Cannondale Habit Carbon 3

Cannondale Habit Carbon 3
Price: $4,000
Sizes: S, M, L (tested),
Online: cannondale.com

Where were you “The Year Punk Broke”? It was 1991, sometime between late August and mid-October, Nirvana had just released “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into the world and everything, as we knew the popular culture to be, was about to be flipped on its head. It wasn’t long before 50% of the student body at any given high school was wearing unbuttoned flannels, dying their hair and tossing their Guns N’ Roses cassettes in the trash. For better or worse the underground had gone mainstream, opening up a wild and untamed catalog of bands and records to the world.

For the last few years, the 50to01 Crew has been creating their own scene in the world of mountain bikes, digging trails, designing lines and toting a BMX mentality of fun before all else. When Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland hung up the race wheels, he and a group of like-minded riders began creating quite the buzz with their video edits where they took their downhill skills out of the ski resort and into their local trails. Bryceland, whose name has become synonymous with Santa Cruz Bicycles, shocked the mountain biking world when he announced he would be joining Cannondale Bicycles this year and piloting the brand’s all-new Habit model. 

The Bike

The 2019 Habit is being marketed as a “mountain bike for mountain biking.” The all-new Habit is designed around 130 mm of travel with Cannondale’s Ballistic Carbon front triangle and an alloy rear swing arm. Once upon a time, I worked at a Cannondale dealership, and when the new bikes would show up, the staff would always marvel at how light they were in comparison to other brands. The Habit, however, is anything but light, and that’s OK. The Habit was created to withstand the abuse of modern trail riding and not by mere mortals, but the likes of Josh Bryceland. Dropping in on steep terrain, jumping doubles, wall rides and everything in between is well within the Habit’s comfort zone; the question: “Is it in yours?” will be the one that needs to be answered. 

The rear Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL, 130 mm, 3-position adjustable shock is coupled with the Fox Float Performance 34, 130 mm, Grip Damper, 3-position, 51 mm offset on the Habit Carbon 3 we tested. A 66° head tube angle paired with a 51 mm offset fork, allows for even the cautious trail rider to push the levels of aggression with which they approach the trail. The Habit Carbon 3 is completed with the SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed group, SRAM Guide R brakes and a set of Stan’s Arch 29-inch wheels with Maxxis Minion DHF and High Roller tires.

The Habit 3 is only available in the 29-inch wheel size, but the bike is equipped with a “flip chip” allowing riders to flip the geometry in order to better accommodate 27.5 plus tires. If swapping wheel sizes is attractive to you, note that Cannondale uses their Ai offset drivetrain, which requires a specific to Cannondale dish to the wheel. 

The Ride

The Habit operates under the attitude of a much bigger bike. While a lot of 130 mm trail bikes try to be “quiver killers,” the Habit concentrates on attacking the trail ahead, especially if that trail is pointed downhill. No bike can make you a better rider, but certain bikes instill a bit more confidence in one’s abilities, and the Habit is one of those bikes. This bike feels best when the dropper is down and it is bumping and jumping over rocks and roots, pushing through berms at high speed and sending gaps and drops. 

With all of its focus on slashing and roasting, the Habit is still a comparable climber. When the Fox suspension is set in pedal mode, the Habit is efficient in both long seated climbs and attacking steep and technical pitches. By no means will you be setting climbing speed records on the Habit, but you also won’t be wishing you’d phoned a friend for a shuttle during your next session at the trails. For someone looking for a bike that goes all day but can still throw down a little bit of attitude on the descents, I think they will find the Habit a worthy ride. I was able to get the Habit out in steep Appalachian chutes, Florida’s fast and sandy tracks and everything in between, and it handled it all with ease. The Habit’s ability to handle all sorts of terrain, however, may be seen as a flaw to some; while it does a lot well, I would say its balanced ride experience also keeps it from excelling at any one element of trail riding. That being said, ask yourself, would you rather head out for a full day adventure with a Swiss Army Knife or Bushido Blade? 

Conclusion

From the first ride down the trail, the Habit instilled confidence to attack with its stability in the rough stuff. It’s a versatile trail bike suited for all-day big-mountain adventures or sessioning the local flow and jump lines. Time will tell if Bryceland and Co. will have the same cultural impact on mountain biking as Nirvana did on popular music. One thing is for sure: Trails are changing to adapt to a more fun and downhill-inspired approach, and while not everyone has thrown their race kits away for half shell helmets and moto jerseys, the influence of the 50to01 Crew is apparent. I’m not convinced that the Habit is the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” of trail bikes, but much like rock ‘n’ roll, mountain bikes are intended to be fun, and the Habit is most certainly that.

Tester: Brett Rothmeyer
Age: 41
Weight: 170 lbs.
Height: 6’ 1”
Inseam: 32”

Reach: 18.1”
Stack: 24.6”
Top Tube: 22.7”
Head Tube: 66°
Seat Tube: 74.5°
BB Height: 13.3”
Chainstays: 17.1”
Weight: 33 lbs. with pedals