We tested the Cannondale Habit Neo 2, an e-MTB to enjoy and explore your limits
The Cannondale Habit Neo 2 was introduced a year ago as a Trail e-MTB because of its 140/130 mm travel, but its carbon construction, steerer angle, 29" wheels and efficient battery and engine operation made it clear from the first pedal stroke that we were going to enjoy the Habit Neo 2 in all terrains and situations. We were not wrong.
Analysis and testing of the Cannondale Habit Neo 2
We were lucky enough to test the Cannondale Habit Neo 2 thoroughly for several weeks. This is the model that comes right before the top of the range, the Neo 1, and with which it shares the frame and technology, differing in some of the mounted components. This is a very complete and advanced e-MTB with which we have enjoyed hundreds of kilometers, but let's see it in depth and we will tell you what we liked most about it and what didn't.
As soon as we get on the Habit Neo 2 we can appreciate that it is an E-bike focused on the Trail but with geometric measures that make it comfortable, agile and handy on any terrain, thanks to its 66.5º steering angle and 75º saddle angle that makes it easy to pedal on any route.
We start looking for a suitable terrain to get the most out of this E-bike. The ride becomes quite enjoyable, despite the 23.8 kg weight it moves really well, giving the sensation of being lighter. Thanks to the improvements in the engine, by reducing its size its Q-factor has been improved and the pedalling sensation is more similar to that of a non-electric bike. It is also a little less noisy than before.
It has 4 driving modes (eco, tour, e-mtb and turbo). The eco mode provides a little help, but forces us to work harder on the pedaling, however, in this mode we have a great autonomy and as soon as we leave we have an estimation of around 100 kms.
The tour mode is the one we have used the most when the routes have been very diverse, it has a good autonomy and if the biker is in good physical shape it will be more than enough to climb any slope you find on the way.
The E-mtb mode is where most development has taken place in this engine. A mode that forces you to go at higher cadences to find the helping power you are looking for. It's the most fun when we get into pure MTB terrain and it makes us play with SRAM's 1x12 drivetrain.
Finally, we have the turbo mode, which in our case we have only used when faced with large slopes, almost impossible to climb with a conventional bicycle, allowing you to access places you would never have imagined reaching.
All this management of the battery and the engine means that we have been able to make routes of up to 90 kms alternating the 4 modes and enjoying this E-bike in all parts of the route.
To have a reference, with a 70kg cyclist we did a route of 70km with 1500m of positive altitude difference and when we finished the route the battery still marked 5%.
The E-system is completed with the Bosch Kiox display in which we find all the necessary data for our route, whether it is the mode in which we are riding, the autonomy or cyclist data such as power, pulse, speed, etc. We will be able to download this information to our mobile phone via bluetooth once we have completed the route. The display is controlled by a small control located near the left handgrip, easy and intuitive to use in any situation.
The SRAM Eagle 1x12 drivetrain available on the Habit Neo 2 offers a combination of developments that is wide enough to maintain a good cadence that allows us to get the most out of the E-mtb mode. In addition, with the drivetrain ratio offered by the 34-tooth chainring and the 11-50 cassette, when the terrain has helped us, we have been able to turn off the engine and make all the effort ourselves, saving some battery power to be able to extend our routes to the maximum.
We went through more complex areas for a conventional bicycle and that's where we started to have more fun with the Habit Neo. Despite being a Trail bike with 140 mm of travel at the front and 130 mm at the rear, it is very agile and easy to handle on winding terrain thanks to a fairly contained Reach and Stack. Also the 780 mm handlebar helps us to steer it easily.
Any of the climbs we found on our routes could be overcome without complications. In addition to the help provided by the engine, by the traction we have on the rear train and the position we carry on the saddle, located at an angle of 75 º.
On the downhill runs it is handled perfectly, here the capabilities of this E-bike come to the fore. The whole package has something to offer. The 140 mm front suspension behaves quite well in all situations, although we expected a little more tact from it. The 66.5° steering angle makes it easy to handle. The 29" wheels with 2.6" Maxxis Recon tyres are not too heavy and allow the bike to be supported with confidence in all kinds of corners. All this makes it possible to control the front end without any problems, making it enter both fast curves and turns with ease.
Meanwhile, the rear train follows the good functioning of the front part. The 130 mm of travel of the RockShox Deluxe select+ RT shock absorber, the swingarm with the Proportional Response technology and the LockR pivots work in harmony absorbing all the irregularities of the terrain allowing us to overcome obstacles without problems. In addition, the standard telescopic seatpost provides extra safety when descending is difficult or an obstacle has to be avoided.
The Magura MT5 Trail brakes chosen for the Habit have a good performance. In heavy braking we liked the overall behavior of the bike, the 4-piston front brake has a good feel and a bite according to what you expect for this bike. On the other hand, the 2-piston rear brake of the same brand seemed to us to be a bit short in some situations. If we add the good response that the suspension offers to the braking, we can say that it makes it easier to be able to brake a little later and leave the bike facing the correct line.
As a conclusion we can say that the Habit Neo 2 is an e-MTB to enjoy, especially in technical or downhill areas with some difficulty. Although we can also say that in excessively complicated descents you may miss a few more centimeters of travel and more aggressive tires, but for that Cannondale has in its catalog with the Moterra, more oriented to more complicated descents.
This is a very versatile and balanced E-bike for Trail, which provides easy pedalling and handling. It also has a well-calculated geometry that gives you poise when going through curves. This bike will allow you to enjoy to the maximum the paths, downhills and almost any terrain you find. Thanks to the powerful assistance, the good functioning of the suspension, the confidence it gives you and how agile it is, it becomes a playful bike designed to have fun or simply to go out with that group that was always almost impossible for you to get out because of the pace at which they went out on the mountain, with the new Habit this will no longer be a problem.
The Cannondale Habit Neo 2 part by part
Frame and swingarm
As we were saying, this is a trail and electric mountain bike so lightness was not supposed to be one of its strengths. And here comes the first surprise, Cannondale has built the Habit Neo's carbon fiber frame using their patented Ballistec technology. A manufacturing method that reduces weight to a minimum and ensures maximum strength and stiffness. Indeed, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
The heart and power source of the Habit Neo is located in the diagonal tube, which contains the PowerTube battery, and in the bottom bracket area where we find the Bosch Performance CX engine. Both are perfectly integrated into the assembly while protected by a sealed battery cover and a robust magnesium crankcase that defends the engine from any impact.
To minimize performance-damaging bending and twisting and increase strength, the swingarm is made of SmartForm C1 aluminum. This, along with the LockR pivot system and thru axles at the pivot points, makes the rear triangle very responsive in all the situations we have tested.
Thanks to Cannondale's own technology: Proportional Response, each size of this model has been adapted to deliver the same sensations to the rider. This means that every frame size, pivot point, anchorage, etc. has been individually optimized for each size. And with the integration of the Ai (Asymmetric Integration) shifted drivetrain this Habbit Neo 2 has short pods that improve the agility of the bike while maintaining a good wheel arch, supports up to 2.8 ball tires.
Another key point of the frame and geometry is the placement of the engine in the lowest area, now is anchored directly without using a support cage, which allows to have a center of gravity very close to the ground and centered.
Cannondale has equipped this E-MTB with the RockShox 35 Gold RL 140mm fork exclusively for electric mountain bikes. This is a front suspension with which SRAM has looked for a good relation between performance and price. A fork that inherits the same chassis with 35mm bars mounted on its siblings Revelation, Yari, Lyrik and Pike to be light and robust. Improved stiffness and steering precision, as well as mounting a DebonAir air cartridge and offering the possibility of adjusting its travel or progression curve by means of spacers and tokens.
Some bikers will miss the remote button, but it is not necessary, since we will only use it on asphalt sections or tracks with few bumps and with a simple gesture we can block the fork itself.
It has a 51 mm offset, suitable for Trail, tapered steering tube and 15x110 Maxxle Stealth thru axle for Boost wheels.
The rear suspension is dominated by a 130mm RockShox Deluxe select+ RT debon Air shock absorber, with spectacular terrain reading and easy to operate remote control.
Engine and battery
The engine chosen by Cannondale for the Habit Neo is the new Bosch Performance Line CX which has improved its performance and design. It is now smoother and more natural to ride and smaller in volume, as well as having a maximum torque of 75 Nm and up to 340% assistance. Power to the engine is supplied by a 625 Wh Powertube battery that is located in the diagonal tube and is protected, like the engine, by sealed protectors that prevent shocks and the entry of dirt.
In this engine, the aim has been to reduce internal friction as much as possible and to encourage ventilation in order to improve performance. For all this, this set of engine and battery is the most advanced and powerful system from Bosch.
The Habit Neo 2 has a SRAM Eagle 1x12 drivetrain that combines parts from the GX and NX groups, chain, button and cassette from 11-50 are from the NX model, while the rear derailleur is a GX. It is completed with a 34-tooth chainring that is attached to the Bosch engine crankshaft.
Perhaps this is the part where we have missed a somewhat superior group, which in addition to reducing the weight of our E-Bike, would also offer us a more precise operation.
On the other hand, we could use a single click trigger to improve the life of the drivetrain components.
Regarding the wheels, we have Stan's NoTubes Flow S1 rims made of 6061 aluminium with an internal width of 29 mm, consisting of 32 DT Swiss Champion spokes attached to Formula DC-511 hubs, 15x100 in the case of the front wheel and a SRAM 746 in 12x148 measurement on the rear wheel.
It allows tires up to 2.8" although it comes with Maxxis Rekon in 29 x 2.6", a tubeless ready tire with EXO protection on the sides.
To brake this E-bike, Magura MT5 Trail has been chosen. Cannondale has been provided with 220 mm front wheel discs and 203 mm rear wheel discs, both special for E-bikes. It has a four-piston caliper on the front axle which provides extra braking power and two pistons on the rear axle.
The radial design of the levers ensures low friction, reducing drivetrain losses, as well as offering good modulation and control.
Handlebar and stem
Handlebar mounted by the brand itself, a 780mm wide Cannondale 3 double height made of 6061 aluminum, a good size to keep control and guide it through the most complicated bends. It is connected to the frame by a Cannondale 1 stem, also made of aluminum. The assembly is generally quite rigid.
Saddle and seat post
In this section we find a Fabric ScoopShallow Elite saddle, with chrome-molybdenum rails, hard enough to withstand the use we can give this bike. It is accompanied by a telescopic seatpost, the Cannondale DownLow Dropper, which in our case had a 125 mm travel, since we were using a size M but its travel varies depending on the size. 100 mm for size S and 150 mm for size L and XL. It has internal wiring for the control knob which is located on the left side of the handlebar.
The passage of covers and cables is completely hidden in the frame, very careful in the area of connection between the swingarm and the frame.
For the 625 Wh battery charger available on the Cannondale Habit Neo 2, we have an external connector located on the mid-bottom of the frame, just above the engine on the opposite side of the drivetrain, with a fully waterproof cover.
To store the battery, Cannondale has designed a lightweight and convenient lid where with just a half turn of the latch we can remove the lid and access our battery, either to check its status or to replace it with another one to flatten our route or for any other purpose.
To protect the Bosch engine, Cannondale has also made its own ventilated protector, made of a very resistant metal compound that protects the engine from possible impacts.
Complete assembly of the Cannondale Habit Neo 2
- Chain: SRAM NX Eagle, 12V
- Bottom Bracket: Bosch Gen4 w/ custom Ai offset, 34T
- Pedals: Not included
- Cassette: SRAM PG-1230, NX Eagle, 11-50, 12v
- Derailer: SRAM GX Eagle
- Shifter: SRAM NX Eagle, 12v
- Fork: RockShox 35 Gold RL, 140mm, DebonAir, 15x110 51mm offset
- Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT, DebonAir
- Front hub: Formula DC-511, 15x100
- Rear hub: SRAM 746, 12x148
- Rings: Stan's NoTubes Flow S1, 32h, tubeless ready, 29”
- Spokes: DT Swiss Champion
- Tires: Maxxis Rekon, 29 x 2.6", 3C compound, EXO, tubeless ready
- Brake levers: Magura MT5 Trail HC hydro disc
- Brake calipers: Magura MT5 Trail hydro disc, (F) 4-piston / (R) 2-piston, 220/203mm Spider rotors
- Grips: Cannondale Locking Grips
- Handlebar: Cannondale 3 Riser, 6061 aluminio 780mm
- Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite, cro-mo rails
- Seatpost: Cannondale DownLow Dropper, 31.6, 100mm (S), 125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL)
- Stem: Cannondale 1, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, 1-1/8", 31.8, 7°
- Battery: Bosch PowerTube, 625Wh
- Battery charger 4a
- Display: Bosch Kiox
- Engine: Bosch Performance Line CX 250W
- Price: 5.999€
Cannondale Habit Neo 2