Take everything you thought you knew about the Cannondale Habit and throw it straight out the window – the newest trail bike from Cannondale has almost nothing in common with its predecessor. Gone are the single-pivot swing-link actuated shock and 27.5-inch wheels, replaced by a 4-bar linkage suspension platform on fast-rolling 29-inch wheels; a different beast altogether.

2019 Cannondale Habit 130mm 29er trail mountain bike

Womens Cannondale Habit 2019 Alloy
Cannondale offer the Cannondale Habit spec’d for women – here is the alloy coming in at just $2,100

Cannondale are offering the Habit in no fewer than 9 different flavors: 4 Carbon, 5 Alloy, with 3 of these spec’d for women specifically. Here, we’ll focus on the frame tech and design details, but complete build specs are on the Cannondale website. Importantly, all models are spec’d with Maxxis tires and Fox suspension, and the frame specification remains identical between the men’s and women’s bikes.

Upon first glance we see straight away that Cannondale have tried to keep things standard and ‘mainstream’ with this bike. There’s no trademark Lefty fork and no handlebar operated geometry adjustment going on as we’ve seen previously with the longer travel Trigger. However, don’t let that lead you to believe that Cannondale are holding off on innovation. With the new Proportional Response design philosophy quite the opposite is true – we’ll come to that in a minute.

Cannondale Habit 2019 frame only
The new Habit gets new direct line cable routing for easy maintenance

The Habit features 130mm travel and is fitted with a 140mm-travel traditional upright and perfectly symmetrical fork thank you very much. The 4-bar suspension is a multi-link mechanism comprising of four links, as the name suggests – the Habit features a closed 4-bar linkage, which would be described as a clockwise system, since both the upper and lower links rotate in the same direction.

Cannondale Habit 2019 4-bar suspension platform proportional response size-specific engineering
The closed 4-bar suspension platform is key to the proportional response design philosophy

The head angle is nice and slack for a trail bike at 66º with a 435mm chainstay length. Cannondale designed this bike to be fun and capable over technical terrain and easy to own. It is spec’d as you would expect any decent trail bike to be: short stem, wide handlebars, wide rims, lock-on grips and with frame protection both on the underside of the downtube and on the chain stay drive-side. All models are also spec’d with the super comfortable ergonomic Fabric saddles.

Cannondale Habit 2019 Carbon 2
The Cannondale Habit Carbon 2 has an alloy rear end with frame protection on the downtube and chain stay driveside

The frame has heaps of tire clearance with room for up to 2.6″ tires on the 29er. For those wishing to make the bike more nimble and accelerate that wee bit faster, the frame can also take 27.5+ wheels, up to a 3.0 depending on brand (measured width limit of 74mm).

Cannondale Habit 2019
This much tire clearance when running a 29er with 2.35 inch tires

The carbon frames are made with their BallisTec carbon to give it both high-strength and high-stiffness. New to Cannondale? BallisTec is composed of ultra-strong fibers like those used for military ballistic armoring, which helps protect the frame from rock strikes and other impacts. To tune the overall stiffness and ride-feel of the frame Cannondale layers these stiffer (but more brittle) fibers with high and standard modulus carbon fibers to create an interconnected network of stiffening fibers throughout the frame. This allows for precise tuning of stiffness and deflection at different points throughout the frame.

What is Proportional Response geometry?

 all-new 2019 Cannondale Habit 130mm 29er trail mountain bike

In a nutshell, the Proportional Response design philosophy is size-specific engineering, but applied in a novel way. In designing the new Habit, frame design engineer Luis Arraiz started with a clean slate. Cannondale’s aim was simple; to make a better bike that provides a more confident experience for every rider, no matter their size. By looking at each individual bike size and rider as its own unique system, Cannondale have engineered the optimal dynamic response and ride experience for each size of rider.

“Does size make a difference?”, I hear you say. The answer from Cannondale is an unequivocal ‘yes’. The research process started out with simple bench-marking of Cannondale bikes against the bikes of competitors. The testers themselves ranged in size and shape dramatically – both men and women, both very tall and very short. For each individual bike the feedback revealed an interesting pattern – riders of differing sizes riding the same bike described very different ride characteristics.

Cannondale Habit 2019 29er
Size-specific engineering: Yoke size is tailored to each frame size for proportional response in the suspension kinematics

Generally, smaller riders described worse experiences under braking while taller, heavier riders described worse pedaling performance. These aren’t the most ground-breaking observations I grant you. It shouldn’t be news to us given we know riders of differing weight need different fork, shock and tire pressures. Rider weight accounts for around 85% of the weight of the bike-rider combo and so it is fairly obvious that it will have a massive impact on the ride feel of the bike.

Cannondale Habit 2019 29er boost
The 2019 Habit features modern 148mm Boost spacing in the rear axle

So what is the solution? Cannondale conducted a comprehensive study to find the real center of gravity for all sizes of rider. This is the most relevant metric describing the rider as it will influence every suspension metric, including anti-squat and anti-rise. Cannondale had each rider and bike rigged up to a whole host of sensors measuring suspension performance throughout climbing and descending. Utilizing the 4-bar suspension layout, and the map of center of gravity heights for braking and pedaling scenarios, Cannondale have achieved the desired anti-rise and anti-squat characteristics for each individual frame size of the new Habit.

Cannondale Habit 2019 optimized kinematics
The length of the suspension tab alters as you go through the frame sizes as per the proportional response design

In real terms the research has resulted in this: in addition to the expected changes in tube lengths seen as you go up through frame sizes, Cannondale have manufactured three different sized linkage suspension platforms, with three different lengths for the shock’s front mounting tab, meaning the placement of the central suspension pivot is different for each size frame.

Cannondale Habit 2019 geometry

Cannondale reckon that until now, if you didn’t ride a size medium, your bike suffered from compromised suspension kinematics. With Proportional Response on the new Habit, now all riders can experience their perfect ride- from a tiny XS up to the big XL.

Why is the all-new Cannondale Habit ‘easy to own’?

direct line cable routing cannondale habit carbon 1
Cannondale use direct line cable routing on the new Habit – a tube within the tube for easier maintenance

Cannondale have really gone out of their way to make the Habit as maintenance friendly as possible, both on and off the bike. First up we have the direct line internal cable routing which is essentially, a tube within a tube. Just feed your new cable into the tube (within the tube) and it pops out the other end exactly where you need it to. You can imagine how much this would speed up the process. With this simple routing solution you get all the benefits of internal routing, such as reduced rattle noise and risk of cable rub while also saving you time, not to mention your sanity.

This feature is only available on the carbon models – the internal tubes are inserted and bonded after the frame has been molded. Then they are cut and finished once the bonding is set.

cannondale habit2019 carbon 2 4-bar suspension linkage
A flip-chip is placed at the seat stay-yoke junction for tune-able geometry – flip it to change the head angle 0.5 degrees

Secondly, the Habit features a flip-chip at the seat stay-yoke pivot which allows the rider to finely adjust the geometry of the bike. Flipping the chip alters the head angle of the bike by half a degree, and raises or lowers the BB height slightly, too. This is a simple and quick change to make and can be done mid-way through a ride if you feel you want to slacken it out for a fast descent.

Finally, and off the bike, Cannondale offer a free augmented reality app that allows the owner and bike shop mechanics to see exactly how each part of the bike fits together. With the Simon Service AR app, you can visualize the anatomy of each and every pivot and visualize the internals of the suspension fork and rear shock. This is a really nice feature for owners as it’ll allow them to do more of the maintenance themselves keeping those ownership costs down.

2019 Cannondale Habit – Asymmetric Integration

Cannondale Habit 2019 29er trail bike mountain
The new Habit features an asymmetric rear end providing stiffness to the frame

On the new Habit, Cannondale wanted to keep the chainstay short at 435mm for all-important rear wheel traction, while still allowing for decent tire clearance. To do this they made use of their Asymmetric integration (Ai) design – moving the drivetrain and driveside chainstay outboard by 6mm. The extra room means the Habit is actually compatible with a 2 chainring drivetrain – front derailleurs!. Nope, that extra room is just for more tire clearance and widely-spaced main suspension pivot bearings. Sorry (or maybe thank you very much) NO front derailleur compatibility – the Habit is 1x only! Of course, the cassette also moves outboard by 6mm to maintain a perfect chain-line. Rather than using a wider rear hub, the system takes a standard Boost rear wheel and re-dishes it over by 6mm 3mm. The result is more even spoke angles and tension on both sides for a stiffer rear wheel. So, standard hubs and everything, but any aftermarket wheel will have to be re-dished to work on this bike.

2019 Cannondale Habit – Pricing & Availability

Top of the range model Cannondale Habit for 2019 - the Carbon 1, with a full complement of Kashima-coated Fox Suspension
Top of the range Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 with full complement of Kashima-coated Fox Suspension – $7,900

The all-new Habit is in stores now and ready to order in sizes XS through XL. All feature 29 inch wheels with 27.5+ wheel compatibility…except the XS, which comes stock with 27.5×2.6 tires and will not work with 29er wheels. The Aluminum models start from $2,100 for the women’s spec Al 3, and go up to $4,000 for the Al 5 model.

Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 29er 2019
Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 finished with high-end paint detailing on the downtube & suspension yoke

As for the Carbon frames, at the lower end of the spectrum you can pick one up today for $4,000. You’ll have to wait until early next year to be able to throw $7,900 at the top level Carbon 1 model though.

Stay tuned for first ride impressions!

Cannondale.com

17 COMMENTS

  1. Very surprising they’re talking up size-specific anything, but continue to have the same size chainstays on all sizes! Perhaps the big folks feel the pedalling effects because they’re automatically more over the back tire and weighting the rear suspension more, and the small folks feel scared braking because they’re automatically over the front more and that much closer to OTB.

    Medium reach is 430, very close to the 435 chainstay, so riders on M frames should feel well centered.
    XL reach is 490, about 2 inches longer than the Medium reach and the chainstay, for automatic backseat riding relative to the Med.
    Meanwhile, XS reach is only 366, about 2.5inches (!) shorter than the medium reach and the chainstays! Riders on the XS are going to feel like they’re going OTB much easier than a rider on the Med.

    Norco is one of the only companies doing actual size specific geometry (and geo is more than just head & seat angles and reach & stack), with different length chainstays to match the different reaches, and they’re made in Canada, both of which are reasons they’re high on my list of next rides.

    • Agreed, moving the suspension pivot without changing the chainstay length or seat tube angle seems like a strange way of making it “size specific”. It may work fine as far as suspension response, but there’s no getting around the fact that the taller you are, the further back over the rear axle your seat ends up.
      Regarding the feeling of going OTB though, don’t forget that the shorter the rider the lower their centre of mass, and that in reality what limits how far you can get your centre of mass behind the _front_ axle is the length of your arms, not the reach of the frame [assuming same fork, HTA].

  2. I don’t see anything special about Cannondale anymore. They used to have special features- they popularized aluminum frames when everything was steel, they introduced the Headshok, and then the Lefty, but since the Lefty, I can’t think of a single innovation they’ve pushed. And now that they barely spec Leftys anymore, they have not only stopped innovating, but have even stopped using their own already existing innovations.

    • BB30 was all Cannondale, and the Lefty Ocho and Oliver are both new and pretty innovative. In any case, I’d much rather a company went with the best performing system rather than something “innovative” just to appear different.

      • OK, those are innovations, but not particularly good ones. BB30- a press-fit bottom bracket (lots of people hating on that) with a big, stiff axle. Lefty Ocho fork- subtracted most of the Lefty’s rigidity in exchange for much less travel and much less rigidity. I don’t know the Oliver, but it looks like it’s a short travel Lefty? These are more like iterations than innovations.
        I’d say Surly is a lot more innovative, having been instrumental to varying degrees in the popularization of several different sub-genres of bikes in the last 15 or so years. 29ers, fat bikes, cargo bikes, semi-fat, maybe others- they all got more popular after Surly started making frames and rims for these types of bikes.

  3. So with a 3mm dish and 3mm extra from a boost 148 hub you end up at the Ai 6mm offset? What chainline do they spec on the crankset ~56mm?

    I think I would rather have a superboost + at 157 and have an extra 1.5mm drivetrain offset and a non funky dishing.

  4. So maybe someone could actually ride the bike, and do a formal review with some video of the ride and how the bike compares to say an S Epic or a Pivot ?

  5. Clearance for a 2.6” 29er tire is close, really close, but for me personally, 2.8 is min size anymore for me to consider it as a legit option, before I’m wiling to plunk down $5 large on it. For me, 3.0 up front, 2.8min in rear, and you have my attention…Otherwise I just enjoy reading about these things, which look really awesome mind you, and I’m sure they’ll sell aplenty. I also appreciate articles like this where they tell you what the tire clearance is, we didn’t always get that, so kudos to BR!!!

    • Why kudos for what’s essentially a press release? It’s not even new tech, it’s tech from the 90’s for pete sake Horst Links have always been pretty good and now the patent is expired people are back to using it.

      C’mon Rumor guys – you can do better than this. How about some real rumors and news?

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