Is the Sondors the most affordable eBike ever?

The Sondors ebike can run 100% on electric or with pedal assist. Photo: Sondors.
The Sondors e-bike can run 100 percent on electric or with pedal assist. Photo: Courtesy of Sondors
When the Sondors eBike first appeared on the scene, the response was overwhelming. The company raised $6 million on Indiegogo, making the Sondors (then called the Sondors Storm) the most successful crowdfunded electric bike ever.

But many were skeptical, too. Could an unknown company whose industrial designer’s claim to fame was making Happy Meal toys deliver an inexpensive bike from scratch? And could it be done for less than the cost of an iPhone?

Yahoo wrote, "Without exception, our sources say the claims being made about the Storm eBike are exaggerated at best," as well as "[T]he biggest concerns we encountered are whether any company can build a sustainable business selling e-bikes at such a low price, and the corners it may be cutting to get there."

The short answer is yes, but more on that in a sec. More importantly for folks who didn’t pull the trigger during Round 1, Sondors just launched a new campaign last week and more than doubled their goal in less than 24 hours.

Clocking in at about 50 pounds, the Sondors is available in two colors in the original version and three colors in the new (thinner tire) version. Photo: Sondors.
Clocking in at about 50 pounds, the Sondors is available in two colors in the original version and three colors in the new, thinner-tire version. Photo: Courtesy of Sondors
Want one for yourself? Act quickly. Early-bird pricing is as low as $499 for the original as well as for the new version. Well, $499 plus shipping — which is a hefty $194 for domestic delivery.

A lot of the reviews of the first batch are favorable. Fortune wrote, "I'm happy (and relieved) to report that the Sondors eBike is absolutely worth the wait. Sorry, naysayers: This is the real deal, and a real steal, too."

Yahoo was less enthusiastic: "The initial specifications posted for the bike — which were instantly questioned by e-bike experts — proved a bit too ambitious" because the production Sondors weighed more (significantly more — 15 pounds/33 percent) than advertised, had a slightly lower max speed than advertised (18 mph instead of 20) and the battery took longer to charge than expected (four hours instead of 90 minutes).

Helmets are for bad hair days. Photo: Sondors.
With a bike priced this low, you can probably afford a helmet, too. Photo: Courtesy of Sondors
Overall, though, for a bike that's less than $700 out the door, it’s worth your consideration if you’re looking to get back into bikes and want an electric assist. The new model comes complete with a narrower tire — 4.0 inches instead of 4.9 — that might help extend max range and higher speed because it takes less energy to power and keep a lighter wheel in motion.

Not sure if you should go fatter or skinnier on the tire? Greg Dawson, a spokesman for Sondors, says the leaner tire is a good fit for the commuter. "[It's good for] the one who is going to be getting a ton of miles out of it and going back and forth to the coffee shop and work," explained Dawson in a phone interview with GrindTV.

For an additional $100, you can upgrade the steel frame to aluminum, which is reported to be 6 pounds lighter.

Want a suspension fork? It's just an additional $60. But bike suspension is like a tattoo: It's usually better to go without than go hella inexpensive. And the size of the tires, even the "thin" version, will provide plenty of road-absorbing cushion.

The cockpit of the Sondors includes an LCD display and thumb-activated accelerator. Photo: Sondors.
The cockpit of the Sondors includes an LCD display and thumb-activated accelerator. Photo: Courtesy of Sondors
An upgrade to consider is the one to the battery. For $85, Sondors will swap out the original Samsung lithium ion battery for a more powerful version, which is purported to extend range and increase torque.

How much, you ask?

"[The battery] basically goes from an 8.4 amp hour to 12.8 amp hour; essentially, it gives you an extra half of a battery. You also get a free quick charger," said Dawson.

With the high-capacity battery, range should increase between 30 and 40 percent, according to Dawson, and the quick charger reduces charge time from six hours to four.

For more info, visit GoSondors.com or the Sondors Electric Bike page on Kickstarter. The early-bird deal ends on Sat., Sept. 26, at midnight PST.

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