Review: Cannondale Habit Neo 3

The Habit Neo impresses on the trail, but it’s more than just a one-trick pony.

Cannondale really hasn’t shifted the paradigm with the Habit Neo and quite frankly, they didn’t need to. This bike retains all the sublime trail handling and good times of the analog Habit, with the added functionality of an assist bike.

The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The Cannondale Habit Neo is a full power eMTB with a carbon fiber front end. It is a 29er only platform which runs on the E-EWS winning, Bosch Performance Line CX system.

BUILD KIT

Happily, the first impressions of the build kit were positive and stayed positive throughout the test period. The build kit is not overly bling, but Cannondale has done well with it. When you are behind the bars you could easily mistake this model for a range-topper. The fork and rear shock from RockShox feature their DebonAir spring which, under the weight of any eMTB, performs better than on an analog bike. The Maxxis Recon’s are a good tyre and reduce the rotational mass nicely, although if you are going to ride very technical trails I’d suggest moving to something with more volume and a stronger carcass. The Magura 4-piston and 220mm front brake setup are incredibly powerful, with modulation to boot. A longer dropper post would up the playfulness a little. Perhaps the neatest touch of all which speaks to the versatility of the Habit Neo, is the preinstalled light cables that facilitate a cleaner commuter setup.

The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The full SRAM Eagle drivetrain (12 speed) on this model has ample gear range for the steepest of climbs and ECO efforts.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The 140mm RockShox 35 Gold fork features the DebonAir unit, a 51mm offset with external compression and rebound adjust.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The Magura 4 piston and 220mm front rotor provide comprehensive stopping qualities – power and modulation.

FRAME| 130mm travel, Carbon front triangle, Alloy rear, Proportional Response Rear Suspension, Internal cables, Ai offset drivetrain 
BATTERY| Bosch PowerTube 500Wh, Removable        
CONTROLLER| Bosch Purion         
MOTOR| New Bosch Performance Line CX, 250 watt, 85 Nm, 32km/h assist     
FORK| 140mm travel RockShox 35 Gold RL, DebonAir Damper with 51mm offset     
SHOCK| RockShox Deluxe Select R with DebonAir       
BARS| Cannondale 3 Riser, 780mm wide, 15mm rise, 8° sweep, 4° rise, 6061 Alloy     
STEM| Cannondale Alloy, 31.8 clamp and 50mm length       
SEAT| Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport        
SEATPOST| TranzX 120mm Dropper post        
WHEELS| WTB ST i29 rims, DT Swiss Spokes, Formula Hub (F), SRAM Hub      
TYRES| Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.6, 3C compound, EXO casing       
CASSETTE| SRAM 11-50t 12 speed         
MECH| SRAM NX Eagle         
SHIFTER| SRAM SX Eagle 12 speed        
CRANKS| BOSCH Gen4 with custom Ai offset, 34t       
CHAIN| SRAM SX Eagle         
BRAKES| Magura MT30 Trail hydro, 220/203mm Spider rotors      
WEIGHT| 22.6kg as tested, no pedals        
RRP| R119 999         

GEOMETRY

The geometry reflects the intentions of the Habit Neo. The bike is, as Cannondale so aptly put it, a flow-seeker designed to handle climbs and descents equally well. This is not a slacked-out super shred sled for smashing through the steepest downhill race tracks around town – although it’s not half bad at that stuff. Rather, the chassis is designed to be what I would call an eMTB for everyone with middle of the road geometry to keep your flow. At 1,74m tall, I opted for a size medium which is a 445 reach. As a side note; if you are in between sizes on an eMTB and are after a playful ride, my suggestion is to opt-in for the smaller size as it makes the bike a little more agile. I found the Geometry very neutral on this bike, 66,5-degree head angle, a 342mm BB height and short seat tubes across all the sizes.

The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
Standover height on the medium test bike measures 556mm which is on the lower (and more desirable) end of things.
REACH | 425mm (SM), 445mm (M), 470mm (L), 495mm (XL)
SEAT TUBE LENGTH | 400mm (SM), 430mm (M), 460mm (L), 510mm (XL)
WHEELBASE | 1181mm (SM), 1205mm (M), 1234mm (L), 1263mm (XL)
CHAINSTAY | 455mm
HEAD ANGLE | 66.5° degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE |  75°
BB HEIGHT | 342mm
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
Cannondale has put a lot of research into fine-tuning the pivot placement on the linkage. Each frame size has a tailored layout.

Visually similar to the analog Cannondale Habit, the Habit Neo shares the proprietary rear suspension dubbed Proportional Response which tailors the layout for each frame size. Cannondale says the outcome is better grip, a smoother ride and more control.


DRIVE UNIT

The Bosch Performance Line CX system needs no introduction. It is easily one of the three best systems on the market and nabbed a win at the inaugural round of the Enduro World Series for eMTB last month. A recent software update has punched the torque capability up to 85Nm, improved the responsiveness of the system and sees the arrival of the exhilarating Extended Boost feature. Extended Boost is activated by a quick stamp on the pedals (in eMTB mode) which creates an overrun of assistance. This momentary boost in support helps drive you up and over any technical section without stalling. On the trail, it is very marginal and probably not perceptible to every rider. With familiarity, it adds so much fun to the overall capability and makes technical trails a little easier for everyone. In terms of reliability and durability, the Bosch system has never failed me – then again, neither have any of the other eMTB systems on the market.

The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The display unit features an on/off switch, buttons to toggle through the support levels and a range calculator.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The 500Wh battery is removable which some riders prefer for charging.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
The battery cover is sealed and the motor is tucked inside a very burly skid plate.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
It’s a 29er platform and the chainstays are on the shorter side. Motor placement is low and that improves the playful nature of the bike and it’s manageability on the trail.
The Cannondale Habit Neo E-Bike for BIKE NETWORK in Cape Town, South Africa with Myles Kelsey and Gary Perkin.
There are always going to be extra cables with eMTB’s but Cannondale has done a good job with the internal routing to clean up the cockpit and reduce rattling.

VIDEO: RIDE IMPRESSIONS


| IMAGES & SHRED-O-GRAPHY: Gary Perkin – flipper.co.za |

| LOCATIONS: G-Spot, Eden Forest, Tokai MTB and Cape Town City |


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