Electric Nightmare: SONDORS Metacycle Never Meant for Streets

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sondors metacycle motorcycle

A former employee of SONDORS, the e-bike company, has come forward with new insights into the Metacycle electric motorcycle project, describing it as a “freight train wreck turned into a dumpster fire.”

The Metacycle marked SONDORS’ venture into electric motorcycles, following its success with budget-friendly electric bicycles. When it was announced in early 2021, the Metacycle garnered attention for its unique design and surprisingly low price of $5,000 for a supposedly highway-capable electric motorcycle.

SONDORS’ Metacycle Electric Motorcycle

However, the project encountered numerous challenges due to mismanagement and allegations of fraudulent practices. SONDORS faced closure and receivership in late 2023, exacerbated by revelations of warehouses filled with unpaid Metacycles in China, as reported by Electrek.

While it’s uncertain how many Metacycles were delivered to customers, import records suggest around 1,400 to 1,500 units. SONDORS had claimed deposits or pre-payments for thousands more orders.

Bill Ruehl, former Director of Project Management and Engineering at SONDORS, shed light on the issues surrounding the Metacycle and the company during an interview on The ITC Show podcast. Having previously worked at Zero Motorcycles for nearly 8 years, Bill brought expertise from the electric motorcycle industry to SONDORS.

Despite joining after the Metacycle’s design phase, Bill took on the responsibility of addressing the increasing issues with the motorcycle. He conducted extensive investigations into failures, communicated regularly with the factory, and engaged directly with customers to resolve problems.

Bill’s experience as an engineer and electric motorcycle enthusiast equipped him to tackle the challenges faced by SONDORS, highlighting the complexities involved in bringing innovative products to market successfully.

SONDORS Electric Motorcycle Should Be Illegal For The Roads, Reveals Employee

Bill highlighted a range of issues with the Metacycle, spanning technical flaws, business practices, and legal concerns. One major technical issue revolved around the bike’s speed controller, responsible for managing power delivery from the battery to the motor. Poor components and construction often led to controller failures, affecting the bike’s performance.

On the business side, SONDORS faced challenges regarding importation tariffs, sometimes incorrectly classifying imports. Additionally, during homologation, critical issues were overlooked, compromising the bike’s street legality. Homologation involves ensuring vehicles meet regulatory standards for sale in specific markets, a process crucial for legal road use.

In the US, vehicles must adhere to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for road operation. Unlike Europe, where type approval is common, the US relies on self-certification by manufacturers to verify compliance with regulations.

Despite attempts to raise concerns about non-compliance, Bill encountered resistance within the company. He noted shortcuts taken during homologation, particularly regarding braking system suitability for US roads, which ultimately undermined the Metacycle’s legitimacy for road use.

While some riders managed to register their Metacycles, the process wasn’t always straightforward. Certain states refused registration, highlighting broader issues with the bike’s legal status. Registration approval didn’t guarantee street legality, merely indicating DMV processing acceptance.

Another significant issue was the high rate of controller failures attributed to poor MOSFET selection and implementation. This problem, often occurring under heavy load, stemmed from cost-saving measures during controller manufacturing. The lack of a rigorous evaluation process for MOSFET pairing further compounded the issue, resulting in unreliable performance for some Metacycles.


By Aaron

From Vintage Classics to Modern Marvels, Aaron is deeply immersed in the Automobile culture. He is from Kerala and a Man of Few words. He is Someone who loves to spend his free time reading automobile articles and watching TV Shows.

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