SondorsFold9

Sondors Fold, a 20-inch wheel E-fatbike

May 13, 2017
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Sondors has announced that they are coming put with a new aluminum-frame model, and this one not only has fat tires on a smaller 20-inch rim…it folds.

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A Little History

I would be surprised if an ebiker today said they didn’t know who Sondors is, but…just in case, let me cover the basics first. A couple of years ago in 2015, A company was formed called Sondors, and they started a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo where they promised to sell a ebike with fat tires for $600. This was a milestone because…even though there had been many other attempts to market an ebike with a low price on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, most of them only raised a bare minimum amount of money needed from risk-taking investors to stay alive. Sondors raised SIX MILLION dollars.

This event totally shook up the ebike industry. There will always be some customers who want to buy an ebike from a brick-and-mortar store where they can get technical support near their home, but…a LOT of customers decided to try this out, and believe me when I say that every major ebike company noticed…

 

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Here is Ivars Sondors, and the fatbike that started it all

 

These crowd-funding organizations are much like a “group buy” where if you give them the money up front, and they get “enough” money to buy parts in bulk to lower the price? They can sell a lot of them from the factory (in China usually), direct to your home. If it works they way it’s supposed to, the company can sell quite a few at a very small markup, and still end up with enough profit to keep doing it. They would have your money for quite a while before you receive the product, but if the people who are featured in the crowd-funding campaign do not run off to the Caribbean with the money…you will receive “something” eventually.

With any kind of luck, the product you receive will actually be just like it was advertised, but…it is in the nature of these things that getting the lowest possible price for a crowd-funded product also means there will likely be no customer support. Sondors started several very active Facebook pages, so their customers can help each other, and share tips about maintenance and minor repairs. Here is the article we wrote when we tested the Sondors back in February of 2016

 

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Here, Ivars showed up to a Sondors fatbike meet to talk with customers.

 

A dealer (for any product) would need to make some profit on top of the wholesale cost of those products, so…if you are the type of person who needs customer support from a professional? You will need to pay more to get the product you want from an established dealer. However, if you don’t mind taking a little risk once in a while, a new product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo can save you a lot of money.

Many people expressed concerns that Sondors might go bankrupt and disappear without delivering any ebikes to their “investor” customers, but…it looks like over 99% of their fatbike buyers have received the product they paid for, and more than that…a LOT of people felt that the final product was actually quite good with an unexpected level of quality and features.

 

The Sondors "Thin" city ebike.

The Sondors “Thin” city ebike.

 

As soon as the fatbikes began to actually be delivered to customers in 2016, Sondors announced they would do a crowd-funding campaign for a similar ebike, but with thin tires. The name was appropriately designated the Sondors “Thin”.

And that brings us to today, and Sondors company announcing that they will be crowd-funding a folding ebike that has fat tires, and to help this ebike be as compact as possible when its folded, it will be using 20-inch wheels, instead of the common 26-inch. Nobody can guarantee what the future holds, but…the Sondors company has delivered on every ebike they ran a crowd-funding campaign for.

 

 

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Here is a Sondors promotional pic to show how conveniently the “Fold” can be reconfigured when you need to take a train.

 

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This is the pic that I think will have the biggest impact on potential buyers.

 

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This is a screen-capture from their promotional video on youtube, this shows the proportion of the smaller “Fold” model with an average-sized person on it.

 

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Feature Pics From the Sondors Website

 

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A close-up of the folding hinge and the beefy latch.

 

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The 36V battery pack for the Fold is cleverly located inside the large top bar. Notice how strong the pin is just to the right of the battery pack. That is the part that the latch clamps onto.

 

The motor appears to be the same well-regarded Bafang geared hubmotor that is found on the previous Sondors ebikes. Since this model has that motor mounted in a 20-inch wheel, it will likely have a slower top-speed, but it will also have a much better amount of wheel-torque for hill-climbing and riding through sand.

 

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This closeup shows it is a single-speed and has disc brakes.

 

After Sondors came out with their “Thin” model, we could see that they weren’t focused on only one type of ebike. I am not surprised that their third ebike offering is a folding  version, but…why the fat tires? A few years ago, many bicycle companies stated that they would start to carry a fat-tire model, but…the fat tires were a “fad” that will likely simmer down after their initial “buzz” dies down. Well…here we are several years later, and fat tire bicycle sales have continued to grow every year.

The ebike that I ride the most is a fat-tire Electra Lux cruiser with a BBSHD mid drive. Fat tires look heavy, but…I will sound sarcastic when I point out that they are mostly air, but..it’s true. Fat tires are NOT suspension, but they DO have advantages.

A fat tire with a medium PSI of air pressure soaks-up and smooths-out road irregularities. That is not as good as a “real” full-suspension system, but it is also lighter and costs less…MUCH less.

Do NOT take a high-speed turn in a low-psi fat tire (I still have the scars from when I dumped my fat ebike). Low pressure in your tires is for low speeds and odd terrain, like beaches and potholes in streets. That being said, I think the aluminum frame, 20-inch tires, and fat tires were all choices that work well together to make an ebike that is compact and light, yet still has a ride that is as comfortable as possible within a reasonable price range.

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Here is one of the Fold prototypes next to the original Sondors fatbikes.

Here is one of the Fold prototypes next to an original Sondors fatbike.

 

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Just like the Sondors fatbike before it, the Fold will come in a variety of colors

 

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The Video

there isn’t a lot of information about the Fold out there right now, but…everything I could find, I put in this article.

 

 

This ebike is not for everyone, but…if it looks like it would fit a job you have for it, I suspect it will be made to the same level of performance and quality that the original Sondors fatbike was, which is actually pretty good.

If I had one, I would immediately add a suspension seat-post, like a Suntour NCX or a Thudbuster. I have owned both, and I recommend them to anyone with a hardtail frame with complete confidence. I wouldn’t hot-rod one of these for higher speed, but…if somebody gave me one? I would add an identical motor to the front wheel and make it a 2WD for sand operations (which would also require a second controller and throttle)…

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Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, May 2017

Grew up in Los Angeles California, US Navy submarine mechanic from 1977-81/SanDiego. Hydraulic mechanic in the 1980's/Los Angeles. Heavy equipment operator in the 1990's/traveled to various locations. Dump truck driver in the 2000's/SW Utah. Currently a water plant operator since 2010/NW Kansas

  • Kel

    Thanks for the great article I really enjoyed it!