The Habit was the lightest bike I rode at Interbike—by a healthy margin. At 24.7 lbs without pedals, it is over a pound lighter than the next lightest bike I rode (the Canfield EPO – a hardtail).
While the Habit certainly has some light parts attached to it, a lot of that weight savings is clearly in the frame, which eschews bearings at the rearmost pivot point by using lightweight stays that flex near the rear axle as the suspension compresses.
And that light weight makes the bike feel pretty racy, even though its geometry numbers fall decidedly on the trail bike side of things.
The downside of that light weight, however, is that this bike is really, really flexy. As I noted above, the Lefty fork was actually fairly stiff, but both the Cannondale CZero Carbon wheels and the frame itself are far flexier than anything else I’ve ridden in this class.
On bigger hits and running through a few rock gardens with speed, I honestly got a little worried that the Habit might break. It really felt like I was doing something that the bike wasn’t intended to handle. The bike was very noticeably contorting under loads to an extent that I’ve not seen on any other bike positioned to be a somewhat aggressive trail machine.
To be fair, my concerns may be unfounded. Jason Moeschler won the Downieville DH aboard this bike, so apparently it can take at least two days’ worth of abuse. But if you’re looking for a trail bike to tackle lots of technical descents, this is definitely not the one I’d suggest.
At a more moderate pace, the Habit didn’t get overwhelmed, but also wasn’t the most compliant bike out there. It doesn’t have particularly good small bump compliance, and I’m guessing that has something to do with the flex stay suspension design. In this regard, it’s somewhat similar to the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt, which uses bushings instead of bearings in the rear end. Neither bike gets that nice, supple feel that comes with a rear end running on bearings.
Cannondale is a company that’s had a lot of success building very nice, very light XC race rigs. And with that background in mind, it’s easy to see where the Habit comes from: it has trail bike geometry built into a cross country frame. That makes for a really light setup, but not one that’s inclined to get smashy when the going is rough.
If you’re coming from a XC background and you want something a little more aggressive but without the weight penalty that accompanies some other bikes in this class, the Habit might be worth a look. But if you want to get the most out of the benefits that come with a bit more travel and slightly more aggressive geometry, there are better options than the Habit, albeit with a slight weight penalty.