/S Jersey ($79.99); Singletrack Lite Short ($119.99); Jagged Sock ($22.50); Fox Union Flat Shoes ($150)
For being the “long-travel” version of the Habit, this bike climbed fairly well. Test riders did not notice any significant pedal-bob when putting down power or climbing out of the saddle, and the rear wheel seemed to track well during more technical climbing sections. The 77-degree seat tube angle put us in a comfortable and efficient climbing position. We didn’t feel too far over the rear end or like we had trouble keeping the front wheel planted on steep climbs. The only times we felt that the climb switch on the shock was advantageous was on steeper fire roads. For the most part, the rear suspension did not feel too soft or like we were losing efficiency and was quite comfortable for longer climbing days. SRAM’s mechanical GX Eagle drivetrain worked without a problem and didn’t need any adjusting over our test period.
This bike is an excellent all-around descender. At slower speeds, the dual 29-inch wheels felt maneuverable and able to navigate technical terrain without a problem. You can put the bike where you want to without feeling like you need to “muscle” it. Small bumps and rollers turn into side hits, and you can pop the front wheel and manual through sections with ease. When things start to heat up, the rear end feels planted and stable, but you can still move around and put it where you want it. Corners are met with confidence. We didn’t feel like we lost any of the bike’s predictability and were able to carry speed with ease.
We felt that the Habit did lose a bit of this stability in rougher and more technical high-speed sections. You can feel the rear end jumping around a bit, which could have been mitigated with a compression adjustment on the shock. The 475mm of reach on the size large lets you hang off the back and charge through steep sections with confidence. It’s not the fastest bike, but it sure is fun. It feels stable and predictable when jumping, and wants to boost all the lips it can find. The suspension is active and responsive, and you can throw whips and tables without a problem.
WHAT DID WE LOVE?
Right away, we felt comfortable and confident on the Habit LT and noticed how balanced it felt. The 150mm fork paired with 140mm of active rear travel makes this bike feel light and poppy, but burly enough to handle gnarlier sections of trail or bigger jumps without a second thought. It never really felt like a drag or too much bike on climbs, and got us to the top of the trail without much fuss. When pointing the Habit downhill, every little pop or bump turned into a feature, and we found ourselves constantly taking the fun line over the fast line. High-speed tech may not be where this bike excels, but this bike is built for having fun rather than chasing PRs on every trail.
WHAT DID WE HATE?
The SRAM Code R brakes felt underpowered straight away, even after making sure they were bedded in. On longer descents, we could feel the power fading as they heated up and could not get to a point where we were fully comfortable on them. On shorter or more mellow trails, they were more than sufficient, but did become noticeable when things got steep or more than a couple of minutes long. Additionally, the lack of compression adjustment on the rear shock made it difficult to feel fully settled. We were able to get it set up with just air pressure and rebound adjustments fairly well, but the lack of a compression adjustment made the rear end feel either too harsh or soft for some riders—not a big deal, but something that we did notice occasionally. Then late in testing, the rear shock failed loosing almost all damping.
This bike is built for having fun and keeping workshop time to a minimum. The 140mm of rear travel and a 150mm fork put the Habit LT right in the middle in terms of capability and pedaling efficiency, gearing the bike towards the rider who always seeks out the side hits on the trail. You may not smash out every KOM, but you will surely have a smile on your face at the bottom of every trail. With a couple of upgrades over time, the Habit LT can be a real all-mountain weapon.
CANNONDALE HABIT CARBON LT 1
WHEEL SIZE: 29″
SUSPENSION: 150mm (front), 140mm (rear)
Weight: 33.2 pounds (without pedals)
Sizes: XS, SM, MD, LG (tested), XL
Frame tested: Habit full carbon, 140mm travel (travel and material)
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, DebonAir, 2-pos. mode adjust, adjustable rebound
Fork: RockShox Lyrik Select+, 150mm, DebonAir, 15x110mm thru-axle, tapered steerer, 42mm offset
Wheelset: WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS, 32h, tubeless-ready
Hubs: (Front) Formula 15x110mm thru-axle; (rear) DT Swiss, star ratchet, 12x148mm thru-axle
Tires: (Front) Maxxis Minion DHF (29×2.5”), 3C, EXO+; (rear) Maxxis Dissector (29×2.5”), 3C, EXO+
Seatpost: Cannondale DownLow dropper, 31.6mm (170mm travel)
Saddle: Cannondale Scoop Shallow Elite, chromoly rails
Handlebar: HollowGram Save riser bar, carbon, 35mm clamp, 30mm rise, 8º back sweep, 5º rise, 780mm width
Stem: Cannondale 1, 7075 alloy, 1 1/8”, 35mm
Grips: Cannondale TrailShroom
Headset: Integrated sealed bearing, tapered
Brakes: SRAM Code R, 4-piston
Rotors: SRAM HS2 rotors, 200mm (f)/200mm (r)
Rear derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle Lunar
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
Crankset: SRAM GX Egle, DUB, 55mm chainline
Bottom bracket: SRAM DUB BSA MTB73 wide
Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG-1275, 12-speed, 10-52T
Chain: SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
GEOMETRY SIZE LARGE
Head tube angle: 64.7°
Effective seat tube angle: 77.1°
Reach: 475mm (18.7″)
Stack: 644mm (25.35″)
Bottom bracket height: 344mm (13.54″)
Chainstay length: 440mm (17.32″)
Wheelbase: 1237mm (48.7″)