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2020 Cannondale Habit Neo 2 review

The Cannondale Habit Neo 2 is a full suspension trail bike with 130 mm travel back and 140 mm front. The weight is 23,65 kg without pedals. There are a lot of emtbs out there with 150 to 160 mm travel, included the Cannondale Moterra Neo. Why would we pick a bike with less travel?

Geometry

The Habit Neo looks a lot like the burlier bikes with more suspension travel. A chainstay length og 455mm is common for a full suspension 29er emtb. The 1234 mm long wheelbase is within the range of what I consider normal for a size Large. The head angle of 66.5* is pretty slack, but it’s a tad steeper than most of the burlier bikes. The Maxxis Rekon 29×2.6″ tyres are lightweight and has less grip than we’re used to. So, there are a few signs indicating the Habit Neo is designed for different use than the longer travel bikes.

Components

The rest of the kit is mostly good. The bike has got a nice wheelset with Stans Flow rims. Drivetrain is the 12 speed Sram NX Eagle with an 11-50 tooth cassette. Except for the rear derailleur that is Sram GX. The Sram kit shifts well, it will even handle shifting under a bit of load. The Cannondale Habit Neo in size Large has got a 150 mm dropper seat post. In size Medium it’s got a 125mm dropper. The fork is a Rockshocx 35 Gold RL. This is a relatively cheap for that is often used on the less expensive emtbs. It’s a rigid and solid fork that has it’s limits. We find it’s acceptable if we ride with a little bit more sag than usual. The shock is a Rockshox Deluxe Select+ which feels better than the front suspension.

The brakes are good, but it took us a few rides to get used to them. Cannondale claim it’s the Magura MT5 brakes. I assume that’s wrong since they’re labeled Magura MT Trail Sport. Trail Sport is a mix of Magura brakes, and I believe the front brake is indeed an MT5. This is a powerful dual caliper brake. And when it’s combined with the new and bigger 220mm rotor we get a lot of braking power. Even though the brakes are easy to modulate, we initially kept locking up the front wheel. We couldn’t squeeze as hard as we are used to. We blame the Maxxis Rekon tyre, we’re used to grippier tyres. The single caliper rear brake with a 203mm rotor is less powerful. All in all these are good brakes.

Motor and battery

The Habit Neo comes with the Bosch Performance CX motor. The motor was new for 2020 and it’s a good, modern motor. For more details on the motor, check out this video review. The display is the Bosch Kiox. It’s a nice looking display with app support. Unfortunately you can’t tweak motor settings with the Kiox, and the display mount is fragile. We recommend you attach the display to the mount with the supplied screw, to avoid losing the display when descending hard.

Cannondale has a history of coming up with their own solutions and designs. The Habit Neo looks surprisingly conventional, although the downtube is a bit different. Many brands use a headset that restricts how hard you can turn. This is necessary to prevent the fork hitting and damaging the downtube. Cannondale decided to pull the top en of the downtube backwards, making room for the fork to turn all the way. By doing so, they have made the downtube shorter. This makes it difficult fitting the long 625Wh battery in the smaller frame sizes. So it seems Cannondale pushed the bottom end of the downtube forwards, making room for the lower battery mount in front of the motor. The downtube is looking more vertical than what we’re used to seeing.

Another challenge with this frame design is flex in the front end. We are wondering if this is the reason the Habit Neo only comes in carbon. Wasn’t Cannondale able to get the frame stiff enough using aluminium?

On the trails

We never really missed more suspension travel on our regular trails. Then again, we were never in a situation where we found the shorter travel an advantage. The the tyres were holding us back on the trails. The front wheel would wander sideways when speed increased over lose or rough surfaces. We would swap the front tyre for something more aggressive for our kind of riding. The Rockshox 35 Gold RL fork could be better at tracking the ground too. Apart from that, the bike performs very well. It climbs as well as anything, and it pedals nicely without motor support. When pedaling over cut-off speed, we couldn’t help appreciating the fast rolling tyres.

The Habit Neo is such a capable and stable bike and it made us wonder if it’s too similar to the burlier Cannondale Moterra. Perhaps the Habit Neo should be a 27.5″ bike with shorter chainstays, to make them more different. We haven’t tested the Moterra though, so we really don’t know.

Conclusion

The Habit Neo is a capable bike with fairly quick steering response. The relatively low weight makes it easier navigating the bike through narrow and winding trails. We were expecting the Habit Neo to be a less capable and more nimble bike compared to the typical 160 mm travel emtb. But it isn’t really that bike. The Cannondale Habit Neo 2 is a capable bike for forest trails. It will even do harder riding and jumps.

Specs

Price: €5.999kr
Weight: 23.65 kg w/o pedals

Size: LG, MD, SM, XL
Frame: 130mm travel, 148x12mm thru-axle, Ai offset drivetrain, alloy skid plate, BallisTec Carbon front triangle, internal cable routing, Post mount brake, Proportional Response Tuned Suspension, removeable downtube battery, SmartForm C1 Alloy swingarm, tapered headtube

Fork: 140mm, 15×110, 51mm offset, DebonAir, RockShox 35 Gold RL, tapered steerer
Rear Shock: DebonAir, RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT
Rims: 32h, Stan’s NoTubes Flow S1, tubeless ready
Tires: 29 x 2.6″, 3C Compound, EXO, Maxxis Rekon, tubeless ready
Crank: 34T, Bosch Gen4 w/ custom Ai offset
Chain: 12-speed, SRAM NX Eagle
Rear Cogs: 11-50, 12-speed, NX Eagle, SRAM PG-1230
Rear Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle
Shifters: 12-speed, SRAM NX Eagle

Handlebar: 15mm rise, 4° rise, 6061 alloy, 780mm, 8° sweep, Cannondale 3 Riser
Grips: Cannondale Locking Grips
Stem: 1-1/8″, 31.8, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, 7°, Cannondale 1
Headset: Integrated Sealed Bearing, Tapered
Brakes: (F) 4-piston / (R) 2-piston, 220/203mm Spider rotors, Magura MT5 Trail hydro disc
Brake Levers: Magura MT5 Trail HC hydro disc
Display: Bosch Kiox
Battery: 625Wh, Bosch PowerTube
Charger: Bosch 4A
Drive Unit: Bosch Performance Line CX 250W
Saddle: cro-mo rails, Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
Seatpost: 100mm (S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL), 31.6, Cannondale DownLow Dropper, internal routing

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