- The SONDORS LX is a massive and powerful go-anywhere electric bike with a unique elevated chainstay frame design, available online in the US and Canada at an impressive price point of $2,000 USD
- The Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor provides impressive torque and speed as well as a responsive torque sensor, over one kilowatt-hour of high quality LG cells in the seamlessly integrated battery pack, enormous 26" x 4.9" tires provide comfort and can handle virtually any terrain with help from an air fork and suspension seatpost
- Integrated lighting has side cutouts and brake activation which are great for safety, with an upgraded color LCD vibrant enough for bright sunny days and highly configurable settings
- Only available in one size and very heavy at 90 pounds, shipping times have long delays and assembly may be intimidating for new riders, the tires lack puncture protection which can be an expensive upgrade due to their size
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
This in-depth review was produced for free, but I would like to thank eBikes USA for providing the test bike used here. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of SONDORS products. I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below and the SONDORS electric bike forums.
- SONDORS has a fascinating history in the Ebike space, with a reputation for bold claims, crowd-funded campaigns, and creating a surprisingly wide range of electric products. Most people know them for their electric bicycles, but they’re also working on cars, motorcycles, and… a fishing reel?!
- The LX joins with the Cruiser and Rockstar as the first mid-drive ebikes from SONDORS, all of their other models rely on geared rear hub motors, which offer great value and durability at the cost of performance and responsiveness.
- The Bafang Ultra M620 motor is configured to draw 750 watts of power on the LX, but it’s capable of handling a lot more power than that. I’ve heard it can handle as much as 3,000 watts! The 750 watt configuration helps to increase range, of course, and also makes the LX street legal in California and other places that have 750 watt limits for electric bicycles. The LX arrives with a Class 3 sticker indicating a top speed of 28mph and pedal assist only. However, there is a throttle included in the box which you can easily mount, and it’s quite easy to change the top speed in the display settings, with options for 20mph, 28mph, and 35mph. Please research the regulations for where you live before purchasing, in many areas 35mph is not considered legal and is only for riding on private property… but as big-city Ebikers know, the higher top speed can make a huge difference for riding safely on streets that lack bike lanes.
- Available for online ordering in the US and Canada, shipping starts at a reasonable $97 but may increase depending on your exact location. There aren’t any official dealers but some shops are starting to carry them independently due to the popularity of the SONDORS brand.
- Covered by a one-year comprehensive warranty, and I consider the price point of $2,000 USD to be a great deal for what you get here. It is likely that the price will increase at some point in the future, all previous SONDORS models have seen price increases of $100-300 at some point after release… but even then, you still get a lot of ebike for the money.
- This is the first SONDORS to include lights, and they are well done with sleek integration, plenty of brightness, side cutouts on the headlight which are great for safety, and even brake light activation for the twin taillights!
- The Bafang Ultra motor provides massive power and torque for climbing hills, high speed riding, and anything else you might throw at it. Since it is a mid-drive motor it is able to leverage the rear cassette, providing a significant mechanical advantage when downshifted to the lower end gears. Acceleration is satisfyingly brisk, I turned a few heads by easily keeping pace with cars when riding in downtown Denver traffic.
- The Ultra motor is also torque sensing, another first for SONDORS ebikes. This means that the motor responds to how much pressure you put on the pedals, increasing power to match when you start putting more effort in. This feels much more responsive and satisfying than the cadence sensors on other SONDORS models, it also means less fiddling with assist levels when adjusting your riding speed.
- The battery pack is a 48 volt, 21 amp-hour monster – that’s over a kilowatt-hour of capacity! Like all other SONDORS ebikes it uses high-quality LG cells, it is sturdily constructed and beautifully integrated into the top of the downtube, low and center which gives the bike a great center of gravity for maximizing stability.
- The chain is ebike-rated stainless steel, this is important since it’s connected to such a powerful motor! I also appreciate the narrow-wide teeth on the steel chainring, this helps it to better grip the chain and prevent it from bouncing off, and there’s an alloy bash guard on the outside to provide some protection and prevent pant cuffs from snagging.
- The frame design is unique and eye catching, with single raised chainstays and an approachable step-through geometry. Tasteful branding accents, sleek integrated cabling, and three beautiful color options will definitely have you turning heads anywhere you ride!
- Great hydraulic brakes here from Tektro, these are ebike-specific with motor inhibitors and taillight activation when braking. Sde note, this works to activate the taillights even when the lights are turned off, a great safety feature! Hydraulic brakes are very easy to actuate – especially with these big four-finger levers – and require much less maintenance than mechanical brakes, and 180mm rotors in the front and rear provide great stopping power, definitely appreciated on such a large and heavy bike.
- The Shimano Altus derailleur is a step up from their entry-level Tourney, and SONDORS has upgraded the gearing here as well with a 7-speed Hyperglide cassette with a range of 11 to 34 teeth. For reference, previous SONDORS bikes almost exclusively used a freewheel (which is less durable) with a range of only 12 to 28 teeth. The shifter here is the reliable and intuitive RevoShift, a half-grip twist shifter on the right grip.
- The suspension fork is branded as SONDORS AirShocks but it’s a MOZO fork under the hood, with 100mm of travel and a preload clicker on the side. Air suspension is a nice upgrade as it’s a bit more lightweight and performs better compared to coil suspension. You also get a suspension seatpost, it’s fairly basic with only 30mm of travel but you can adjust the preload by turning the socket found in the base of the seatpost.
- Chaoyang Big Daddy tires are enormous at 26″ x 4.9″, knobby texture can handle any terrain (even sand and snow if you drop the pressure a bit), and the high volume of air provides excellent ride comfort. The gel saddle from Selle Royale and ergonomic rubber grips also contribute to a comfortable ride, and I appreciate that the grips are locking and won’t twist around on you when riding on rougher terrain.
- SONDORS started using color LCD displays a couple years ago, those ones were decent but not quite bright enough for direct sunlight. I’m happy to report they’ve improved that on the LX, even at 30% brightness I could see it on a sunny day, and at 100% brightness it’s incredibly easy to see even the smaller bits of information. The settings menus are easy to navigate and I appreciate that SONDORS has included a plethora of diagnostic information, with everything from hardware and firmware versions to voltage readouts for each battery cell!
- It’s quite easy to change the top speed in the display settings and I appreciate that the options are pre-set to include 20mph and 28mph, associated with Class 1/2 and Class 3 designations. It’s a good idea to drop the max speed down to 20mph when riding on busy multi-use trails and other areas where you’ll be riding near lots of pedestrians and regular cyclists, this is important for safety and also helps you to comply with regulations that may be in place.
- An advantage of the Bafang Ultra compared to mid-drive motors from Bosch, Yamaha, Brose, etc… is that you get a throttle! Throttles aren’t for everyone but they can provide a lot of fun and sometimes just relief if you’re exhausted and heading home after a long day at work. Since the motor always uses the drivetrain, the throttle feels quite peppy when shifted down into lower gears. I also love that the LX has full throttle override in any assist level, a most useful feature if you’re riding in Level 1 but need to accelerate quickly without taking time to fiddle with display buttons. The throttle is easy to remove if needed to comply with regulations in your area, so be sure to check into those before riding :)
- A USB charging port is mounted on the right-hand grip and provides a full amp of power, which means it can charge Apple devices in addition to Androids which only require 0.5 amps. This is a great feature if you use your smartphone while riding, you can mount it on the handlebars and use GPS navigation, listen to music, or use ride tracking apps. You could also power additional lights or perhaps a portable speaker!
- There are mount points for mounting fenders and racks, great if you intend to use the LX for commuting or running errands.
- The LX, much like the XS before it, feels like the bike equivalent of an SUV, huge and sturdy, ready to roll over virtually any terrain. Step-through frames often have some frame flex at higher speeds but I didn’t notice any, feeling perfectly stable even riding no-handed at 30mph. The spokes are significantly thicker as well with 11 gauge in the front and 10 in the rear, compared to standard ebikes which are usually 12-13 gauge.
- The charge port is in a great position, high up on the downtube to prevent the cord from tangling up with the cranks if you need to scoot the bike around a bit while charging. The port cover is very snugly secured, it’s actually rather difficult to remove especially if you have short fingernails… but I appreciate this, because it will loosen up over time and the tight fit will prevent water and debris from getting into the battery compartment. Also worth noting is that the charger is 3 amps, slightly more powerful than the standard 2 amp charger… but it will still take quite awhile to fully charge the massive battery pack if you run it down low
- The rims are punched out which cuts down on weight and increases handling performance, they don’t make a huge difference but every little bit counts on such a large ebike!
- SONDORS is direct-to-consumer only, which means you probably won’t be able to test ride before ordering, and you’ll have to complete assembly of your LX after it arrives. Typically this means mounting the front wheel and handlebar and tuning the brakes and derailleur, which you can do with the included tools but can be intimidating if you lack experience. It’s also a difficult process with such a huge bike if you don’t have a stand or another person to help you. Also consider maintenance and repairs, even if you get replacement parts under warranty from SONDORS, you may have to do the work yourself if there aren’t any ebike repair shops in your area.
- The popularity of the SONDORS brand means shipping delays when ordering. At the time of this review (March), new orders are not expected to ship until August… and a lot could happen in the intervening months which might cause further delays. That’s a long time to wait for an ebike that you haven’t even gotten to test ride yet, especially when dealers have other brands in stock and ready to ride home today. Shipping delays also affect replacement parts, SONDORS sells all of their replacement parts and accessories at very low prices but most of them are listed as out of stock at this time. Fortunately, the non-electric components are all industry standard and available from other sources, but replacing a battery or display might entail a long wait time to get riding again.
- There’s only one size available for the LX, and it’s huge! It’s a great fit for larger riders; I felt great on it, and very few bikes feel good for my 6ft 3in height. Shorter riders will still be able to easily mount and dismount thanks to the approachable step-thru design, but the sheer size and weight (90 pounds) may feel intimidating, and you simply won’t be able to get the same fitting experience that you would from brands that offer a range of sizes. It’s a trade-off, the single size model keeps things simple and is part of how SONDORS is able to offer such competitive pricing.
- The Altus drivetrain is pretty basic compared to some of the higher-level offerings from Shimano, so shifting won’t be as smooth and the cassette range is more narrow than what you would find on a more premium setup. With that said, due to the size and power of the LX I think the Altus is a good fit, most riders will always use electric assist and the size of the battery pack makes it unlikely that you’ll find yourself pedaling home without power.
- Some safety considerations: The tires lack reflective sidewall striping which I’d like to see to improve side visibility at night, and the taillights are positioned very low down on the back of the chainstays. The low positioning makes them less likely to be noticed and some drivers may not be able to see them if they are close behind you with the hood of their car blocking their line of sight. The lights are very bright though and I definitely appreciate the brake activation, and the headlight does have side cutouts to increase visibility, and you could always opt for the Arctic White color which is highly visible in all lighting conditions!
- The tires also lack puncture protection, which can be a real bummer if you live somewhere like northern Colorado where goathead thorns abound. These are thick knobby tires so they are naturally more puncture resistant than the average bicycle tire, but you’ll still want to invest in some extra protection if you risk punctures in your riding areas. Repairing flats on the road is not a fun time with such huge tires, the high volume of air means a lot of pumping even with a stand-up pump, much less a small hand pump which most riders carry for re-filling after patching a flat.
- It’s ridiculously easy to accelerate quickly and reach high speeds on the LX, which can be unsafe if riding on busy multi-use trails, not to mention illegal on any trails that have speed and power restrictions for ebike use. For example, It won’t be allowed on most mountain bike trails due to the power and presence of a throttle. If you’re riding in areas with lots of pedestrian and acoustic bicycle traffic, take advantage of the display settings and lower your maximum speed down to 20mph to ride safely!
- I love the unique look of the frame design but it may present some problems when it comes to mounting accessories. There are mounting points in the rear for fenders and a rack, but the chainstay is higher than standard and there is no seat stay (which racks often mount to). There aren’t any bottle cage bosses on the seatpost tube which is a bummer since there is ample space for them, and the tube itself has a wide and irregular shape to it. Standard bicycle accessories may or may not be able to fit this unique frame, and SONDORS has not released any LX-specific accessories on their website yet. I want to be clear that I’m just speculating here based on my observations with the bike, I have not tested mounting any accessories to the LX.
- As mentioned above, the Bafang Ultra motor is very powerful, and since it is a mid-drive it puts a lot of stress on the drivetrain. It’s great that the freewheel was upgraded to a more durable Hyperglide cassette, but I’ve seen a lot of speculation from members of our forums that the cassette still might not be strong enough to handle the wear and tear from the Ultra. After filming the review I learned that the M620 does in fact have shift detection, so this will help to minimize wear and tear if it works well. It wasn’t noticeable to me while riding but shift detection is usually subtle on other mid-drives that I have tested.
- The display is not removable which leaves it vulnerable to bad weather when parked outside, as well as bumps and cosmetic damage if parked at a bike rack, with that said these displays have a reputation of being quite durable.
- The throttle is on the left which can feel uncomfortable to anyone with experience riding motorcycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs, this is a minor gripe but something that always irks me as a long-time motorcyclist
- The headlight is mounted on the “unsprung” or lower portion of the suspension fork, this means that it will bounce up and down as the suspension engages, and on rough surfaces this can create a jarring strobe light effect.
- The stem is not adjustable, fixed stems like the one here are more sturdy but on a one-size-only ebike like this an adjustable stem would go a long ways to helping it fit a wider range of riders, and a raised stem would allow for a more upright and relaxed seating position when riding in town.
- The torque-sensing Ultra motor offers great value and power but it isn’t as refined as mid-drives from Bosch, Yamaha, Brose, Shimano (and more) which are much more responsive and efficient, and Bosch motors even have shift detection which helps to minimize wear and tear on your drivetrain. These more premium mid-drives are also much more efficient, and found on bikes that are much more lightweight and generally feel more like a standard bicycle. Of course, those ebikes come with a much more premium price tag, and many riders (myself included) will find the powerful LX much more fun to ride!
- I prefer the responsiveness of torque sensors over cadence sensors which only only have one mode – either activated or not – but cadence sensors can be wonderful if you have sensitive knees and aren’t able to put a lot of pressure on the cranks. Fortunately, there is a throttle on the LX which can be used to fully engage the motor regardless of pedal assist level.