Sondors Metacycle - Messiah or Miscalculation?
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
There are moments online where the internet as a collective seems to pause for a moment – stopped in their tracks by something so different, funny, awe-inspiring or horrifying.
That skateboarding Bulldog years ago, Fyre Festival on Netflix, the Blinding Lights Tik Tok and this year – the Sondors Metacycle.
In January when Sondors did their press release for the bike, they captured the attention of many outside the electric motorcycle audience. And that was based purely on the look of the bike. The design is bold and appealing. The cold, sleek cast aluminium frame looks strong but not bulky. The spoked super moto wheels scream street fun – and are a surprising addition for a bike priced very reasonably. The simple, clean lighting on the front and tail are good enough to make a custom bike builder blush. The battery looks compact and mobile. And of course the most eye-catching detail is actually the part that is missing – the big hole in the middle of the bike. Later reports have cleared up this is actually space for additional battery capacity, type 2 charging plugs or enclosed storage – but leaving it empty for the press release was a masterstroke by the marketing/design team. It perfectly highlighted how simple electric motorcycles are versus petrol bikes – simple enough to leave a massive hole in the middle of the bike. Yes some custom Café Racers boast a hollow section beneath the seat where the electrical box and air intake have been tidied up – but we’ve never seen anything like this on a motorbike before. Job done – internet broken. For a few hours anyway.
So there’s no doubting the Sandor’s team nailed the design and product launch. But were the performance specs decent enough to hold that user attention? Well yes and no. The 129 kmph top speed and 130 km range will not compete with the top end electric motorcycles like Zero, Energica and Harley-Davidson’s offerings. But for a fraction of the price of those bikes and a different type of user - they will do just fine. Think city commuters or eBike riders looking to upgrade. When Sam Baker from New Zeroland explained that his Energica Eva is an amazing bike but riding it is an event you gear up for and mentally prepare yourself for versus the convenience of his Zero SR which he could just jump on to pop to the shops with. You start to understand where a bike like the Metacycle could fit in the market. It’s not a bike you take on long weekend rides. But something you whizz around your local on or ride to work and look fucking awesome doing it.
The pricing is frankly astounding - it's cheaper than most full suspension eBikes?! Sondors must either be taking a big loss on the first production batch of bikes which have sold out at $7,000 AUD per bike. Or they have found some seriously good ways to lower production costs. The 1-piece cast aluminium frame may be an example of this - however aluminium surely isn’t that cheap compared to what other motorcycle manufacturers use for frames? An area Sondors have definitely lowered costs is the powertrain. Hub motors while generally less powerful and sometimes less reliable than mid-drive motors - are much cheaper and easier to integrate into an electric motorcycle. This is why most of the cheaper electric motorcycles have a hub motor. It looks like the other components - the brakes, lights, handlebars, etc are all Sondors branded or whitelabelled products which again will be lowering costs compared to using premium parts like Brembo, Bosch, Ohlins, etc. But at $7,000 AUD for an electric motorcycle that can go 129 kmph - who cares! We'd happily fit better parts later on if the core bike is reliable and well-built. Which is a nice segway into our next train of thought - Sondors as a bike company.
Sondors burst onto the scene in February 2015 after the second most successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign ever - Founder Storm Sondors managed to raise a whopping $12M USD with presales for his affordable fat-tyre electric bike. Those bikes were priced again at a very reasonable $499 USD (which blew the competition at that time out of the water), although some backers were unhappy at the mandatory $200 delivery fee and up to 12 month wait to get their bikes. As far as we can tell though - all backers did get their bikes. Sondors then went on to release multiple new eBike models which have generally been received very well. The eBikes are always excellent value for money, and despite not having high-end premium components - the reviews have generally been positive with the company averaging a score of 4.0/5 on Trust Pilot. If you sift through the negative reviews there though - a pattern seems to emerge. New eBike purchased, delivered to customer, problem with eBike component within 60 days, problems reaching support or getting warranty claim processed. To average a score of 4.0 Sondors must be getting it right the majority of the time - less than 20% of reviews are 'poor' or 'bad'. Which is acceptable for something you pay up to $2,000 for and buy online without inspecting or test riding. But a $7,000 electric motorbike is a different prospect. This would be our biggest concern about buying a Metacycle - can an eBike company successfully transition to electric motorcycles? Will all the components of the Metacycle be reliable - and if not, will there be sufficient support to keep these bikes on the road?
In June - Sondors completed all remaining 2021 pre-orders. We don't know how many Metacycles are in production and due for delivery this year, but we do know the first Metacycles are due for delivery in Q3 2021. That means the first production bikes should be hitting the streets before the end of September and user reviews should be hitting YouTube shortly after that. At GRID we are frothing over the Metacycle and we really hope Sondors do have what it takes to make it as an electric motorcycle company - because they make a sick looking bike! We have mulled over joining the pre-order list too, but for now we are going to wait for those first reviews and KMs on the clock before we commit to one. Good luck Sondors - if you can pull the Metacycle off, you may have just nailed a huge market segment that no-one else has been able to reach.