When the Sondors Metacycle appeared, we had a couple thoughts. The first was that it looked great. Electric motorcycle design is all over the map, from emulating traditional motorcycles to simple conveyances with sparse styling to those that throw every design parameter to the wind. And there are many that look like overgrown bicycles which might be the least appealing to most motorcyclists. But the Sondors Metacycle is elegantly simple, obviously a motorcycle and yet not a traditional one. The next thought was, “that should have been a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.”
Harley-Davidson had provided a drawing of what a future electric motorcycle from the company might look like—mostly based on a blend of retro styling elements. The Bar & Shield brand was going to need a followup to the LiveWire: something that had visual appeal, resonated with riders’ passions and, preferably, was at a pricepoint low enough to bring new riders into the fold. Make that happen and they could fill the gaps between models later.
The Sondors Metacycle is the purest example of that bike. Think for a moment. Which major OEM would have fit more comfortably than Harley-Davidson on that bike? Close your eyes and consider the original Fat Boy with its solid wheels, think of the early V-Rod in its satin steel finishes. The Metacycle nailed the styling with its simple yet solid elegance. Never did “keep it simple” work out quite so well.
And then there is the price: US $5,000 (or about CDN $6,000). For an electric motorcycle with a 120-km range that sounds just about right and puts it in the hands of average buyers. There may be a future option to place a second battery in the upper cutout to extend the range and make the price even more practical.
We would need to see the Metacycle in person to confirm that the design and quality do in fact exceed the price. If it does, we hope it succeeds.
The original Harley-Davidson LiveWire is redundant now that the electric motorcycle has been spun off into its own division and become the LiveWire One. Suddenly all the old requirements of tying new electric offerings into the traditional design elements of the Harley-Davidson brand are gone. The next LiveWire could have looked like anything a designer imagines and an engineer can build but as we see with the recently announced Del Mar the traditional styling elements remain.
The LiveWire One is an excellent motorcycle but what follows will be even more important to Harley-Davidson than getting the original LiveWire “right.” There are reasons why the LiveWire was spun off, probably some good ones, but denying the new brand a history might be a two-edged sword if becoming electric ever becomes compulsory.
As for Sondors, they should have a hit with the Metacycle barring any future bumps in the road. Perhaps they feel like they have the electric motorcycle right as they have already turned their attention to building a three-wheeled electric car. Perhaps the Sondors Metacycle can be a template for other manufacturers. There has to be a sweet spot for electric motorcycle pricing and it is going to be lower than most of the players in the game now who appear intent on fighting for the premium segment.
But realistically, until ranges increase or perhaps more importantly, charging time rapidly decreases, a $25,000 plus electric motorcycle is going to be a tough sell. A lot more consumers might be drawn to a bike like the Metacycle if the goal isn’t to impress the other early adopter.
Right now almost any electric motorcycle is going to be an urban commuter and you just aren’t going to get five times the performance or five times the range from a bike that costs five times more. Maybe two times but, confined to riding around town, do you need it?