When it came to choosing a new steed for 2020 from Rutland’s MTB stock, I’ll be honest Cannondale wasn’t on my list, let alone at the top. Cannondale is just good at building lefty bikes right? My, wasn’t I naive…The brief from Rutland was to try this Habit 3, “they’re all the rage, with people like Josh Bryceland riding one. I know Cannondale is a little off the beaten track, but we’re confident you’ll like it, Archie”.
What caught my eye?
THAT PAINT JOB. From looking at pictures online, you don’t get a full grasp of how plush the paint job really is. A deep emerald green colour finished with a high gloss gives it a very expensive look and one that you keep finding yourself looking back at as you walk away.
Another key one for me is it’s a 29er, something I’ve missed after the Stumpy a year or so ago. The fast-rolling efficiency you get across all-terrain, especially the rough stuff, means you can carry more speed, and with more speed, have more fun. Together with Maxxis rubber all round, you’re in for a treat.
Finally, with 140mm travel upfront through a Fox 34 fork and 130mm at the rear, all brought together with a carbon frame, meant things were looking good; not just for my local trails which lacked any serious kind of gradient, but also for those long jaunts over to Wales, with steeper, rougher terrain. Could this be the all-rounder I’ve been looking for?
As soon as you jump on this bike you immediately notice the modern geometry, with its relaxed, big bike angles, which fills you with confidence. So it was no surprise that when I came to point it downhill, it was set up to allow you to push, feeling more capable than its 140/130mm numbers would suggest.
What surprised me and what I’ve been hearing, is the light playful character of the bike. So much so, I rechecked my suspension settings for over-pumped shocks, but there were no incorrect pressures. This bike generally is very playful, a rarity for such a relaxed geometry bike, where normally you’d find a sluggish and delayed character. This bike is poppy, agile and a good bloody laugh, be it on the flat or on the hills.
It wasn’t until I visited the Twirch Trail at Cwmcarn and its 5 miles super techy climb did I realise I had another surprise in store. It climbs. Like it climbs, really well… For a bike that up until this point felt super sure-footed on the descents, I was expecting a sluggish uphill pedaller but to be honest it pedals up hills better than some hardtails. How has Cannondale managed it, I don’t know. They’ve scored the hattrick. Playful, yet stable on the descents, while at the same time being as much fun and capable as a proper XC bike climbing back up the hills. This is a serious swiss army knife of a bike, and I mean it.
So I’ve only had the bike 3 months and with a newborn son and crap weather, I haven’t exactly had loads of opportunities to thoroughly test it. However, in the small number of rides I have done, I can tell you now, I think this might well be the best bike I’ve ever ridden. Big claim I know, but most bikes are capable and fast. The Habit is those too, but it’s fun, and it puts fun at the top of its priorities. Which means all my typical rides and new ones, have taken on a whole new lease of life. And surely that’s what mountain biking is all about? Fun?
I’ll come back to you later in the year with a full conclusion. But I can tell you now, Rutland might have to tear this Habit off me if they want it back!