Mountain Gear

Cannondale Moterra Neo 2 review

The Moterra Neo 2's carbon frame and 160mm of travel is versatile, nimble, and fun whether you're climbing or descending.

Review Rating


Basics

Bosch motor; oversize Magura front disc rotor; Ai offset drivetrain


Pros

Equally adept at climbing and descending

Cons

Took time to adjust to geometry and handling characteristics, which differ from other bikes in this category


Weight

51.3lbs

Price

$7,000

Brand

Cannondale


We have all long heard the claims that a bike can “do it all.” And we have all been disappointed to learn that, really, no bike can. The Moterra Neo 2 certainly does an awful lot very well, but I’d be lying if I said it was love at first ride. The more I rode it, however, the more I realized that the Moterra’s capabilities make this a do-almost-anything ride.

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This 160mm-travel bike is outfitted with a RockShox Lyrik Select Charger RC fork and Deluxe Select+ RT shock. A Bosch Performance CX drive unit and 625Wh battery provide the power assist to the SRAM GX/NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. Cannondale designers applied research and technology from the 130mm-travel Habit trail bike as the basis for the Moterra, and increased the travel to 160mm and added better traction for climbing, as well as improved braking performance.

Cannondale Moterra Neo 2 features a SRAM GX/NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. Photo: Berne Broudy

Power and components

The fourth-generation Bosch Performance Line CX motor sets the standard for the fastest torque processing speed, durability, and reliability. Bosch’s system uses the most energy-dense battery available, in this case, a 625 Wh battery, which stores more energy per pound of battery than others. It is also very good at torque management; when I apply power to the pedals, sensors detect the input, and there is no lag or delay in the assist engaging or disengaging when I stop pedaling, so the bike doesn’t feel surgey.

Photo: Berne Broudy
The Bosch Performance Line sets the standard for pedal-assist power
The Bosch Performance Line sets the standard for pedal-assist power. Photo: Berne Broudy

Cannondale outfits the Moterra Neo 2 with powerful and easy-to-modulate Magura MT5 hydraulic disc brakes on this bike, with Magura’s new MDR-P rotor, which uses motorcycle technology for super-consistent performance even on longer downhills. The rotors — which are a dinner-plate sized 220mm up front and a more standard 203mm in the rear — efficiently reduce heat build-up, which makes for a controlled descent even on long rock slabs and routes.

Suspension and sizing

The unique thing about Moterra Neo 2 is Cannondale’s new suspension system, called Proportional Response. Using this 4-bar linkage system, Cannondale changes the suspension kinematics layout by size. According to Cannondale, most MTB suspension systems are developed around a size medium and then used across the board, which often results in inferior braking for shorter riders vs. taller riders, and worse pedaling performance for taller riders vs. shorter ones.

With an e-bike, pedaling performance is less important, but braking performance is critical due to the overall higher weight of the bike plus rider. So, Cannondale tuned the suspension to provide as high traction as possible when pedaling and braking, then adapted that tune so that every rider has the same experience regardless of what size bike they ride.

The Cannondale Moterra Neo2 features size-specific builds
The Cannondale Moterra Neo2 features size-specific builds. Photo: Berne Broudy

To achieve a universal ride feel, Cannondale also outfits the bike with 27.5-inch wheels on size small bikes — instead of the 29-inch wheels on other sizes — and it modified the pivot locations compared to the larger 29-inch wheel equipped frames. Cannondale says that different suspension kinematics by size achieve the same ride-feel across the board. I only tested size medium, so I can’t confirm this.

In all sizes, Cannondale uses its Ai Offset — asymmetric integration — initially developed for its FSi bike. To design around large tires, stiff rear triangles, and mud clearance, Cannondale shifted the drivetrain 3mm to the outside versus a conventional drivetrain and moved the rear triangle 3mm to the drive side.

This creates more room for bigger chainstays while maintaining big mud clearance and allowing for a big tire, but it also makes the spoke angle on the rear wheel more even, which Cannondale says allows for equal spoke tension to be used on both sides of the wheel for a stiffer, longer-lasting wheel build.

Cannondale Moterra Neo 2 verdict

If you’re looking for one do-everything bike, this is it. Cannondale got creative with its frame design and kinematics to make sure anyone who rides this bike, regardless of size, will have a great time. And I did. It took a few rides to find my rhythm, but once I did, I pushed this bike as hard as any I tested, and the bike responded.