[First ride] Cannondale Moterra SL

Cannondale introduces its first light ebike, the Moterra SL, and it does so in its own way, that is, with a lightweight product but equipped with a 600Wh battery and an 85Nm Shimano EP8 motor, so not depowered. Carbon frame, mullet format, i.e., 29″ front and 27.5″ rear wheels (compatible with 29″ via flipchip), 150mm rear and 160mm front travel.


I had a chance to preview it on the trails in Braga, Portugal, and I can already tell you that I rode more than 1300 meters of elevation gain using Trail assistance, the second after Eco of the 4 available, finishing the day with 2 notches out of 5 remaining. Here and here you can find the rides I did. I weigh 71 kg undressed, I am 179 cm tall, with a saddle-to-BB distance of 74 cm, and I used a size L.

Cannondale Moterra SL

Let’s start with the details, beggining with the battery: it is a design developed by Cannondale itself, where the cables were kept as short as possible to save weight. It is non-removable and goes to power an EP8 motor with special tuning. In fact, we find 4 levels of assistance, instead of Shimano’s classic 3: Eco-Trail-Boost and Turbo. Boost is designed to keep up with the uphill pace of those with full power ebikes.

Cannondale Moterra SL

You may be wondering about the weight of the new Moterra SL. The one I tested in size L should be about 20.5kg with the pedals and an insert at the rear. I will be more precise in a few days when it arrives at our HQ and I can weigh it on our scale. Unfortunately, the box containing the bike broke and it is somewhere at DHL.

One important detail is the lack of the Horst joint, supplanted by low chainstays that flex, a technology taken from the Cannondale Scalpel. Seeing it on a bike with 150mm of travel made me skeptical up at first, but after a day of riding I had to reconsider.

Kudos to Cannondale for forgoing the cable routing in the headset. Better yet, if you really miss it you can run it through there, but it is not necessary.


Cannondale Moterra SL


What you see below is the geometry of the mullet format: very aggressive and modern, with a head angle of an impressive 62.5° that can become 63.7° thanks to the adjustable headset cups. Note the length of the chainstays, which varies according to size, a key feature if you want to maintain the same character of the bike regardless of the biker’s height.

The seat angle is quite vertical, which helps on steep climbs.

Cannondale Moterra SL sul campo

The trails in the Braga area of Portugal are maintained to perfection by the guys of WeRide, who are great at organizing guided rides and vacations. I recommend them, even considering that with EasyJet you can get straight to Porto.

A mix of granite rocks and soft loam, topped with very well constructed berms. The climbs were largely on fire roads with some steep shortcuts where I was able to appreciate the power of the motor in Boost mode. This is really the substantial difference of the Moterra SL compared to other light Ebikes, namely having a full power motor combined with a 600Wh battery. Hard in fact to call it “light,” for me it goes more between the two categories, taking the best of both.

This bike is a rocket in the downhills. This means it is easy to lead it into corners without having to anticipate too much entry and braking. If the very open steering angle worried me, it didn’t bother me at all when tested. Admittedly, I was not faced with tight swithcbacks, but I plan to do that in the in-depth test here in Switzerland. As for the rider position, by now I’m used to keeping my torso well forward to give directionality, and I didn’t have to adjust to the Moterra SL.

The suspension is very responsive, sustained at mid-stroke and with excellent progressiveness at the end, necessary to withstand the many flat landings in the Braga area. The FlexPivot is not noticeable, as I mentioned in the opening. Or rather, the lack of the pivot is not noticeable. The chainstay is nice and solid, and I would have no fears about its durability over time.

The remote control for adjusting the assistance is the classic Shimano two-button control, as is the display that we have known for years. Simple and functional.
I had not yet tried the new SRAM Eagle AXS T-Type drivetrain on an Ebike, and I have to say that it seems to be made on purpose: shifting under stress is easier than ever, and you don’t have to think about lightening your pedaling anymore. In addition, the lack of a derailleur hanger makes it immune to bumps on rocks or stones. There were about 30 of us, including media, staff and athletes, and no one had half a problem.

So, where is the deception? A lightweight electric bike with a full power motor and a decent battery, how is that possible? At the end of the day, it’s about being able to produce a lightweight frame, because the Shimano EP8 system, classic or RS, weighs the same as the one found on the Orbea Rise. Giving up the extender, extensions and minimizing the length of cables between the battery and motor saves more grams. Here, then, is the new Moterra SL.

Prices and specs Cannondale Moterra SL

LAB71 Moterra SL: 13.999€
Moterra SL 1 (in prova): 9.999€
Moterra SL 2: 7.999€


Previous Story

[First ride] New Arc8 Extra

Next Story

[Review] New Canyon Spectral CF

Latest from Reviews

[Review] Scott Voltage

Scott introduces the Voltage, a light ebike with TQ motorization, a built-in 360Wh battery, 29-inch wheels,…