Cannondale Habit Neo | First Ride Impressions

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We were lucky enough to be able to snag a Cannondale Habit Neo 3 for a couple of days in advance of the launch.

Cannondale Habit Neo 3
The very orange Cannondale Habit Neo 3 comes in at £4499

As you’ll have seen by now, Cannondale has just announced a major launch of new e-bikes in both its Moterra and new Habit NEO e-bike ranges. The bikes are both brand new and we were lucky enough to be able to snag a Cannondale Habit Neo 3 for a couple of days in advance of the launch. And despite cramming for the next magazine deadline, we’ve managed to clock up 60km on the bike in just a couple of days. Enough to bring you a pretty good first impression of the Cannondale Habit Neo.

Descent
It definitely can handle itself on the descents. There’s enough travel for nearly everyone.

The Bike

On first carpark impressions, the bike – especially in the pearl orange colour that we have – the Habit Neo is a good-looking, striking bike. It helps that we’ve had a few years of looking at the chunkier proportions of e-bikes to help it look ‘normal’ but the bold, straight tubes do a good job of reinforcing the bike’s no-nonsense, but eager looks.

Bosch CX Performance system.
Goes uphill like a properly scalded cat… especially in e-MTB mode.

This was the first proper go that I’d had on the new Bosch CX Performance system. An e-bike system that I’d been hearing behind-the-scenes good things about for a couple of years. The system has lost a lot of weight over the previous generation, the cranks have moved to the back of the motor (enabling shorter chainstays and pivots where they should be) and the whole system is a lot more serviceable than the previous ‘return to base’ systems.

Bosch CX Performance system.
The motor gets a skidplate. And ‘proper’ sized chainrings at last!

The software too has been hugely improved. While there’s still the familiar Eco, Tour and Turbo modes, there’s a new ‘e-MTB’ mode which appears to span the whole range of Eco to Turbo within a single setting. Pedal hard and you’ll get an instant shot of power, but pedal gently and you’ll get the merest whiff of assistance.

Cannondale
Battery lives behind this big black panel

The bike we had in is a size Medium, Habit Neo 3, which seemed to fit my 175cm/5ft 9in frame for reach (445mm on a medium) and pedal height just fine. It did take a while to get the brakes and shifters working to my liking, to be honest. The chunky clamps of the Magura MT30 brakes didn’t want to play nicely with the SRAM e-bike Eagle 12 speed shifter. Move the shifter in close and it would foul on the brake lever clamp, so it had to sit more inboard than I’d like. On the other side, the Bosch display cantilevers nicely over the Magura lever, but the push-down lever for the TransX dropper post makes a big obstacle for hands reaching over to get to the Bosch control unit. And once there, the buttons are computer mouse-sensitive, so best pressed on a smooth surface. Riding a bumpy climb and trying to hit a button for a touch more (or less!) power was hit and miss at times.

The spec is decent mid-range stuff, par for the price of the e-bike. One visual thing stood out (apart from the gorgeous orange sparkle paint) was the huge rotors. With a 203mm rotor out back and a mahoosive 220mm up front, there was no missing these bad boys.

 RockShox Deluxe Select R
A RockShox Deluxe Select R shock keeps everything very supple

The Ride

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Chipps

Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

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