Review: Cannondale Bad Habit Carbon 1

When the Cannondale Bad Habit Carbon 1 rolled into HQ, I was skeptical at first. Big ol’ meaty 27plus tires, 120 mm of front and rear squish, the fork was missing its right half, and a dropper. For Pete’s sake, a dropper! I admit, my skepticism was likely driven by the fact that all of those components would end up being a first-time user experience for me, and to package them all into one bike, no beuno.

Within the first week of riding the Bad Habit, I embraced it and stopped asking why. Every time I threw a leg over the sub-30-pound plusser all I could do was smile; I couldn’t resist, the Bad Habit is a lot of fun!

The tires came with tubes installed, but Cannondale included its tubeless setup kit for a “quick” conversion. The included tape was brittle and did not conform with the inner channel of the rim, creating slow leaks. I installed WTB TCS rim tape and had no further issues.

The 27.5×3.0 Nobby Nics provided ample traction and float over trail chatter. Roots, rocks, logs and drops. I could not resist barreling the Bad Habit through the chunder and putting as much space between the tires and ground as I could. The 27plus wheels, powered by Cannondale’s Hollowgram SI crank and 30T chainring, were quick to get the Bad Habit rolling up to speed and provided a nice wide footprint for steep technical climbs and loose terrain. However, I did notice that I needed to keep the pedals turning more often due to the rolling resistance of the plus tires. A little extra effort required in the buff single track is a minor compromise for the added traction and smooth ride everywhere else. Cannondale nicely outfitted the rest of the drivetrain with a mix of Shimano XT and XTR 11-speed components.

To the rear of the bike, a Fox Float DPS delivers 120 mm of plush travel, and Cannondale employs its Zero Pivot seatstay. This simple design keeps the weight down and increases the lateral stiffness of the rear end. For a 27plus full-suspension trail bike, the Bad Habit handled relatively well when climbing out of the saddle. Although, I did find that if I was not pointed downhill I preferred to flip the switch to the firm setting of the shock.

Being a first time Lefty user, it was ascetically odd to look down and only see one side of the fork. After a few pedal strokes it was no longer even a consideration. Somewhat begrudgingly, I started to really like the Lefty. Thanks to its square-on-square tube design and double-crown clamp, the Lefty is far stiffer than any conventional fork I have used on a trail bike. The inverted design with linear needle bearings kept the stanchion lubricated and stiction free, allowing for a seamlessly smooth stroke, even through rough corners.

Since the PBR (Push Button adjustment and Rebound) was first introduced in 2014 it has been plagued with reliability and performance issues. Cannondale looked to address this with its new (September 2016) 2Spring system. The new system simplifies the design by using a coil spring instead of an MCU bumper for a more supple top-out feel and eliminates internals such as plastic spacers that can wear out.

As a non-dropper user (they exist) I reluctantly found myself using the Fox Transfer’s 125 mm of drop more and more. I really began appreciating how the dropper allows you to move around within the bike, keeping your body weight centered rather than off back in no man’s land for technical descents and tight corning. The dropper was easy to like, especially since the Transfer post did not have the typical saddle play that many droppers seem to develop.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to ride this bike in a wide range of conditions from hero dirt to four inches of fresh snow on top of soft ground. The Bad Habit handled whatever I dished out with ease, and I often found myself with a perma-grin midway through the ride.

For the rider who puts emphasis on riding trail all year long and finds more enjoyment tackling tricky sections of singletrack rather than logging miles, the Cannondale Bad Habit Carbon 1 is right up your alley.

Tester: Scott Williams × Age: 31 × Height: 5’10” × Weight: 175 lbs. × Inseam: 32”
Price: $5,500
Sizes: XS, S, M, L (tested), XL


This review originally appeared in Dirt Rag 196. Subscribe to the magazine and sign up for our email newsletter to get fresh web content delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!