SONDORS electric bikes are taking to the streets, mountains and beaches. The e-bikes have developed a cult following in the U.S. for their smooth rides, as a form of exercise and for sheer fun. Auto Future talks with the founder, Storm Sondors, who was described as “Someone who is not just ahead of the curve. He is the curve” by one of his employees.
Sondors had a background in design and manufacturing working designing toys and also other products.
“I looked at electric transportation and I wanted to create it in a way that was fast, fun and sustainable,” says Sondors. Which is exactly what he did with his first product launch, He was able to deliver $500 priced e-bikes with six million-dollars in funding through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2015.
“The very first time that we showed the e-bikes – two hundred people showed up,” says Sondors, “The first e-bike owner was an 80-year-old man who wanted to get out and get some fresh air.”
“I wanted to bring back excitement to two wheels,” says Sondors. He designed the e-bikes in a way that they would draw attention to themselves and actually sell themselves as part of the design. He notes that there is a broad audience for the SONDORS e-bikes whilst the general age range is from 30 to 65 years old.
The SONDORS e-bikes have several levels of pedal-assist. The person riding them can do most of the pedalling and then there are different levels of assistance. The rider can also ride full throttle with electric power. The pedal-assist enables people of all ability levels. It also allows someone to go further than they might not otherwise go.
“Distance is no longer a question. You can go as far as you want there is no limit because you can always come back full throttle if you’re not going to make it,” says Sondors, “It gives a new sense of freedom.”
The SONDORS e-bikes can handle the steep hills of San Francisco and the tough grades of the Malibu canyons. Surfers have also adapted to SONDORS e-bikes to carry their surfboards to the beach. SONDORS e-bikes are often seen on the San Clemente Beach (a popular surfing spot) on the beach web camera.
“We are not based on a product or on profit,” says Sondors, “We’re based on how much people enjoy themselves and my reward is seeing owners’ joy.”
SONDORS is what people call a cult brand, it’s more like an Apple for e-bikes, says Sondors. He says SONDORS web traffic is organic most sales are referrals because, “When you really love something like a SONDORS e-bike you want to share it with others.”
I don’t look at what’s going on in the industry. That is what makes me dangerous.
Over the years, SONDORS has developed not only a cult following but a full line of e-bikes. The hub-drive models have three different motor sizes while the mid-drive models have 750 Watts of power. The latest mid-drive model is a mountain e-bike called the RockStar with dual suspension. The name Rockstar doesn’t come from the ability to ride over rocks, but because it is the rockstar of the electric bike community muses Sondors.
“One of our most popular models is our foldable bike and it’s very easy to pack it into cars. We changed the way people thought about foldable bikes in 2017,” says Sondors about the SONDORS Fold X. “It’s visually stunning and when you ride it and feels like you are on a hoverboard. It’s very practical.” In fact, sales on the first day they were available to buy were $80,000.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sondors says people have been changing their behaviour and wanting their lives to be more sustainable.
“Electric bikes are the new mini-vacation and, now that people are at home, they are doing a shift in their thinking. With SONDORS e-bikes you can get out into the fresh air and bike paths are still not really crowded and you can get away and enjoy yourself,” he says.
One of the noticeable features of SONDORS e-bike are the wide tires. “Many people have a misconception that the fat tires are just for riding by the edge of the water on the hard sand, however the fat tires provide a smooth pleasant experience,” he notes.
Sondors looked at the streets and they were all poor quality – they had potholes and were uneven. On a regular pedalled bike, the rider absorbs the bumps. The way to make the ride smoother is to have fat tires. The fat tires don’t stick in the built-in tram tracks embedded San Francisco streets and can easily go over cobblestones.
“Our next-generation experience comes from comfort. I’m selfish when creating. I don’t look at what’s going on in the industry. That is what makes me dangerous. I’m an independent thinker. I did it because I wanted to try it. I wanted to challenge myself,” he explains.
“How do you get people to get to sustainability and get them to stop driving cars that are messing up the planet?” asks Sondors, “You give them something that they really enjoy. Then they may think ‘I could take this to work’ and they will. Let them experience fun first and then they will go to work on e-bikes as the new normal.”