With a pricetag that could just as easily apply to a high-end electric bicycle instead of a full-on electric motorcycle, the new Sondors Metacycle just might be the affordable electric commuter vehicle that many of us have been waiting for.
With the recent trend towards micromobility, the interest in e-bikes and e-scooters has really taken off, but there are some very real limitations to those smaller electric vehicles, namely the time it takes to get from point A to point B, as all of those models tend to have a very modest high speed of about 20 miles per hour. And to be fair, riding an e-bike or scooter faster than that, even if legal (which it is not), can be a very risky endeavor.
As a long-time bicycle advocate and avid cyclist, I’m rather wary of the e-scooter trend due to their reliance (for the most part) on small solid wheels, which can be incredibly challenging — and dangerous, IMO — to ride on anything less than very smooth asphalt or concrete, and the fact that the way they are meant to be ridden (standing upright) is almost certain to lead to an over-the-handlebars faceplant at the minimum. So when considering a commute of 10 to 20 miles or more on bike paths or sidewalks, which are notorious for sketchy riding surfaces and for collecting all manner of detritus, all but the most hardy souls are more likely than not to simply stick to their car, which can take full advantage of full-size lanes, higher speeds, and the fact that most drivers pay more attention to other cars on the road than to bicycles and scooters. Plus, a 20-mile commute on an e-bike is almost guaranteed to take an hour or so, which really cramps your style unless you enjoy an hour-long ride (which is awesome, but is more the exception than the rule). So, without arguing the relative risks of an electric motorcycle vs. those of driving a car (which is certainly a concern), having access to an electric vehicle capable of speeds up to 80 MPH and an 80-mile range for about $5000 could be a gamechanger.
Sondors, which originally made a name for itself in the low-cost e-bike market, has made overtures into the larger electric vehicle market with its Sondors EV concept, a 3-seater, 3-wheeled electric car said to be targeting a $10,000 price tag, but which — to my knowledge — has never actually been offered for sale yet. However, the newest offering from Sondors, the Metacycle, is said to be coming to the market as soon as the end of 2021, for the asking price of just $5000, and it looks to be a promising electric commuter option for those who need more power and speed than an e-bike offers, but who don’t need a full-spec electric crotch rocket with its much higher costs.
According to Sondors, the Metacycle weighs in at about 200 pounds, and is built on a cast aluminum “exo-frame,” with a 4 kilowatt-hour 72V lithium-ion battery (which is removable for charging indoors or for securing the bike) said to be capable of an 80-mile riding range between charging. With a standard 110V outlet, charging is estimated to take about 4 hours for a full charge, although the option to charge via a 240V Level 2 charger will shorten that “refueling” time. Power to the rear wheel comes from a PMAC Hub Motor (“Permanent Magnet, Alternating Current”) rated at 8 KW (11hp) nominal, 14.5 KW (20hp) peak, and stopping power is provided by front and rear disk brakes. The Metacycle will be available in 3 different color schemes (Supermassive/black, Arctic/white, and Naked Silver), and the company is taking reservations with a $100 deposit — or a full payment of $5000.
The Metacycle is a full road-legal motorcycle, which means that a motorcycle license and insurance (and most likely a helmet, depending on local laws and your own tolerance for head injuries) is required, but considering that motorcycle riding courses are widely available and affordable, that’s not a big issue — but it is a bigger barrier to entry than just hopping onto a bicycle. And of course, the risk factor of riding a motorcycle at normal city and/or highway road speeds among highly distracted drivers of cars and trucks can be much higher than that of riding a bicycle or scooter on dedicated bike paths or separated bike lanes at much lower speeds, so the option to buy and ride a Sondors Metacycle is most definitely worthy of careful consideration before committing.
Find out more at the Sondors Metacycle website.