E-MTB Two Ways: The Cannondale Moterra

by
February 24, 2017

Officially launched to the world six months ago, we first gazed upon the new Moterra line from Cannondale at the 2016 Eurobike show. Cannondale has been doing e-bikes for some time now, but the Moterra is an all-new full suspension platform that’s been built from the ground up around the Bosch CX Performance Line motor and battery system. As such, it’s unlike anything Cannondale has done before.

For Cannondale’s designers, the goal with the Moterra was to produce a full suspension trail bike that was capable, stable and with uncompromised geometry. To do this, they had to implement a number of key engineering solutions to produce the right ride quality they were after, with desirable attributes including a lower centre of gravity, short chain stays, and a highly stiff chassis.

During the London Bike Show, we had the opportunity to chat with Clive from Cannondale about the new Moterra line, and to learn about some of the unique features hidden within this high-tech machine. Check out the video below of our interview with Clive, and read on for more info about the new Moterra line and the two different platforms that Cannondale is offering.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
With 160mm of travel front and rear and a 66° head angle, the Moterra LT is built for rocking the descents, before zooming back uphill to do it all again.

This is the Moterra LT. There are two versions of the Moterra, and this one is the “Long Travel” version. It’s got 160mm of travel front and rear, and it features wide 27.5in rims that are wrapped with sticky Schwalbe 2.35in tyres front and rear. In terms of intent, this is kind of like a motorised version of the Cannondale Jekyll – the Moterra LT is basically a burly enduro bike that you can shuttle back uphill on. For the gravity oriented riders out there who want to squeeze as many downhill runs into the day as possible without having to rely on a chairlift or a shuttle trailer, this be your ticket right here.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
The Moterra LT is built to be slack, low-slung, and mega-burly.

Cannondale Moterra LT Specifications

  • SmartForm C1 Alloy frame w/Torsion Box downtube, Si motor mount, carbon link
  • Rear travel: 160mm
  • Fork travel: 160mm
  • 27.5in wheels
  • 66° head angle
  • 443mm chain stay length
  • Bosch CX Performance Line 250W motor and 500Wh rechargeable battery
  • Proprietary Si motor mount
  • BatStrap downtube protector
  • 157x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Available models Moterra LT 1, Moterra LT 2
cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
The Bosch CX Performance Line CX motor gives you up to 250W of power depending on how much you put in and what mode you select. As with current laws governing pedal-assist e-MTBs, the motor will top out once you move above 25km/h.

Many e-MTB’s are already built with the Bosch motor system, as it’s a product that has a solid reputation for its performance, durability and reliability. We’ve ridden loads of Bosch-equipped e-MTBs over the years, and while pedal-assist bikes have been garnering lots of attention lately, you may recall that we put together a huge e-MTB feature back in Issue #98 of Singletrack Magazine. You know, before it was cool.

It’s hard to imagine that we undertook that test nearly two years ago, because since then, e-MTB’s have evolved quite dramatically and are now far more popular than they were at first. In the case of the Moterra line, there’s been some significant evolution that has allowed Cannondale to create a full suspension trail bike that rides, well, like a full suspension trail bike.

To do that though, they had to get creative…

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
By rotating the Bosch motor with the Si motor mount, Cannondale has been able to run short 443mm chain stays.

What you’re looking at here is the custom Si motor mount. Rather than rely on Bosch for its stock motor mount, Cannondale designed its own to produce a more compact and robust mount that integrates directly with the frame via the Torsion Box downtube. One thing you’ll notice in the above photo is that the Bosch motor has actually been rotated downwards to help twist it down lower.

Not only has this lowered the overall bike’s centre of gravity, it has also allowed Cannondale to achieve a much shorter chain stay length. In the case of the Moterra LT, we’re talking 443mm – which is darn short for a full suspension e-MTB.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
157x12mm thru-axle out back.

To keep everything stiff and stable out back, there’s a massive 157x12mm rear thru-axle to lock down the chunky dropouts. Oversized alloy tubes and large diameter pivots are employed for the same intents and purposes.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
A 6mm offset drivetrain allows for more tyre clearance and a tighter back end.

A more subtle detail is the Ai spacing. Ai was first introduced on the Cannondale FSi hardtail nearly three years ago. Ai (or Asymmetric Integration for the ‘dale fans), basically refers to a drivetrain offset. Much like Boost, Ai aims to push the drivetrain outboard from the frame, which provides more chainring clearance and the ability to run shorter chain stays. Unlike Boost however, Ai goes a step further and pushes the cassette out from the centreline by 6mm, which offers the engineers significantly more flexibility when designing the chain stay and yoke assembly.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
Integrated chain guide.

Cranks and chainring are also Cannondale items, equipped with the matching Ai offset to achieve more chainring clearance. Note the tidy integrated chain guide too.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
The BatStrap secures the battery into the frame for less vibration and noise.

That big red rubber band isn’t just for decoration, it serves several functional purposes. It’s called the BatStrap, and it stretches around the battery body to help shield it from rock strikes and impact damage off the front tyre.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
It also offers protection against rock strikes and impact damage.

Two metal tabs lock the BatStrap into the base of the motor skid plate, which allows you to undo the BatStrap to remove and install the battery. Because the BatStrap is held under tension, it assists with securing the Bosch 500Wh battery to avoid the annoying rattle than some other e-MTBs can suffer from.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
160mm of rear wheel travel via the rocker-link driven shock.

Like the Habit and the new Scalpel, the Moterra features a single pivot suspension design with a carbon fibre swing link driving the rear shock and controlling the overall leverage ratio. On the Moterra LT 1, you get a gold Kashima Fox shock to keep things smooth and slippery.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
A one-piece seat stay locks down onto an oversized pivot axle via two pinch bolts for a stiff and secure junction.

With a large hollow pivot axle, the rear swing link on the Moterra LT back-end offers additional stiffness thanks to the pinch bolt clamp around the one-piece seat stay assembly. Lateral rigidity was high on the list of priorities for the Moterra chassis, and Cannondale has pulled out all the stops to make this one burly and predictable bike to ride.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
Looks mean doesn’t it?
cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
With 130mm of travel and 27.5 plus tyres, the regular Moterra offers a more all-round trail bike vibe.

Compared to the LT model, the regular Moterra downsizes on suspension travel, while upsizing on tyre width. Instead of regular 27.5in wheels, the Moterra features 27.5×2.8in plus tyres to provide the rider with more traction and comfort when riding rougher terrain.

Cannondale Moterra Specifications

  • SmartForm C1 Alloy frame w/Torsion Box downtube, Si motor mount, carbon link
  • Rear travel: 130mm
  • Fork travel: 130mm
  • 27.5in plus wheels
  • 67-67.5° head angle
  • 457mm chain stay length
  • Bosch CX Performance Line 250W motor and 500Wh rechargeable battery
  • Proprietary Si motor mount
  • BatStrap downtube protector
  • 157x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Available models: Moterra 1, Moterra 2, Moterra 3
cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
Chubby tyres are designed to offer loads of grip and added comfort on rough terrain.

Whereas the Moterra LT is more of a purpose-built enduro rig, the regular Moterra is more of an all-round trail bike that’s likely to have a wide appeal amongst a broader range of riders. It still features the same fundamental suspension design and chassis, but opens things up a bit for the wider 2.8in Schwalbe tyres.

cannondale moterra ebike emtb e-mtb bosch plus
Like the Moterra LT, the regular Moterra can fit a water bottle inside the main frame – a feature that is very rare amongst full suspension e-MTBs.

Like the Moterra LT, the regular Moterra also features the same Bosch CX Performance Line 250W motor and 500Wh rechargeable battery. Many of the chassis features are shared between the two bikes, including the Ai offset, the 157x12mm dropouts and the Si motor mount. However, chain stay length on the Moterra grows a touch to accommodate the fatter 2.8in plus tyres. The head angle steepens a touch due to the shorter 130mm travel fork.

If you want to learn more about the Moterra range, then check out our video interview with Clive from Cannondale below. Otherwise for all the juicy details, check out the Cannondale Moterra website.

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