What it does well: We wanted to cover two ultra-versatile trail bikes on these pages, the nimble Santa Cruz is one, this Cannondale Habit is the second. It too features 27.5-inch wheels and a similar head tube angle of 68 degrees, but the bikes ride differently. The Habit features Cannondale’s much-loved Lefty suspension fork. That, plus a lightweight BallisTec carbon frame and weight shaving add-ons like a hollow crank give the Habit a feathery feel on trail. It’s not as nimble as the Santa Cruz at slower speeds. Instead, it likes to boost off little double jumps and hits. In turns it’s also the cycling equivalent of a carving ski. Don’t underestimate just how laterally stiff that Lefty fork is. But much of that precision comes courtesy of Cannondale’s Zero-Pivot seat stays. Instead of placing pivots in the rear triangle they build material flex into their carbon layup to offer some vertical compliance while keeping the bike from twisting on edge. “The Habit doesn’t plow through rough trail so much as it floats over it,” said a tester.
What it does poorly: You can feel the Habit’s lack of mass and the springy response out of the rear end when you hit multiple rocks in rapid succession—where it might get pinged off line.
So who’s it for? With just under 5-inches of travel, the Habit is very much a raceable trail bike. We really appreciated the lightweight feel and pedaling efficiency on extended climbs. And it excels on all manner of fast flowing singletrack with bermed S-turns and whoop-de-doos. So Sun Valley, Crested Butte, Park City…. 24.5 lbs.