The Cannondale Moterra SL packs an 85Nm motor, 601Wh battery and 150mm of travel into a sub-20kg package


Lightweight electric mountain bikes are causing a buzz in the industry at the moment, and the groundbreaking new Cannondale Moterra SL is only going to add to that hype.

Bikes like the Whyte E-Lyte, Pivot Shuttle SL and Transition Relay are some of the best lightweight electric mountain bikes around, and they’ve all managed to go sub-20kg… But they’re not packing 85Nm of torque or 600 watts of power.

Now though, the Moterra SL looks to have done the impossible, twinning full power with light weight. An industry first? Not quite, as Mondraker managed it with the Crafty Carbon RR in 2019, and Giant with the Trance X Advanced E+ Elite. But it’s still an impressive feat. So, how did Cannondale manage it? 

Cannondale Moterra SL

Cannondale’s Moterra SL packs a punch, with a custom-tuned Shimano EP801 motor – this image shows RockShox suspension, but the UK spec comes with FOX on the lightest models

Cannondale Moterra SL need to know

  • Three new models, the SL 1, SL2 and SL Lab 71
  • Prices between £6,550 and £12,500
  • Claimed 19.5kg weight on lightest build
  • Bike uses flex stays to reduce weight
  • Custom-tuned Shimano EP801 motor
  • 601Wh custom battery

How has Cannondale done it?

Let’s get straight to the point. The new Moterra SL is a lightweight eMTB but with the characteristics of a full powered one. So how has Cannondale managed to get this bike to weigh under 20kg?

Rather than some big declaration of weight saving like making it a unicycle or using some alien frame material, it’s actually the culmination of several smaller, dare we say it, marginal gains. The first thing to note is the use of Cannondale’s FlexPivot technology. This essentially removes two pivots (and the bolts and bearings that are needed to make them work), and instead uses “carbon fibre flex zones” to act like a Horst pivot.

There is still a four-bar suspension system, it’s just whittled down a bit. It’s been used on the Cannondale Scalpel, the brand’s XC race bike in the past. So it’s not entirely new, but new to its eMTB range. Beyond this, it also reduces the amount of maintenance required to keep the Moterra SL’s suspension running smoothly. So far, it’s a win-win.

Cannondale Moterra SL

The Shimano drive system is pretty neat, with the controls packed into the top tube button and a small screen on the bars – leaving room for any other computers you might want to use

Cannondale has also gone for a custom battery build. The drive system is provided by Shimano, courtesy of the EP801 motor, which again is custom-tuned to this bike. It has a maximum torque rating of 85Nm and a maximum output of 600 watts. It’s clear the brand hasn’t skimped on the actual drive system, instead, Cannondale has used Shimano’s eggheads to create a smaller and lighter battery. It’s still 601Wh, so not exactly weedy – and provides up to 43 miles (70km) of range from one charge.

Elsewhere weight has been saved by the suspension choice – instead of a 38 fork, you’ll find Fox’s Float Factory 36 up front, with 160mm travel. This saves roughly 250g, so it’s not exactly a mind-blowing amount of weight, but like we said – it all adds up. The Moterra SL also comes equipped with lighter tyres, courtesy of the Maxxis Minion DHF up front, and Dissector on the rear.

All of these seemingly small choices has meant that Cannondale could quite possible be the first brand to break the 20kg barrier with a full powered eMTB.

Moterra SL details

So it’s lightweight, but what else has it got going for it?

It’s still a powerful trail eMTB at heart, and the geometry hasn’t been compromised to reflect the desperation for weight savings. You’ve got an adjustable head angle, long reach, and a steep seat angle for a blend of DH and trail geometries. Each geometry is also determined by the frame size.

Cannondale Moterra SL

You can run either a 29in or mullet setup on the Moterra SL

It comes setup to run 29in wheels, but you can change it to a mullet setup with the flip chip. The top specced model, the SL LAB71 (and also the lightest), uses SRAM’s Eagle AXS drivetrain, paired with SRAM Code Ultimate Stealth brakes and 200mm rotors.

If you want to take advantage of the lighter weight models, however, you’ll need to be prepared to flash some cash. Both the SL 1 and SL LAB7 models weigh under 20kg – 19.7kg and 19.5kg respectively. They also cost £8,550 and £12,500, so buying lightweight will cost you.

If riding a bike 600g over 20kg isn’t a problem, then the SL 2 is more reasonably priced at £6,550. It’s important to note the claimed weights are all based on size mediums for each model, and with 180mm of sealant in the tyres.

The bikes are available to order from the Cannondale website or associated dealers.