Takeaway: The Cannondale Habit Women’s 1 is a trail bike that’s a great choice for all-around performance.
- Predictable, easy-going ride quality
- 140mm of fork suspension and 29-inch wheels bound over obstacles
- Carbon front triangle and aluminum rear provide a balanced ride
Every Tuesday night, a ride rolls out from the bike shop a few blocks from my house and heads toward the trailhead. It’s a big group—some nights, 20 people show up—and we ride in a line, chatting and laughing as we snake along the singletrack, bumping over logs and through rock piles. The route changes every week, depending on who shows up, what the weather’s like, and how feisty everyone is feeling.
On that kind of anything-can-happen ride, Cannondale’s Women’s Habit 1 is exactly what I want. This carbon trail bike is an excellent all-rounder, with 130mm of forgiving rear suspension, ground-covering 29-inch wheels, and a ride that’s calm without being boring.
Habit Carbon Women’s 1 Component Details
Frame Carbon front triangle, aluminum swingarm
Fork Fox Float Performance 34, 140mm
Fox Float Performance DPS EVOL
SRAM GX Eagle 1x 12-speed
Cassette NX Eagle 11-50t
Crankset Truvativ Stylo 6K DUB, 30T, Ai offset
Shifter SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
Brakes & Rotors SRAM Guide R hydro disc, 180/180mm Centerline rotors
Headset Integrated, 1-1/8 to 1.5", sealed angular contact bearings
Stem Cannondale 3, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 0°
Handlebar Cannondale 3 Riser, 6061 Alloy, 15mm rise, 8° sweep, 4° rise, 780mm
Grips Fabric FunGuy Locking Grips
Seatpost Cannondale DownLow Dropper, internal routing, 31.6, 100mm (XS), 125mm (S, M)
Saddle Fabric Scoop Women's Sport, 155mm width, steel rails
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.5” WT (F), Maxxis High Roller II 29 x 2.3”(R); Dual compound, EXO puncture protection, tubeless ready
A Daily Driver for Your Local Trails
Cannondale designed the Habit with easy service and durability in mind. In fact, the brand calls out on its website that it uses “no oddball proprietary stuff”—which, is worth noting, is a statement coming from a company that produces a one-sided fork, among other oddball proprietary stuff.
Like most other current trail bikes, the Habit’s geometry leans toward long, low, and slack. It has a 66-degree head angle, 43.5cm chainstays, and a 66.3-degree seat tube angle on my size small. Its SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain provides plenty of range to climb and descend on most trails, while the 130 rear suspension and 140mm front fork fall into the sweet spot for a lot of riders—enough squish to feel plush without being heavy or make the bike feel like it was wallowing. The bike also comes with a Cannondale-branded dropper. It worked well during my test, but I’m curious to see how it handles longer-term use—droppers are one component that I’m skeptical of from all but the biggest brands.
Proportional Response Suspension
The most interesting part of the Habit’s build is its Proportional Response Suspension—essentially, Cannondale’s take on giving cyclists across sizes the same ride experience. It’s not a new concept (size-specific tubing is common on road bikes), but it’s the first mountain bike the company designed this way, in 2018, and has since become standard in the brand’s other bikes, says Nina Baum, women’s brand manager.
The brand tested riders of varying heights on adjustable aluminum “mule” frames—essentially non-production models used to test changes in geometry and tube shape. They took the info they gleaned and varied suspension kinematics, including pivot locations and frame design, between sizes. “This way we avoid the typical pitfalls of designing a medium-sized bike and then scaling it up or down, which include shorter riders suffering from decreased rear suspension performance under braking, while taller riders usually have diminished performance while pedaling,” Baum says.
The Habit Family
The Habit line is divided into men’s and women’s models. The Habit Carbon Women’s 1 is the flagship of the ladies’ line and has two little sisters, the aluminum Habit 2 ($2,700) and 3 ($2,100). The men’s line is significantly more diverse, with the top-of-the-line model being the $7,900 Habit Carbon 1, and models with various parts at various prices, down through the aluminum Habit 6 ($2,100).
The Women’s Habit isn’t so different from the men’s version—the bikes use the same frame, including carbon layups and tube sizes. But the women’s models do come in an extra size—XS, which the brand says fits riders down to 4-foot-11. That model comes with 27.5-inch wheels to better fit smaller cyclists. The S and XS women’s bikes also have shorter cranks (165mm as opposed to 170). All women’s models have shorter stems, too (35mm, the men’s have 45mm versions), to allow women to run a wide bar despite having generally narrower shoulders.
Riding the Habit Women’s Carbon 1
The Habit has a fairly stable ride, which excelled on cruisy sections of trail. It carried me through swooping curves with calm predictability. And in chunky rock gardens, it sailed through the spots that just needed a bit of commitment. It wasn’t the most responsive—at tricky points that required more finesse and quick adjustments, I had to put in a little more body English than I liked. But it’s a simple enough tradeoff, and one that depends on the kind of rider you are.
As for the Proportional Response Suspension tech, we didn’t have testers riding each size of the bike and comparing notes, so this kind of thing is hard for one person to measure in the real world. (I can’t exactly experience multiple sizes accurately while remaining at my current height.) But I will say that I was pleased with the suspension. I didn’t register a huge increase in performance while braking, as Baum had suggested I might, but it’s not something I’ve frequently complained of on other bikes, either.
I expect a 130mm 29er to perform exceptionally well on descents (the Habit definitely does). But I’m less certain of how that bike will climb. Luckily, I was really pleased with the Habit’s uphill performance. It weighs a respectable 30.9 pounds and feels planted and secure while climbing, without wandering all over the trail.
It’s been months since I’ve been on that Tuesday night ride. But on the Habit, I found myself thinking—about how much light is left after work, and Tuesdays, and friends. With its chill but fun, ready-for-anything personality, it’s exactly the kind of companion you’d want to bring on such a ride.
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