Cannondale have always split opinion with their bikes, from their controversial, attention-grabbing Lefty forks to this latest downtube design with the complex integration of the Bosch motor and battery in the Cannondale Moterra 1. But considering the performance of the Lefty, we’re wondering whether this complex integration has some sense behind it.

Cannondale Moterra 1 | 5.999 € | 23,23 kg | Bosch
Cannondale Moterra 1 | 5,999 € | 23.23 kg | Bosch

Based on its low centre of gravity, short chainstays, and hardware for a bottle cage on the frame, you’ll immediately agree that the Cannondale Moterra 1 exemplifies “form following function.” The brand has employed its own design for the motor mount and a complex downtube that the battery enters from the bottom. To protect the battery from trail debris and big hits, Cannondale are releasing the production bike with a battery cover and so-called BatStrap (made of thick rubber) to keep it secure. The Moterra 1 has 130 mm front and rear travel granted by high-quality FOX Factory suspension, 2.8″ Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires, and Shimano XT brakes. But the Moterra 1 doesn’t just look heavy – it tips the scales at a not-so-insignificant 23 kg. And for this reason, the 180 mm rotors on the Shimano XT brakes are paltry. Fortunately, the rest of the build spec is solid and well chosen.

cannondale-moterra-1-review-web-5
emtb-group-test-2017-5 cannondale-moterra-1-review-web-1
cannondale-moterra-1-review-web-3

For a 180 cm test rider on a medium-sized frame, there’s a very upright position, but it doesn’t hamper how the bike climbs – a feat that’s fairly common amongst E-MTBs. The burly tires generate a lot of traction and comfort. On flowing and winding downhills, you’ll get acquainted with the bike’s low centre of gravity and ample weight. It responds with rapid precision, but those extra kilos ask for more exertion from the rider. When faced with hard hits like gnarly roots in quick succession, the rear is overdamped and can’t follow fast hits quickly enough. In less challenging conditions, there’s ample feedback and it encourages you to ride playfully without being skittish. Also, the brilliance of mounting a bottle cage with your Bosch motor shouldn’t be underestimated!

Helmet Giro Montaro | Jersey Alpinestars Pathfinder | Shorts Alpinestars Drop Shorts | Backpack CamelBak H.A.W.G.
Helmet Giro Montaro | Jersey Alpinestars Pathfinder | Shorts Alpinestars Drop Shorts | Backpack CamelBak H.A.W.G.

The Cannondale Moterra 1 in detail

Forks FOX 34 Factory FIT 4 E-Bike 130 mm
Rear shock FOX FLOAT Factory 130 mm
Motor / battery Bosch Performance CX 500 Wh
Brakes Shimano XT
Drivetrain Shimano XT
Seatpost KS LEV Integra
Stem Cannondale C3 55 mm
Bars Cannondale C2 780 mm
Tires Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2,8″
Wheels / hubs DT Swiss XM 551 / Formula Disc

Stylish In order to achieve the lowest possible centre of gravity without impacting stiffness, Cannondale flattened the hydro-formed downtube and reinforced it with a gusset.
Stylish
In order to achieve the lowest possible centre of gravity without impacting stiffness, Cannondale flattened the hydro-formed downtube and reinforced it with a gusset.
No-Go Smallish rotors and heavy E-MTBs are not ideal bed partners. Our tuning tip: go for 200 mm rotors straightaway. With a lot more in reserve on long descents, they’re key to more fun and safety.
No-Go
Smallish rotors and heavy E-MTBs are not ideal bed partners. Our tuning tip: go for 200 mm rotors straightaway. With a lot more in reserve on long descents, they’re key to more fun and safety.
Complex
The team at Cannondale invested a lot of energy into the development of the Moterra and even constructed their own motor mounting bracket to enable shorter chainstays and optimally positioned bearings. Its open design softens the bike’s burly silhouette, but it’s a question of taste.
Complex
The team at Cannondale invested a lot of energy into the development of the Moterra and even constructed their own motor mounting bracket to enable shorter chainstays and optimally positioned bearings. Its open design softens the bike’s burly silhouette, but it’s a question of taste.
BatStrap
On our test bike the battery only had the so-called BatStrap for protection, but the production bike will come with an additional plastic cover. Worries alleviated!
BatStrap
On our test bike the battery only had the so-called BatStrap for protection, but the production bike will come with an additional plastic cover. Worries alleviated!

cannondale-moterra-1-geo_int

Conclusion

Cannondale have made a successful entry into the E-MTB segment with the Moterra 1. While its image leaves us on the fence, it handles well and comes with a host of well thought-out features.

Strengths:

– Playful handling
– Corners with balance
– Bottle cage mount

Weaknesses:

– Rear is over-damped
– Disc brake rotors too small

For more information head to cannondale.com!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: What are the most exciting E-MTBs of 2017? 10 bikes in comparison

All bikes in test: Bulls Six50 E FS3 | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 140 HPA 27.5 SLT | MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900 E | Moustache Samedi 27 Race 9 | ROTWILD R.X+ FS EVO | SCOTT E-Genius 700 Tuned | Specialized Turbo Levo FSR ST Comp 29 | Stevens E-Whaka+ ES | Trek Powerfly 9 FS Plus

PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away prizes worth more than €20,000 among all participants of our reader's survey! Win E-MTBs from Focus, Moustache and Thömus and more! Click here to take part now!

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer