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Cannondale Habit 1 Carbon - Women's Review

The Habit 1 Carbon is a capable and versatile mid travel 29er with the angles to get after it on the descents
Cannondale Habit 1 Carbon - Women's
Photo: Jenna Ammerman
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Price:  $4,000 List
Pros:  Solid climbing performance, comfortable cockpit, nice component specification
Cons:  Aggressive riders may find limits of suspension travel, proprietary offset rear wheel, moderately heavy
Manufacturer:   Cannondale
By Tasha Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 17, 2019
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Our Verdict

The Cannondale Habit 1 Carbon Women's is a versatile mid-travel 29er that nearly took top honors in our test. The modest 130mm of front and rear wheel travel almost hide the fact that bike has the angles to charge on the descents, but the Habit comes to life when pointed downhill. Cannondale's Proportional Response suspension platform makes for a supple and ground-hugging ride while still providing a supportive mid-stroke and ample bottom-out resistance. The 29-inch wheels smooth the trail and carry speed well, and the Habit remains highly maneuverable despite the wagon wheels. Climbing performance is solid, though it does rely somewhat on the use of the compression damping switch on the rear shock. It comes with a nice component specification and is a good value for the rider looking for an aggressive carbon mid-travel 29er.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 2020 Habit 1 Carbon Women's features the same frame, geometry, and build as the 2019 model we tested, although with a different paint job. The price increases slightly to $4,200. October 2020
The Habit 1 Carbon is a no-nonsense mid-travel 29er with a geometry...
The Habit 1 Carbon is a no-nonsense mid-travel 29er with a geometry that won't hold you back.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Should I Buy This Bike?

The Habit 1 Carbon Women's is a fun mid-travel 29er that has the angles to really get after it on the descents. This is a perfect go-anywhere bike for any gal driven by adventure. With 130mm of front and rear wheel travel, the Habit is by no means an enduro slayer; instead, it occupies that comfortable middle ground that most riders in most places can appreciate. Cannondale's Proportional Response suspension platform is nice and active with excellent small bump compliance and mid-stroke support. Combine that supple suspension with 29-inch hoops, and the Habit smooths over small and mid-sized obstacles in the trail like they aren't even there. The mid-travel length combines nicely with the short, for a 29er, chainstays, and moderate reach and wheelbase measurements to maintain a high level of playfulness and excellent corning abilities. When the trail steepens, the Habit doesn't flinch thanks to its slack head tube angle, although it can sometimes feel limited due to its travel length on larger drops or super rough terrain. The Habit is also a comfortable and efficient climber, and it will get you to the top of climbs without complaint. It comes nicely equipped and ready to ride; we feel the price to performance ratio is quite high.

The Habit has a sleek carbon frame and nice modern trail bike...
The Habit has a sleek carbon frame and nice modern trail bike geometry.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Frame Design

The Habit 1 Carbon Women's features Cannondale's BallisTec carbon front triangle paired with a Smartform C1 alloy rear triangle. It features 130mm of rear-wheel travel that is controlled by their Proportional Response suspension platform. This is a 4-bar suspension platform that has the main pivot located on top of the bottom bracket, a rocker link attached mid-way up the seat tube, and pivots on the chainstays just forward of the rear axle. Cannondale has designed the rear triangle with what they call Ai Offset. Ai stands for Asymmetric Integration and it means that they have designed a system that offsets the drivetrain 6mm further outboard to help keep their chainstays short while also providing ample tire and chainring clearance. This requires a rear wheel with a proprietary Ai Offset dish; a standard Boost 148 wheel will not work with this design. The frame also features a flip-chip integrated into the rocker link that allows the user to adjust the frame's geometry for use with 27.5"+ wheels and tires.

We measured our size small test bike and found it to have a 570mm effective top tube length and a moderate 402mm reach. It has a modern and progressive 65.8-degree head tube angle and a 75-degree seat tube. We measured the bottom bracket height at 338mm with a 1145mm wheelbase and 438mm long chainstays. Our 5'-4" tester felt that it fit true to size and was quite comfortable. Taller riders who may be on the cusp of sizes might want to consider sizing up due to the shorter reach measurement. The Habit tipped our scales at a moderately heavy 30 lbs 10 oz set up tubeless without pedals. The women's Habit is available in three frame sizes; XS (27.5-inch wheels) SM and MED (29-inch wheels).

Design Highlights

  • Offered in carbon fiber (tested) or aluminum frame
  • Proportional Response suspension platform
  • 130mm of rear-wheel travel
  • Designed around 130mm fork
  • Flip Chip to adjust geometry for 27.5" wheels
  • Ai Offset proprietary rear wheel dish
  • Builds ranging from $2,100 to $4,000 (tested)

This mid-travel trail bike has a supple suspension platform and...
This mid-travel trail bike has a supple suspension platform and gives generously of its travel, it had our tester fooled into thinking it has more squish than it does.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Downhill Performance

Testers found the downhill performance of the Habit to be quite impressive. For a 130mm suspension platform, this champion charger had us fooled into thinking we were riding something with more suspension. Its 130mm of front and rear wheel travel is supple and ground-hugging, and it carries speed well thanks to its 29" wheels and tires. Its geometry is modern and progressive without being over the top, and confidence is next level. Despite the 29" wheels, the Habit hugs big berm corners like a 27.5, plows through and around techy rocks sections, and even takes small to medium-sized drops without batting an eye.

Despite the big wheels, the Habit feels highly maneuverable, it eats...
Despite the big wheels, the Habit feels highly maneuverable, it eats up berms and handles like a 27.5.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

The geometry of the Habit places the rider in a comfortable and relaxed position while descending. The best part is that it never creates impressions of being higher off the ground, which is common for smaller riders, especially when riding bigger wheels. With a measured head tube angle of 65.8 degrees, the Habit feels comfortable when pointed down even the steepest of trails. The slack front end also helps to give this bike its unflinching stability, it has seemingly no speed limit, and it is more than capable of riding over the rough and tough. The 29-inch wheels help to keep it rolling through and over rough terrain as they are less prone to getting hung up than smaller wheel sizes. Tracking capabilities are stellar and on point when things heat up. The chainstays are relatively short for a 29er, allowing this bike to whisk around corners while remaining joyfully playful without putting much effort in. The Habit is willing to charge right around those tight and technical sections without thinking twice. The measured bottom bracket height of 338mm is a bit deceptive as the Habit tends to sag quite a bit into its travel. Fortunately, Cannondale spec'd 165mm cranks to help avoid pedal strikes through technical terrain. Cornering abilities were stellar, and it was remarkable how the Habit 1 gracefully handled large banked berms.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The 130mm of front and rear wheel travel feels nicely balanced. The Fox Float Performance DPS shock and Proportional Response suspension platform feels very supple off the top, and the Habit has exceptional small bump compliance. It blasts through mid-sized chop with the best of them and has a nice progressive ramp-up at the end of its travel. Small to mid-sized drops are no issue aboard the Habit, though testers felt larger hits were a bit questionable with just 130mm of travel. The Fox Float Performance 34 fork felt great on the front of this bike. This fork is highly tuneable, and the 34mm stanchions are adequately stout to handle the rough stuff. The cockpit setup also felt great with a 760mm wide handlebar, a short stem, and a 125mm dropper seat post with a 1x style remote lever to get the saddle down and out of the way on descents. The Maxxis tire combo was also stellar, providing our testers with good braking traction and predictable cornering manners.

The Habit climbs surprisingly well, especially for a slack-ish...
The Habit climbs surprisingly well, especially for a slack-ish 29-inch wheeled trail bike.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Climbing Performance

The climbing abilities of the Habit 1 Carbon Women's are quite monumental. We found it to be comfortable for long days in the saddle and everything from grinding out quick laps in the backyard to massive lung-busting climbs. Seated pedaling position is comfortable and efficient while the 29-inch wheels roll over just about anything in the trail. When those tricky and technical sections of the ascent appear before your eyes, this bike is ready for the challenge. This bike designates a line and sticks with it, especially when trying to scramble up those tricky little rock sections. Despite the slack front end, testers found that it was highly maneuverable and never felt unwieldy in anything but the steepest of uphill sections.

The High Roller II offers predictable climbing traction and works...
The High Roller II offers predictable climbing traction and works well in most conditions.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

When it comes to conquering the uphill, the geometry of the women's Habit 1 does a spectacular job of providing a smooth and enjoyable ride. The measured seat tube angle of 75 degrees positions the rider steadily over the bottom bracket granting a balanced body position with efficient transfer of power directly down into the pedals. Having a shorter reach of 402mm also helped create a more upright position while climbing, which helps eliminate strain and pain in the lower back. The slack front end stayed well planted until the trail got ridiculously steep when it became more prone to lifting than some of the other bikes we tested.

You'll never hear us complain about the performance or reliability...
You'll never hear us complain about the performance or reliability of the GX Eagle drivetrain.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

The Proportional Response suspension platform is quite active. Testers felt some pedal induced bobbing while climbing with the shock in the open position. The use of the compression damping switch made a huge difference, and the Habit felt much more efficient in trail mode on the ascents without sacrificing anything in the name of traction. The Habit 1 comes equipped with a SRAM GX/NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and 30T chainring. This drivetrain is reliable and provided ample range throughout our testing. The 165mm crankarm length helps to virtually eliminate pedal strikes while climbing, though it may feel a little short to riders who are accustomed to longer cranks. The Maxxis High Roller 2 rear tire provided solid climbing traction and performed admirably during our test rides.

Build Options

The Habit is available in three different builds ranging in price from $2,100 to $4,000. The Habit 1 Carbon Women's model we tested is the top of the line women's specific model and the only carbon-framed option.

The Habit Women's 2 is an alloy framed model that retails for $2,625. The geometry is the same as its carbon-framed sibling and features the same suspension platform and Ai Offset wheels. It comes equipped with a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock and a RockShox Sektor RL fork. It features a Shimano SLX 11-speed drivetrain, Shimano MT400 hydraulic disc brakes, a TranzX dropper seat post, and a sprinkling of Cannondale house-brand cockpit components.

The entry-level $2,100 Habit Women's 3 also features an alloy frame although it doesn't come with a dropper seat post. It is equipped with a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock, a RockShox Recon RL fork, and a Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain. It comes with Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, Maxxis Ardent tires, and several house-brand cockpit components.

The build of the Habit 1 Carbon we tested is pretty dialed and we...
The build of the Habit 1 Carbon we tested is pretty dialed and we feel that it's also a pretty solid value.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman


At a retail price of $4,000, we feel that the Habit 1 Carbon represents a solid value. This is near the bottom of the range of price of bikes represented in this review. This is a very competitive price for a versatile and quite well-rounded mid-travel carbon-framed trail bike that comes ready to rip straight out of the box. The component specification is excellent, and there is nothing that needs to be upgraded on this bike to get out and get after it.

Suggested Upgrades

The stock components that are offered on the Women's Habit 1 are generously on point. There's nothing about the build that requires immediate attention or upgrading. From the grips and the saddle down to the tires, this bike is well-appointed. For anyone looking to step up the performance of this bike, we'd suggest looking into some carbon wheels instead of aluminum. If upgrading the wheels on this bike, however, remember that the wheels have the proprietary Ai offset; any old wheel will not fit in the rear.

We dare you not to smile while riding the Habit 1. This is a great...
We dare you not to smile while riding the Habit 1. This is a great do it all trail 29er that won't leave you hanging on the descents.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman


The Habit 1 Carbon Women's is a fun mid-travel 29er trail bike that won't leave you hanging on the descents. It boasts respectable climbing abilities, and it has the angles to get aggressive downhill. It rides like it has more than 130mm of travel while maintaining quick handling and agility you wouldn't expect from a slacked-out ride with 29-inch wheels. This is a great option for the everyday trail rider who likes to descend aggressively and is offered at a nice price point considering the carbon frame and quality component specification.

Tasha Thomas