Cannondale's 650b Habit aims to tick all boxes

A peek at the tech behind Cannondale's versatile new 120mm trail bike

Cannondale isn’t a firm that’s short on self-belief, and this is clear in its new 120mm travel, 68-degree head angle Habit trail bike, which we’ve taken a peek at, at this week's launch.

Related: New Cannondale Habit, Bad Habit and Beast of the East spotted

While the modern obsession in many parts of the globe is with long-travel enduro bikes, such as the 170mm travel Scott Genius LT or the 165mm GT Sanction, Cannondale seemingly reckons we’re missing a trick. Is a capable, balanced and aggressive short-travel bike something that we all need in our lives?

For a closer look at the new Habit Carbon 1, alloy Habit and Habit Carbon SE, take a flick through the gallery above. For price and further component details of the Habit, check our news story from earlier this week.

Carbon wizardry goes BallisTec

It may be short on travel, but with aggressive geometry, light weight and a super stiff frame and fork, the Habit promises to be a treat on the trail.

Murray ‘the Wizard’ Washburn, Cannondale’s global director of product marketing, talked us through the new bike – with his bottom line being that this is a short-travel ride that you can really give some welly.

Washburn explained to BikeRadar how the carbon is tuned – the bike’s strength is built using BallisTec – a ballistics-grade material with the ability to be warped and altered (such as in the impact of a gunshot to body protection), but can regain its original shape, or at least more of it compared with normal carbon.

The road-inspired flat mount brake standard:
The road-inspired flat mount brake standard:

The Habit's road-originated Flat Mount brake setup

This is where the strength of the bike comes from – but, according to Washburn, would used on its own result in a dull, wooden-feeling ride. Cannondale instead adds another layer of carbon to the ‘core strength’ layer, infusing the bike with more lively ride characteristics.

The Habit also does away with conventional seatstay pivots in its linkage-driven single-pivot rear end, relying on flex in the stays instead. A bearing has little friction, so why do away with the pivots?

Well, because it makes the bike lighter and easier to produce, with fewer moving parts. Cannondale claims the bowing seatstays make less of a difference to the action of the suspension than adding a tube to a tubeless wheel would (by increasing unsprung mass). It says the positives of a stiffer back end outweigh the minimal effect on suspension performance.

The lefty headstock is beefy!:
The lefty headstock is beefy!:

The Lefty headstock is beefy!

The new frame also uses a Flat Mount brake mount. Cannondale claims that this road standard, introduced by Shimano last year, is easier to produce, reduces the width of the back of the bike to avoid heel fouling and has more planes of adjustment than the IS and post mount designs more commonly found on mountain bikes. It may be another standard to add to our growing library but Cannondale seems to think that it is worthwhile.

The single-legged Lefty fork, meanwhile, splits opinion like Moses parted the Red Sea. Cannondale claims it’s stiffer than most other forks of a similar travel and intended use, and the needle-roller bearings and smooth actuation are a promising start. In fact, in a not-so-scientific carpark test, we didn’t even notice it was a Lefty on the front of the Habit until we looked down.

Cannondale's proprietory hollow cranks and chainring look amazing: cannondale's proprietory hollow cranks and chainring look amazing
Cannondale's proprietory hollow cranks and chainring look amazing: cannondale's proprietory hollow cranks and chainring look amazing

Cannondale's proprietory hollow cranks and chainring look amazing

The firm has hired former RockShox suspension guru Jeremiah Boobar to further develop its proprietary suspension systems. Boobar revalved the rebound circuit on the Lefty for the Habit, speeding it up to help counteract dive, something that the fork has been criticised for.

One bike to rule them all?

We’re all familiar with the marketing jargon of ‘one bike to rule them all’ – but in reality, of course, you won’t win an XC race, a DH race and an enduro race on one bike. Cannondale claims the new Habit, aimed towards people that only have one bike, comes close in that it can do most things pretty damn well.

Cannondale reckons the Habit will be great for the DH rider wanting to do XC and go on epic trail missions, but also useful for the XC rider seeking a slightly more aggressive bike, with its 67 degree head angle and long front centre.

Front travel is increased to 130mm for this slightly more hardcore model: front travel is increased to 130mm for this slightly more hardcore model
Front travel is increased to 130mm for this slightly more hardcore model: front travel is increased to 130mm for this slightly more hardcore model

Front travel is increased to 130mm for this slightly more hardcore Habit SE model

Enduro riders should be able to take something from the bike too – coming in at around 11.6kg (25.5lbs) for the Habit Carbon 1, it should climb like a rocket and be pretty nippy on the way down, too.

We will report back after we’ve taken a proper ride to let you know how well it goes – and whether it really does meet up to Cannondale’s claims…

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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