Costco is selling a Sondors electric bike, the Smart Step LTD, at some of its warehouses and it looks like a decent ride. I did some research into the bike and, while I decided that it wasn’t the bike for me, I wanted to share what I had learned in case other folks had some questions.
Keep reading and we will cover:
- Key Features of the Sondors Electric Bike
- Customer Reviews of the Bike
- Price of the Electric Bike at Costco
- Why I Didn’t Buy This Bike
Key Features of the Sondors Smart Step LTD Electric Bike
There is a LOT going on with this bike so let’s take things in steps 🙂
Speed and Range of the Sondors Smart Step
The Smart Step has a top speed of around 20 mph and a range of around 40 miles.
The bike has five levels of battery powered pedal assist and the speed can also be controlled through a handle based throttle. The combination of throttle control and the top speed of 20 mph makes the Smart Step a Class 2 eBike.
The top range is entirely dependent upon the rider and how they operate the bicycle. I watched one YouTube video where the rider (230 pounds) used the throttle for the whole ride and got about a 10 mile range. I watched another video where the rider used a low level pedal assist and got close to a 40 mile range.
The top speed is electronically limited to around 20 mph although I am sure the electronics can be hacked and the top speed boosted.
The bike is powered by a 350 W motor which is on the low end for a bike this size. You should expect to have to pedal when going uphill.
There are five levels of Pedal Assist available on the bike that are accessible on the left side of the handle bars. You can use more or less power by pressing the + or – buttons which are pretty easy to reach while you ride.
The right side of the handle bars gives you access to a shifter that lets you select one of seven gears.
The center mounted digital display lets you know how fast you are going and how much battery charge is remaining.
The bike runs off of a 36V 10.4Ah lithium ion battery that is mounted inside the center support. The battery is removable after you open up the hinged latch. Being able to take out the battery is a nice feature as you can bring the battery inside for charging without having to haul the bike into your house.
It takes about five hours to fully charge the battery from empty.
Comfort of the Ride
I haven’t taken the bike for a spin but it looks pretty comfortable.
I am basing the comfort assessment based on:
- The videos I watched and linked above.
- The oversized 26 inch tires
- Front suspension
- Padded seat
It would be nice if the bike also had rear mounted suspension like the Jetson Haze but I guess you can’t have everything.
Portability of the Bike
This is a tricky one.
According to Sondors a benefit of the bike is, “…with one simple fold, it’s half its size – making it easy to transport and stow – enabling it to seamlessly fit into your daily life, for work or pleasure.”
The reality is that after the bike is folded it is still quite bulky (38.5″ L x 13.5″ W x 36.6″ H) and takes some work to fit into the back of a vehicle. The bike is also heavy (65 pounds) so you lifting into your vehicle will take some effort.
Customer Reviews of the Sondors Smart Step Electric Bike
I pulled up the customer reviews for this bike from the Costco website and sorted through the commenst to figure out some of the pros and cons.
In general people seemed to be enjoying their bikes with 80% of reviews being either 5 or 4 Stars.
The negative reviews were informative and varied. Several themes emerged in the negative reviews including:
- Bike is under-powered and struggles with hills.
- Brakes are under-sized and make going down hills sketchy.
- Pedals have a tendency to fall off.
The main takeaway I had after reading the reviews was that the bike would be great for flat terrains but I would not buy one if I wanted to ride in the hills and mountains.
Price of the Sondors eBike at Costco
The Sondors Smart Step is priced at $1499 at Costco which seems a bit expensive for what you are getting.
I will admit that I am not an expert in the field of eBike pricing but I did a quick scan of the offerings at Amazon and saw similar bikes with larger motors (750W) and batteries (48V, 15Ah) that cost about $200 less than the Sondors.
The price of the Sondors is in the right ballpark but keep an eye on things and I bet you will be able to grab one on sale eventually.
Why I Haven’t Bought the Sondor eBike
I currently own the Jetson Pro which is the little brother of the Jetson Haze, also available at Costco. I love having an eBike but wish my Jetson had larger tires. My little Jetson is great for zipping around the neighborhood but it is not something that I would take on a major road.
The size of the Sondors, especially the oversized 26 inch tires, is really appealing to me but I have a hard time getting past the fact that the Sondors costs about $1,000 more than the Jetson.
At the current price point the bike would have to be amazing but, after I researched it the best I could, it only looks like it is “okay”.