How To Be An Educated Crowdfunded Electric Fatbike Consumer

This post is directed to people who are planning to attend the Sondors Ebike Demo Days event this Sunday Feb 15th located here.

beach

So you want to buy a Sondors Electric Fatbike, but you’re not sure if it might be right for you. Once you click on the purchase button with Indiegogo you’re committed. Welcome to the roller coaster ride! There is no Federal laws to protect you or your purchased perk. You just donated $499/$599 to Storm/Ivars Sondors and Jon Hopp in the hopes that you will receive an electric bike in the mail in a few months.

That leap of faith will need to be strong because in a few weeks you’ll have to donate another amount of up $194 for shipping to have that bike delivered to your door. You are a very trusting person, and I really like that about you.

Almost every American knows how to buy a car. We know the questions to ask, we know what to look for, we know what to say. I would say that buying a car is a universally hated experience. Most people who have donated money to Storm Sondors and Jon Hopp have never owned an ebike. They have no idea of what to look for what to ask or even what to do.

The good news is, you’ve already committed the funds. Whether you like it or not you are in for the ride. The Sondors crew does not have to refund your money if you don’t want the bike, or if you don’t want to pay the shipping. Legally they don’t have to do anything at all. What a relief, you don’t have to worry about making the right decision or not, because you’ve already made the decision. Whether it was the right decision or not only time will tell.

20150212163909-0041

Demo Days hosted this Sunday at the Santa Monica pier

What kinds of questions can I ask to sound like an intelligent and informed consumer even though I’m not?

1) Warranty – Will there be any warranty on the Battery, Motor or Controller? If so how long. Will Sondors Ebike cover the warranty claims or will we have to deal with China?

2) Does the charger have different charging modes? Hopefully it will have a slow charge mode to increase battery life.

3) Is the ‘Sample’ that I’m riding going to be anything like the bike that will arrive at my house? Does it have the same frame type (aluminum vs steel)? The easiest way to tell if a frame is aluminum or steel is a magnet, if it sticks, it’s steel. Steel frames tend to be around 5 lbs heavier but are much cheaper to make.

4) Do I refuse the shipment if it arrives damaged at my door? Will it be insured?

5) What is the weight of the bike? The easiest way to find this out for yourself is to use a handheld digital luggage scale $5 from ebay. You can hook under the front of the seat and lift it up off the ground to get an accurate reading. Considering a NON electric Mongoose Beast Fatbike is 59lbs I am very curious to see if the samples are really steel and if they are really 55lbs with the battery.

6) How many mosfets are in the controller (most likely 6)? What is the peak current rating of the controller (probably 9Amps)?

7) Where is the motor controller? I don’t see it in any of the pictures. My guess is that it is integrated into the water bottle battery, I don’t know of any Bafang/8fun geared hub with the controller embedded in it.

8) The exact model of the hub motor and nominal watt rating, is it really a 350 Watt or something else over/undervolted. What is the maximum no load speed in RPM?

9) Are the chainwheel and freewheel really alloy as claimed or are they steel. Again, the only way to be sure is a magnet

10) What does the bike feel like to pedal without any motor assistance. When your battery goes dead will you be able to pedal this beast home? Probably not if there are any hills at all. The gearing is set very high on this singlespeed and those tires will create a lot of drag.

11) The exact model number and manufacturer of the Lithium cells along with the exact battery chemistry.

12) Top speed on level asphalt for a 170lb rider with no pedaling.

If I could talk directly to Storm/Ivars and Jon directly I would ask whether they were shipping CIF or FOB, I would ask if they are going ship them all at once or in stages. I would also ask if they were going to ship only from the West coast or if they were going to have an East coast warehouse as well to control shipping costs. Then I would ask if they were going to ship the battery and the bike together or separately to save costs. Unfortunately I live on the east coast and won’t be going and he’d probably get annoyed with my questions anyway.

sondors

Etiquette

Show up in your allocated time-slot and be brief when riding the sample bikes. It looks like 150 people are going for a 3 hours period which means that you will get about a minute with the bike.

What NOT to ask

Don’t ask when the bikes will ship from China, they don’t really know. Factories will not start productions without money down. The Sondors campaign has not received and money yet therefore these bikes are not being built yet.

Don’t ask if Storm’s name really is Ivars, don’t ask about the lawsuit settlement against him. It’s just rude and it’s not really any of your business. Whatever happened is between him and the company that sued him. If he choses to call himself Storm than out of respect you should too.

10915292_534537943350726_7627335054358249611_n

Don’t ask if they are planning on ripping you off. Again it’s rude and even if they lied to you, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. Use your best judgement to determine if these guys are legit, and trust your instincts.

There are two reasons I’ve chosen to support this campaign. The first is that I heard second-hand that Storm and Jon are really nice guys from the bike shop that worked on their prototype bikes. I’ve chosen to believe that their original overstated claims were a product of ignorance not maliciousness.

The second reason that I’ve decided to support them is that I really want to see electric bikes become the dominant form of transportation in the USA. While other bike companies have sold and ebike here and there, Storm and Jon have sold 7,000 promises for an ebike in a few short weeks. The fact that there are 7,000 people willing to take the plunge and the leap of faith to trust two complete strangers with $694/$794/$894 for just the promise of getting an ebike renews my faith and hope with the human race.

Makes me all warm and fuzzy just typing it.

Ride On.

 

10 thoughts on “How To Be An Educated Crowdfunded Electric Fatbike Consumer

  1. As far as refunds go, their Indiegogo page does now say this, which is at least somewhat reassuring:

    “Can I get a refund?

    According to Indiegogo, contributions are non-refundable in their Terms of Use. However, upon the completion of the campaign, we will confirm your shipping address and your order to determine refunds on a case by case basis. We get it, sometimes life happens. We want to be fair but it is easiest done at the completion.”

    Like

  2. The next crowdfunder is the Stunner, which is Biktrix. They did the Juggernaut on KS, but this would be IGG, if it goes.

    Pretty clear that Sondors doesn’t ever (under any circumstances) want to own the bike. There will be no warranty, and he does not want to be on any hook for liability or product recalls. That’s the only way it works. It’s like they pool the money to go buy some bikes for you, as individuals, in China. Then the factory ships to you, as an individual buyer. Sondors and IGG are just facilitators of multiple transactions. I’m going on what Roshan (at Biktrix) told me, but this is how it seems to play out.

    “You’ve hit the nail on the head. I am 99% sure that Storm/Sondo will just take the money to his Chinese manufacturers and let them handle everything else. Yes, NO warranty of course.”

    Now, can they pull this off? I would expect the big bike dealers and manufacturers to consider forcing Sondors to back the bikes. If this messes up 7,000 deep discount buyers and their orders, it would be a bad situation.

    Someone is going to find a way to do this. Get a wholesale price from a factory in China, by pooling a lot of orders. It’s bad for the kit guys, because this Alibaba route would undercut their pricing. If I were a kit manufacturer, with good contacts in China, I might be setting up a way to do direct pooled buys (DPB’s. I’ll trademark it).

    Like

    • Its not clear that the Stunner is actually happening which is why I have not posted about it yet. If they give it the go ahead you’ll hear about it here first. It will be 36v is all I know if they do it.

      Like

  3. Great post. You actually have more legal protections with crowdfunding than you state here, but the end result is usually the same — you generally won’t get your money back. Look for more on that score from me on Monday.

    cheers

    dan tynan

    Like

  4. I would like to know:
    – the current of the controller
    – the C capacity of the battery (likely 1 C)
    – average speed on flat asphalt with no pedaling
    – Is the motor a 8fun (bafang) like the photos, or something else?
    – What is the maximum no load speed (probably 18mph at 200rpm).

    7000 of these bikes compared to 173,886 electric bikes sold in the USA – that puts this at 4% of the market share. Could be a game changer!

    I do hope they deliver as promised!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s