A Little About SONDORS
SONDORS is well known for its e-bicycles, which it has been developing and selling since 2015. Currently, those e-bicycles are in the markets of 72 countries worldwide, with the company’s focus being three key principles: Affordability, design, and zero emissions.
This is SONDORS’s first foray into motorcycle development, so while the motorcycle is a new addition to their lineup, they are still committed to the creation of well-made, reasonably-priced e-mobility on two wheels.
(See ‘About SONDORS,’ where the brand focuses on “radical design and total commitment to creating a more sustainable future.”)
- Real-World Range (RWR)
- 60 miles, up to 80 in “ideal” conditions
- 8kw (11hp)nominal, 14.5 kw (20hp) peak
- 4kw hours (4000 Watt Hours)
- “Drive” Mode: 60mph (100 kph)
- “Sport” Mode: 80mph (130 kph)
- Lithium-ion, 4kw (4000 Watts)
- PMAC (Permanent Magnet, Alternating Current)
- 80 ft-lbs nominal, 130 ft-lbs peak
- Cast Aluminum
- Two Piston/Floating Rotor Hydraulic
- Single Piston/Fixed Rotor Hydraulic
- Standard; 110v AC included, optional level 2 charger said to be in development
- 15-degree incline
- (Nowhere to put passenger pegs)
Getting My Hands on a SONDORS MetaCycle
I sold my last gas-powered motorcycle – a modified Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle – and got on the wait list for the SONDORS MetaCycle in November of 2021; after that, it was just a matter of waiting.
I waited…and waited…and waited, along with hundreds of others, for the MetaCycle to arrive. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was much confusion at the lack of communication about delays and changing expectations. Many people dropped out, and many, like me, chose to stick with it.
When I reached out in July of 2022, I was told I was in the second wave and wouldn’t get my bike anytime soon, so I was very surprised when I got a shipping notification in late August, and the bike arrived on my birthday in early September.
A quick note before we begin: I am 5’4” with a ~29” inseam, and have ridden the bike a little under 200 miles.
SONDORS MetaCycle: Key Features
I got the model that shows off a “naked silver” trim (the bike’s also available in “supermassive” black and “arctic” white); it was supposed to be raw metal, but it isn’t; “naked silver” is actually silver paint over the raw metal of the bike. I could be disappointed that it isn’t true to what was promised, but it’s a beautiful, sexy look, so I’m happy with it.
This bike is a head-turner. People ask me questions about it at stoplights, in parking lots, when I’m leaving my driveway – even the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) employees wanted to know more about it. Everyone smiles when they see it, and I feel good on it. 🙂
One unanticipated and fun side effect of it being electric is the silence of the motor; it makes it very easy to converse with people. Yelling in order to communicate has been eliminated from my moto life!
The multi-color digital display is simple but effective, showing whether you are in Park (P) Drive (D) Sport (S), what your remaining battery charge is (10 bars, with the lowest being red) – it also covers speed, turn signal, and current trip mileage.
There is no menu, so the only way to see total mileage is to pay attention as the display runs through the complete start-up check.
Mileage shows the total for a few seconds before defaulting to current.
I was only able to take her to 50mph on my first ride due to traffic, but – using the very scientific method of “one one-thousand, two one-thousand” – I went 0-50mph in Sport mode in under 3 seconds.
This means that, in general, you can expect the MetaCycle to go 0-60mph in anywhere up to 6 seconds – plenty fast for getting on the freeway, and the bike’s low weight makes it every bit as flickable as my Yamaha 250cc thumper.
Now to the important bit: Can it hit 80mph, as promised?
Absolutely! I got my SONDORS MetaCycle to 89mph on my first speed test.
The stated range for the SONDORS MetaCycle is 60 miles “real world” and 80 “under ideal conditions.” In reality, I have not been able to go more than 30 miles on a single charge. That is with about 70% freeway and 30% city riding.
Safe freeway speed in my locale is 70-75mph, so I imagine at sub-65 mph speeds, one could get closer to the stated range.
There are 3 modes on the bike – Drive, Reverse, and Sport.
The bike will only maintain Sport for 2 minutes before automatically reverting to Drive. On one hand, this is a great way to conserve the battery. On the other hand, it means you cannot maintain greater than ~60mph speeds for any length of time.
I wouldn’t advise trying to use this as an “open road” cruiser. It truly is meant for short freeway stints and urban riding.
“Reverse” is engaged by a toggle on the right handlebar, and requires some dexterity, as you have to keep the toggle engaged while turning the throttle with the same hand.
Prior to getting the bike, I read a lot of speculation that the big empty space in the center of the frame would make it hard to hug the bike while cornering. In reality, I find that I’m still able to hug the bike and feel completely secure on it – nothing feels like it’s missing in the handling, except perhaps the weight of the tank.
(In fact, the absence of a large tank makes the bike feel more like a dirt bike, which lends to its easy handling.)
The “Feel” of the Ride
For the first 15 miles or so, I struggled with the lack of resistance in acceleration and braking – something I’ve grown to expect with 30 years of riding experience.
I’ve adapted since, but periodically still try to find the shifter and rear brake with my feet.
Throttle response is immediate, with an incredibly smooth acceleration curve. The brakes are strong without being sticky, and it handles very well in mild twisties.
I’m excited to see what it can do with a bit more extreme turns, but so far, I’m very pleased!
The lack of regenerative braking took a bit of getting used to and seems like a miss that could have easily been avoided. According to the user groups I follow, that particular topic is a promise that SONDORS didn’t keep.
Sitting on the bike feels natural and easy. The pegs are well placed, and the riding position is upright. She’s a tad narrow and a little tall for my 29” inseam (I am on my toes when stopped), – but overall the MetaCycle is so lightweight that it’s not a problem; in fact, as someone who has always had to purchase shorter bike seats, shocks, etc. on my bikes, this is great!
That brings me to the seat – one of the few disappointments I’ve experienced. The seat is hard and is not easily removable, as there are multiple screws holding it on. The hard seat, combined with a very stiff shock, makes the bike feel every bump in the road. It’s not a big issue given the short distance I commute, but it is very noticeable nonetheless. Riding further than 40 miles could cause a serious monkey butt.
I’m actually more annoyed that there is no compartment for basics like registration, insurance card, and a few tools. The only storage on the bike is the small compartment on the top of the frame.
Sidenote: It’s very cool that you can wirelessly charge your cell phone (there is also a USB charger port), but it is see-through and not secure, so leaving important items in it is a no-go.
Removing the Battery
If you’re thinking removing the battery will be simple, don’t bother.
The battery was supposed to be easily removable, making it convenient (albeit heavy) for multi-family unit dwellers to bring inside to charge. That feature did not make it to final production, and instead, there are about 10 screws that must be taken out to remove the battery. Although this isn’t an issue if you can charge where you park, I imagine it would be very disappointing if you had counted on that capability.
SONDORS claims a 3-hour charging time from a near-dead battery state. It uses a normal 110-household outlet. I am hopeful for a fast charger in the future that can be used at public charging stations. That would make it a more practical mid-distance commuter.
The “White Glove” Service
The “white glove” service was hardly that.
The delivery company had 48 bikes to deliver in my county the week I was slotted to receive my MetaCycle.
Through multiple calls with the driver, I was assured they would be there by 3 pm – but they didn’t arrive until closer to 7 pm, so my non-riding daughter had to sign for the bike since I wasn’t home.
Fortunately, the company was willing to roll the bike through my gate to get it off the street – and while I appreciated that, I’m not sure anything about the setup and delivery would qualify as “white glove.”
- They didn’t discuss the bike with my daughter.
- The paperwork consisted of the signed delivery receipt and the SONDORS bill of sale.
- All of the plastic films were still on the lights, mirrors, etc.
- The “special gift” for the first 2000 owners was a very thin and poorly-fitting motorcycle cover.
All told, definitely not what I would have expected for a $700 delivery fee.
Did I mention that I live less than 400 miles from the SONDORS SoCal warehouse?
Model Issues and Servicing
As soon as I got my MetaCycle, I immediately had 2 problems arise: The cover to the integrated storage wouldn’t latch properly, and the alarm would sound at random (which I’m sure my neighbors loved).
After quite a bit of back and forth with SONDORS via email and phone to diagnose the problem, the company sent out a technician in December to replace the case and the alarm.
All motorcycle dealers should offer at-home service.
The Registration Process
I registered the bike in San Mateo County, California. While the process took me over 2 hours, it was relatively simple. The paperwork required was the bill of sale, proof of insurance, and a registration form that included the VIN number, which is on the left side of the down tube, as well as the motor number, which is on the rear hub/motor of the bike.
The DMV did a visual inspection, and the inspector was initially confused that there were no emissions. Registration and licensing cost a lot more than I expected for a $5000 motorcycle, totaling around $750.
So, all in (bike, delivery, registration), I spent $6,450. That feels a bit high for a short-distance commuter, but compared to another well-known California electric motorcycle company, the price of admission is well worth it for my purposes.
Note that for new orders, the base price has jumped to $6,500.
I’m not sure if that includes tax and delivery.
Was It Worth It?
The short answer? Yes!
The bike is most of what I’d hoped it would be, with only a couple of disappointments.
I am thoroughly enjoying riding it and look forward to more time when the weather warms up. It’s a beautiful design, completely silent, easy to ride, and way less expensive than a Zero Motorcycle for an under-60-mile commuter bike.