This is the best value in an electric commuter bike
Price: $754 ListPros: 22 mph top speed, great value, good durability and customer service. Cons: Assembly required, high shipping costs, fragile throttle, not the best on steep hills. Manufacturer: Sondors
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It's hard to imagine a better value in an electric commuter bike. While the $600 starting price is a little deceiving (shipping adds another $154), even at $754, it's still the best value we've seen. We've ridden more than a few $2000-3000 eBikes we were less excited about. The top speed of 22 mph is about as fast as you want (or is legal). The bike is well balanced and much lighter than the Sondors Fat. We've put over 1000 miles on the Sondors Thin and it's still going strong. It's replaced most of our car trips.
2018 Models Announced
Sondors just announced the Pre-Sales of its 2018 bikes. The good news is you can get a lot more included in the base model. The bad news is they hiked the price. More details below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
2018 Updates To The Sondors
All great deals must come to an end. Ok, maybe that's overstating it, but the Sondors 2018 Thin got a big price hike. It's still a great value, just less of a value.
Must buy the LCD screen which adds $150. While the LCD screen is nice and gives you different levels of pedal assist, we prefer to save $150. It takes up handlebar real estate where we would rather put our smartphone and run a more robust speedometer like Strava or any other modern activity tracking app.
If you want the bigger battery for increased range, you currently must buy the front suspension. We were very disappointed in the Sondors' front fork as it can't easily be tuned. It basically just adds extra weight.
They now include shipping in the price.
We can't think of anything else. It looks like all the same parts at 2017 but just fewer ways to customize your bike to save money.
Hopefully, when "Pre Sales" are over, Sondors will go back to allowing you to skip the LCD display and give you the option of a bigger battery without needing the sub-standard front fork.
How Sondors Thin Compares to Sondors Fat
The Sondors Fat bike is better for rough roads, sand, and snow. For everything else, we much prefer for the Sondors Thin. It's faster and more efficient. The Thin weighs 38 pounds while the Fat weighs 55 (49 lbs for the Sondors X). It's a BIG difference. The Thin is relatively easy for most people to lift into the bed of a truck or a tray-style bike rack. The Fat is like wrestling a heavy piece of furniture with wheels. We would recommend the Fat for trails, but the motor is just not powerful enough for many hills. The Sondors X may solve that issue but it's $1240 or $1440 for the 7-speed.
Get the Optional Fork or Not?
Skip the fork. It's not serviceable, which means that as soon as a week after riding, it may lose most of its travel. This happened on our Sondors Fat bike after about three weeks. Now, as soon as we weight the bike it fully compresses, which makes it useless. It now just adds weight to the bike and reminds us that the $100 "upgrade" was anything but. This is a big deal as currently Sondors seems to pair the front fork with 7-Speeds. We love 7-speeds and hate the front fork. That puts the buyer in a tough spot.
Get the 7-Speed Model
Seven speeds make a giant difference. Obviously, it helps a lot on big hills. More importantly, it gives you that better gear for going fast on the flats. We love to use the electric assist to accelerate off the line at a stoplight. Once we are up to about 20-22mph, the hardest gear then lets us stay going fast. Compared to the single speed versions, you can pedal to about 15mph. After that, your legs are just spinning fast. If the electric power will take you faster, that can be nice but you won't be helping anymore.
The one downside to the 7-speeds is decreased durability and more maintenance. But it's worth it.
It's hard to calculate exact range as it depends on so many factors: how heavy you are, hills, temperature, amount you pedal. With the 10.5 Ah battery, we have never run out of juice on rides up to 25 miles with minimal pedaling.
Electric Bike Efficiency Compared to an Electric Car
When looking at miles per KWH, the Sondors, or just about any electric bike, is about 20 times more efficient than an electric car. And that's if you just hold down the throttle all the time. If you add in your own pedal power, it's even more efficient.
We bought this bike - Sondors did not give it to us
As with all products we review at OutdoorGearLab we bought this bike. Sondors did not give it to us.
At 350 watts, the Sondors gives plenty of pep on the flats. It handles most mellow hills easily with some assist. Once you get to serious "San Francisco" steep hills, expect to be in granny gear, pedaling hard, and still working hard for it.
We found the original Sondors Fat Bike a pain to assemble. Maybe we were just used to the process by the time we got the Thin, but assembling the Thin was much easier. It still takes about an hour and some bike knowhow, but it wasn't too painful.
We've had two durability issues. One is the derailer guard gets easily bent and then limits the range of the derailer. It's easy to bend back but we spent over an hour messing with the shifter before we realized this.
The other issue is that the throttle lever is relatively fragile. One sliding crash on an icy road and it snapped. It's a $65 part to fix if you order through Sondors.
We were surprised how fast and helpful Sonors was at replacing the lever we broke. We used the website chat feature.
The Sondors Thin is still the best deal we've seen in an electric bike.
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