Cannondale’s new e-bike comes in a Plus-tyre model that grips hard when the trail gets slippy

Product Overview

Cannondale Moterra 1


  • Plus tyres and e-bikes are a match made in heaven.
  • Bespoke tweaks to Bosch system really help rideability.


  • Carbon upper link to save 100g on a bike weighing nearly 24kg is laughable.
  • The full 160mm travel would be better still.


Cannondale Moterra 1 (2017) first ride


Price as reviewed:


When Cannondale last turned its hand to a motorised two-wheel vehicle it didn’t go too well.

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cannondale moterra

The bike, or rather motorbike, in question was the ambitious, ahead-of-its-time, and ultimately ill-fated MX400 motocross bike. Now, 15 years later, Cannondale is producing another bike with an engine, it’s called the Moterra and it’s really rather good.

There are two flavours to choose from: a 160mm-travel version with regular 27.5in tyres, and the 130mm-travel trail model, with steeper angles and 2.8in Plus-size tyres, featured here.

By going for the tried and tested Bosch Performance CX motor and battery, Cannondale has taken no chances. As such, efficiency, power, range, reliability and a well-organised support network are guaranteed.

But Cannondale has given the Bosch system its own twist, literally rotating the mounting points (as pioneered by Trek), to make room for shorter chainstays and a lower main pivot. In fact, at 457mm, they are the tightest in class for a Bosch system, some 13mm shorter than Trek’s Powerfly.

However, Shimano’s more compact Steps system is moving the game on, and Merida’s eOne-Twenty boasts significantly shorter 440mm chainstays as a result.

Cannondale has also tried to position the battery low on the frame, to make the bike more stable in corners and as dynamic as possible when lofting the front wheel or trying to bunny-hop an obstacle.

Repositioned Bosch motor allows for short 457mm chainstays

But it’s not quite as well packaged as the piggy-back motor/battery on Lapierre’s Overvolt, although you do get space for a full-size water bottle instead.

Encaged by the Torsion Box down tube, a big rubber strap — the BatStrap — holds the battery tight, stopping it rattling and protecting it from rock strikes.

The final key customisation is a custom chain retainer and AI 15t chainring, both offset by 6mm. This creates a better chainline and really helps prevent mud clogging the drivetrain.

With the grand footprint of those 2.8in Nobby Nic tyres, the Moterra is rarely wanting for traction. And when conditions turn ultra slimy, it’s an absolute hoot to drift and slither around flat singletrack, and power up ridiculous inclines.

The shorter back end helps keep it relatively lively on the descents, and although we’d probably prefer a bit more progression from the rear suspension, we soon adapted our riding style to be able to pump and hustle it with a surprising level of precision.

At nearly 24kg, the Moterra is certainly a brute — even for an e-bike — but clever engineering means it stops short of being a blunt instrument.

cannondale moterra


Frame:Smart Form C1 alloy, Si motor mount, carbon link, 130mm travel
Shock:Fox Factory Float Evo
Fork:Fox 34 Factory Float FIT4, e-bike, 130mm travel
Motor:Bosch Performance CX
Battery:Bosch Power Pack 500Wh
Wheels:Formula hubs, DT XM551 rims, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin 27.5x2.8in tyres
Drivetrain:Cannondale EC3 crank with Al 15t ring, Shimano XT shifters and r-mech
Brakes:Shimano XT, 180mm
Component:Cannondale C3 stem 55mm, C2 bar 780mm, Fabric Scoop Elite saddle and KS Lev Integra 150mm dropper post (L & XL)
Weight:23.71kg (52.3lb)
Sizes:S, M, L, XL