Cannondale’s latest trail bike maxes out the Plus points and goes big when it comes to old-school fun
Need to know
- Cannondale’s do-it-all trail bike pumped up with 3.0in Plus size tyres
- Unique single-sided Lefty 2.0 fork gets increased 55mm offset to alter steering geometry
- Wide tyres and 45mm rims add massive amounts of traction and comfort but also considerable weight
Look beyond the Bad Habit’s three-inch tyres and it’s a trail bike, pure and simple. It climbs efficiently, flows along singletrack and can handle high speeds just like the standard Habit. So what exactly does ‘Plus’ bring to the party?
Aside from enough traction to make everyone feel like a climbing god, the big volume/lower pressure tyres add control. Get the pressure right, and skilled riders can play harder and ride blind trails more aggressively.
The forgiving ride also brings extra confidence, grip and braking control to those new to the sport. It doesn’t hurt that bouncing around on huge tyres gets you grinning like a kid playing out after bedtime either.
To provide the extra clearance needed for fatter tyres, the frame uses a Boost 148 rear axle. Oversized BB30 and expanding collet hardware on the main pivot and shock linkages increase frame stiffness too. Rather than using a seatstay pivot and bearing set-up, Cannondale has engineered flex into the aluminium. This saves weight, further improves stiffness and reduces unsprung mass to help suspension sensitivity.
The Lefty 2.0 fork (obviously) only has one leg, but with good damping and an equally solid chassis, once you get your head around the weight being all on one side, it’s a smooth, accurate-steering bit of kit that perfectly matches the stiff frame.
With 45mm wide WTB rims and chunky Bridger tyres, the wheels on the Bad Habit are heavier than ‘regular’ 27.5in versions, but over rough ground you’d be hard pushed to notice they’re any slower. In part, this is because the tyres (run at 16psi) conform and roll over bumps so well, and the superior traction when climbing mostly offsets any penalty to acceleration.
Rubber compound on the Bridger tyres isn’t the tackiest though, so finding the exact air pressure — and checking it regularly — to maximise grip without allowing the casing to fold, bounce or rebound awkwardly is crucial.
In terms of layout, the longer 443mm chainstays on the Bad Habit tip the rider’s weight further forward. This isn’t the best for steep, natural terrain or pure downhill tracks, but is great for winching up anything and it doesn’t affect the bike’s playfulness. This more shoulders-forward position sees you zipping down flatter trails in a well-centred riding position that suits the Bad Habit’s trail bike attitude.
With big tyres and active suspension, the Bad Habit comes over as being more capable than its 120mm travel suggests, but it’s still precise and responsive and laughs off roots and sketchy off-cambers. It’s hard not to like it when it’s constantly reminding you exactly why the mountain biking bug bit you in the first place.
Focus on: steering geometry
Like Cannondale’s 29ers, the Bad Habit’s Lefty speeds up steering response using a special recipe. Modern bike geometry has evolved to add stability through slacker head angles and the Bad Habit sees handlebar inputs translate into more direct, ‘lighter’ steering to balance this shift.
Using the longest (55mm) offset in the industry is effective, but one side effect is that it’s harder to keep the wriggly front tyre still, and, on steeper trails, the wheel wants to turn in on its own, deflects easier and folds inwards like a bike with a steeper head angle. It’s a matter of taste, but even with the massive contact patch damping the effect of torque on the steering axis, we think the increased offset somewhat overcompensates for the larger tyre.