Cannondale Moterra LT2 - eMTB Review

Aug 22, 2017
by Paul Aston  
eMTB Week
Pinkbike is running a week-long focus on eMTBs. We’ll be sharing reviews, news, and opinion pieces all week in addition to our regular coverage. Read our stance on eMTBs here.

Cannondale launched their Moterra chassis during the Summer of 2016 - a surprise to those who are used to the brand's lightweight racing background.There is no Lefty to be found on the Moterra, but in Cannondale fashion, they integrated the battery into the aluminum chassis and then re-positioned the Bosch motor to tweak the bike's geometry.

The Moterra comes in two distinct models: the 130mm travel Moterra, and the Moterra LT, with 160mm of wheel travel and more relaxed geometry. We tested the lower spec'ed LT2 model in a large size, which is built with RockShox suspension and uses Shimano brakes and drivetrain components. The motor of choice is a Bosch Performance Line CX motor and 500wh PowerPack. Cannondale prices the more affordable version of the Moterra at €5249.

Cannondal eMTB
Cannondale Moterra LT2 Details

• Intended use: trail, enduro
• Travel: 160mm / 160mm
• Bosch Performance Line CX motor
• Bosch 500wh PowerPack
• Aluminum frame with 'Torsion Box' down tube
• 27.5" wheels
• 157mm rear hub spacing
• Sizes: XS, S, M, L
• Weight: 24.07kg
• Price: €5249

Details and Build

The Moterra LT2 is built with a 160mm-travel RockShox Yari fork, complimented by a Monarch RT Debonair shock. Components are mostly from Shimano's trusty SLX range, including brakes (200mm front and 180mm rear rotor) and 11-speed shifting. The wheelset set is a mixture of DT Swiss straight-gauge spokes, WTB i25 rims, and Formula hubs, while the tires are a Magic Mary/Hans Dampf mix from Schwalbe with reinforced Super Gravity casings. Contact points are Fabric's Scoop saddle atop a 150mm-travel KS LEV dropper post (on the large and XL models only). Cannondale's own grips lock-on to their 780mm wide C2 handlebar, and the ride is finished with a 50mm stem from Gravity. The result is an eMTB that suggests it wants to go hard.

The Moterra keeps is straight with a 1.5 headtube. Cable routing is kept neat and internal.
The Moterra follows Cannondale tradition with integrated bearings and a 1.5" head tube. Cable routing is kept neat and internal.
Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review
The welded-aluminum frame also houses the battery and is beautifully finished in gloss black and blue, with yellow accents.

Cannondal eMTB
The Cannondale C2 handlebar is fixed by a 50mm stem from Gravity.
SLX brakes stood up to the test.
Shimano SLX brakes with a 200mm rotor up front and a 180mm out back.

Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review
Much thought must have gone into the Moterra's triangulated 'Torsion Box' down tube. The Bosch motor has been mounted lower in the frame.

Suspension Design

Cannondale have kept the suspension simple. The single-pivot swingarm's forward hinge-point is in line with the chain, while the rear pivot is connected to the chainstay. The top-tube-mounted RockShox Debonair damper is driven by a carbon rocker link in the same configuration as its conventional trail bike range.


Cannondale Moterra geometry

Cannondale Moterra Geometry


Cannondale took matters into their own hands, creating the 'Torsion Box' down tube and using a reconfigured motor mount under their 'Si' System Integration tag; Si technologies are found on many models of Cannondale. The Torsion Box allowed them to flip the standard Bosch 500wh battery unit to the underside of the frame and lower the center of gravity. The rubber 'BatStrap' protects the battery from incoming rocks and should prevent any rattling.

The Si motor mount rotates the Bosch Performance Line CX motor to create more space for a shorter (443mm) chainstay. The 12mm rear axle is the 157mm-width downhill standard, and Cannondale further guarantees a stiff rear wheel by offsetting the hub by 3mm (Ai - Asymmetric Integration) like other Cannondale bikes to improve the spoke angles and chain line.

The Cannondale uses the smaller and simpler Purion display from Bosch.
The Cannondale uses the smaller and simpler Purion display from Bosch.
Cannondal eMTB
Bosch Performance Line CX motor is the most popular drive at the moment.

Price $5249
Fork RockShox Yari RC, 160mm, Solo Air, tapered steerer, Boost 15X110mm, Maxle Stealth
Headset Tange Seiki 1-1/8 to 1.5", integrated
Cassette Sunrace, 11-speed, 11-42T
Crankarms Cannondale EC3, w/ Ai offset ring, 15t
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX, Shadow Plus, 11-speed
Chain Shimano HG601, 11-speed
Shifter Pods Shimano SLX, I-Spec, 11-speed
Handlebar Cannondale C2 alloy, 9 deg, 15mm rise 780mm
Grips Cannondale Locking Grips
Brakes Shimano SLX hydraulic disc, Ice-Tec 203/180mm
Hubs Formula Disc - 110x15QR front, 157x12 rear
Spokes DT Swiss Champion
Rim WTB Frequency RACE i25, 27.5", 25mm inner, 32h, tubeless ready
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary SuperG front, Hans Dampf SuperG rear, 27,5x2,35" (60-584), tubeless ready
Seat Fabric Scoop Elite
Seatpost KS LEV Integra dropper, 31.6, 100mm (S)/125mm (M), 150mm (L/XL)

Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review

Cannondale s own brand lock on grips had a thin shape but the rubber was hard.

Climbing and Trail

Cannondale's Moterra does a good job of winching itself uphill, although being a good climber isn't its purpose. The short, 442mm chainstays cause the front wheel to wander compared to longer bikes I've tested, but the seat is suitably positioned over the bottom bracket which helps maintain balance up the steeps. If your Bosch motor doesn't already have it, upgrading the motor to the eMTB mode with a visit to the local dealer is a must. The Moterra feels like it has an automatic transmission that closely matches the rider's power output with its contribution. When pedaling gently, it eases in the boost and adds proportionality more when you are pedaling hard. This feels like it takes more human energy compared to the standard Sport and Turbo modes, but it makes feeding in the power on loose surfaces tight corners much more predictable with practice. More human power and less motor, of course, means that you can ride a little longer before emptying the electrical energy supply.

Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review

Bosh's push-button walk function is a letdown. I had trouble keeping the button depressed while maintaining a good enough grip on the handlebar to push the bike over uneven terrain. Secondly, the motor cuts out too easily - as if it was guessing prematurely that I had stopped pushing. Shimano's 'Steps' system is by far, the superior walk-assistance function.

Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review


The Moterra's suspension became more lively after adding a couple of volume spacers to the Monarch Debonair shock. As its geometry suggests, the Moterra loves heading down the hill and it really gets going when faced with tough trails. The bike is very easy to pop and play with, and quick to change direction and move around. One of the best traits is how it flows over over undulations - and yes you, can still send the heavy beasts skyward.

The Moterra works best with ridden agressively, with its rider pushing and driving the chassis into the trail. The Moterra is certainly the most accurate feeling eMTB I have played on so far. Whether that is attributed to its combination of tire and rim choice, or the stiff front triangle, the beefy Yari fork, its downhill-spaced rear hub, or all of the above, the Moterra makes it easy to pick a line and stick to it. It's hard to say if the work done by Cannondale to lower the bike's center of gravity helps or not, but the Moterra is great in the corners and quick to change between them.

Cannondale Moterra LT eMTB review

Technical Report

Shimano SLX Drivetrain: This is probably going to come up in every eMTB review: the standard SLX drivetrain is too closely spaced between shifts to effectively mete out the extra torque of the motor. An eMTB accelerates quickly, which means a lot of shifting, and all that crunching and twisting noise hurts my ears.
SLX drivetrain on the other hand struggles to take the extra load of the motor.

RockShox Yari fork: The 160mm Yari performed suitably, but the bushings inside the lowers took a beating. The stanchions felt loose after less than 1000kms. I send the Yari to RockShox for a check-over.
The 160mm Yari performed suitably but the bushing took a beating and felt loose after less than 1000kms.

Schwalbe Super Gravity tire casings: It's rare to find an eMTB delivered with a solid pair of shoes. The motor can climb without worrying about heavy tires, so there's little need to worry about saving weight, while tire destruction is commonplace among eMTBs. The Super Gravity Schwalbe tires are a great choice out of the box.
It s rare to find a eMTB with a solid pair of shoes. The Super Gravity Schwalbe tires are a great choice.

KS LEV dropper seatpost: KS seems to have solved the teething issues they had with their LEV posts. The 150mm dropper on my test bike operated flawlessly.
KS seems to have solved the teething issues they had with some LEV posts this 150mm dropper was flawless.

Torsion Box and Si integration: I appreciate what Cannondale have done to try and improve upon the weight distribution and geometry with its innovative motor and battery placement. Bosch has also taken step in that direction. The recently released Bosch CX line motor for 2018 and onwards allows for shorter chainstays than before, and the new 'Powertube' integrated battery from Bosch promises to place weight slightly lower in the frame than previously possible. eMTB is by far the fastest developing part of cycling right now.
Bosch CX motor is the most popular mode of drive at the moment.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesCannondale have built a great all-rounder in the Moterra. Reactive, precise and playful, but with enough stability for getting rowdy. There is little to worry about in the build, it's dialed in and ready to take a beating. Paul Aston

About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 31 • Height: 6'1” • Ape Index: +4" • Weight: 75kg • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None • Instagram: astonator
Paul Aston is a racer and dirt-jumper at heart. Previously adding to the list of non-qualifiers at World Cup DH events, he attacked enduro before it was fashionable, then realized he was old and achy. From the UK, but often found residing in mainland Europe.


  • 46 5
 First picture shows really ugly abomination of nature posing in front of beat up vehicle. It is so ugly, dirty and bad some places have straight out banned it from their lands while community is still increasing its hatred with each passing day. Things became so bad some religions started using it as symbol of ultimate evil, making its usage a deadly sin. Next to this demon you can see a lovely pig in its natural environment.
  • 12 1
 I'd prefer ride the pig
  • 3 1
 Don't look at a pic of Ellsworth straight after seeing this...
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: we're doomed, if Ellsworth makes their own e-bike.
  • 1 0
 Imagine it with R3ACT Suspension.......
  • 24 1
 Now this is really eUgly..
  • 17 0
 I'm still on the fence about this E bike business and can see both sides of the fence. But fuck me that is one ugly freaking bike right there.
  • 10 1
 I rode one of these at the MBR Demo day in the Forest of Dean earlier this year. It was my first time on an eBike, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about but was expecting to hate it. I was genuinely surprised at how much fun it was, it was a bit ungainly at slow speeds but once it was rolling it masked its weight really well, it proved very capable and good fun on the off camber loamy, rooty trails FoD is known for. It rides like a mountain bike should...
On the flat the motor helps you tank along at a decent pace (about the same pace i would normally ride at but using less energy) but steep climbs were dispatched with much more ease. You still have to work but the climbs are over more quickly if you know what i mean. I rode 2 laps of the test track in an hour, exactly the same as I was doing using the uplift instead of the big climb up the push up trail.
Would I buy one? No, they are too expensive and i like the challenge of climbing too much. Can i see the point? Yeah, i can, you can ride for longer without wearing yourself out and do more laps of your favourite trails. For someone like my old man, who has had 2 knee replacements in the last couple of years and now struggles to put power down, they would make a lot of sense too.
I can understand the hate for eBikes, but give one a go in the right situation and you might find your opinion changes a bit.
  • 21 11
 Maybe it's time for a ePB version of the site.
  • 8 3
 I do not like eBikes either, but if we like it, or not, it´s the part of the industry. Majority of income for sites, like PB, is not from merch sales, but advertising and companies producing eBikes want to advertise and have them products tested. No hate will change that. There are a lot of pros riding ebikes for fun and proudly speaking it out in the interviews, so where is all the hate coming from? Aren´t we just not grown enough to admit something different and new? We all would like to be like pros sometimes, so if the pros can, can we?
  • 13 11
 Maybe it's time all you ebike hater shut the fuck up and quit whining.
  • 4 3
 @zvirze: Mopeds are not something new. They exists since long time. It's pedal assisted fuel engine bike. This is pedal assisted battery engine bike. How it is different?
  • 2 1
 that would actually be a smart idea
  • 1 0
 @mentalhead: Could You follow the subject, please?
  • 8 0
 "Cable routing kept neat any tidy" are you blind?
  • 3 0
 Huge mess of in front of the bars, brake lines look way too long as the rear has a loop in it to take up the excess. Additionally, Hans Damph is bad enough at losing side knobs with a normal weight bike. Adding the E-bike weight to it I'm suprised any are left after a couple of days riding.
  • 4 0
 The finishing on the frame might be beautiful, but the frame itself....
For some reason the phrase "lipstick on a pig" seems appropriate.
  • 4 0
 The resemblance between the pig and the bike on the first image is uncanny.
  • 4 0
 "Shimano's trusty SLX range, including brakes (200mm front and 80mm rear rotor)" mmm yeah all the power of an 80mm rotor
  • 1 0
 It may be ugly, but after thinking about it, I'd rather ride this than a normal bike with simply had its bottombracket replaced with a motor and a battery straped to the toptube. At least they did their best to get the geometry and weight distribution as good as possible while still using standart parts.
  • 3 3
 Weight: 24.07kg
Price: €5249

Imagine how much cheaper and lighter this would be if you left off the motor and battery stuff. You could even afford to put nicer running gear on it and get it around 13kgs. Now Imagine how well that would pedal up hills and the improvement in handling without all the extra complexity and cost. Dropping the weight would probably solve the fork bushings problems too!
  • 5 1
 Your issues have already been addressed by all of the other bikes that Cannondale makes.
  • 2 0
 @ka-brap: yeah that was my point.
  • 1 0
 Shouldn't this thing be ripped for not having the geo of an XXXL Pole? Started to go there with the comment about the stays.

I guess liking eBikes is the new contrarian "look how much smarter I am" view to have.
  • 4 1
 No Lefty but putting on a motor just ain't Righty
  • 3 1
  • 2 0
 This is one of the most ugly eBikes ever produced. I guess Cannondale will silently replace it with a new one pretty soon.
  • 2 2
 Holy smokes, so now eMTB's have to have "walk mode" because your pig of a bike needs help being pushed up a hill? Why not just get a twist throttle, triple the batteries, and make it moto.. LAME
  • 1 0
 let the old rich men used this e-bikes... they will feel super happy on their e-bikes. Most of us feel super happy with no-e-bike
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Slx... on a 22kg ebike???

Classic example of a ebike with poor not specific components... at high price
  • 2 0
 I would rather crap into my own eyeballs with vinegar and hot peppers.
  • 1 0
 Can I do a bunny-hop on it?
  • 2 0
 If you can't then change sport Wink yes it's easier than ou might think since all that added mass is around BB. I would give you mad props for bunnyhopping a bike with hub mounted motor though...
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Well, I am already doing another sport. I do mountain biking, not e-mountain biking.
  • 2 1
 @IluvRIDING: oh... I'm sorry. Anyways, if you can't bunnyhop an E-bike with centrally mounted rotor and battery then you really must suck at mountain biking.

No hard feelings Big Grin Cheers!
  • 2 0
 E-bike nottttt.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 This bike does not do the EMTB cause any favours. Its an eyesore.
  • 2 3
 1000km on this bike before servicing the Yari and its already the third ebike this tester tries this week?
  • 3 0
 Do you honestly believe that all of these bikes have been tested within this week?
  • 2 0
 @ka-brap: of course. Pinkbike says its an e-bike special week, and Pinkbike word is sacred. Hopefully all this abominations will dissapear by Monday.
  • 1 1
  • 1 0
 I don't have e-money
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Damn this bike is ugly.
  • 10 12

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