CAN­NON­DALE MO TERRA LT 1

£5,499.99 Good parts, con­ser­va­tive siz­ing

Mountain Biking UK - - WRECKED & RATED -

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.

The frame

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.

The kit

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.

The 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. 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

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