The Cannondale Habit, which is possibly one of the American manufacturer’s most popular mountain bikes, has undergone an extensive update for 2023. While Cannondale shy away from bling top end components, the Habit is available in two different travel variants, with both a carbon and an alloy frame option. Simple, straightforward and functional?
Although the new Habit 2023 is still classified as a trail bike on Cannondale’s website, it’s available in two different travel variants, allowing you to choose your bike according to your needs and riding style. The Habit LT generates 150/140 mm of travel (f/r) while the classic Habit combines 140 mm at the front and 130 mm at the rear. Both versions are available with either an alloy or carbon frame, with prices ranging between € 2,499 and € 5,999. To change the travel, Cannondale simply fit forks and shocks with different amounts of travel, making it easy to convert from a short to a long travel bike.
The Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 in detail
Cannondale took the safe route with the redevelopment of the Habit, relying on simple yet proven solutions. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all of the model variants: the tool mount on the top tube, for example, is exclusive to the carbon frames. The alloy versions instead come standard with Cannondale’s proprietary StrapRack, which allows you to secure a spare inner tube and other trail essentials directly to the frame. However, both the carbon and alloy variants come standard with a bottle cage and generously sized protectors on the chainstays and down tube.
Additionally, the down tube protector of the carbon bike can be removed to access the cables. The latter are routed internally and enter the frame through cable ports rather than through the stem. Although Cannondale forgo cable clamps in the ports, the Habit is pleasantly quiet on the trail. In addition, a small mudguard behind the seat tube protects the cables from grit and dirt.
The spec of our Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 2023 test bike.
For this review, we tested the Cannondale Habit LT1 Carbon flagship model, which retails at € 5,999. For the spec, Cannondale deliberately forwent bling components and focused on offering the best value for money possible. The most blatant example is the RockShox suspension, consisting of a 150 mm Lyric Select+ Charger 3 fork and matching 140 mm Super Deluxe Select+ shock. The fork is only available as an OEM component, and employs the same damper as its top-tier Ultimate counterpart, but does not feature the proprietary Buttercup vibration damping system. The cable-operated SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain ensures smooth gear shifts without breaking the bank, coupled with a small 30t chainring which allows you to negotiate even the steepest climbs.
Braking is taken care of by SRAM Code R brakes. The basic R levers forgo SRAM’s Swinglink technology and bite point adjustment, which comes standard with the high-end RSC variant. The DownLow dropper post is built in-house by Cannondale and offers 170 mm of travel across all sizes. While this ensures decent freedom of movement on most frame sizes, the biggest XL frame could do with more travel to accommodate the needs of long-legged riders. The Habit rolls on a WTB Kom Trail alloy wheelset, which has performed flawlessly in this test, but has given us problems on other occasions, especially in terms of durability. MAXXIS supply the tires, combining a Minion DHF at the front and DISSECTOR at the rear, both in the lightweight EXO+ casing and harder MaxxTerra rubber compound. While both the casing and rubber compound are perfectly suitable for moderate trail riding, we would have preferred the softer MaxxGrip compound upfront. Heavy riders and those spending plenty of time on rocky trails should upgrade to the more robust DoubleDown casing.
Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 2023
Fork RockShox Lyric Select+ 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 140 mm
Seatpost Cannondale DownLow 170 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE R 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 1x12
Stem Cannondale 1 35 mm
Handlebar HollowGram SAVE 780 mm
Wheelset WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF MaxxTerra EXO+ / Dissector MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.5"/2.5"
Size XS S M L XL
Tuning tip: Tires with softer MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front | Dropper post with more travel
The geometry of the Cannondale Habit 2023
The Cannondale Habit LT is available in 5 sizes, XS to XL. The smallest XS frame is paired with 27.5″ wheels, while all other sizes roll on big 29” wheels. Cannondale forgo a flip chip altogether, but Cascade Components have already released a link that allows you to convert the Habit to a mullet bike. Reach values range between 400 and 510 mm, with our test bike in size L sporting a pretty standard 475 mm. The seat tube is on the short side in almost all frame sizes (445 mm in size L), ensuring sufficient freedom of movement on the trail. That’s unfortunately not the case for the biggest XL frame, which at 500 mm, has a massive seat tube that makes it harder to move around on the bike. In size L, the chainstays are 440 mm on the carbon frame and 445 mm on the same-size alloy version, growing with the frame size regardless of the material. This is meant to provide consistent handling across the range.
|Top tube||527 mm||583 mm||590 mm||617 mm||654 mm|
|Seat tube||360 mm||380 mm||400 mm||445 mm||500 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm||130 mm||140 mm|
|BB Drop||34 mm||34 mm||34 mm||34 mm||34 mm|
|Chainstay||434 mm||435 mm||435 mm||440 mm||445 mm|
|Wheelbase||1132 mm||1174 mm||1203 mm||1237 mm||1281 mm|
|Reach||400 mm||425 mm||450 mm||475 mm||510 mm|
|Stack||578 mm||626 mm||635 mm||644 mm||653 mm|
The Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 2023 on the trail
When riding on level ground, the Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 places you in a central, slightly front-heavy pedalling position, which comes in at the expense of riding comfort on flat sections but comes in handy when riding uphill. Here the pressure on the hands ceases and the front wheel keeps tracking without having to actively shift your weight, even in steep sections. Suspension bob is marginal and doesn’t distract you from focusing on the climb ahead, with the rear end always generating decent amounts of traction. That said, we recommend reaching for the shock’s climb switch on long gravel climbs.
When you point its nose downhill, the Habit integrates you nicely between its wheels, inspiring huge amounts of confidence in the process. The weight is evenly distributed between the front and rear, meaning that you don’t have to actively weight the front wheel in open corners. The suspension offers good support and a decent amount of pop, allowing you to pull off ledges and surf your way back into the valley in a leisurely manner. In combination with the intuitive handling, this encourages you to play with the trail – and sometimes even to make some poor decisions :-) The Cannondale is the right bike to gap obstacles and pull manuals, and also inspires confidence on steeper trails, where the short seat tube allows you to move around the bike – and a longer dropper would offer even more freedom for tall riders.
Who should take a closer look at the Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 2023?
The Cannondale Habit is a great choice for anyone looking for a solid, clean and well-thought-out trail bike, who doesn’t care about fancy looks and high-tech gimmicks. The solid spec renounces bling components but still delivers a tremendous performance on the trail. If you’re looking for a playful trail bruiser for creative lines and tons of air miles, the Cannondale Habit might be exactly what you’re looking for.
The Cannondale Habit is an understated yet clean, elegant trail bike with countless clever frame details. Moreover, you can choose from countless configuration options, including different frame materials, suspension travel and wheel sizes. On the trail, the Habit Carbon LT 1 makes you feel at ease from the get-go, with the intuitive handling and balanced weight distribution encouraging you to play with the terrain, commit to bold lines and gap obstacles.
- Many different options
- Balanced handling
- Suspension with tons of pop
- Short dropper post for long-legged riders
- Hard rubber compound on the front tire fritters away traction
For more information visit Cannondale.
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Words: Simon Kohler, Peter Walker Photos: Mike Hunger