Cannondale have taken their most playful trail bike – the Habit – and fitted a powerful Bosch motor and battery to it, making the ups as fun as the downs without taking away from the descents.
We’re incredibly impressed with how Cannondale’s range of mountain bikes have come on over the past few years, becoming slacker, lower and more capable than ever. So much so that both Barry and Josh have both opted for the Habit as their go to trail shredders! Albeit the non-electric versions the story of the Habit transfers over to the Habit Neo. And with the Habit Neo 2 being equipped with Bosch’s 625Wh battery and Performance Line CX motor that offers upto 67 miles of assistance, the reading on the fun-ometer are only going to be higher!
The Habit Neo 2 comes with serious features that makes it a responsive, heavy hitting trail e-bike that will take on pretty much anything you chuck at it. The bigger 29 inch wheels are fast becoming the new standard in mountain biking and the Habit is one that has adopted the trend. Offering far less rolling resistance and a smoother ride, 29ers are way faster in straight line speed but often deemed cumbersome when trails get twisty. The Habit does a good job of knocking this theory by managing to keep the bike incredibly agile and nimble. Rolling on reliable Maxxis rubber the bike offers excellent grip across a variety of terrain.
Another choice of kit that we really like on the bike is the burly Magura MT 4-Pot Trail Sport brakes with 220mm rotor on the front and 203 on the rear. The 4 cylinder callipers link up with these huge rotors offers some serious anchorage to reign in the inevitable addition in weight.
To help save on weight the Habit Neo 2 is armed with a full carbon front triangle in order to help compensate battery and motor weight, while being linked up to an alloy rear triangle. A feature that really sets Cannondale’s mountain bikes out from the rest however is something they have implemented called Proportional Response. This adjusts the suspension layout for each size of bike to ensure that riders have optimum suspension performance regardless of their height. We’re really impressed by this and demonstrates how Cannondale are committed to nailing geometry.
I may work for a bike shop, but an avid cyclist I am not..
I’m the kind of biker that needs to be dragged out on a ride, grumbling about somewhere I have to be, some imaginary appointment that I may miss if we are out for too long.
That all changed on Saturday after spending a few hours with a Ridgeback X2 e-bike, courtesy of Alec at the Ardrishaig bothy.
Instead of making excuses to avoid going out, I was coming up with reasons to take the bike out over the weekend. Nipping down the shop to get the morning rolls, going on a couple of rides with the kids, popping out to get another bottle of milk (wine).
The motor doesn’t propel the bike, it “assists” with pedal rotation. It’s a strange sensation, but quick to feel natural. On e-bikes, pedal assist usually comes in several levels of power. On the X2, it’s Eco, Standard and High, depending on how much assist you want, and if you need to conserve battery on a longer ride. I did briefly try the lower modes for comparison, but happily fired it up to high for the rest of our outing, leaving the kids in the dust, complaining about having cold fingers or something.
On the flat, you could easily have it on eco or standard, but if you are like me (lazy) you’ll want the bike to be doing most of the work, most of the time.
In all seriousness, I was blown away by how much fun it was. I hate hills and the ebike makes them fun. You can do as much or as little work as you want. If you are looking for more of a workout, turn the assist down or, if you are insane, off.
I had it cranked up to the max and loved it.
I’m all for something that encourages us to get out on the bikes and the e-bike certainly does that. Fresh air, exercise, tired and quiet children. What’s not to like.
The Ardrishaig Bothy is a brilliant resource for Mid Argyll, lending bikes to encourage cycling and getting outdoors. Give Alec a shout if you are local and you’d like to try a bike – https://www.facebook.com/ArdrishaigBothy
Give us a shout at the Glasgow shop if you are thinking of buying an e-bike, or indeed any bike – https://www.facebook.com/billy.bilslandcycles / https://www.billybilslandcycles.co.uk
Tip for Ridgeback – Needs a drinks holder.
Tip for Parents – Remember to take gloves for the kids.
It’s been just over a year since I buckled to the temptations of Whyte’s mould breaking Glencoe. And what a smashing year it has been, churning out miles over all sorts of ground.
I’ve always been a mountain biker through and through but the idea of having a road bike had always appealed to me. The convenience of being able to jump on the bike right outside your front door and get the legs spinning for a wee workout straight away is something that isn’t quite so possible with the mountain bike – you usually require a thirty minute (plus) drive before getting to your destination. I was also using my beloved Whyte 905 to commute to the shop each day which was putting unnecessary wear on the components. Great fun to commute on, but putting your weekend toy through the everyday Glasgow brutality that destroys commuters is a painful one.
So I was essentially looking for a do-it-all hack that I could pay minimal attention to, to keep it working while the bike was still saucy enough for me to enjoy the odd recreational road ride. The Glencoe was one of the earlier 650b adventure road bikes and came out offering astounding bang-for-buck; tubeless wheels, 1x Apex groupset, bolt-thru axles and TRP HYRD disc brakes. And not to mention the frame features; nice geometry with a long top tube length and short steerer tube, wide tyre clearance with room for mudguards too, and a comfy low bb height that helps you feel in, as opposed to on the bike. Oh, and the tan wall tyres look the berries, actually, wait a minute – the whole bike looks nothing other than awesome (largest deciding factor obviously).
Therefore the Glencoe was a no brainer. And it wasn’t much time of riding to and from work till I was riding it at the weekends, getting out the night lights and racking up miles after work, letting the mountain bikes gather dust (wit?!). Within a month there was a few hundred miles of all sorts of terrain under the tyres and all largely done on cycle paths, landcover tracks and dirt paths. It had become infectious exploring new routes, seeing where I would end up and setting new post-work challenges to complete on the bike. It’s so incredibly capable, it just makes you want to go exploring.
Now the Glencoe is obviously no lightweight racer. But for what it lacks in weight saving, makes up for with spades of fun and comfort. Long rides are a doddle with the comfort turned up 11, you won’t set any records but the bike is by no means slow. The slick tyres roll surprisingly quickly at lower pressures, and having the wider tyre allows you to corner quicker or perhaps go through the mud and cut the corner altogether. However the tyres can be quite slidey when run at higher pressures, perhaps the marginally grippier WTB Byway tyre would have been a better option. The low pressures are definitely required – I tried running the WTB Horizon tyres between 20 and 30PSI and settled for 25 in the front and just shy of 30 in the rear. So tubeless is a must in order to avoid being susceptible to punctures. If the tyres were over 30PSI I felt the ride became harsh quite quickly and felt a bit like a marble on a glass table. And below 20, well, I’d be putting the rim through the tyre on every pothole!
The tyres were tricky to get set up tubeless but once the tyres were seated and set up, few issues followed. In the past year I’ve had only two puncture issues on the Glencoe. Both of which required a single dismount between them, and the pump stayed firmly in the bag the whole time. The first required getting off the bike to pull out a pretty descent sized nail, leaving a hole that sealed shortly after pulling it out and spinning the wheel a few times. The second, was a case of keep pedalling until the spinning/hissing noise stopped. And it did, allowing me to do the last two thirds of a 60mile ride with out getting off of the bike *smug face*. Who knows how many times the tubeless sealant has worked it’s magic and I’ve been none the wiser though.
One of the greatest aspects of the Glencoe is it’s versatility. In the shop we’ve put out 700c variations with the Mavic Allroad wheelset, kitted out loads with full length mudguards and/or pannier racks, narrowed the bars, upraded the brakes to full hydraulic, added bike packing frame bags, fitted knobbly MTB tyres, and even added dropper posts! And for me this is where a lot of the fun with the bike lies (in the shop we even toyed with the idea of creating the TT Glencoe!).
Therefore I’ve made a good (and bad) few changes to the bike over the past year. The first change was giving the bike a bit more a road racer/CX fit, so saddle in the air, longer stem and slammed. I never really got on with the super-wide 50cm bars – as opposed to increasing manoeuvrability and stability I felt the bar was cumbersome and prevented me tucking in and sprinting. So I replaced them with a set of 3T 42cm aerobars which definitely provided the aggressive road fit I was looking for, while also offering an incredible aero advantage (Dougie, you’re mad). The handlebar is a bit of fun really, no need to ask why it’s on, just accept it and chuckle. Also the saddle is tartan patterned, chosen with no regards to its fit or comfort aspects, merely because it’s tartan.
Later on, the aim was to make it more mountain bikey from the ground up, essentially producing a mountain bike with a road racer cockpit. So off came the handsome tan wall tyres for a pair of Maxxis Crossmark II XC MTB tyres, despite all the nobbles the tyres are rapid!! While offering loads more grip when traction is in less supply. Tyre clearance with these tyres on is next to nothing so personally wouldn’t recommend (why are you doing it then you madman?!) but the skinnier knobbly WTB Resolute tyres fit no issues, you get to keep the tan walls and a mudguards fits too!The most recent change to the bike was fitting on the largest disc rotor size available – 203mm disc brake rotors! (Yep, you’ve lost your marbles Dougie). Now I love tinkering and this “upgrade” was more to see if it was possible – could 203mm rotors be fitted to a road bike? The answer is that, with a considerable amount of faff, a replacement post mount calliper and a rucksack full of disc brake adapters the Glencoe makes it possible. Solely due to the fact that Whyte opted for 160mm rotors instead of the standard road sized 140mm, I imagine because the grippier tyre is able to hold the ground better under bigger braking forces. In the shop we don’t recommend this change at all for a number of reasons but I decided to go for because, well, it looks frickin’ great.
Most of the changes I’ve made have really been about testing the bike’s capabilities as opposed to enhancing the performance. The bike works so well as standard that it really doesn’t need any changes, as I said I’m just a tinkerer! I’ve had so much fun with and on this bike I can’t recommend it enough. Off the bat it is a bike that is ready to play and explore. Whether commuting, bike packing, touring, road riding, adventure roading, cycle-crossing, trail riding or even mountain biking the Glencoe will have a good crack at them all and leave you with a big grin on your face!