Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 review£2,900.00

A composed singletrack slayer in a sleek-looking package

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The vibrantly-coloured Habit Carbon 2 is the women’s specific version of Cannondale’s “do-it-all” 27.5-inch wheel size mountain bike.

  • The Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.

Cannondale comments that the Habit combines ‘all-mountain capability with XC efficiency’ and, with a few caveats, it lives up to the claims.


It’s a quick climber and nimble on the descents. However, ‘all-mountain’ in this case is more about long rides on natural trails rather than enduro descents, where the slightly old-school trail geometry can feel nervy.

120mm travel front and rear comes via decent RockShox Pike RC forks and a Fox Float shock
120mm travel front and rear comes via decent RockShox Pike RC forks and a Fox Float shock

Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 frame

The Habit combines a carbon frame made from the same BallisTec Carbon as Cannondale’s top-line models, but with an alloy suspension link and rear triangle to help keep costs down.

This version shares a unisex frame with the unisex/men’s version, paired with women’s specific finishing kit such as the Cannondale Stage 3 Women’s Ergo saddle.

Cables are routed externally
Cables are routed externally

Geometry-wise, the Habit errs towards a more old-school and slightly more cross-country approach with a 68-degree head angle and 74-degree effective seat tube angle.

This helps make it a good bike for climbing, putting you in a good position to push through technical features on ascents like root sections, though can make it feel a little twitchy on descents. On the upside, it’s also very manoeuvrable making short work of navigating tight and twisty tech sections.

 Cables are routed externally beneath the down tube, and overall the frame has a pleasing, clean look. 

The women's Habit has a women's specific saddle
The women's Habit has a women's specific saddle

Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 spec

The price tag is respectable for a largely Shimano XT 1x11 build-kit, which comes combined with Cannondale’s own cranks. The rear cassette is Shimano SLX with an 11-42t range and a 30t chainring. This gives a good range of gears for the majority of trail riding, providing easy enough gears for climbs and high enough gears to put some power down when you want to get sprinting.

That said, if you have ridden a 1x12 Eagle groupset, you may miss the easy spin that the largest gear gives you on long or steep climbs.

Shimano XT groupset is paired with a Cannondale crank
Shimano XT groupset is paired with a Cannondale crank

The Shimano Deore brakes are one of the better entry-level braking packages on the market, and while they don’t have the power and adjustability of pricier models, again for the price and trail-riding purpose they are more than adequate, though on longer technical descents the Habit would benefit from something a little more powerful. 

The RockShox Pike RC 120mm fork is a great, sturdy model providing smooth, reactive support that provides great front-end traction on smaller hits and moves smoothly through its travel on larger hits and drops, although it did start to bottom out on big drops. You may want to experiment with adding volume spacers to the air spring to add a touch more progression towards the end of its stroke — thankfully an easy job.

RockShox Pike forks are sturdy, stiff and capable
RockShox Pike forks are sturdy, stiff and capable

The Fox Float DPS rear shock it’s paired with, which controls the 120mm of travel at the rear of the bike, required a little tuning to balance out with the smoothness of the front end. I found it felt harsh over smaller bumps and frequently got hooked up on square edge hits and roots.  

Getting the wheels already set up with tubeless sealant straight from the factory is a nice touch, but the relatively narrow 23mm WTB rims are a little dated.

The wheels are paired with Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres with a 2.35-inch width at the front and a narrower 2.25-inch rear. Nobby Nics are a reasonable all-round trail tyre, great for most built trail-centre surfaces and ride well in moderate natural trail conditions.

WTB wheels come ready setup with tubeless sealant and are ready to roll
WTB wheels come ready setup with tubeless sealant and are ready to roll

They aren’t the grippiest in the mud and wet so you may want to choose something with a bit more bite if you know you’ll be riding in mucky conditions a lot or like off-camber wet roots.

This Performance version is made from a hard compound that’s faster rolling but at the expense of traction. More aggressive riders will want to upgrade these to a softer compound tyre to get the most out of the bike.

The Habit comes in a wild coral/strawberry colour that some will love and others hate
The Habit comes in a wild coral/strawberry colour that some will love and others hate

The Habit comes with a TransX dropper seatpost which provides 120mm of travel — plenty for the majority of trail riding.

Cockpit-wise, the Habit comes specc’d with a Cannondale alloy stem and decently wide 740mm alloy handlebars, which is pretty much ideal for versatile trail riding: narrow enough to zip between trees, wide enough to give a stable platform for descending.

It’s also a great looking bike in the flesh, which turned a lot of heads, even in this peachy coral colour, amusingly named ‘Acid Strawberry’.

Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 overall impression

While Cannondale regards the Habit as a go-anywhere bike, it sits more towards the XC end of the spectrum
While Cannondale regards the Habit as a go-anywhere bike, it sits more towards the XC end of the spectrum

When I wanted to have a ride around my local woods and to dance through the trees without a care about speed or gnarly descending, this was the first bike in the shed that I reached for.

However, while the marketing might state the bike has ‘all-mountain’ capability, the slightly old-school trail geometry means that while it can handle technical descents, for anything more gravity-oriented it requires a high skill level.

It feels fast and racy, but the slightly higher front end provides a decent amount of relief from the potential back discomfort you can get with a more aggressive all-out cross-country bike.

The ride is composed and confident, especially if you upgrade the hard compound Schwalbe tyres, giving off no surprises, and I think this bike would be a good match for XC marathon events or just good old-fashioned trail riding.

While the spec isn’t outstanding for the price, it’s up to the job and a few choice upgrades around that quality carbon frame will boost future performance.

Cannondale Habit Women’s Carbon 2 pricing, sizing and availability

The Habit Women’s Carbon 2 is available in three sizes: XS, S and M and retails at £2,900 / AU$4,999.

This version of the Habit Women’s bike isn’t available in the US, but you can get the Habit Women’s Carbon 1 for $3,799.99.

Also consider...

If you're in the market for a bike and want to know what else is on offer, have a look at the following list of tried, tested and reviewed options.

Want more? BikeRadar Women has loads of women's cycling news, reviews, interviews and advice and more.

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