Cannondale Habit Carbon 3 review£2,900.00

A decent frame and fork hampered by some cheap spec

BikeRadar score3/5

The entry-level carbon mainframe version of Cannondale’s Habit gets a RockShox Pike fork rather than Cannondale’s own Lefty strut this year for a more rowdy-ready ride – but it gains weight in the process and the rear shock doesn’t help smoothness.

The fact that it's dressed with the same BallisTec carbon mainframe and carbon suspension link as the high-end Habit Carbon 1 frame will prick weight watchers’ ears up, especially given its appealing price tag. The alloy back end doesn’t add much heft considering how much money it saves over the full carbon frame, either. 

It also delivers the same built-in SAVE flex as the composite rear end to avoid the need for a conventional rear pivot.

The BallisTec carbon mainframe and carbon suspension link are the same as on the high-end Habit Carbon 1
The BallisTec carbon mainframe and carbon suspension link are the same as on the high-end Habit Carbon 1
 

The RockShox Pike RC fork has a smaller offset (42mm) than the one-legged Lefty fork (50mm) on more expensive Habit bikes, so the 68-degree steering feels less twitchy. A chunky 55mm stem and 760mm give a decent amount of leverage for commanding the wheel if you switch to the stickier rubber it needs for all-weather grip.

However, while we know the Habit has the potential to feel lively in a pop-and-hop, twist and spring way – particularly in its plus tyre sized ‘Bad Habit’ format – the Fox Performance series shock here doesn’t do it any favours. 

While RockShox damper-equipped Habits we’ve tested have floated along the trails, the clunky feel of the Fox can sap speed and smoothness on just mildly rooty/rocky trails even in fully open mode. The hard-compound Performance grade Schwalbe tyres make it feel like those same roots have been freshly waxed and polished if there’s any side load or cambered/diagonal element.

Unfortunately the Fox damper served to reign in this Habit's playful character
Unfortunately the Fox damper served to reign in this Habit's playful character

Even with a grippier front tyre, predictable compression and twin-speed rebound response from the Pike fork, there’s a slight sense of disconnect between the head and body of the bike when it’s pushed really hard. 

Overall, weight is also up significantly from last year, and while it pedals efficiently enough through the BB30 crank it can’t compete with the lighter, faster peers.

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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