PRODUCT REVIEW: SOME BAD HABITS ARE HARD TO BREAK
THE CANNONDALE BAD HABIT 2 27.5 PLUS BIKE
WILL WE BUILD UP A BAD HABITS FROM RIDING THIS CANNONDALE PLUS BIKE TOO MUCH?
It started with terms like "adventurer", "back country explorer" or "fun bike". And it has eventually come to a nice conclusion that plus bikes are all these terms that marketers used to bring them into awareness. Plus bikes had made many bikers found new love since its launch. So far, the Plus Bike we rode and/or reviewed has been fun, playful and confident inspiring when it comes to staying in control and sticking to our lines. But riding Plus Bikes too often may had an adverse effect on our riding – we may form some bad habits if we continue to ride Plus Bikes and monster our way through the trail. And no longer do we need to watch out for the best line to take? Myth or Fact? We decide to check out the Cannondale Bad Habit for some time to see if we can bust that myth.
THE CANNONDALE BAD HABIT
The Cannondale Bad Habit is a 27+ trail bike. It is equipped with 120 mm of front and rear travel – duties performed by a set of Rockshox Monach RL with High Volume can and a set of Rockshox Reba RL Boost fork with Poploc.
The frame is made from Smartformed Alloy with single pivot linkage and flex-stays instead of the typical pivot at the seat-stay. Smartform Alloy, in simple terms means its Cannondale's way of constructing bike frames with 6069 and 6061 alloy tubes with focus on strength, weight and handling. Tubes are then double-pass welded to produce strong and smooth joints. This also eliminates the need for internal reinforcements or external weld-on gussets. The frame is then heat treated when all the weldings are done. This increase the strength and hardness of the frame.
The rest of the bike is decked with the usual Cannondale goodies, which include Hollowgram cranks, Beast Rims with Formula 110 x 15 front hubs and Formula with HG Driver 148 x 12 rear hubs. The group set is a mix of Shimano SLX and Deore parts.
The Bad Habit 2 uses a 2 x 10 speed while the Bad Habit 1 uses a 1 x 11 setup. This is one of the cost cutting measures to make the Bad Habit 2 cheaper than the 1. But on thinking a bit deeper, the 2 x 10 drivetrain on the Bad Habit 2 has the advantage of having a wider range of gears, is easy to maintain and allows the rider to ride the bike to its fullest both rough and smooth terrain. With this said, while we know the 2 x 10 is a cheaper option for a lower priced model, it is still a very relevant drive train setup that would attract a certain segment of riders.
The Bad Habit has a head angle 68 deg and a seat tube angle 74 deg. Matching this with plus sized wheels will mean that the bike is slacker than the 29ers of old and yet slightly steeper than typical 27.5 inch enduro or trail bikes of present times. The moderately slack head angle coupled with wide tyres and a higher than normal rolling resistance from the plus wheels means the Bad Habit should give the rider a lot of confidence during rides, but would not expect to be classified as "fast" in any situation.
With a 41.5 cm reach for a medium sized frame, the bike's cockpit feels comfortable for our riders, with heights from 1.69 m to 1.73 m. On looking at the wheelbase of 1144 mm and 443 mm chainstay length, we can understand that Cannondale wants the rider to "forget" the heavy-footed feel that's inherent of fat-tyred bikes and be taken over by the agile feel of this bike immediately. The agility of this bike should be quite obvious even on a rider's first ride on this bike. A good selling point.
DOES THE BAD HABIT COMES WITH ANY … BAD HABITS?
Our bike was set to 30% sag for the rear shock with a slow rebound. For the front, it was set to 25% sag with faster rebound setting than the rear.
There are 3 Pedal Modes for the rear shock – Lock, Unlock and Trail. We quickly discovered that the Unlock Mode is too soft for some of our testers and it blew through its travel easily. So we kept the setting at Trail Mode throughout the rides.
The Rockshox's Poploc, though not our first time using it, continues to baffle us. Why would the default, "Release" mode be locking the fork? Shouldn't it be "Release" for unlock and "Engage" for lock?
This particular disaster-waiting-to-happen feature finally found its first small-scale victim. During the recent Singapore Open Enduro, one of the event ushers accidentally tapped a rider's handlebar when she signaled for him to start his Special Stage run. And without noticing it was locked when riding the flatter sections, the rider ended up tackling a double-black diamond feature with a locked fork. And when he noticed it, it's already too late to react. No choice, just got to brace himself and bash through then. Luckily, there is a Lockout threshold function for the fork, when it hits a certain big enough impact, it unlocks temporarily. This feature protects both the fork internals and the rider.
Overall, the fork and rear shocks are still a breeze to set up and they are what we would like to call "cheap and good!" stuff. Only aggressive riders would feel the Reba flexes when they try shredding the trail with this fork.
The Bad Habit is a very good climber. It is efficient and has minimal bob during long ascends. The flex-stays seem to support the mid stroke of the suspension travel during climbs and heavy mashings, thus creating a complement to each other. This makes the Bad Habit a good sprinter too.
ON THE DESCENTS
The flex-stays contributes to the overall ride quality – as we had described with its contribution to efficient climbs and sprints. But during descends, we felt the flex-stays didn't complement the bike's suspension that well. We were able to feel the rear stays flexing at a different rate as compared to the rear shock. This gives a somewhat unnatural feel throughout the suspension stroke. With the Bad Habit, we would tend to look for cleaner and safer descend lines. This is different from our earlier impression that a plus bikes would help us "form the bad habit of not looking out for riding lines when we ride – due to the bike being able to monster its way over anything." But all things considered, we are talking about a 120 mm bike – that is cross country and light trail bike suspension travel territory. We would advice adopting the correct expectations when riding.
The tyres were inflated to 15 PSI for the front and 18 PSI for the rear during our rides. But somehow, the tyres felt confused. Or that we couldn't find the "best" air pressure to ride them at. When they were at low pressure, they squirmed and felt draggy. Pumped them with more air and they bounced quite excessively. The problem seem to be the compound of the WTB Bridger tyres.
On the other hand, the use of 27.5 + wheels are really a lot of fun, regardless of whether we like the tyres or not. They do instill more confidence than the typical trail wheels setup and are more capable at trail obstacles in general.
While we find the tyre compound's bouncy effect a little hard to fathom, we do love the WTB Bridger's traction, which provided lots of grip in the trails.
Off the trail observation: Riding the Bad Habits on any urban setting would mean a slower and more draggy ride than the typical trail bikes, hybrid bikes or street bikes. Expect up to 40% power loss due to the fatter tyres and high rolling resistance (subject to rider's riding style and stamina).
Plus bikes, as marketed, are meant for fun adventurous rides. Such rides would mean a myriad of terrains along , so we strongly recommend adding a dropper post to the bike.
The Shimano group set, although not considered top-of-the-line or even "high-end", still felt as reliable as we expect of any Shimano product. Squeeze it lightly to modulate or feather the brakes, squeeze harder and they break traction for you to slide out of a corner. Very predictable.
We love the way the cockpit was set up. The bike has a short stem and a nicely angled and lengthed handle bar. Comfortable reach for riders within the frame's recommended riders' heights. The handle grips are relatively comfortable but would have been perfect if they were just a tad softer.
WHO SHOULD FORM SOME BAD HABITS?
The bad habit is more a climber and sprinter than it is a descender. It can be ridden hard but the characteristic of the bike needs to be familiarized with first. While the Bad Habit 1 is top-speced and ready for more serious trail riders, the Bad Habit 2 is suitable for those who ride a mix of trail and urban, or those who commute by bike to the trails. The Bad Habit 2 uses 2 x 10 drive train which has a wider range of gears (than 1 x 11s) and can be made to mash up to speed when the occasion arises (eg. on straight tarmac roads, park connectors or flat trails).
While we had to warn that trying to speed on this bike would mean unnecessary power loss of the rider, the bike would come to life on days when you just wish to keep on riding, and not think about who is faster or when you need to be home.
We also think that the Bad Habit is for the trail rider who who values traction over speed, and is ready to tackle the roughest terrain or choose the gnarlier line just for the fun of it. Some riders have too many bad habits …
For more information on the Cannondale Bad Habit, visit Cannasia at the following addresses:
83/85 Frankel Avenue Singapore 458211, Tel: (65) 6441-4772
#01-20, 33 Ubi Avenue 3, Singapore 408868, Tel: (65) 65-700-634