Ok, they’re not mountain bikes but this year, we’re fielding so many questions about commuter e-bikes. With mobility provided by electric motors and with Covid turning the world upside down, the need for bikes has exploded. E-bikes are the center of this storm since they seem to enable a wider demographic of riders and body types to get on a bike and explore or commute farther. The main obstacle seems to be price as the entry-level bikes from big brands like the Specialized Vado is $2800 and the Trek Verve is $2500. Good bikes but simply out of reach for most or impractical for those unsure about how much they will be used.
Enter the Aventon Pace Commuter e-bike with the Pace 500 for $1399 and the Pace 350 for $1099. The bikes are incredibly attractive, especially the Step-thru model for women. The lines and colors are attractive and it doesn’t scream “I’m an e-bike!” like most other brands. The price is pretty crazy especially for the Pace 350 since good commuter bike or even used bikes are closing in on $1000 during these short supply days. Thus $1099 for a complete, brand new e-bike, with available inventory, shipped for free, is worth a look.
Aventon Pace 500 Highlights
- Bike type: e-bike, city/urban/commuter
- Wheel size: 27.5 in.
- Motor: 500/350 watts, Class 3 (28 mph)
- Battery range: 30 to 50 miles
- Weight: 48.9 lb. (M)
- WARRANTY:1 Year Comprehensive, Lifetime Frame and Fork
- Motor: Shenyi rear hub motor
- Battery: 557 wh with 4-hour charger
- Price: $1,399 for the Pace 500 and $1099 for the Pace 350
- Visit www.aventon.com for more information
What do you get for the money?
The Pace 500 checks a lot of boxes with a 500-watt Shenyi hub motor with a 557wh battery. It charges in about 4 hours and delivers a 30-50 mile range depending on how much motor assistance is used. It has an assist mode that boosts the rider’s pedaling input up to 28 mph. It also has a throttle mode where the rider doesn’t need to pedal but that shuts off at 20mph.
Another nice feature is a wide, clear, backlit display indicating all the essential information like speed, assist mode, and battery level. It has capable hydraulic disc brakes too that are vital in bikes that will see high speeds and legitimate descents. No integrated lights are present but a sturdy kickstand is included.
The seat is big and comfortable and the position is very upright. There is a bit of adjustability allowed by the stem but it cannot be dropped past a certain point with still a lot of handlebar rise present. It’s made for cruising and giving older riders a good vision of traffic and road conditions but it’s a bit hard to get into an efficient pedaling position. On our test model, we replaced the stem with a standard style to get the handlebars lower.
What else can be found in the box aside from the charger is quite a revelation. There is a really usable Allen wrench multi-tool, a robust pedal wrench, grease, and a spare derailleur hanger. And to top it off, a cool bottle cage and a useable, long-term pair of flat pedals are included. All the reflectors are in the box and available for mounting and I actually think that is very refreshing. I’m a huge believer in safety lights, especially for daytime when this bike will see 99% of its usage. So not having to remove every single reflector (since I use head and tail lights) is quite a treat.
This company has a lot of experience shipping direct to consumers and it shows. This level of packaging and protection is normally seen in expensive consumer-direct brands like YT and Canyon. The level of available instruction is good too as even a first-time installer can put it together themselves with resources available in the box or online. But how they can ship this to consumers for FREE is a bit surreal. I mean UPS and FedEx are so expensive these days charging $100-$200 to ship a bike, let alone a heavier e-bike!
If a consumer wants an assembled bike with bike shop service options, there are a few dealers available. Not a lot but I did find 5 dealers in the SF Bay Area in their dealer locator.
Aventon Pace 500 ride review
Unpacking and assembly done in about an hour so it’s now time to take it for a spin. It’s wise to first pedal around the bike without power and get a feel for it and adjust the saddle and bars. It’s a solid, smooth running bike and it pedals and rolls well. I was able to cruise around at about 15 mph with some effort and it rolls and shifts smoothly with no added rolling resistance when the motor is off. Brakes were a little bit weak and had to be bedded in. One of the delights of owning an e-bike is it’s easy to bed in brakes which involves riding at around 20mph and hitting the brakes aggressively but safely about ten times. This mates the brake pads with the rotors and improves braking power significantly.
And now comes the power. I switched to Level 1 and I’m off with a whirr and a swoosh. The motor is fairly loud and it delivers assist fairly strongly. Assist comes when the cadence sensor detects a quarter crank revolution so one has to ensure the bike is in gear and the cranks move. Most high-end e-bikes have a torque sensor so they start up the motor sooner as pressure is applied to the crank and the wheels turn.
There are five levels of assist modes and they predominantly determine the max speed where the assist will cut off. Level 1 assists up to 13 mph, Level 2 to 16 mph and so on until Level 5 which delivers up to 28 mph. The amount of assist is determined by the level as Level 1 delivers the least amount of torque and power of the 500 watts available. It is subtle though as it is hard to detect the nuances of power assist output from Level 2-5. The top speed cut-off of each level is what the rider will notice the most. At each motor level, the power delivery is not really modulated it’s basically an on/off all or nothing power at a pre-determined amount. It’s not ideal but most lower cost motors function this way since there is no torque sensor at the crank to realistically determine and match the rider’s output.
Now let’s talk about the throttle, yes there is one so that makes this a Class 3 e-bike. A handy little trigger is located on the left side by the mode selector switch. The bike has to be moving about 2mph for it to take effect. So from a start, one has to put in a couple pedal strokes and off it goes at full 500 watts of power all the way to 20mph. Throttle assist shuts off there and if the rider wants to go faster, they need to be at Level 5 and one can pedal with assist to 28mph as per the normal assist mode.
- The pricing at $1099 and $1399 is simply unbelievable
- Free shipping
- The component selection is cohesive and quality consistent with no weak links
- Packing and assembly instructions and tools are good
- Hydraulic brake are perfect for the job
- The display and controls are very good
- The power is just impressive.
- Bike handles well and has a very solid, sturdy feel
- All the touch points are good
- The power assist levels are not much different from each other and seem to mainly control the top speed
- Assist is mostly on/off in each level
- Assist is too powerful at the lower levels and it’s hard to get a workout as the top speed allowed is reached to easily
- The frame is stiff and one can feel all road imperfections
The Aventon Level Commuter
Throughout our test rides, we’ve used The Aventon Pace 500 and the Aventon Level Commuter bike available for $1599. All impressions for the Pace 500 apply to the Aventon Level bike with a few differences noted below.
The Level is optimized for commuting so it comes with racks and fenders for wet weather riding. There’s a suspension fork too to take the edge off bumps and errant potholes. All this adds to the cost and weight which balloons to 59 lbs.
But other than that, all packing, assembly and riding notes apply. It’s a good package but we only recommend it if one is actually going to put those racks and fenders to use.
The bottom line is these are enabler bikes that are attainable. It is pretty crazy what they’re offering for the money as these bikes look and operate like e-bikes twice their price.
At $1099, for the Pace 350, one can try it out even if unsure about the whole e-bike genre and discover if it really fits their lifestyle.
We’re pretty sure what’s gonna happen though, one will try it out and the ‘whoosh’ of the assist will put a smile on one’s face. It will be ridden every week, and in some cases every day. They can be used to explore the neighborhood, the nearby towns and maybe the state. One can use it to commute as well and possibly a car replacement.
It’s such a revelation since it is built very well and it looks cool to boot. It’s almost guaranteed that it will be a keeper and the neighbors, friends and family will end up buying one as well.
For more information:Aventon Bikes