Words by Cole Gregg
Photos by Emma Wooldridge & Cole Gregg

When I first had the conversation about testing the new 2023 Cannondale Habit LT, I was immediately brought back to my neighborhood cul de sac circa 2004. That was the last time I rode a Cannondale, and the first MTB I swung a leg over. Thankfully bikes have come a long way since the Head Shok days, and I was stoked to spend the summer on a bike I deemed a perfect fit for my riding zones. The updates to the 2023 Habit LT put in the mix of some pretty rowdy bikes, at a respectable price tag of $3,625 for the LT 2 model on test. Read on or watch the video to find out how it stacked up.


• 140mm Horst Link Suspension with Proportional Response Design
• HTA 64.7
• STA 77.1 (effective)
• REACH 475 (Large)

Price: $3,625 (Habit LT2)


The Habit LT is the more aggressive version of Cannondale’s do-it-all trail bike, with increased suspension travel and geometry that supports gnarlier riding. With 140mm travel in the rear paired with a 150mm fork, and mostly enduro-ready geometry numbers, it’s clear the Habit LT is designed for some serious riding.

Cannondale Habit LT 2 Mountain Bike Review

FRAME AND FEATURES | The Cannondale Habit LT is available in both Full Carbon fiber and Smartform C1 Alloy frame options, depending on the spec level selected. Aside from the reduced weight of the carbon fiber frame, both Habit LT frames share the same features across the board. One key highlight of both frames is the Proportional Response Suspension and Geometry, which tailors both of these elements to the typical rider height and weight on each frame size to ensure riders on the full size range receive the same levels of performance on the trail. Cannondale gave the Habit LT a 55mm chain line for improved tire clearance; SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger; a threaded BB and their DirectLine internal cable routing system to cleanly integrate the cables within the frame.

GEOMETRY | The Habit LT sees some notable changes to the geometry over outgoing models, with the biggest change being a 20mm reach increase across all sizes, taking our size large in at a much more modern 475mm. The 2023 Habit is offered in sizes Extra Small (which receives 27.5” wheels) through XL, starting at a 400mm reach all the way up to 510mm. Like many other brands, Cannondale has given it the long and slack treatment with a Headtube angle slackened out to 64.7 degrees and a steepened Seat Tube angle to 77.1 degrees.

The Proportional Response Design geometry adds 10mm to the chainstays on sizes Large and XL, to offer taller riders better balance between the wheels. Sizes XS to Medium feature a 435mm chainstay, and the Large and XL grow to 445mm. Other notable geometry numbers are the mid-height 345mm bottom bracket (34mm drop on the 29” wheel models) and 644mm stack height on the size large with 9mm increments between each size. Total wheelbase on the size Large measures in at 1240mm.

Cannondale Habit LT 2 Mountain Bike Review

SUSPENSION | The Horst Link suspension system on the Habit LT delivers 140mm of travel to the rear wheel. With the Proportional Response Design, Cannondale adjusts the kinematics for each frame, understanding that a rider on a size small and a rider on an XL are not going to have the same requirements when it comes to on-trail support and leverage rates. Shock tunes are also dedicated to each size, so every rider should get the best performance from their Habit LT.

BUILD SPECS | Our LT 2 model is the Aluminum Frame option that features Cannondale’s SmartForm C1 Alloy. The suspension package is handled by RockShox, with a Super Deluxe Select rear shock and 150mm RockShox Lyrik Select fork. All drivetrain parts are covered by Shimano, but our test model shipped with a Race Face Crankset due to supply chain issues. The XT derailleur is paired with an SLX shifter to give a great compromise of value and performance. The brakes are also a Shimano spec per the Cannondale webpage, but our bike arrived with Sram Code R’s with a 203mm front and 180mm rear rotor. The WTB ST i30 rims are laced to a Shimano MT400 front hub and MT510 rear hub. These are wrapped in Maxxis rubber, with a 2.5” EXO+ Minion DHF in the front and 2.5” EXO+ Dissector in the rear.

Cannondale has spec’d some of their own in-house branded components on this build with the Bars being the Three Risers at a 15mm rise, the stem is also a Cannondale Three series product. The Cannondale DownLow dropper for our size large features a 170mm drop, this 170mm is also what riders will get on an XL frame. This build is available in a choice of the bright Laguna Yellow or a more subdued Smoke Black colorway, at a price of $3,625.

Cannondale Habit LT 2 Mountain Bike Review


SETUP | Before we get into how this bike rode, let’s talk set up. Getting the fork dialed was pretty straightforward, I landed at 90 psi with three reducers for everyday riding, and for heavy jump days, I bumped it up to 105. With only low-speed rebound to adjust I mostly played with what felt right on the day, never really landing on what was perfect for all the different riding zones in my area. Generally speaking, I ran it fairly fast. The compression or “lockout” adjustment found its home in the middle position nearly full time, with the exception of going to the bike park where I ran it fully open to help battle some hand fatigue.

The shock for me was a little more tricky to set up to maximize small bump compliance and big hit support. I do need to preface this by saying I rode this bike very hard and pushed it to the limits of what the entry-level suspension spec could handle. The shock comes stock with 2 reducers which I found to offer a lot less bottom-out support than I needed. Ultimately I ended with 4 reducers and 185 psi for general trail riding. Anything over this pressure for my 170(ish) pound weight sacrificed too much small bump compliance. Bottom-out events at 185 psi were frequent but not excessively harsh, so I quickly got used to feeling the end of the stroke and charged on. I ran into Mitch Ropelato at the NAEC up at Silver Mountain, which he won on a Habit LT! He was also running 4 reducers in his shock, but had a larger volume air can, which I can see being of great benefit for this frame if you’re looking to push it to the limits.

Cannondale Habit LT 2 Mountain Bike Review

CLIMBING | When it comes to spending long days in the saddle on the Habit LT I can comfortably say even with the 170mm dropper pulled nearly all the way out to minimum insertion for my 36” inseam, the Seat Tube angle was not horrendous! For me, this was the first thing I noticed about the bike and is a huge win. I am constantly battling running a shorter seat height to keep my weight properly balanced and the front wheel planted on climbs on most bikes, but the Habit LT managed to avoid this problem. In fact, I had two of my biggest days riding of the year on this, topping out at 6,000k feet of climbing. The only main complaint I have about the bike is quite easy to fix. The stack number on paper is on par with many other bikes, but I found that figure to feel quite low causing more hand pressure into the bars than I wanted. The stock steer tube did not allow for any additional spacers, so I swapped in my 30mm rise bars increasing the bar height by 15mm. This immediately solved that problem and put me more off the back of the bike on descents which I prefer over a slammed forward body position.

On technical climbs with larger steps or square edge hits, I found the bike had a tendency to hang up instead of rolling over those features at times. With my limited technical climbing skills not helping, it was something that took a little more attention to attack for me. I found unweighting the rear end on those features helped a lot. I would say my climbing ability is pretty lackluster compared to descending, so any negatives in that department will be amplified, but ultimately the Habit LT wasn’t doing the work for me in these instances. The EXO+ dissector lasted nearly the entire test period before succumbing to a slash at Silver Mountain. I ran tubes and 30 psi rear for the entire test period and really came to love where that Dissector both found grip and lost grip. Would I put a different tire on if it was my bike? Yes, most likely, but I would also run that Dissector until it gave up. On loose multi-use climbing trails the Dissector was for sure struggling to find grip. This is something not uncommon to many other tires as well, but the Dissector got the worst of it. That one shortcoming for me was overshadowed by fast-watt-saving rolling resistance everywhere else. Overall, when it comes to climbing the Habit LT, it ticks all the boxes of something I looked forward to riding day in and day out.

Cannondale Habit LT 2 Mountain Bike Review

DESCENDING | When it comes time to point down the trail the common adjectives are very true, it was poppy, playful, and an all-around hoot of a time on Blue and Green flow trails. Turning rollers into doubles is one of my favorite things to do and this bike amplified the fun factor of nearly every trail I went down. Tackling rough technical trails certainly took a little more attention to line choice, and a mental reminder I was on a trail bike rather than an enduro bike, but with that said the 140mm of travel out back inspired confidence to push hard into big compressions. I felt that the bike’s geometry and travel figures did not hold me back at all outside of the roughest and gnarliest terrain. Pushing hard highlighted the shortcomings of the entry-level dampers in the suspension, but it was manageable with more seat time. Running the rebound a bit faster than generally advised really helped get some support back that the dampers were lacking. Is that a negative? The short answer is no, not at all. I found that the limit of the suspension was really my true limit of talent and the time spent at that limit was minimal when compared to the total ride time on the bike. While this bike shines on flow trails it is fully capable of nearly any trail you might want to venture down!

My size large test bike fit me spot on for being just over 6 feet tall. The cockpit was comfortable allowing plenty of room to move around. The fit was spot on for what I feel a large size should represent in this long travel trail to light enduro category. If you are a rider that likes a larger bike, sizing up would not be an issue and would only add to how well this frame gets through rough terrain without sacrificing how playful the bike can be, though shorter-legged riders may struggle for clearance with the long seat tube on the XL. One of the only downsides I found was on higher-speed flat corners. I tended to get a front wheel push feeling where I was losing traction toward the end of the apex. This for me was more of a body position issue than anything else. The previous bike I was on was significantly longer and gave me a larger margin of error on unsupported corners. Putting more focus on getting the bike leaned over really helped me gain confidence back in those types of corners.

FINISH AND VALUE | This being the longest time period I have had a test bike for, I was extremely pleased with how well it held up to some serious abuse and questionable line choices… The only thing on the bike that actually “broke” was the cable routing frame clamp on the drive side. This happened during a crash where the bars rotated quite violently. All in all, I would say this is pretty stellar considering the miles I put on this bike. Both the fork and shock saw no loss of oil or performance. During one of my last weekends with the bike, I went out to Western Washington and rode Ragging River and Snoqualmie Pass bike park for a week, stacking around 20k feet of descent in the process. After that trip, the rear wheel finally started to come out of true, which to be honest happened way later than I had expected. All in all given the performance, for under $4k the Habit LT seems like a stellar bike for the money.

The Wolf’s Last Word

When starting your search for a new daily driver do not sleep on the Habit LT! This bike is an absolute blast and will be next to impossible to finish a ride with a frown. If your budget allows, I can see the benefit for advanced riders getting the higher-level suspension offering from RockShox, which you can find on the Habit Carbon LT1 at $5,550, but I digress. This bike is a great fit for riders at any skill level, paving the way for gaining new skills as your riding develops while also leaving you with an ear-to-ear grin ride after ride.

Price: $3,625


Frame: Smartform C1 Alloy | 140mm
Fork: RockShox Lyrik | 150mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select

Brakes: Shimano SLX 4-piston | 203/180mm RT64 rotors
Handlebar: Cannondale 3 Riser Alloy | 15mm Rise | 780mm Wide
Stem: Cannondale 3 6061 Alloy
Headset: Integrated Sealed Bearing
Seatpost: Cannondale DownLow Dropper | XS-S:125mm, M:150mm, L-XL:170mm
Saddle: Cannondale Scoop Shallow Sport

Hubs: Shimano MT400 F / Shimano MT510 R
Rims: WTB ST i30 TCS
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF EXO | 2.5″
Rear Tire: Maxxis Dissector EXO | 2.5″

Bottom Bracket: Shimano BSA 73
Cassette: Shimano Deore | 10-51T
Cranks: Shimano FC-6120 | 30T
Shifter: Shimano SLX | 12spd
Derailleur: Shimano XT | 12spd

We Dig

All-around versatility
Size-specific geo
Reliable build kit

We Don’t

EXO+ tires have their downsides
Climbing hang-ups


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