Cannondale Habit Carbon 3 review

A decent frame and fork hampered by some cheap spec

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £2,900.00 RRP | AUD $4,999.00 | USD $3,800.00

Our review

Excellent frame, crank and decent fork, but skittery rear end and tyres
Buy if, You're willing to play the long game and switch out some so-so kit choices
Pros: Plenty of upgrade potential in the carbon mainframe and cute crank package; Pike fork adds some welcome control up front.
Cons: Harsh rear shock tune and slippery tyres undermine confidence and control; heavy for a 120mm semi-carbon XC/trail bike.
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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.

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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
Russell Burton

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
Russell Burton

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. 

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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.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Habit Carbon 3
Brand Cannondale

Brakes Shimano Deore M615 180/160mm
Cranks Cannondale Si BB30 30t
Fork RockShox Pike RC 120mm
Frame Material BallisTec Carbon mainframe, alloy rear
Front Tyre Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 27.5x2.3in
Head Angle 68
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT
Rear Shock Fox Float DPS 120mm
Rear Tyre Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 27.5x2.25in
Seat Angle 74
Shifters Shimano SLX
Weight (kg) 13.4
Wheelset WTB i23 rims on alloy hubs
Frame size tested L