CANNONDALE Compact Neo. Cannondale neo ebike

Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 E-bike Review

The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 riding position and comfort is fine for daily commuting, for nice trips into the countryside where ‘off road’ non-paved roads are not a problem and it is fine for holiday trips with luggage. The rear carrier is capable of carrying 20 kg and with the extra weight the X2 handles fine. The big tires provide comfort and grip (and a little roll resistance). This is probably the first bike where I really liked the suspension seat post. I don’t fancy THIS SR Suntour XCM 34 Boost fork, the rattling kickstand and Cannondale forgot the bell. The Bosch motor is smooth and the battery is capable of doing 90 km or more. Charging the battery takes about 3 hours.

The good

  • Frame
  • Geometry relaxed sportive
  • Engine
  • Rear carrier
  • Handling
  • Suspension seat post

The Bad

It has already been a half year that the Cannondale Tesoro Neo X was introduced in The Netherlands. I was invited to that introduction and we spent a day in The Hague and surroundings. Nice day, nice bike. But I had no luggage to carry on the rack that is rated for 20 kg (later more on this) so I asked Cannondale if I could have one Tesoro later for a more longer-term testing. Well it took Cannondale 6 months to get the bike to me and I got it in the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in my home country. This has consequences since travelling is restricting and camping not allowed but I still live in a great – flat – biking country, so I made the best of it hence this review.

Size and weight

The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X is a 29-er and the model that I am reviewing is the X2 version. With a price of € 3.499,00 it fits between the cheaper X3 (€ 2.999,00) and the more expensive X1 (€ 3.999,00). On the differences later more. The one I am reviewing has a Cannondale frame size SM and it fits my length of 169,5 cm well. The total weight as stated by Cannondale is 24 kg. I measured 25,64 kg – with pedals, most manufacturers measure without – and that is quite a bit more and also on the high side for a bike like this.


One thing that is the same for all three Tesoro Neo X’s is the Cannondale aluminum frame that also contains the battery that provides energy to the Bosch engine. Because of this, the downtube is nicely oversized and I like the beefy look of it. The frame tubes are manufactured by hydroforming. Hydroforming is a process where water under pressure is used to shape the tubes. In this way tubes can be made in virtually any shape or form and tubes can be extremely thin – hence light – without losing strength.

The top tube has a steep slope and that it almost continues in the upper chain stay. Again: I like the looks of it and its practical for short people too. I can get off the bike with the bike between my legs; good for the balance and a secure feeling. Unlike most frames nowadays all welds on the Cannondale are visible and not smoothed out with a grinder or putty. The real welding quality is not a hidden secret and I think it looks nice and technical. The Bosch mid-engine is an integral part of the frame and therefore it is a very solid construction

Wiring and mounting points

What I also like about the Tesoro series, is the way how the cables that connect to the rear brake and the derailleur and the wiring for the rear lamp and sensors for the e-system are hidden inside the frame. It does not only look good, but it is also a nice way to protect the cables and make them less vulnerable.

The frame has two places where you can mount a water bottle cage for two small bottle cages, or you can mount a big one. Although this is not totally true… Both mounting points are on the downtube and one of them is actually for the mounting of an extra external battery. When this one is in place, you lose the possibility to even mount one bottle cage. In that respect it is not so clever that Cannondale did not make a mounting point on the seat tube.


The fork is one of the big differences between the three bikes that Cannondale has on offer. The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 is equipped with a SR Suntour XCM 34 Boost with 100mm of travel. This XCM 34 is a 100% spring operated fork whilst on the more expense Neo X1 the fork is air-supported. On the cheaper X3 the fork is almost the same as the X2 with the difference that the leg diameter is 30 mm and not 34 mm.

On top of the right fork leg the lockout is mounted and on the lower end of the leg there is the rebound adjustment nob. The rebound is the ‘bounce back’ capability of the spring. Too much rebound and the fork is jumpy, too little rebound and the fork always reacts ‘too late’. The correct rebound makes the fork follow humps and bumps in the terrain in a proper way.

On the left leg there is the adjusting mechanism for the preload of the spring. The preload is important because you need to adjust the bike to your weight and since every rider has a different weight you need to set this first. The preload is mostly set when sitting on the bike, stand on the peddles a few times and get back to the sitting position. With the correct preload the fork should sag about 15-20% which is easy in this case: 15-20 mm. It takes some time and experimenting, but it is worth the effort. By the way, the weight of the fork solo is according to SR Suntour 3420 grams.

Bosch engine

The engine in the Tesoro-series is a Bosch Performance Line CX 250W drive-unit with a 500Wh battery. The engine is situated in the middle of the bike and the crank is an integral part of it. This means that the Bosch is placed exactly where I like it: in the middle and low. Both contribute to the balance and general handling of the bike. To operate the engine and all its functions, a small Bosch Purion display is situated on the left side of the handlebar.

It has two buttons on the left side: the plus and minus symbols are used to change between the amount of support given by the engine. The Eco mode is the most energy friendly position and is followed by Tour, Sport and Turbo as the most energy consuming choice. And it is also possible to turn the engine to ‘off’ but still see the information in the display. On the top side of the display is the on/off button for the whole system and on the downside is a ‘walk-assistant’ button. Pushing it makes the bike go slowly forward and is a helpful function for steep climbs if one doesn’t dare to bike it. Or pushing the bike up a ramp to get it in a van.

cannondale, compact, ebike

The display also displays information about the speed I am doing and the distance I can bike with the remaining energy in the battery. It also has a backlight function if you are biking when it is dark.


The battery also provides the power for the lighting. On the rear a Herrmans H-Trace is mounted and at the front a Herrmans H-Black MR4 E. With other e-bikes I reviewed the lights were always on or there is a button in the display. With the Purion it is a matter of pushing the button a bit longer. I had to ask Cannondale… sometimes providing a decent manual with a bike is key. The rear light is bright and visible from a great distance. The head light is good enough.


The Bosch has a crank with a 38T sprocket. This is connected to the rear wheel with a Shimano HG54 chain and there it finds a Shimano HG500 11-42 10-speed cassette. Shifting through the gears is done with a Shimano Deore shifter on the left side of the handlebar. This shifter operates a Shimano Deore GS rear derailleur.

The derailleur is equipped with Shadow Plus technique. Shadow Plus is a small lever on the derailleur that can be moved up and down and blocks (or unblocks) the movement of the derailleur. Especially on uneven surfaces like gravel roads or dirt tracks the locked position helps the chain to stay on the sprockets. But is also makes shifting a little bit less smooth in the locked position so normally it should be unlocked. In practice I don’t have any negative remarks on the drivetrain. It is smooth, without too much noise and I never missed a gear. Also, the reach in my flat country is fine. Due to Covid-19 and the restricted travel, the steepest climb was one of the higher bridges.

Carriers and luggage

The reason why I thought this e-bike is interesting is because of the rear carrier. It looks very solid, has high and low mounting bars for panniers and it is rated for 20 kg. That is fine for what I do when camping. The panniers that I use the most are the Ortlieb Classics or similar ones from Vaude. Since the top tubes of the carrier are 15 mm wide and the lower ones 12 mm the panniers fit on both positions. In this respect I think de Cannondale designers did think about the bike being used for how I want to use it. Although the carrier has no problems with panniers, I do miss a little bit support on the back side of the bags. The space between de carrier downtube and the frame is a bit to open.

When I test trekking bikes, I use 10 kg of luggage in front panniers and in the back 15 kg. This time I only used the rear ones of course. For a correct comparison to other bikes I also ride the bike with dumbbells instead of real camping equipment because then I know exactly where the weight is. With this weight the Cannondale handles fine and steering is almost as normal as without panniers. The low center of gravity and the weight of the fork help balance the bike.

What you should be aware of – and not many bike manufacturers are very clear about this – is that the total weight limit of the bike is 150 kg. So, 150 kg minus 20 kg luggage and 25,64 kg for the bike, leaves you with approx. 104 kg weight allowance left for yourself. And if you use an extra battery pack….

PowerPack 500 battery range

The most frequently asked question to any person that deals with e-bikes: what is the range? This question is hard to answer. Why? Well, there are so many different factors that influence this range. How heavy is the rider? How much luggage? Wind? Temperature? Tire pressure? In which support mode does one ride? How many changes are made? And…how much physical power is the rider contributing?

The way how I normally test e-bikes is to let my legs do a lot of work. I try to keep in Eco mode and still get a speed of 25 km/h resulting in a nice workout. This time I did it also a bit differently: I put the bike in Turbo and I tried to find the sweet spot how to drain the battery as fast as I could and I found out that the 90 km range Cannondale promise, is quite accurate. If I do Eco mode only on a full charge the display tells me I can do 193 km. Well that is an estimation based on calculations not doing anything. When I start biking, I soon see the display change to 145 km of range. Roughly the range steps between Eco and Tour is about 40-50 km and between Tour and Sport and Sport and Turbo is about 10-15 km max.

Bosch knows that range is a big issue and made an eBike range assistant to give a ruff calculation on range. I put the link below the article. Charging an empty battery takes about 3 hours an when the battery is ‘empty’ there is still some power left for the lighting. Nice is also that the Bosch engine almost gives no resistance when riding without power.

Shimano disc brakes

With the heavier weight of an e-bike, brakes with stopping power are essential. The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 has them. Both the discs have a diameter of 180 mm and braking force is applied through Shimano MT200 brake levers and calipers. The calipers are single piston ones but together with the large disc stopping power is fine and not aggressive. But be careful with the rear one on wet tarmac; a 160 mm disc would make it block less easy. Although the brake levers are quite basic, I do like the fact that the distance between handlebar and lever can be adjusted. This is done with a small hex-screw and you will need a small hex-tool to adapt the lever to your size hands.

The ride

The position on the Tesoro Neo X2 is relaxed to a bit sporty. I can play around with the seat height and also the stem is quite easy to adapt to my personal liking. The handlebar is 740 mm wide and therefor gives a lot of control. On the downside I would like to make the remark that it is rather wide if you need to park the bike inside the house or shed with a door opening of 800 mm. Also riding though narrow tracks with bushes can be a challenge. The Cannondale Ergo Grips on the handlebar are not to my liking. The support part is way to flexible resulting in no support and hands that turn numb after a while. But this is also a very personal thing and easy to change. Not a reason for maybe not buying the bike.

Very personal is also the suspension seat post. Most of them I don’t like because they are to bouncy. The Cannondale one surprised me; I actually like it. Is it necessary? No not really because of the big balloon tires. I would rather have a hydraulic seat post with a remote so I can adjust the seat height on longer rides.

cannondale, compact, ebike

The Tesoro Neo X2 is a 29-er as I mentioned earlier. Around the 29-rims Cannondale fitted Schwalbe G-One 29 x 2.25 tires. The profile with the small nobs works well on tarmac and on not to ruff dirt tracks or unpaved roads. I played around with tire pressure and found the sweet spot for me at the lower end of the G-One pressure range (1.8 – 3.7 ) at 2.1 Bar. Roll resistance is something that is hard to feel but I have the ‘idea’ that I feel it a little. But I need to state that I only have that idea after riding on the bike with the road only Schwalbe Marathons.

The ride is according to the 29-er characteristics. On long straight roads it rides very stable and humps and bumps are dealt with in great ease. On winding roads the handling is fine. When I get to trails with go tight curves, I rather be on a 27.5” wheelset but… with my 1.69 meter I don’t have the perfect length for a 29-er. The frame is stiff, takes the weight well and there is literally nothing negative I can write about it. I love the sloped top tube because it makes getting on and off the bike very easy and user friendly. The fork is a different story.

To be honest: I don’t fancy the SR Suntour XCM 34 Boost fork. I have several reasons for this. In general, I think that a trekking or city bike does not need to have a suspension fork. It makes the bike heavier and the handling is sometimes a bit less than with a fixed front fork. That I ride the bike mostly with a locked fork, says it all. But there is more.

Like I wrote above: spend time on the setup. I did and I can’t make the fork work like I want it. This has probably got to do with my weight and the panniers on the back. My 63 kg is on the lower end of the adjustment of the SR Suntour. But worse: when I brake there is slack between the inner legs – or stanchion tubes – and the outer legs. I feel it and I hear it and it is not nice.

Bosch engine practice

Hardly noticeable is the Bosch motor. It operates almost in silence and the support is silky smooth. The luggage is no problem What I need to get used to – my last test bike was a speed-pedelec – is the maximum speed of 25.27 km/h. It was quite often that I was able to go faster but the engine works like a brake when you I want to go faster.

Three final remarks before I head on to my verdict. 1) In The Netherlands a bell is mandatory on a bike. The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 does not have it. 2) The kickstand is mounted to the lower chain stay on the left side of the bike. It is bolted with two hex-bolts. On the bike I tested earlier last year and on this one, the kickstand bolts loosen themselves resulting in a rattling sound. I used some Loctite to secure them. I had to do this repeatedly. 3) the bike does not come with a lock.

cannondale, compact, ebike

The verdict

The Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 has a lot to offer to a wide range of bikers. It’s riding position and comfort is fine for daily commuting, for nice trips into the countryside where ‘off road’ non-paved roads are not a problem and it is fine for holiday trips with luggage. The rear carrier is capable of carrying 20 kg and with the extra weight the X2 handles fine. The big tires provide comfort and grip (and a little roll resistance). This is probably the first bike where I really liked the suspension seat post.

I don’t fancy THIS SR Suntour XCM 34 Boost fork. There is play between the inner and outer legs and I can’t make the suspension work for me. The rattling kickstand is easy to cure so let me be forgiving on that. As far as I could measure the battery is capable of doing 90 km or more and that makes the Cannondale useable for holiday trips. Charging the battery takes about 3 hours and that is a nice lunch if you want to double the day distance. The price is of the Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 is € 3499,00 and doesn’t break the bank. But the bike should be 100% ok and the mandatory bell should be on the handlebar. I rate the Cannondale Tesoro Neo X2 at 7.7/10 points.


Links to the Bosch Range Assistant

Why this e-bike?

About this e-bike:

The alloy frame, hidden battery and zippy 20-inch wheels make Compact Neo a sleek, light, and ultra-maneuverable e-bike. And at less than 40 pounds (18kg), it’s much easier to carry up steps or lift for transport. When combined with Smart features like a folding stem and pedals, Compact Neo’s tidy footprint makes it as easy to park around town as it is to store. The Smart design quickly adapts to accommodate different rider sizes, making it an ideal electric bike for busy families or shared use. Fully equipped with lights, fenders, a rear rack, and big, grippy tires, Compact Neo is a versatile, easy to ride e-bike that gets you to where you’re going in style. From joyrides and commuting, to finding your next favorite place, Compact Neo can get you there with ease.

BONUS K TOMUTO E-KOLU: služba v ceně 2090 Kč nyní pouze za 490 Kč. U elektrokol nad 80.000 Kč doprava ZDARMA. Elektrokolo vám expresně (cca do 3-5 dnů) dodáme a bude připravené k jízdě.

Kompletně seřízené a otestované elektrokolo doručí přepravní služba přímo až k Vám.

Zdarma od nás dostanete: Detailní předprodejní servis, zajetí kola mechanikem, kontrolu baterie a nabíječky. Dopravu kompletně složeného elektrokola (vy si pouze našroubujete pedály) ve speciálním 5-ti vrstvém extra velikém kartónu. Tento doručovací box zasíláme výlučně spediční službou TOPTRANS. Kam si řeknete, v rámci Česka i Slovenska. I na dobírku.


Lightweight, powerful and reliable Hydrive MRC-250 rear drive. It has a sophisticated torque transmission system and 250 W of power, effectively preventing tyres from slipping off-road. Thanks to multi-sensing technology and the system’s unique firmware algorithm, it ensures the best engine performance and provides a natural driving experience that exceeds your expectations.

The weight of just 1.7 kg and these features make it an ideal part of touring and touring electric bikes.

The rear motor can be appreciated by cyclists who want to ride especially often without the assistance of the motor and use the assistance of the e-bike only up steep hills or in headwinds, thanks to the immediate acceleration of the motor.

Cannondale is one of the most popular premium electric bike brands in the world. Its e-bikes feature modern geometry and a low centre of gravity, allowing for an unforgettable riding experience. Whether you’re looking for a top quality touring or MTB e-bike, Cannondale is an excellent choice. What makes Cannondale even more special is that it is one of the few e-bike manufacturers to offer a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects in materials


Drive type


Capacity and battery type

Frame type and material

Front fork



Type and brand of brakes



The stem




Seat post


Front hub

Rear hub




Head composition


Hydrive MRC-250, 25W
Hydrive HMI LED
Hydrive 250Wh
Compact Neo, SmartForm C2 Alloy, hidden downtube battery, 135x9mm, BSA 73, post mount disc
Compact Neo SmartForm C2 Alloy, 1-1/8 steerer, post mount disc, 100x9mm
microSHIFT M26S Short-Cage
microSHIFT 39-8R Thumb-Tap, 8-speed
Tektro HD-R280 hydraulic disc, 160/160mm rotors
Samox, 48T
Sunrace, 11-34, 8-Speed
TranzX Folding Stem
KMC X8, 8-Speed
Cannondale Cruise Control riser, 6061 Alloy, 31.8mm, 15° back, 740mm
Cannondale Treadwell, 170mm, steel rails
Cannondale 4, 6061 Alloy, 31.6
Cannondale, lightweight alloy, 20, 32h Front / 36h Rear
Formula DC-1420, 100mm QR
Hydrive 250W Rear Hub Motor MRC-250
Kenda K-Rad, 20 x 2.35
Cannondale Folding
Cannondale Comfort
Semi-Integrated, 1-1/8

Tested: Cannondale’s Compact Neo E-bike Blends Small Wheels and Big Practicality

The Compact Neo’s lightweight and useful folding features make it a great choice for urban use and apartment living.

Takeaway: Cannondale reimagines the budget-friendly utility e-bike using the brand’s signature design cues and an eye toward build quality. The Compact Neo works well for city commuting and around-town use. Apartment dwellers or those with limited storage space will appreciate the bike’s folding features and small footprint.

  • Novel application of folding features
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Well-geared for use with or without motor assistance

Cannondale Compact Neo

The Basics

No stranger to the urban e-bike market, Cannondale has a wide range of Neo models with varying suspension, frame styles, and accessories. Until the arrival of the Compact Neo, the Neo nomenclature often meant Bosch mid-drive motors and large-capacity, heavy-weight 400Wh batteries. These models are rather pricey but go the distance in both features and riding range.

The new Compact Neo, however, flips the script on weight and pricing. This new model uses more affordable components for the motor and drivetrain, plus a much smaller battery to save weight. The result is a giant step toward accessibility for Cannondale, an affordable e-bike able to be carried upstairs easily and folded for wall-flush storage. In keeping with the main competitors in the e-bike segment (RadPower and Aventon,) the Compact Neo is available directly to the consumer online through Cannondale’s site. It is also sold through dealers and other select online retailers.

With a clever front triangle design reminiscent of 1990s Cannondale Killer V frames, the Compact Neo has both rigidity to ensure responsive handling and maintains a low standover height. Cannondale produces the Compact Neo in one frame size with a wide range of saddle height adjustability. Available in a Smoke Black paint with a bright multicolor fork, the finish, combined with the small wheels, offers the Compact Neo plenty of style and personality.

Riding and Using the Compact Neo

Where other manufacturers in the lower-priced, urban e-bike segment prioritize throttle power and acceleration, Cannondale focused on maintaining the cycling experience. Many e-bikes in the sub-2,000 category suffer from poor ride quality when the battery is dead or riding with the motor off. Brands assume that city riders are interested in deploying power at all times.

The Compact Neo is like a utility bike, but one that just happens to have a small motor for those moments when you need a little extra boost. Even without the pedal assist engaged, the bike remains extremely capable. Riders can easily use the Compact Neo assist-free with very-limited drawbacks—this is not the case for most other e-bikes in general, but especially for e-bikes in this price range.

In addition to the 250W Hyena motor, Cannondale fitted the Compact Neo with reliable components from well-established brands. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes do their job, bringing the bike down comfortably from its 20mph maximum assisted top speed. Small and chunky Kenda K-Rad tires eat up rough roads.

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The Compact Neo’s drivetrain also shines bright. Running a 48T chainring on the crank and an 11-34T cassette in the rear, shifting is responsive and allows manual power output past the bike’s top assist speed. The gearing is sufficiently wide for keeping up with other bike traffic and to get the little bike up hills.

Weighing half that of a comparable RadRunner Plus makes a big difference in the rider’s quality of life. This weight savings comes thanks to thoughtful prioritization of features (no suspension, smaller battery)

The Compact Neo has some great features to make the Compact label quite fitting. The bike features a TranzX folding stem, allowing the handlebars to rotate 90 degrees when stationary for a much flatter profile—paired with folding pedals, this bike collapses to the width of its saddle, which is extremely useful for hallway storage. I can’t overstate how practical this is, perhaps even more convenient than a traditional mid-frame folding bike.

At first glance, the Compact Neo doesn’t even look to have a battery. But there is one tucked inside the modestly sized downtube. This gesture of subtlety translates through the entire on-bike experience. Riding in busy bike lanes, I don’t feel overpowered or frustrated by the lack of a throttle.

The Neo Compact feels comfortable and confident to ride at the speed of cycling traffic. This confidence is due to how gently the Hyena motor applies power. On other e-bikes, it often feels like the extra power output translates into excess speed, whereas on the Compact Neo, the additional power simply feels lighter.

The Neo maintains its smooth handling even with a packed pair of panniers attached to the rear rack (included). Increasing the motor assist under load significantly decreases the required pedaling effort, but using the assist too liberally eats up the battery charge. To avoid draining the battery too quickly, dial back the assist level used.

Small In Size, Big On Function

If this bike requires any changes, it is to the pedal assist level management. Mode adjustments can be made via the handlebar-mounted Hyena LED controller, though—as the Neo Compact lacks a screen—it’s not as straightforward as some other brands’ e-bike controllers. The Neo requires a little more monitoring of the pedal assist settings than some other e-bikes to ensure you’ll have enough charge left for your ride. I averaged about 20 miles of use per charge using moderate-high assistance. When the battery eventually runs out, the bike (luckily) charges back up quickly.

While another e-bike would be out of commission with minimal assistance (much less without any), Cannondale designed the Compact Neo to ride well regardless of motor output. I felt comfortable turning down the assist when not using it to conserve power when riding downhill or without carrying any cargo.

The Compact Neo takes Cannondale’s accumulated knowledge of premium e-bikes and translates it to the budget-friendly utility market with resounding success. Thoughtful component choices and high-minded design ensure the Compact Neo provides all the functionality of a much heavier e-bike but with enhanced portability and ride quality that integrates seamlessly into everyday life.

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Based in Brooklyn, New York, Aithne is a commuter and urban bike tester of mountain bike experience. Between rides, she produces experimental stories at The Atlantic and organizes media labor.

Fat tire electric bikes add stability and traction. Ride smooth and comfortable on a Cannondale fat tire e-bike.

Fat tire electric bikes are showing up everywhere these days. You’ve probably seen it, too. From cruising around town on streets and paths to slaying serpentine singletrack, and everywhere in-between, each day more and more people are finding a smoother, more fun way to ride.

Today, we’ll help you choose the right fat tire electric bike by answering a variety of common questions you may have as you prepare to make a purchase.

What is a fat tire electric bike?

There are a wide range of form factors that a fat tire electric bike can take, depending on the manufacturer. While some are styled to look like a 1970s era minibike, most quality fat tire electric bikes look a lot like regular bikes, but with the added benefit of an electric motor.

With wide, smooth riding tires, and a comfortable, upright riding position, fat tire electric bikes are one of the most popular e-bike categories. And while there is no single tire size that makes an electric bike a fat tire electric bike, some fat tire electric bikes feature tires of up to four inches in width. Tires this wide are made to perform best in snow or in deep sand and actually make for a slow rolling, hard to maneuver bike in all other conditions. So, unless you are looking for a bike to ride primarily on the beach or through inches of snow, you will find a tire size between 2.0 – 2.6 inches in width to have the best balance of shock absorption and nimble handling. These size tires, inflated to the proper tire pressure will provide the smoothest, most comfortable ride on nearly all surfaces.

Almost all fat tire electric bikes are equipped with upright MTB-style handlebars, which for most riders, are more comfortable than drop bar road-style handlebars. That said, if you’re looking for a drop bar electric bike, check out Cannondale’s electric road bike lineup.

Where can a fat tire electric bike be ridden?

One of the most fun things about e-bikes with bigger tires is that they can be ridden virtually anywhere. Much like other bicycle types, Cannondale offers a range of electric bikes with higher volume tires, including mountain e-bikes designed to tackle any terrain, and urban e-bikes optimized for smooth, comfortable speed around town.

For riders looking to conquer mountains, or simply venture out onto their local singletrack, Cannondale offers its Moterra Neo and Moterra Neo LT electric mountain bikes.

The Moterra Neo features 150mm (5.9-inches) of front and rear suspension, ideal for trail riders that like to rally both up and down the mountain. The Moterra Neo LT kicks it up a notch, with 170mm (6.7-inches) of travel in front and 165mm (6.5-inches) of rear wheel travel tuned for big hits and fast riding.

The Cannondale Synapse NEO SE Is the E-Bike You’ve Been Waiting For

It has a super-quiet Bosch Active Line Plus motor, and is one of the most natural-feeling gravel e-bikes we’ve ridden to date.

By Bobby Lea Published: Apr 12, 2019

The Takeaway: The Cannondale NEO SE is the bike for riders who want the assist from an e-bike but don’t want to give up the feeling of riding an “acoustic” bike.

  • Who it’s for: The better question is, “Who isn’t it for?”
  • What we love:The pedal assist is so smooth and the motor so quiet you might forget you’re on an e-bike.
  • Something we don’t: A 2x drivetrain would be a bonus in some situations.

Price: 4,400Weight: 42 lb. Learn

If you’re a fan of e-bikes, your relationship with Cannondale’s Synapse NEO will be love at first sight. If you’ve already claimed your disapproval of these zippy machines, whatever you do, do not take this bike for a test ride—you’ll most likely change your mind. Bosch’s Active Line Plus motor delivers up to 250 watts of pedal assist, to a maximum speed of 20 mph. It does so in such a smooth, seamless way you can allow yourself to forget that you’re getting a little help. Of course, if you crank it up to turbo mode, it will be hard to ignore. But to cruise in eco mode is to get a sneak peak at what it feels like to be really, really fit. Cruising along the roads surrounding the Laguna Seca Raceway, I was riding like I was at peak fitness again. The motor kicked in nicely to provide a little extra boost, but has minimal drag so you can easily ride past the 20mph limit without feeling like you’ve hit a wall as soon as you cross that threshold. If you’ve ridden other e-bikes, you know that feeling, and it’s not a great experience.

From Bicycling

The Synapse NEO SE is the dirt-curious sibling in the Synapse NEO family. Outfitted with a SRAM Apex 1x drivetrain, 650b wheels, and cushy 47mm tires, it’s ready to go just about anywhere you could hope to ride a drop-bar bike. Dirt roads and trails are a no-brainer, and thanks to the pedal assist, the fat tires are hardly a concern when you hit the pavement. In fact, you’re treated to a pleasantly comfortable ride—which you’ll pay a small price for when it comes to precise steering, but as long as you aren’t trying to channel your inner Valentino Rossi, you’ll be in good shape.

The Bosch Active Line Plus uses a simpler internal mechanism, which both reduces friction and makes the transition smoother when the assist kicks in.

The Synapse NEO takes e-road bike riding to a whole new level. The extended range of the battery, smooth motor engagement, and quiet operation can lull you into forgetting you’re on an e-bike. It just becomes a bike, one that you can ride a little faster. If the magic of bike riding appeals to you, and you want to extend your rides to explore new territory, or simply ride your beloved routes with a little less effort and more energy to take in the scenery, the Synapse NEO may be for you.

So Smooth You’ll Forget It’s an E-Bike

The star of the show is the 250 watt Bosch Active Line Plus motor and 500Wh battery. This motor features smoother engagement than previous models, without the sometimes jerky (or “sporty”) engagement of other motors. You get 35Nm of torque in eco mode and up to a maximum of 50Nm in turbo—with tour and sport modes in between. That helps reduce the jolt, or startup behavior, that can make some e-bikes feel erratic.

Style: Gravel e-bikeDrivetrain: SRAM Apex 1xMotor: 250w Bosch Active Line PlusBattery: 500WhMaterial: Aluminum Wheel Size: 650bTire clearance: 650x47mm

Out on the road the pedal assist blends into the background noise and leaves you with an amazingly smooth ride and a very natural cycling experience. Simply put, it gives you a window into a world of what it feels like to have a heightened level of fitness. And unlike some other e-bikes, which can leave you feeling like you’re dragging an anchor once you surpass the max pedal assist, the Synapse NEO feels natural above its 20mph limit. It just feels like you’re riding a slightly heavier than normal bike, but it still responds to pedaling input the way you’d expect a bike to respond.

For me, riding in eco mode felt like what I remembered from riding at my highest level of fitness and lightest race weight. I was floating along rolling terrain with ease, enjoying the feeling of a little pressure on the pedals and a brisk pace with a smile on my face. I could snap over little rises and keep a steady pace on long, grinding grades without digging deep into the reserves.

Off pavement, the versatility of this bike shone through as I took advantage of the 47mm WTB Byway tires wrapped around 650b WTB alloy hoops. Dirt trails were a blast and steep, sandy climbs were of no concern as I relied on turbo mode to get me over the hump.

SRAM Apex 1x

The Synapse NEO SE, the more adventurous bike in the Synapse NEO family, is outfitted with components that are standard fare on gravel and adventure bikes. SRAM’s Apex 1 x 11-speed drivetrain, with a 44t chainring and 11-42 cassette, offers a great range of gears. And don’t worry if a 44×42 sounds a touch too big for heavy climbing. Bump the pedal-assist up to turbo and you’ll be cruising up steep climbs with amazing ease. Old memories of getting dropped on the final climb back to the Laguna Seca Raceway were erased as I danced up the 16 percent grade with turbo mode-induced ease.

Apex hydraulic disc brakes and 160mm rotors are more than adequate for keeping your speed in check, which you’ll definitely need on this bike. When disengaged, the motor adds minimal friction, so you’ll get rolling much quicker than you may be accustomed to on other e-bikes.

This simple computer mounted on the handlebar displays speed, battery life, and range; use the plus and minus buttons to toggle between four assist modes.

Synapse NEO Family

If you want a sportier, road-oriented bike, the Synapse NEO 1 (6,850) is laced with mechanical Dura-Ace and 700c carbon hoops with 32mm WTB Exposure tires. The Synapse NEO 2 (4,725) boasts mechanical Ultegra components, 700c alloy wheels, and the same 32mm WTB Exposure tires as the NEO 1. All 3 models of the Synapse NEO have the same aluminum frame, carbon fork, and 250 watt Bosch Active Line Plus motor with a 500Wh battery.

Comfortable and Stable

On paper, the Synapse NEO resembles the acoustic Synapse in terms of reach and stack. My size large test bike had a reach of 396mm, which is squarely in the middle in terms of endurance road bikes. The stack height of 609mm sits toward the upper end of the spectrum of endurance geometry. The Synapse is virtually identical with 393mm of reach and 610mm of stack.

The major difference comes in the chainstays and, subsequently, the wheelbase. The 438mm chainstays on the NEO are considerably longer than the 410mm stays on the acoustic Synapse, and result in a wheelbase on the NEO that is 64mm longer than the Synapse. What does that all mean for you? The NEO will handle a little slower, but it will also feel more stable off-road. And with all that tire clearance and healthy amount of pedal assist, I’m willing to bet you’ll be feeling a little adventurous when you get on one of these bikes.

The Final Word

When I review bikes, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what kind of rider is best suited for a given model. Sometimes that’s an easy question to answer, other times it’s more difficult. In many cases it’s a very specific type of rider who will appreciate the bike in question. In this instance, the answer to who would love this bike is far more open-ended. When I think about who should buy this bike, I find myself asking, “Who shouldn’t buy this bike?” For commuting, for fitness, for fun, for enjoying the beauty of a bike ride, the Synapse NEO SE is wonderful. For going a little farther, for having the energy to soak it all in, or for getting back to some favorite routes than you stopped riding long ago for one reason or another, this can be the bike to take you there.

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