With its dual-crown downhill fork, the Moterra NEO SE is designed to let you hammer those crazy off-piste tracks and bike park trails, but without any extra help needed from a chairlift or uplift vehicle to get you back to the top of the hill, thanks to its Bosch motor and battery.
Cannondale employs some smart folk who implement clever design aspects on its bikes. A case in point here is its Proportional Response concept, which sees the suspension layout (and thus its behaviour) tuned differently for each frame size, which in theory means that they should all ride in exactly the same way.
The four-bar linkage delivers 160mm of travel and connects a carbon fibre front triangle to an alloy rear end.
Assistance comes from a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, powered by a 625Wh battery. This is nestled in the down tube, under a long, easy-to-remove cover.
Cannondale Moterra NEO Carbon SE geometry
When it comes to geometry, the Moterra Neo SE isn’t as radical as some out there, but the numbers are respectable enough, with my medium test bike sporting a 442mm reach.
I measured the head angle at 64.8 degrees, while the effective seat tube angle isn’t the steepest in its category, at 74.5 degrees.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74.5||74.5||74.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||65.5||65.5||65.5||65.5|
|Seat tube (cm)||40||43||46||51|
|Top tube (horizontal) (cm)||58.7||61.4||63.8||66.6|
|Head tube (cm)||10||11||12||13|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.4||5.1||5.1||5.1|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||0.4||1.2||1.2||1.2|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||35.7||36.8||36.8||36.8|
Cannondale Moterra NEO Carbon SE kit
While Cannondale has done a good job on the kit list for the most part – SRAM’s Code R brakes are great (I’d prefer a 220mm rear rotor though) and the RockShox BoXXer fork offers an instant injection of confidence – there are a few small choices I’d like to call into question.
The lack of a MatchMaker mount means the shifter can’t be attached to the brake lever clamp, making it awkward to reach and use.
Also, while I’m a big fan of the traction-rich Maxxis Assegai tyres, I was concerned that the light EXO casing wouldn’t stand up to heavy riding. Thankfully, despite managing to ding the rims, I never punctured during testing.
Finally, the 50mm stem looks a little cheap compared to the rest of the kit.
Cannondale Moterra NEO Carbon SE first ride impressions
Despite the Moterra NEO SE’s gravity-orientated appearance, it still climbs well and offers ample room when seated to grind your way uphill. When things get really steep, it does feel like the seat angle could be marginally steeper, though.
Assistance from the Bosch motor is impressive too. The e-MTB mode is brilliant, transitioning progressively through the modes as you wind the power on and remaining easy to control, with no hard-to-tame fits.
While I rate the BoXXer fork for descending, through steep uphill switchbacks it can hinder progress. The stanchions contact the frame at full lock, giving a wide turning circle and making tight, slow corners tricky. Get the Moterra NEO SE pointed downhill, though, and you’ll soon forget that particular issue. Throw it into rowdy terrain and it seems to thrive.
The suspension feels balanced and active, delivering a good mix of traction and support, and remaining well-damped and controlled when the hits come thick and fast. It’s here that you really appreciate the accurate, capable fork, too, while the 29in wheels help to maintain your pace as you hammer through the rough.
The Cannondale doesn’t feel quite as confident or low-slung through the turns as some, and I’d drop the 355mm bottom bracket height a touch given the option.
When the terrain flattens but the pace remains high (and you exceed the motor’s speed limit of 15.5mph), the Moterra NEO SE retains more dynamism and agility than you might expect from a bike of this type and weight. It’s more well-rounded than its looks might suggest.
Cannondale Moterra NEO Carbon SE early verdict
A blast to ride, with great suspension, a composed feel and solid spec. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.
|Price||AUD $13499.00GBP £7200.00|
|Weight||24.6kg (M) – without pedal|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Tyres||Maxxis Assegai EXO TR 29x2.5in WT|
|Stem||Cannondale 1, 50mm|
|Shifter||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Seatpost||Cannondale DownLow 150mm dropper|
|Saddle||Fabric Scoop Shallow Sport|
|Rear Shocks||RockShox Super Deluxe Select|
|Motor||Bosch Performance Line CX motor with 625Wh battery|
|Brakes||SRAM Code R, 220mm/200mm rotors|
|Handlebar||Cannondale 3, 780mm|
|Frame||BallisTec carbon fibre front triangle, SmartForm C1 aluminium alloy rear end, 160mm (6.3in) travel|
|Fork||RockShox BoXXer Select, 180mm (7.1in) travel|
|Chain||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Wheels||WTB KOM Trail i30 TCS rims on Formula hubs|