Crowdfunded Ebikes Update: Karmic Koben Approaches $300,000, RadRover Closes with $320,000

BY Cameron Newland

The crowdfunded ebike market has been heating up over the last year, with the launch of the Sondors Electric Bike ($5.8 million raised), and more recently, the RadRover, Wave, and Karmic Koben.

The RadRover by Rad Power Bikes, a $1,500 electric fatbike with front suspension fork, closed its successful IndieGoGo campaign on Monday, scoring $320,000, fully 800% of its original $40,000 campaign goal (most backers paid around $1,200 for the bikes).


Over on Kickstarter, the highly-regarded Karmic Koben is nipping at the heels of the RadRover and is currently approaching $300,000 with 14 days left to go its own very successful crowdfunding campaign.


The Karmic team also recently provided a big surprise on the motor for their forthcoming Koben, and the Koben is now set to be the first commercially-available ebike model that ships with Bafang’s new 350W Max mid-drive system, which looks very similar visually to Bosch’s mid-drive motor offerings.


Of all the ebikes that are currently running crowdfunding campaigns, the Karmic Koben is surely the most interesting, as it combines a lightweight frame and a feather-light rebuildable battery with the Nuvinci continuously variable transmission in the rear hub. One of the prototype mules even offered the ability to switch out a traditional metal chain for a maintenance-free Gates Carbon Drive belt, and though the official word from Karmic founder Hong Quan is that the Carbon Drive is still in testing, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Gates Carbon Drive ebike from Karmic on sale by the second quarter of 2016.

While less technologically sophisticated than the Koben, The Wave ebike, a 28 MPH-capable beach cruiser, certainly earns a lot of points for its low price ($749 shipped), and the masses clearly agree, having showered the bike’s designer with more than $630,000 in campaign pledges with 8 days left.

Though all of the current crop of crowdfunded ebike campaigns (Sondors excluded) seem pretty legitimate, the Koben stands out as the campaign most likely to deliver an excellent product on the timeline that they promised, as it has been Dragon Certified, which is a nice way of saying that external auditors have determined that the project’s costs are projected to be fully covered by the revenue from the campaign, and that the project’s creator has a solid plan in place to deliver the product on-time. Also, Hong Quan, the founder of Karmic Bikes and former owner of Prong Trikes, and his technologist, electric motorcycle pioneer Neal Saiki, seem to boast the kind of career credentials that would make for a good leadership team at a modern ebike manufacturer, and the good design and engineering decisions that they’ve made with their first commercial product seem to cement that determination.