2024 Cannondale Moterra SL 1 E-Bike

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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free standard shipping on orders of $50 or more (U.S. only).
International shipping available. Free on orders of $150 or more. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Vital's SL eMTB Test Sessions - Cannondale Moterra SL Review
We find how Cannondale's full-size but lighter-weight e-bike stacks up against the more traditional SL e-bikes!
Rating:
Vital Review
CannondaleA

The Moterra SL is Cannondale's first dive into the SL eMTB category. Freshly released in February, they took the same approach as Giant and Karbon Bikes, delivering riders full power in a lighter package. The caveat: they've created a true 'full size' e-bike, meaning it pairs an 85 Nm motor with a 601 Wh battery and has a claimed achievable weight of less than 45 pounds. 

Highlights

  • Cannondale Series 1 carbon frame
  • Mixed wheels (dual 29-inch compatible)
  • 150mm of rear wheel travel // 160mm fork travel
  • FlexPivot suspension design
  • Custom 601 Wh battery
  • 85 Nm Shimano EP801 motor 
  • Integrated top tube display
  • Handlebar-mounted display
  • Angle adjust headset 
  • Flip chip geometry adjustment
  • 62.5-degree head tube angle
  • 77-degree seat tube angle
  • Size-specific geometry and kinematics 
  • Three build kits
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Verified weight (size XL, SL 1 build): 46.8 pounds (21.2 kg)
  • MSRP: $7,000 - $14,000 USD ($8,750 as tested)
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Cannondale's goal was to give riders the best of both e-worlds: a playful bike that's eager to respond to rider input with uncompromised power and range. Cannondale achieved this by using a custom-tuned Shimano EP801 motor and a custom high-energy density 601 Wh battery weighing just 6.8 pounds. For comparison, a Shimano 504 Wh battery weighs around 6.3 pounds. So the Moterra squeaks out an extra 100 watts for just half a pound. The EP801 motor is also one of the lightest full-power motors on the market, weighing just 5.9 lbs. 

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Unlike most Shimano systems that offer three assist modes, Cannondale has created two Trail modes that land between the usual Eco and Boost modes. The idea here was to give riders a trail mode with the power you'd expect from an SL motor and another with the power you'd expect from the EP801 motor. Of course, modes can be adjusted in Shimano's E-TUBE app, and you can now get up to 15 different modes if desired. The Moterra also uses Shimano's familiar assist switch, integrated top tube control unit, and handlebar-mounted display. 

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The mixed-wheeled Moterra SL lands on the aggressive side of the all-mountain category, with 150mm of rear wheel travel paired with a 160mm fork and a rather progressive geometry package. The head tube angle is stretched out to a super slack 62.5 degrees, the seat tube angle sits at 77 degrees, stack heights are tall across all sizes, and the size-specific chainstay lengths are moderately long. This all adds up to a bike that is intended to remain calm and predictable at speed while maintaining an appropriate pedaling position. There are a few points of adjustability built into the frame, including angle-adjust headset cups that change the head angle by 1.2 degrees and a flip chip in the seat stay that maintains the geometry if you decide to swap from mixed to dual 29-inch wheels. 

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The Moterra SL's most unique attribute is, hands down, its FlexPivot stays. Adopted from Cannondale's XC frames, the FlexPivot replaces the traditional Horst pivot, creating a lighter one-piece rear triangle while maintaining the braking performance and playfulness of the design.

MSRP: $14,000 USD
MSRP: $14,000 USD
MSRP: $8,750 USD
MSRP: $8,750 USD
MSRP: $7,000 USD
MSRP: $7,000 USD

Cannondale offers three Moterra builds ranging from $7,000 to $14,000, and all use the same Series 1 carbon frame and e-components. Sizes run from S to XL, and each features size-specific kinematics as part of Cannondales' 'Proportional Response' approach. We tested the SL 1 build that retails for $8,750, making the Moterra SL the second cheapest build in the test right after Ari's Nebo Peak, and our size X-Large test bike weighed 46.8 pounds (21.2 kg), making it the heaviest of the group. Build highlights include a FOX Factory 36 fork and Float X shock, SRAM Code Silver brakes, SRAM XO AXS Transmission drivetrain, and DT Swiss XM1700 wheels. 

We were all excited to ride the Moterra due to its wild geometry and the fact that it was the only true full-size e-bike in the test. It was the heaviest, but that didn't mean it couldn't hold its own with the rest of the dedicated SL e-bikes. 

 

Test Sessions has long been Vital's way of placing a bunch of similar bikes head-to-head to see where each excels and what sets them apart to help riders better understand which bike best suits their needs. This year, we had eight SL e-bikes, and three testers. Here is what they thought of Connondale's Moterra SL. To learn more about the other bikes tested, check out the complete SL eMTB Test Sessions 


Meet the Testers

Jonny Simonetti Lear Miller Jason Schroeder
  • 30 years old
  • 6' 4" (193cm)
  • Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 5
  • Riding Style: Skatepark inspiration. Try to stay smooth and pedal as little as possible. 
  • 32 years old
  • 6’ 3" (190 cm)
  • Weight: 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 3
  • Riding Style: “Freeracer” after 15 years of racing, I like going fast. But the airtime counter is really the only clock I’m paying attention to these days.
  • 29 years old
  • 6-foot (182 cm)
  • Weight: 180 lbs (81.6 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 4
  • Riding Style: Relatively upright with weight more rearward than most. Enjoys a sneaking straight line or ripping jump trail.

Jason's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Familiar Shimano drive unit and interface
  • Assist switch is intuitive and my favorite in the test
  • Bangin' value with proper parts that match the abilities of the bike
  • Downhill bike-like stability and confidence descending 
  • Comfortable upright and rearward body position that made it easy to attack any trail
  • Balanced suspension feels that can handle a mix of compression sizes in repetition without getting overwhelmed. 
  • Comfy pedaling position with an active suspension that made it easy to power over rocks and roots
  • Battery not displayed as a %
  • Flimsy charging port cover
  • Slack head tube angle lead was a lot to control during tight, tricky climbs
  • The long wheelbase, weight, and slack head angle made it difficult to move the bike around on trail
  • Less poppy, jumpy or jibby than the bikes with smaller batteries/motors

What's The Bottom Line? 

The Moterra SL might not be a true SL e-bike due to its extra weight and motor size, but that didn't stop it from being one of my favorite bikes in the test. Turns out— a mid-weight (welterweight?) e-bike is a tad easier to manage on trail compared to a full-size e-bike, and it maintains all the power and range to take on proper e-rides. Not a bad combination in my books! The bike's ability to remain calm and straight through the gnarliest sections was motivating and an absolute blast. I'd be curious how the Moterra SL would pair with a bigger fork to match its unphased descending capabilities. 

Steep or rough terrain is a must to warrant a bike with such a progressive geometry package and descending abilities. But if that is what you're after, the Moterra SL is one of the best options out there right now. You get Shimano's familiar EP801 system, plenty of range and power to do big rides, and a frame design that is ready for lots of abuse. Not too shabby, Cannondale. Not too shabby.


Jonny's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Descending performance was top-tier
  • Battery life and power allow for longer or faster rides than other options
  • Highly tunable assist modes
  • Difficult to navigate through tighter technical terrain 
  • Still a full powered bike, handles as such

What's The Bottom Line?

The Moterra SL is a gravity-hungry descending machine that gets back up the hill as quickly as it goes downhill. Being the lightest available full-powered eMTB on the market is an impressive feat, but it still handles more similarly to standard full-power bikes than a proper lightweight bike. When considering the benefits of more natural handling characteristics of many bikes in the lightweight category, some of the lighter options beat the Cannondale. If the goal is to find the lightest bike without compromising on range or power, the Moterra SL is an obvious winner.


Lear's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Descended like a mini DH bike—super planted and just wants to go fast
  • The most powerful motor of the test by far 
  • Positive clicks on the assist switch
  • Great value—premium build spec with lots of watts to offer
  • Not quiet; has classic Shimano motor rattle
  • Not as subtle as other SL bikes if you're trying to hide the fact you're on an e-bike
  • A lot of bike to manage in really tight or slow sections 
  • Slack head tube angle made the bike awkward to climb through tight turns

What's The Bottom Line?

SL e-bike killer? The Moterra SL absolutely ripped! Cannondale nailed the geometry for going downhill, and the Shimano EP801 motor offered the most power going back up. It was the heaviest, but compared to my personal full-size e-bike, the Moterra SL was almost eight pounds lighter. That felt pretty lightweight to me. Fast, high-speed trails are needed to capitalize on the geometry package, and that is when the Moterra SL had the highest 'fun factor.'' It wanted to huck as much as Transition's Relay, but it had a smoother ride quality and 10mm less travel. At slower speeds or in tight sections, it was noticeably less flickable.

The value Cannondale has created in the build we tested is very impressive. They must have saved a grand with each pivot they left out with the flex stay design because I'm not really sure how they did it. Overall, the Moterra SL is the bike from the test I would consider putting in my own garage to satisfy my white-knuckle tendencies on rowdy trails.


A big shout out to TannusFeedback Sports and Maxxis for supporting Test Sessions!


View key specs, compare e-bikes, and rate the Cannondale Moterra SL in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

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Specifications

Product
Cannondale Moterra SL 1 E-Bike
Model Year
2024
Riding Type
Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider
Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
SM
MD
LG
XL
Wheel Size
27.5" (650b)
29"
Other: Mullet
E-Bike Class
Class 1: Pedal Assist (Pedelecs)
Motor
Shimano STEPS EP801, 85 Nm max torque, custom tuned
Battery
Custom, integrated, direct mount
Battery Capacity
601 Wh
Display/Remote
Shimano STEPS EM800 color display, Bluetooth LE compatible; Shimano STEPS remote
Modes
Boost, Trail 2, Trail 1, Eco, Walk Assist
Max Speed with Assist
Europe: 15.5 mph (25 km/h)
Non-Europe: 20 mph (32.2 km/h)
Frame Material
Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details
Series 1 Carbon front and rear triangles, molded chainstay protection, integrated plastic motor skid plate
Rear Travel
150mm
Rear Shock
FOX FLOAT X Factory, EVOL LV, 2-position compression lever, Kashima coating, 210mm length x 55mm stroke
Fork
FOX FLOAT 36 Factory, GRIP2 damper, Kashima coating, 44mm offset, Kabolt thru-axle
Fork Travel
160mm
Head Tube Diameter
Tapered
Headset
ACROS angle adjust (1.2°)
Handlebar
Cannondale HollowGram SAVE riser, 780mm width, 30mm rise, 8° backsweep, 5° upsweep, 35mm clamp diameter
Stem
Cannondale 1, 7075 alloy, 0° rise, 35mm bar clamp
Grips
Cannondale TaperRidge
Brakes
SRAM Code Silver, 4-piston, SRAM HS2 200mm rotors
Brake Levers
SRAM Code Silver Stealth, tool-free Reach Adjust and Contact Point Adjust
Drivetrain
1x
Shifters
SRAM Eagle Pod Controller, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless
Front Derailleur
None
Rear Derailleur
SRAM X0 Eagle Transmission, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless
Chainguide
None
Cranks
e*thirteen e*spec Plus Alloy, 165mm length
Chainrings
34 tooth
Pedals
None
Chain
SRAM X0 Eagle Transmission, 12-speed
Cassette
SRAM X0 Eagle Transmission XS-1295, 12-speed, 10-52 tooth
Rims
DT Swiss XM 1700 Spline, 30mm inner width, TC tubeless ready
Hubs
DT Swiss 350, 15mm x 110mm (Boost) front, 12mm x 148mm (Boost) rear with Ratchet 36 SL freehub and XD driver
Spokes
DT Swiss Competition, straight-pull
Tires
Front: Maxxis Minion DHF, 3C compound, EXO+ casing, TR, 29" x 2.5"
Rear: Maxxis Dissector, 3C compound, EXO+ casing, TR, 27.5" x 2.4"
Saddle
fi'zi:k Terra Aidon X3, 145mm width, Wingflex, K:ium Mobius rails
Seatpost
Cannondale DownLow dropper
Drop: 150mm (SM), 170mm (MD-XL)
Seatpost Diameter
31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp
Single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Max. Tire Size
 
Bottle Cage Mounts
One inside front triangle
Colors
Raw
Warranty
Lifetime main frame; five years rear triangle; 1 year Cannondale components, paint, and decals
Weight
 
Miscellaneous
• FlexPivot rear suspension design with Proportional Response Tuned kinematics
• Mixed ("Mullet") wheels: 29" front, 27.5" rear
• DirectLine internal cable routing
• SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger)
• Adjustable headset cups allow 1.2° head tube angle adjustments
• Compatible with 29" rear wheel via flip chip in seatstays
• Power settings customizable via Shimano STEPS E-Tube Project Mobile App
• Includes custom 4A battery charger
Price
$8,750.00
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free standard shipping on orders of $50 or more (U.S. only).
International shipping available. Free on orders of $150 or more. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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