Cannondale Habit 6 2019 Review
Cons: No dropper post, 10-speed drivetrain, unwieldy climber
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy this Bike?
The Habit 6 is a somewhat one-dimensional mid-travel trail bike that really excels on the descents, especially at speed. It's got a modern long and slack geometry that gives it excellent stability with comfortable and confidence inspiring trail manners on the descents. We wouldn't call it nimble, but it maintains a somewhat playful attitude. Thanks to its short chainstays it's easy to get the front end off the ground and it manuals and pops side hits with the best of 'em. It's not the most impressive climber, although it manages uphills relatively well despite its 65.5-degree head tube angle and 33 lb weight (with tubes). The build also leaves a fair amount to be desired, most notably a dropper seat post, and detracts somewhat from its overall performance. That said, if ripping fast and flowy descents at speed is your thing, the Habit 6 might be a good option to consider.
This Habit 6 wants to party as long as the party involves going fast downhill on a mountain bike. This Lava Red machine really comes to life when it gets pointed down the hill and especially once it gets up to speed. It's quite similar to the Kona Process 134 SE in this regard, both bikes are one-trick ponies but really fun and good at that trick.
We can thank the long and slack geometry for its stable and confidence inspiring trail manners on the descents. Interestingly, the Habit isn't opposed to popping off side hits or manualing between obstacles and it maintains a playfulness that you wouldn't expect considering its otherwise planted and ground-hugging feel. It is limited in some ways by its budget component specification, the lack of a dropper post is egregious and the Recon fork doesn't handle high-frequency chop very well. Its long wheelbase and slack head tube angle can make it a little unwieldy and vague feeling on climbs, especially in steep technical or tight switchbacks. Otherwise, we were shocked by how much fun we had while riding this bike.
The Habit 6 definitely has a preference for going downhill. Testers found it to be capable and confidence inspiring on descents with a stable and planted feel thanks to its long and slack geometry and supple rear suspension. Its short chainstays help the Habit remain somewhat playful on the descents and it feels almost eager to manual and pop off trailside obstacles. The progressive geometry doesn't exactly help to make this bike feel nimble, however, and it can feel a little long and sluggish at lower speeds or in tight technical terrain.
When we say the Habit has a long and slack geometry we're referring to the measured length of the wheelbase at 1216mm, reach of 460mm, and the head tube angle of 65.5 degrees. The rear suspension design also settles into its travel dropping the bottom bracket and making the front end feel even slacker than the measured 65.5 degrees. This style of geometry is known for making a bike feel stable at speed and it does exactly that for the Habit. It isn't especially lively, especially at lower speeds, but it seems to come to life as speeds increase. The Habit is a speed machine, similar to our Editor's Choice award winner the YT Jeffsy Base 29, though that bike has a much more well-rounded performance.
Considering the downhill prowess of the Habit and its obvious affinity for speed we were very disappointed by the fixed height seat post that it comes with. Dropper seat posts are becoming standard issue on most mountain bikes, even bikes in this price range, and any bike that's as fun to ride downhill as this should come with one. Instead, the post on this bike must be lowered by hand and is far less convenient than we would like. We were also a little underwhelmed by the spec of Maxxis Ardent tires. These tires work adequately in good conditions, but we'd prefer something with a more substantial tread that offers more braking and cornering traction.
The Habit 6 loses a little ground to the competition for its uphill performance. Sure, you can climb up hills on this bike just fine, it's just a little heavier and the long and slack geometry make it a little unwieldy in steep, technical, and tight climbing situations.
The Habit has a relatively comfortable seated pedaling position, but the amount of sag and bottom bracket drop that it has makes the seat tube angle feel slacker than its 74.7-degree measurement suggests. This puts the rider's weight a bit behind the bottom bracket which feels slightly less efficient than competitors with steeper seat tube angles. Long and slack geometry is great for flying downhill, but it typically isn't the best for climbing performance. The long wheelbase makes the whole bike feel more sluggish and difficult to control on the climbs, especially when trying to navigate sharp uphill switchbacks. The slack head tube angle also causes the front end to wander and it ends up being less responsive to steering input.
The rear suspension design of the Habit is quite active and supple, thankfully the Fox Float rear shock has a 3-position compression damping switch that helps to reduce pedal bob during extended periods of climbing. The Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain offers enough range for most climbing situations, although it doesn't quite have the low gears we're accustomed to on 11 and 12-speed drivetrains.
Considering the component specification of the Habit 6 this bike is still surprisingly fun to ride and capable on the descents. This is the base model in Cannondale's large range of Habit bikes (see other versions below), and the build is decent but it has some major low points that seriously detract from its overall performance and user experience.
The Habit 6's 130mm of front and rear wheel travel feel better than we expected considering the budget suspension components. Up front, they've used a boost spacing RockShox Recon fork. We aren't the biggest fans of Recon forks because they feel somewhat flexy and are difficult to tune, although this one feels plush compared to some. The Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL works well and feels very plush on the rear end of the Habit. It has a 3-position compression damping switch that is a nice feature for calming down the active rear suspension on this bike when climbing.
The wheel and tire combo on the Habit 6 works fine but definitely holds this bike back from its high-speed intentions on descents. The WTB STX i23 TCS rims are a bit on the narrow side by today's standards, but at least they are tubeless compatible. In typical Cannondale fashion, they have gone with a proprietary component with the Ai Offset asymmetrical rear wheel specification. The spec of Maxxis Ardent 2.4" EXO tires wouldn't be our first choice for this bike, but we were pleasantly surprised by the traction they offered while riding on good dirt conditions. In loose dirt, especially loose over hard conditions, these tires don't have the best cornering traction and we'd prefer a more aggressive tread considering how fast this bike wants to go downhill.
The cockpit setup is a bit of a mixed bag on this bike. On the front, the 780mm wide handlebar and short stout stem combine to make this bike comfortable with responsive steering. Testers found the Cannondale Stage 3 saddle to be plenty comfortable although we would have preferred it to be attached to a dropper seat post. This bike excels on descents, but now that we're all so accustomed to dropper seat posts it's really a buzzkill to stop and lower your saddle before every descent. A quick release seat post clamp would even be better than nothing. If this were our bike we would immediately put a dropper seat post on it.
The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes aren't impressive and are hardly powerful enough for the speeds this bike can travel. They work, but we'd prefer something a little more powerful for this downhill oriented ride. The Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain works well mechanically, although the 11-42 tooth cassette doesn't provide as much climbing range as other competitors.
The Habit 6 retails for $2,100 and is a good entry-level mid-travel trail bike that excels when pointed downhill. At that price, we feel that it's a pretty decent value but we'd be inclined to put a dropper post and some more aggressive tires on it right off the bat. A bike with progressive geometry and the downhill capabilities of the Habit 6 should be spec'd with a dropper and beefier tires in the first place and it would be a much better value that way, even if it cost a little bit more. If you're looking for the best value, we suggest checking out our Best Buy Award winner, the Giant Trance 3, that costs less and comes with a dropper seat post and more aggressive tires.
We weren't quite sure what to expect from the Habit 6 but this bike impressed us with its downhill prowess and need for speed. This is a fun mid-travel trail bike with modern long and slack geometry that begs to be ridden downhill fast. It's not the best climber in the bunch, and there are some unimpressive aspects of its build, but if you're a rider who likes to blast down smooth and flowy descents this could be a good option to consider.
The Habit 6 is the base model in Cannondale's large range of Habit bikes. It is available in sizes S-XL.
-The Habit Women's 3, $2,100, is the base model women's version that comes with virtually the same spec as the Habit 6 but with a smaller frame that is offered in XS(27.5" wheels), S and M (29" wheels).
-The Habit 5 and Habit Women's 2, $2,625, have the same alloy frame but come with a RockShox Sektor RL fork, Shimano SLX 11-speed drivetrain, TranzX dropper post, and beefier Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5" front and High Roller II 2.3" rear tire. The women's version is offered in XS-M sizes.
-The Habit 4, $3,150, is the most expensive alloy model that comes with a Fox Float Rhythm 34 fork, Foc Float Performance DPS EVOL rear shock, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide T brakes, a TranzX dropper seat post, and beefy Maxxis tires.
Cannondale also makes several version of the Habit with a carbon frame.
-The Habit Carbon 3 and the Habit Carbon Women's 1, $4,000, share the same build with a Fox Float Performance 34 fork, Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL rear shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, Stan's NoTubes Arch S1 wheels, meaty Maxxis tires, and a Cannondale DownLow dropper post. The women's version comes in XS (with 27.5" wheels), S and M (with 29" wheels).
-The Habit Carbon 2, $5,250, is equipped with a Fox Float Performance Elite 34 fork, Fox Float Performance Elite DPX2 EVOL rear shock, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide RS brakes, Stan's NoTubes Arch MK3 wheels, excellent Maxxis tire combo, and a Cannondale DownLow dropper seat post.
-The to of the line model is the Habit Carbon 1, $7,900, which comes with Fox Float Factory suspension, a Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain and 4-piston brakes, and a Fox Transfer Factory dropper post.
— Jeremy Benson, Kyle Smaine