Storm Sondors, creator of the controversial but famously inexpensive Sondors electric fatbike, has announced the launch of his newest creation, the Sondors Thin.
Essentially, the Sondors thin is a lightweight version of his original Sondors electric bike, with a traditional fork and road tires instead of a fatbike setup. The battery is also quite a bit thinner than on the original Sondors fatbike. It’s an electric bike that will appeal to many first-time electric bike owners as well as existing ebike owners who want an inexpensive second set of wheels.
This time, Sondors hasn’t gone with the traditional crowdfunding campaign route. Instead, he’s set aside the first 1,000 examples of the Thin for purchase via PayPal on his website at a price of $499 (without shippping) for the base model and $649 (also without shipping) for the model with a synthetic belt drive (supposedly nylon, as opposed to carbon fiber drive belts or traditional steel chains). As of this writing, he’s sold over 90% of the initial 1,000 put on sale, so his gambit seems to be working. In February, a larger production run will go on sale on Indiegogo, but it’s not clear what the price will be then. If anything, the price will likely be $100 higher.
Storm Sondors and his Sondors electric bike have been controversial from day one. First, crowdfunding backers and market watchers complained that the bike could not live up to its hefty claims of a 50 mile range, and that the bike would be impossible to produce for such a low price ($794 including shipping). Though the bike’s range likely isn’t actually 50 miles, Sondors has largely prevailed over his critics by delivering the initial batches of Sondors electric bikes to his customers, who have been mostly positive about their experiences with the bikes. Many early Sondors buyers have also significantly upgraded their Sondors electric bikes with after-market components and shared their creations with the electric bike community, and this has served to prolong the excitement surrounding the inexpensive two-wheeler.
So is the Sondors Thin a good electric bike? That’s entirely subjective. One one hand, it’s a great electric bike because it’s inexpensive, it offers good value for your money, it’s creating buzz for the industry, and it’s baptizing thousands of people into the electric bike fold – people who likely wouldn’t have considered an electric bike had it not been for the efforts of Storm Sondors. On the other hand, the Sondors electric bike and the Sondors Thin are not particularly compelling daily commuters or car replacements. The Sondors bikes offer no suspension to soak up bumps from poorly-maintained roads, they offer limited range and limited power, and there is no existing service network for warranty repairs. It stands to reason, then, that Sondors has found his market, and though there are quite a few electric bike owners who won’t find Sondors bikes appealing, that doesn’t really matter, since there is ample room in the market for all kinds of bikes, and no market entrant should be expected to appeal to everyone.
Bravo, Storm Sondors. Keep the exciting launches coming!