CANNONDALE MO TERRA LT 1
£5,499.99 Good parts, conservative sizing
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.
Tilting the Bosch motor has enabled the Moterra LT’s designers to keep its chains tays 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 seat stays). The battery is under the down tube, to keep the centre of gravity low.
Unusually, Cannondale have specced 2.35in tyres. Reinforced casings mean these weigh the same as the plus rubber on the other 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 the only 150mm post on test give the ’Dale more bragging rights. The XT brakes have plentiful power, but aren’t our favourites, because the bite point and feel can change with each pull of the lever.
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. It’s not as sensitive as the Haibike’s or Specialized’s, but there’s less feedback through the cranks than on the Mondraker.
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, not the stouter steerer, crown and stanchions of the Mondraker’s 36 E-Bike model. It’s far from flexy though, and its ‘FIT4’ damper is suppler than the e-Crafty’s ‘FIT GRIP’ cartridge, making it the better fork of the two, with a good balance of sensitivity and support.
A steeper seat angle would make climbs easier, but once we’d slammed the saddle forwards, we rarely had issues with front wheel lift. The
relatively high BB 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 the other bikes, so we more regularly came unstuck 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 shortest front centre and highest BB here, and the ride position feels a bit nervous and upright when cornering.
More importantly, the Moterra LT just didn’t feel big enough for our 6ft 2in (190cm) primary tester, Seb, even in the XL size. Although the 477mm reach is only a few millimetres shorter than that of the Specialized or Haibike, the low stack height and shorter wheelbase make it feel much smaller to ride. Even our secondary tester, Tom, who normally rides a large, would have liked a touch more reach on the XL. This was most noticeable on fast, rocky straights, where we had to keep our weight further back than on the other bikes, leading to more fatigue and reduced confidence. Overall, we prefer the Cannondale’s handling to the Haibike’s, due to its sturdier fork and shorter stem. But it can’t match the other two when things get technical.
A relatively chuckable e-bike with good parts, but slightly short sizing makes for awkward handling
THE RIDE POSITION FEELS A BIT NERVOUS AND UPRIGHT WHEN CORNERING MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE MOTERRA LT JUST DIDN'T FEEL BIG ENOUG