2023 EMTB SHOOTOUT
CANNONDALE MOTERRA NEO LT 2
A BIG MILE, ADVENTURE READY ENDURO EMTB
Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic
It’s a great time for riders who are looking for a new electric mountain bike, the options are plentiful and ebikes like the mulleted Cannondale Moterra Neo LT 2 are prime examples of genre-blurring machines that can entice plenty of riders to give it a second look. It may also pack a few features and ride characteristics that will keep it off your list, which we’ll discuss below. As part of our search for some of the best eMTBs, the Cannondale Moterra Neo LT 2 was subjected to a rigorous test period under eight different riders in a widely diverse range of conditions and trail types. So, let’s dive into the Moterra Neo LT review.
2023 EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – This bike was one of 13 that our staff thoroughly tested with absolute objectivity in mind. From different types of riders to terrain, our goal is to present the best and most honest information possible to help you make your best decision. Of course, we’d love to thank Fox Racing and Schwalbe Tires for being invaluable partners to this series and making it happen.
• 165mm Horst Link Suspension
• MX Wheels
• Bosch Performance Line CX Motor
• 750Wh Battery
• Fixed Geometry
• HTA 64
• STA 76.5 (effective)
• REACH 476 (Large)
Price: $7,500 (LT 2 – tested) – $8,600 (LT 1)
FRAME AND FEATURES
Cannondale uses two materials to build the Moterra Neo. The front triangle is Neo carbon while the rear triangle is made from SmartForm aluminum. Rear wheel travel on the Moterra is 160mm and riders get 170mm of bump-eating squish up front.
Speaking of suspension performance, Cannondale utilizes their Proportional Response Tuning, which means that each size frame gets its own suspension kinematics. That means mounting points, links, leverage ratios get modified to offer different weight riders a better chance of enjoying their Moterra Neo LT.
DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS
The Cannondale Moterra Neo LT 2 is powered by a 750Wh battery that electrifies a Bosch Performance Line CX drive unit. Bosch motors are favored by several of our test riders as they deliver impressive power and speed. Something most of our riders don’t love about Bosch systems however is the large Kiox 300 display and bulky LED remote. The charge port cover was another topic of discussion amongst our testers. While we applaud the effort and how well it resists ingress of mud, water and dirt, it is rather difficult to open the latch and we could see some riders struggling to get it open.
Other electronic features include pre-installed wiring for lights and of course all the amenities that come from Bosch’s Smart System and the Bosch app.
Cannondale gives the Moterra Neo LT some very middle of the road geometry. We don’t mean that in a bad way either. Nearly every dimension, excluding the long chainstays, are well-within the averages of most other contenders. This gives the bike a crowd-pleasing feel that will work on a wide variety of terrain. The one area the Moterra sticks out is the 452mm chainstays. Most other bikes in this category sport stays in the 437-446 range. We’ll get into what that means on the trail down below.
Cannondale offers the Moterra Neo LT in a choice of two build specs – the LT 1 at $8,600, or the LT 2 we were provided to test which retails for $7,500. This LT 2 build uses the RockShox Zeb Select and Deluxe Select + coil to handle the hits, with the rebound and compression adjustments for the fork and a 2-pos climb switch on the shock. The drivetrain is all Shimano, with SLX shifter and cassette and an XT derailleur. The brakes are Magura MT5 as standard with a 220mm front and 200mm rear rotor, but our test bike was provided with SRAM CODE brakes. The rest of the kit is handled by Cannondale, with their “3” alloy riser bar and “2” alloy stem; and a size-specific length of their Down Low dropper seatpost which is topped with a Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport saddle.
The wheels are WTB ST i30 with a Formula front and Shimano rear hub, which are wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai/DHR2 EXO+ tire spec as standard. However, for the fifth year running, we equipped all test bikes in this shootout with a Schwalbe tire pairing to obtain a consistent test base between the bikes that we could rely on. We opted for the Magic Mary Soft Super Gravity in the front and a Big Betty Soft Super Gravity in the rear. The size large tipped the scales at 58.1lbs with these control tires, the heaviest bike on test.
SETUP | Aside from swapping springs out for different weight riders, the Moterra Neo LT reviewed was very straightforward. We’ve got plenty of experience with the Zeb fork and the rest of the componentry is tried and true. Bosch’s drive unit and system do not require any additional setup or tuning, but if you’d like to download the app for monitoring, updates or other little features, it’s an easy enough process.
ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | For many of our testers, Bosch is the preferred drive unit. It offers strong power and is regularly the fastest drive unit when we do our “Drag Race” or soft-pedaling race challenges. While the Shimano has comparable torque, when in Turbo the way Bosch delivers it feels a bit more wide-open and artificial. For some that is exactly what they want, still others may prefer a more manual feel. No matter your preference or desired feel, what’s undeniable is the way in which Bosch bikes leave most others in the dust in a race scenario.
Nothing stands out as remarkable in terms of integration. The Bosch Kiox 300 is bulky and hotly debated. For some it’s another big and unneeded bit that could break off in a crash, but for others it offers highly desirable information about the ride. One polarizing point was the charge port cover. It does a great job of keeping out debris but was very hard to open. We’d even wager that riders who don’t have a tool or help, won’t be able to open it themselves. A larger lever to reduce the force would be nice to see.
CLIMBING | For those unconcerned about their “Shreddiness” the long chainstays make this bike a goat when it comes time to crawl uphill. It keeps that front tire down, letting the Bosch drive unit put down power. The suspension platform is on the more traction-rich side than the efficient end, helping the rear wheel to conform to the terrain to generate further traction. With one of the higher bottom brackets on test and the short 160mm cranks, ground clearance is impressive making pedaling through technical chunky terrain much easier than many.
DESCENDING | In addition to benefiting the climbing capabilities, the rear end length adds to the bike’s stability and composure at high speeds and on steep terrain. If you’re a rider who’s charging downhills with intent, or you’re just looking for a planted, stable, and safe ride that will crank out miles and help you climb steep hills with ease, the Moterra Neo LT delivers.
At 58.1lbs, the Moterra Neo LT 2 was the heaviest bike in our eBike Shootout, however the lively suspension platform meant the bike still came off the ground when needed. For some of our more playful and active riders, however, that heavy weight was exacerbated by the long rear end. Obviously the long chainstays have pros, which we’ll cover, but the drawbacks should also be noted. A longer rear end means a heavier feeling front end, so manuals and popping up the front of the bike requires more effort. Also, the longer rear end means the back tire is less likely to break traction, so riders who like quickly changing directions, snapping the back end into corners or slashing freeride lines, may not love the added stability and traction.
The suspension feel is lively and active, with a plush and supple feel off the top. Even with a coil, it still has enough progression to keep most riders pleased as they push harder on the descents. Over the course of our testing, however, we did notice the Moterra got a bit louder, with some noise coming from within the downtube, bolt checks and silencing efforts may be needed to keep your bike stealthy, but it wasn’t excessively loud either.
FINISH AND VALUE | Our riders didn’t have many complaints when it came time to evaluate Cannondale’s Moterra Neo LT. Sure the weight and rear end length could be issues for some, but we realize they could be equally valuable to others. We didn’t love how hard it was to open the charge port cover, but like how well it protects the port. Beyond that the bike hung in there and was a stable, reliable workhorse. It was especially favorable to our camera crew for its easy get-on-and-go character.
In terms of value, it would be hard for us not to justify spending the extra $300 to get the better kit and considerably lighter weight of the Fezzari, but Cannondale’s chosen build kit left little to complain about and we think its performance will suit many riders.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Overall, the Cannondale Moterra Neo LT 2 is a solid electric mountain bike. While we didn’t really have any major criticisms on how it rode or areas where we didn’t like it, it also didn’t have us jumping off with a huge smile or proclaiming how awesome it was either. It is a good eMTB plain and simple. Depending on your terrain and riding style, it may help or hinder you a bit, but overall, it is a solid long-travel option.
WHO’S IT FOR?
In our opinion, the Cannondale Moterra Neo LT line will suit riders who are looking for a mile-crunching, long travel eMTB, and those regularly hitting high speed downhills. If you are looking for a climbing beast that is comfortable in the saddle for long days, but can still eat up high speed downhills, or long backcountry missions, this could be a good option for you. While we don’t think it’s the most playful or snappy eMTB due to the weight and long chainstays, we realize lots of riders care more about stability, climbing performance and confidence or stability on rougher terrain. The Moterra LT packs those features in and gives you 750Wh of juice to get plenty of exploring done.
Weight: 58.1 lbs
CANNONDALE MOTERRA NEO LT 2 SPECS
Frame: Carbon Front Triangle, SmartForm C1 Alloy Swingarm | 165mm
Fork: Rockshox ZEB Select | 170 mm
Shock: Rockshox Super Deluxe Coil Select+
Motor: Bosch Performance CX Smart System | 85 Nm
Battery: Bosch Powertube | 750Wh
Display: Bosch Kiox 300
Brakes: Magura MT5 | 220 / 203mm rotors
Bar: Cannondale 3 Riser 35mm | Rise: 25mm | Width: 800mm
Stem: Cannondale 2 6061 Alloy | 35mm
Seatpost: Cannondale DownLow Dropper | S: 125mm | M: 150mm | L/XL: 170mm
Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport
Hubs: (F) Formula / (R) Shimano MT410
Rims: WTB ST i30 TCS
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29×2.6″WT | EXO+ Casing
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR2 27.5×2.6″WT | EXO+ Casing
Cassette: Shimano SLX | 10-51T
Cranks: FSA Bosch E-bike | 160mm
Shifter: Shimano SLX | 12spd
Derailleur: Shimano XT | 12spd
Suspension Platform is supple.
Composed at speed.
Great for backcountry, touring and downhills.
Long chainstays not for everyone
Charge Port Door hard to open
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