It’s always been about innovation with Cannondale. From their Lefty forks and BB30 bottom bracket standard to dipping their toes into the world of off-road motorcycles, this American company has scratched below the surface and pushed forward with their way of thinking.

As with the Merida 160mm e-bike, this comparable machine from Cannondale was a latecomer to our in-depth testing on this type of bike. The Moterra comes in two frame platforms, one with 130mm of travel front and rear with the harder-hitting LT model boasting a useful 160mm. This Cannondale was met with plenty of competition though, with the Cube, Moustache and Trek e-bikes being very good benchmark designs to compare it with.


As with most things, Cannondale has sweated the details on this e-bike and the Moterra instantly impressed us. So what have they done differently?

Cannondale’s history is with aluminium bikes and they have a huge amount of experience and know how with this material. They’ve always focused on frame stiffness with their original ‘Power Pyramid’ downtube, and on the Moterra this thinking is very much apparent with the Torsion box down tube. This carries the battery as low and central as possible for great handling and agility. In combination with a ‘Super Boost’ 157mm rear hub spacing, the frame is incredibly stiff and with the weight of the battery and motor sitting low in the frame this really helps.

‘The Moterra is a quiet bike; agile, yet at the same time giving an incredibly stable ride’

The Bosch motor has been moved forward in the frame and works with the custom Ai (Asymmetric Integration) chainring moving the chainline outboard by 6mm. This allows for very short chainstays and aligns the pivot – Cannondale say that this means the suspension action is unaffected by motor and pedal torque. This also results in a nimble feel, plenty of tyre clearance and a lower centre of gravity – all real benefits. Yet another plus point is that it frees up space above the down tube for a bottle cage – a rare sight on an e-bike of this nature.

To protect the motor and battery from trail damage, the Moterra is fitted with a ‘BatStrap’ rubber battery cover and a burly, trials-style skid plate. An integrated chainguide keeps the chain in place and helps fend of mud and debris, a problem we keep coming across on many e-bikes with small chainrings.

All these details sound great, but what about the dynamics and frame layout? Is it up there with the best e-bikes?

With four well-proportioned frames sizes available of both the 160mm and 130mm travel bike we knew we were off to a good start, especially with a 45mm stem and a 780mm bar as stock hardware. Rolling on standard 2.35” width 27.5” tyres, we spotted the Super Gravity casing – a nod towards the hard charging riding that the Moterra could get involved in. A head tube angle of 66 degrees, a 1248mm wheelbase (on the XL) and a pair of Factory spec Fox 36 Boost forks pretty much confirmed these intentions.

The spec of the top of the range Moterra LT1 is all solid and dependable kit. Shimano Deore XT covers the 1×11 transmission and braking duties, with a KS Lev dropper post (with a 150mm drop on L/XL frames) and a wide rimmed DT/Formula wheelset – all up to the job.

It’s a quiet bike; agile, yet at the same time giving an incredibly stable ride. It wasn’t that long into the test period of the Moterra LT when we had to re-evaluate our Dirt 100 selection and find room for this e-bike – it had earned a place, no question. Good sizing, great innovation, a serious nature to the cockpit, and a sorted spec left us without the need to change anything. It got us thinking though… what would the Moterra offer if built round the larger volume ‘Plus’ sized tyres?

Cannondale Moterra LT1

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Selected for Dirt 100 2017

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