Eurobike 2016: Cannondale Debuts Moterra Ebike

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Cannondale is not a brand to do things in halves. Well, except for the Lefty fork. That’s kind of half a fork. But I’m speaking metaphorically here. What I mean, is that it’s a bike company that jumps with two feet into anything it does. With designers and engineers who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, Cannondale has a well-documented history of (for better or worse) pursuing outside-of-the-box concepts in order to achieve whatever goal they’ve set in place. Think Lefty forks, the Headshock, the BB30 bottom bracket system, and more recently, the Slate drop-bar gravel bike and their a.i offset mountain bike swingarms.

So when it came time for Cannondale to get involved in the electric pedal-assist mountain bike market, of course they’d be putting their own spin on things. Trouble is with a modern ebike, mountain bike designers are somewhat constrained by the limitations of the motor and battery system. In Cannondale’s case, the engineers selected a Bosch system for the new line of Moterra eMTBs.

cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
The Moterra is a brand new model from Cannondale, and represents the brand’s first jump into increasingly crowded ebike waters. So what have they brought to the table?
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Firstly, the Moterra is kind of a love or hate design. It features a very distinctive shape that uses some incredibly creative alloy castings to position the battery and electric motor low and central in the frame. One of Cannondale’s goals with the Moterra was to allow for a bottle cage to be mounted inside the front triangle. Believe it or not, the Moterra is one of few off-road full suspension ebikes to have water bottle compatibility, so that’s kind of a big deal. ‘Cos we all gotta drink right??
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The Bosch CX motor is the German company’s high-end electric motor, and it’s placed low down in the Moterra’s aluminum chassis. To further lower the bike’s centre of gravity, the 500Wh battery is located underneath the downtube, not on top of it like most other ebikes do.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
Cannondale spec their own cranks on the Moterra, with an integrated chainguide and a tiny offset chainring. This offset chainring is necessary, because the rear hub features a wide 157x12mm axle that pushes the cassette further outboard. As such, the A.I chainring is offset 6mm away from the frame to keep the chainline straight with the wider rear.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
The goal with the Moterra was to make a super-stiff full suspension ebike that offered better handling than the competition. Because the Moterra is a 23kg complete bike, Cannondale were keen to boost strength and stiffness where possible, and minimise overall chassis flex.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
Out back, you’ll find a single-pivot suspension design on the Moterra. There’s 130mm of travel front and rear, with a Fox EVOL shock out back and a Fox 34 fork up front.
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And not just any Fox 34, but an “e-bike optimised” Fox 34. Stiffer chassis and reworked internals to handle the heavier overall weight suspended above it.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
The Cannondale Moterra models feature 27.5+ wheels, with 2.8in wide Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin tyres front and rear.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
Nice and wide DT Swiss XM551 rims feature on the Moterra, with a 40mm internal rim width and a thicker alloy rim extrusion that helps to provide the necessary strength and stiffness required for a heavier ebike.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
In addition to the regular Moterra models, there’s also a Moterra LT. Standing for ‘Long Travel’, the Moterra LT pumps up the travel to 160mm front and rear and schlaps on a Fox 36 fork on the front. Unlike the regular Moterra models, the Moterra LT uses regular 27.5×2.35in rubber, rather than the bigger plus tyres. In this sense, the Moterra LT is more of a dedicated alpine enduro trail-searcher. Uplift? Who needs that?
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Like the regular Moterra models, the LT version places the Bosch CX motor and battery in the same location to keep weight low and centred. See that orange strip along the downtube? That’s a big rubber band that Cannondale call the BatStrap. It’s there to provide some rock-strike protection for the battery, but it also serves as a restraint for the battery, which should help to minimise the rattling and noise that can often come from ebike batteries.
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Two bolts hold the BatStrap tight at the top of the downtube, and quick-release tab at the bottom bracket allows you to remove it when you need to take the battery off the frame.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
Cannondale spent a lot of development time getting the Moterra frame built around the Bosch CX motor. The Moterra features a single-pivot suspension design, with a main pivot that is located very close to the crankshaft.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
One thing that Cannondale is particularly proud of with the Moterra is its 443mm chainstay length. That doesn’t sound hugely short, but for a full suspension e-bike, that’s one of (if not THE) shortest out there.
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The swing link on the Moterra is made from injection molded carbon composite. This produces a very light and very stiff structure that is ideal for smaller components. Also of note is the one-piece seat stay assembly that meets around the front of the seat tube. It’s all in the name of increasing rigidity and stiffness for the Moterra.
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Rather than going with a 142x12mm or 148x12mm back-end, Cannondale went straight up to 157x12mm. Why? Because they wanted a super stiff back end, with plenty of rear wheel strength from the wider spoke bracing angle on the 157mm wide hub. The wider axle does push the cassette further outboard, but Cannondale have compensated for this with a custom chainring that is offset 6mm away from the frame to keep the chainline correct.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
Because the Moterra LT features regular 27.5in tyres, Cannondale has specced a narrower XM 481 rim from DT Swiss, which uses a 30mm internal width.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
With a 160mm travel Fox 36 fork, Schwalbe’s Magic Mary Super Gravity tyres and a 780mm wide handlebar, the Cannondale Moterra LT makes its intentions very clear from the outset.
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
What do you think of the colours? Bold and beautiful? Or bright and gaudy?
cannondale monterra ebike electric bosch fox kashima eurobike full suspension plus 27.5
The Moterra LT shares some aspects in common with Cannondale’s Jekyll enduro bike, such as the 66-degree head angle and 74.8-degree seat tube angle. However, it does feature a slightly higher BB and a more upright riding position. Oh, and it has a 250 Watt motor.

Comments (7)

    Ugly as sin and looks like the graphics have designed by committee.

    first off-road ebike to have water bottle compatibility

    Nope

    What Soma said re water bottle , my wife’s Giant E + 2 has a bottle cage in the frame .

    That is spectacularly minging!

    250w motor? Just for cyclepaths then? 500w for offroad

    Remember those party games where one person drew the top half of a body, then folded the paper over and passed it to the next person to draw the lower half? That.

    Motorbike…isn’t this a forum for bikes?

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