Cannondale Quick Neo SL 2 Review
Cons: Expensive, no throttle, mediocre display and controls, small battery storage capacity
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Cannondale is a relatively large player in the cycling industry. The US-based brand makes virtually every type of bike you can think of, including a growing number of electric bikes that span the genres of cycling. While the Quick Neo SL 2 couldn't quite match the versatility and all-around performance of our highest rated models, we feel this lightweight, stealthy, and agile class 1 e-bike is an excellent option for riders seeking to add a little electric support to their commute or workout.
The lightweight and nimble Quick Neo SL 2 has a ride quality very similar to a road bike with a flat handlebar or a typical city-style bike. It's fast-rolling with responsive handling and a lively, refined feel. It may not be the most forgiving or comfortable bike, a tradeoff for its sporty and quick demeanor.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is basically an electric version of Cannondale's non-electric Quick fitness/city bike. With 700c wheels, narrow tires, and a rigid frame, it's a lot like a sporty city bike with its flat handlebar. Cannondale categorizes the Quick Neo as an E-Fitness bike, sporty and agile for city life or getting out and enjoying the outdoors. We find that description to be pretty accurate, as this lightweight bike is quick and nimble thanks to its impressively low weight. At 35.2 lbs in the size large, this is the lightest bike we tested by a huge margin. Its light weight makes it feel a lot like a regular bike, and we found it to be effortless to pedal around without using the pedal assistance. In fact, it performed the best while not using power of all the models we tested.
The 700c wheels and narrower tires are fast-rolling, and this bike feels zippy and carries speed well. The rigid frame and fork are stiff and provide for responsive and direct handling. This bike handles all radii of turns predictably at both high and low speeds, and we found it to be steady and composed during our high-speed stability test. The stiff frame is responsive to rider input, and this bike feels fast when you jam on the pedals. That same stiff frame does have the adverse effect of feeling a little harsh over cracks or rougher road surfaces, although a small amount of compliance engineered into the frame (which Cannondale calls SAVE micro-suspension), pairs with the higher volume road tires to take the edge off a little.
We found the Quick Neo SL 2 to be a generally comfortable bike. While performing our range test, we rode for nearly two full hours, and we had no complaints about the Fitness Ergo Double Density saddle. Likewise, the Ergo Fitness Dual Density grips proved to be a great spot to rest the hands for extended periods. The Quick Neo SL 2 also comes in three frame sizes, so you can be sure to get a proper fit. Our large test bike had the best fit of all the bikes for our six-foot-tall tester with a 32-inch inseam. An integrated rear taillight that runs off the bike's battery also helps add visibility and peace of mind when riding at night. We found the 9-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain to perform flawlessly during testing. Likewise, the Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes felt quite powerful and more than adequate for slowing and stopping this bike.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is a Class 1 e-bike, which means that it only has pedal assist, and it does not have a throttle that can propel you in a full-electric mode. Since the Quick Neo only operates while the pedals are turning, we had to modify our range test slightly from our typical throttle-only test. In order to find the low-end of the Cannondale's range, we rode it in its highest support setting with the least amount of rider input we could to try and make the bike do most of the work. In the end, we were pleasantly surprised by its range, especially given its small 250Wh battery storage capacity.
During our range test, we rode the Quick Neo SL 2 for 19.6 miles and 990 vertical feet of elevation gain. Since the bike doesn't have a throttle, we rode it in its highest output setting with the least amount of rider input to keep the bike doing most of the work. Since we were pedaling so lightly, our average speed was just 11.24 mph, and the test took 1:44 to complete. While this is the shortest range of all the models we tested, we feel it is quite respectable considering the smaller, 250Wh, battery capacity. This bike's range could be dramatically increased with more effort from the rider or when using a lower pedal assist setting. We feel that Cannondale's claimed range of "up to 47 miles" is well within reason, assuming the rider is putting in a little effort. Plus, should you run the battery down completely, this lightweight bike doesn't slow you down the way heavier models do.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is a class 1 electric bike with a smaller 250W motor. Due to the smaller size of the motor, it is inherently less powerful that motors with 2-3 times the wattage. That said, the idea behind the Quick Neo is to add a little electric support to your workout or commute, and it does exactly that.
As a class 1 e-bike, the Quick Neo SL 2 doesn't have a throttle, it only provides support through its three pedal assist modes. The three pedal assist modes provide a good range of support from very light to nearly 100% in the highest setting. The power comes on gradually after about a half rotation of the cranks and ramps up. It doesn't feel jumpy, or especially quick to accelerate, but it is smooth and consistent in its delivery. Once up to speed, the motor seems to deliver the same amount of power as long as the cranks keep turning. This was noticeable during our range testing as we pedaled with no pressure on the pedals and continued to get full power delivery. This bike is easy to get up to its top speed of 20 mph, though its acceleration is entirely dependent on the rider and how hard you're willing to pedal. The power delivery cuts off at the 20 mph mark, though it isn't too difficult to get this bike above that speed under your own power thanks to its light weight, stiff frame, and fast-rolling wheels/tires.
The Quick Neo SL 2 has a very simple top tube mounted control/display unit. While there is something to be said for its simplicity, it lost ground to the competition for its poor ergonomics and less intuitive use. Beyond that, the battery is cleanly integrated into the frame, and charging is relatively standard.
Cannondale chose the Mahle ebikemotion system for the Quick Neo SL 2 which employs the iWoc One control/display unit. This top tube mounted unit is an all in one system that features a single button surrounded by a glowing LED ring around it. The button controls all of the functions of the bike, while the LED light displays your remaining battery charge and pedal-assist setting with different colors. The button is used to turn the bike's power on and off, change pedal assist settings, and turn on the taillight. When the bike is turned on, it shows the remaining battery charge with four different colors; white is more than 75%, green is 50-75%, orange is 25-50%, and red is less than 25%. To change the assistance setting, you short press the button, and the LED blinks and changes color. There are three assistance modes; green, orange, and red, or 1,2,3,(low, medium, high) or off which is white.
While it is entirely functional, its use isn't particularly intuitive, and it takes some getting used to. The colors have some overlap between the pedal assist modes and battery charge
Cannondale does have a smartphone application that you can sync with the bike via Bluetooth to use your phone as a display. The app is free and relatively easy to use, and when mounted on the handlebar, it gives the rider a display that shows current speed, distance, elevation gain, and calories burned. The app can also be used to store and track exercise data or do system diagnostics. While it is certainly nice to have the option to use your phone as a display, we were a little dismayed that it doesn't show the remaining battery life or pedal assist mode, you'll still have to look down at the frame for that information.
The Quick Neo SL 2 was one of the easiest in terms of its assembly. While there was still a small amount of assembly required, it was minimal, and the process took about 1/3 of the time of some other competitors. We purchased our test bike from REI, and due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was shipped to us as opposed to picking it up at one of their retail outlets. Under "normal" circumstances, REI would complete the assembly for you. In fact, Cannondale doesn't sell direct to the consumer, so one would likely purchase this bike from various online retailers or a brick and mortar bike shop in a fully assembled condition.
At just 35.2 lbs in the size large we tested, the Quick Neo SL 2 is very lightweight for an electric bike. In fact, it weighs 20-25 lbs less than most of the other bikes in this review. This weight difference was immediately apparent when we received our test bike, as it was much easier to move it around in its box than the heavyweight competition. Removing the bike from the box was also quite easy and didn't even require two sets of hands. The bike was very well packaged and protected from shipping damage. After we removed the protective materials, we found that the remaining assembly steps included attaching the front wheel, handlebar, and pedals. The entire process took about 20 minutes to complete while following the detailed printed instructions and using the included Park Tool allen wrench set.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is the most expensive electric bike we tested, and it scored a fair amount lower than our top-rated models. While it may not have rated as well across our metrics, we still feel that it could be a solid value for the right consumer. One could easily spend 2-3 times as much for a sporty, stealthy, and lightweight electric bike of this style. Those looking to add a little zip to their workouts or for running around town may find this simple, clean looking model to be just what they need.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is a quality Class 1 e-bike that stands out from the crowd with its especially light weight. This sporty city-style bike provides three smooth levels of pedal assistance with a top speed of 20 mph. While it couldn't quite compete with the more well-rounded competition in this review, we feel it is a good option for anyone looking to add a little boost to their commute or workout.
Cannondale is a major player in the cycling industry, and they produce quality bicycles of all kinds, including a wide range of e-bikes. They make everything from very high-end road and mountain bike models to more affordable townies and commuter models in the line of Neo electric bikes.
The Quick Neo SL 2 is among the least expensive models in the Neo line, and it is offered in step-over (tested) and Remixte (step-thru) frame options.
The Quick Neo SL 1 retails for $2,800 and features the same frame and e-bike drive system but with an upgraded 10-speed Shimano drivetrain and an integrated headlight.Several other models like the Treadwell Neo EQ, the Canvas Neo, and the Tesoro Neo X come equipped with city/commuter features like fenders and/or cargo racks.
— Jeremy Benson