Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 review

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Long story short: the Cannondale Habit Carbon LT is a great little bike. Key question: would I have one? Yes. Most definitely.

Say ‘Cannondale’ to mountain bikers of a certain age and it will instantly provoke a sea of iconic images from the sport’s heyday. Rockwell, Giove, Juarez, Gracia, Moseley, Chausson, Lopes… Quickly followed by the machines they rode. The Lefty, the Fulcrum, the Scalpel, the Prophet, the Pepperoni, the Beast From The East, the Raven, the motocross bike!

There was always a soupçon of insanity somewhere at work within Cannondale. But it was a beautiful madness that totally encapsulates – more than any other brand – the sport’s 90s peak. It was possibly this bold eccentricity that ended up with the brand being saved/purchased by Dorel Industries in the mid-noughties. Dorel in turn was saved/purchased by bike brand behemoth Pon Holdings in 2021, which is now who owns Cannondale.

Weight-saving headbadge

The Bike

This is the Habit LT. Not to be confused with the Habit. The LT stands for longer travel (the standard Habit is a 140/130mm bike) and it offers a 150mm travel fork with 140mm of rear travel. Both Habits are available in aluminum or carbon. We tested the Carbon Habit LT 1.

Despite this being the flagship Habit LT, the build kit is not offensively and pointlessly expensive. The bits on this bike have still clearly been chosen with an eye on maximum bang for buck. The fork is perhaps the best indication of intent here; you can’t buy this fork. It’s an OEM only fork. It’s essentially RockShox’s best damper (Charger 3) but stripped of Buttercups (RockShox’s anti-vibration rubber puck thingies). To all real-life on-trail intents and purposes, this is an Ultimate level fork with Select+ decals. The rear shock is a standard Super Deluxe Select+, which works pretty darned fine.

Gears are SRAM Eagle GX. Again, all fine. Not showy. Kudos to Cannondale for speccing a 30T chainring; we like a 30/52T spinny bail-out gear, so thanks! The brakes are SRAM Code R which have the power and feel but miss out on SRAM’s Swinglink stuff (basically a cam that pushes more fluid at the beginning of the lever stroke) and bite-point adjustment.

Neat cable management

The rest of the build kit you can read for yourself in the spec listing elsewhere on these pages. But we’ll rapidfire our way through it now with some salient pointers: DownLow dropper (works fine but has ‘only’ 170mm travel), WTB Kom Trail wheels (fine albeit a bit portly), Maxxis tires (better than most rubbers found on off-the-peg trail bikes), own-brand stem (quite nice really), own-brand carbon bars (a bit harsh and with a sweep combo that wasn’t to our tastes), Fabric TrailShroom grips (nice), Scoop saddle (basically a Charge/Fabric Scoop saddle that some folks love, others not-so-much).

As regards the carbon frame. It looks nice. It’s smooth and curvy without being excessive and tipping into the garishness found on some plastic fantastic frames. It’s yer classic Horst Link four-bar rear suspension layout, which just feels like the most American of all rear suspension layouts doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just us.

What else? There’s a tool mount on the top tube. There’s a bottle mount on the down tube. There are decent rubberized protectors on the down tube and the driveside stays. The down tube protector can be removed to reveal a window into the bike which is where you do all your internal cable routing. There’s also a dinky mudflap on the seat tube designed to stop stuff getting in between the swingarm and mainframe and damaging stuff.

The Ride

Getting the Habit LT set-up was reassuringly nice and straightforward. With the RockShox fork and shock, I set them to give 20% sag on the front and 30% on the rear (which means 100 psi in the fork and 195 psi in the shock for my 87kg in my riding kit).

For the fork, I ran the low speed compression (LSC) fully open and just one click in from fully open with the high speed compression (HSC). As regards rebound, I twiddle it here and there depending on the conditions – or my mood. For the rear shock I, again, ran the LSC fully open and twiddled the rebound to suit. Generally I liked minimal rebound. These settings gave me the ride I was looking for: a good balance of sensitivity and support. 

After a couple of rides I swapped out the stock own-brand 175mm travel dropper post for a longer travel post (200mm from E*Thirteen) that I had available. The stock 175mm is OK but… longer is always better. I’ve just got too used to 200mm posts. The 200mm post gave me a bit more space for moving the bike around. The Habit LT isn’t the longest bike in the world (modest reach, short chainstays) so being able to hunker down as-and-when really helped the hustle.

Jumping on the Habit, the geometry will feel familiar enough to those upgrading from a trail bike from a few years ago. In a world of super long and super slack bikes, the Habit LT feels slightly more reserved or middle of the road in its proportions, and is arguably all the better for it. It’s an easy bike to jump on and ride without having to recalibrate your riding style.

As a trail bike, the Habit LT needs to be as good at going up and along as it is at going down. And it is. The geometry puts you in a good position for spinning away and – while the 77° seat tube isn’t the steepest – it’s not too slack. The bike works well with the saddle just slightly forward on its rails.

Heading up, the Habit LT is an efficient climber, and I often found myself one cog lower on the block when climbing than on other bikes I usually ride (admittedly they are generally longer travel rigs with sticky tires). It’s fast and efficient and with it being not overly long, it gets around tight uphill turns easily. There is a small amount of movement from the shock when climbing but I never felt the need to flip the climb switch – even on extended climbs. The suspension does a great job of maintaining traction on loose and tech and you can winch your way up pretty much anything. On really steep pitches the front can lift (them short chainstays) but it’s usually easy to remedy with a bit of a weight shift.

Point it in the other direction downhill and the Habit LT is an absolute barrel of laughs. It feels like what a trail bike should be. It’s fast, it’s responsive, it’s engaging and it’s just plain fun. On undulating, flowing trails it carries speed and lets you duck and dive on turns and rises, pumping the trail and hopping off everything you can find. The geometry is confident enough to let the bike run in the steeps, slithering through ruts and hitting catches. Oh, and corners, it loves corners. Inside and slide, or outside, it doesn’t matter. Lean it in and shift your weight to let the rear slide/grip. The geometry lends itself to hitting linked turns, finding gaps and generally having fun.

  The front and rear dampers do a great job of smoothing out trail chatter, without muting too much, but keeping the bike feeling tight and responsive. And it won’t back down from rocky and rough, but when things get really chunky and fast you can start to reach the limits – but then it is ‘just’ a trail bike. 

Overall

The Cannondale Carbon Habit LT is a great trail bike. It pedals well. It is comfortable to spin away for hours, but more than anything, it puts a massive smile on your face when you do the downs. It’s the sort of bike that would suit a huge spectrum of riders. It’s happy to put in the miles and cruise along some singletrack, but when it comes time to open the taps and properly “‘ave it”, it shines.

Not only are the geometry and the suspension kinematics sorted, Cannondale has also done an impressive job with the spec. For not much more than some brands’ frame-onlys you get a full carbon frame, good dampers, powerful brakes, sensible drivetrain and even decent casing tires. There are a couple of bits that I’d swap in the longer term (the cheaper levers on the Code R brakes are a bit rattly, for example) and it deserves a longer dropper, but these are small niggles rather than actual problems.

Long story short: the Cannondale Habit Carbon LT is a great little bike. Key question: would I have one? Yes. Most definitely.

Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 Specification

  • Frame // Carbon, 140mm
  • Fork // RockShox Lyrik Select+, 150mm
  • Shock // RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
  • Wheels // WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS rims on Formula/DT Swiss hubs
  • Front tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO+ 29×2.5in
  • Rear tyre // Maxxis Dissector 3C EXO+ 29×2.5in
  • Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle, 170mm, 30T
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-52T
  • Brakes // SRAM Code R, 200/200mm
  • Stem // Cannondale 1, 35mm
  • Bars // Cannondale HollowGram SAVE, Carbon, 35mm, 780x30mm
  • Grips // Cannondale TrailShroom
  • Seatpost // Cannondale DownLow Dropper, 31.6mm, 170mm
  • Saddle // Cannondale Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Bottom Bracket // SRAM DUB
  • Size tested // L
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 14.8kg
  • Head angle // 64.7°
  • Effective seat angle // 77.1°
  • Seat tube length // 445mm
  • Head tube length // 130mm
  • Chainstay // 440mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,237mm
  • Effective top tube // 617mm
  • BB height // 34mm BB drop
  • Reach // 475mm

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Review Info

Brand: Cannondale
Product: Habit Carbon LT 1
From: Cannondale
Price: £4,750
Tested: by Ross for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 151
Author Profile Picture
Ross Demain

Ad Sales Manager

Ross pairs his childlike excitement for bikes with a complete disregard for the wellbeing of his ribs, or his rims. Best known for riding cheeky trails, his time is also spent trail building in his local woods, drinking beer, eating pies and entertaining his two children.

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