Cannondale Bad Habit 1 first ride review£2,500.00

Cannondale has just redefined the definition of XC/trail fun

Cannondale has always pedalled its own trail of innovation and while that path hasn’t always been fruitful, the distinctively different Cannondale Bad Habit 1 might well be one of the most fun and deceptively fast trail bikes we’ve ridden. While the conventionally tyred, carbon framed Habit was a blisteringly quick and agile entry into our 2016 Bike of the Year line up, when things got lairy we felt it was a bit too quick and whippy for its own good.

Cannondale Bad Habit 1 spec overview

Cannondale's Bad Habit 1
Cannondale's Bad Habit 1

  • Fork: Lefty 2.0 Alloy OPI, 120mm
  • Rear shock: RockShox Monarch RL, 120mm travel
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore
  • Crank: Cannondale Hollowgram
  • Wheels: 27+ WTB
  • Tyres: WTB Bridger, 27.5x3.0, tubeless ready
  • Rims: WTB Scraper i45 27.5", 45mm, tubeless ready
  • Bottom bracket: Cannondale Alloy BB30
  • Shifters: SRAM GX, 11-speed
  • Saddle: Cannondale Stage 3

Cannondale Bad Habit 1 frame and equipment

The Bad Habit 1 doesn't come with a dropper, which is an upgrade we'd make
The Bad Habit 1 doesn't come with a dropper, which is an upgrade we'd make

Putting big 3.0in sized (actually 73mm wide) tyres on ‘proper’ width (40mm internal) Scraper i45 rims adds just the extra connection to the trail it needs to be a proper hooligan though. Cunning geometry and simple short travel suspension mean it’s lost none of its infectiously giddy, playful character in the process either.

Despite being shorter in travel and lacking a dropper, the Bad Habit 1 is only 500g lighter than other plus bikes like the Diamondback Heist 3.0+ and Specialized Fuse Comp. The extra heft of the big tyres make the wheels a grunt to get going compared to conventional hoops and tyres, but the way their bigger volume and lower pressures shrink the effective size and deflection energy of rocks, roots, ripples and ruts gives them outrageous speed sustain on technical terrain.

It also smoothes off the reluctance of the cheaper Lefty fork to start moving so it feels impressively plush but not vague. Despite the simple flex seat stay suspension set up, the 120mm of rear travel isn’t enough for the back end to bounce out of control. Instead it’s just right to let you keep the power cranking the sexy looking Cannondale SpideRing chainset over rubble and root spreads or take overambitious hits and drops without ejecting you over the bars.

Cannondale Bad Habit 1 ride impression

The bigger volume and lower pressures of the tyres shrink rocks, roots and ruts, making riding on technical terrain fast
The bigger volume and lower pressures of the tyres shrink rocks, roots and ruts, making riding on technical terrain fast

The combination of the 68-degree head angle and 55mm offset of the Lefty fork also syncs really well with the short travel chassis. Micro line corrections to save traction or dodge trouble at the last second are instant and intuitive and you’ll find yourself jabbing and feinting from line to line rather than relying on big lazy hooks to get you through. As a result, taunting the very edge of the safe limit becomes a totally addictive mindset and Bad Habit couldn’t be more aptly named.

Obviously there is a point at which the shorter wheelbase, suspension and steeper frame can’t cope and things get out of hand. The handling doesn’t lull you into a false sense of security in the first place though and the big tyres can still bail you out. Besides, a lot of people prefer play bikes to plough bikes and once you’ve fitted a dropper post, the Bad Habit is possibly one of the most fun full-sus bikes available.

Cannondale Bad Habit 1 early verdict

Needs a dropper, but otherwise an addictive combo of obstacle ignorance and involving agility that encourages all the best Bad Habits.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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