Cannondale Moterra LT 1 review£5,500.00

Good parts, conservative sizing

BikeRadar score3/5

Cannondale’s longer-travel e-bike has some interesting design features and a relatively lively and precise ride, but it’s not the most confidence-inspiring option…

Cannondale Moterra LT 1 frame

Most e-MTBs use 2.8in to 3.0in plus-size tyres to help put their power down, but Cannondale have specced narrower but tougher 2.35in Schwalbe rubber
Most e-MTBs use 2.8in to 3.0in plus-size tyres to help put their power down, but Cannondale have specced narrower but tougher 2.35in Schwalbe rubber

Tilting the Bosch motor has enabled the Moterra LT’s designers to keep its chainstays super-short (in e-bike terms), at 445mm. 

It delivers 160mm of travel via a linkage-driven single-pivot layout (the rear axle connects to the mainframe via a simple swingarm, but the shock is actuated by a link attached to the seatstays). The battery is under the down tube, to keep the centre of gravity low.

Cannondale Moterra LT 1 kit

Unusually, Cannondale has specced 2.35in tyres. Reinforced casings mean these weigh the same as the plus-rubber on other e-bikes, but should puncture less easily. They’re mounted on tough DT Swiss XM 481 rims. While the front hub is the latest Boost width (110mm), the rear is a super-wide 157mm. This — paired with the bike’s offset ‘Ai’ rear triangle — means the drivetrain can be shifted 6mm outboard, making it easier to achieve that short back end and allowing use of an evenly dished (stronger) rear wheel

Top-tier Fox dampers and a 150mm post give the ’Dale plenty of bragging rights. The XT brakes have plentiful power, but aren’t my favourite, because the bite point and feel can change with each pull of the lever.

Cannondale Moterra LT 1 ride

Initially, the Moterra LT ploughed through to the end of its travel far too regularly, even with minimal sag. This was easily fixed by swapping the 0.2in3 volume spacer in the Fox shock for a 0.8in3 version, which gave more end-stroke support and a better balance between the fork and rear end. Set up like this, the suspension works pretty well. 

The shock does fade (become firmer, with faster rebound) on long, rough descents, which can make the rear too springy over jumps and through G-outs. And the Fox 36 Factory fork has the standard chassis. It’s far from flexy though, and its FIT4 damper is supple, making it a reliable fork with a good balance of sensitivity and support.

The short battery is stashed low and central in the frame, making it easier to lift the front wheel
The short battery is stashed low and central in the frame, making it easier to lift the front wheel

A steeper seat angle would make climbs easier, but once I’d slammed the saddle forwards, I rarely had issues with front wheel lift. 

The relatively high bottom-bracket and 170mm cranks make it easier to pedal through rough terrain, but the mid-width rear-tyre doesn’t deliver the same traction as the bigger, deeper-treaded rubber on some other bikes, so I came unstuck more regularly in slippery sections.

The handling is biased more towards agility than stability, with the short stays and stem (45mm) and central weight distribution making it relatively easy to manual or bunnyhop over obstacles. In the turns, the Magic Mary front-tyre grips well, with a more precise (if less forgiving) feel than a plus-tyre. 

The odd-shaped bar and grips hamper the steering feel though. Add the short front centre and high bottom-bracket, and the ride position feels a bit nervous and upright when cornering.

More importantly, the Moterra LT just didn’t feel big enough for my height (6ft 2in), even in the XL size. Even with the 477mm reach, the low stack height and shorter wheelbase make it feel much smaller to ride. This was most noticeable on fast, rocky straights, where I had to keep my weight further back, leading to more fatigue and reduced confidence. 

Overall, I like the Cannondale’s handling, due to its sturdier fork and shorter stem, but it didn't quite deliver when things got technical.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Age: 24
  • Height: 192cm/6'3"
  • Weight: 85Kg/187 lbs
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 107cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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