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Aventon Level.2 electric bike review

Apr 24, 2024Apr 24, 2024

Aventon is one of the leaders in direct-to-consumer electric bikes, and it’s clear why after a spin on the Level.2, the latest version of the company’s do-it-all commuter bike. This is a bike that gets almost everything right: smart design, plenty of power from the 500 watt motor and responsive pedal assist from the torque sensor, slick integrated lighting, and Class 3 speeds, meaning you can keep up with traffic in pedal assist mode at up to 28 MPH on your morning commute or cruise along at 20 MPH using the thumb throttle if you’ve loaded up the rack with groceries.

The Aventon Level.2 is the D2C brand's flagship city bike, packed with features and delivering good ride quality, range and support at a reasonable price.

The Level.2 takes elements of the classic city bike, such as a relaxed, upright ride, full complement of fenders, a supplied luggage rack (rated at 55 pounds of cargo, considered as part of the bike’s 300-pound maximum total load), and nifty integrated lighting, and updates them with features you’d find on a more modern hybrid, like a suspension fork (a low-maintenance coil-spring model from Zoom) and contemporary MTB-sized 27.5-inch wheels. This isn’t a bike meant for high-performance adventuring or challenging terrain, but for getting you to work, shopping or just out for a spin, and it largely delivers on that.

An 8-speed rear derailleur and single 46-tooth front chainring give you enough range to get over most hills you’d think about tackling with this bike without giving up too much high end; during our test rides (mostly on a semi rural loop with grades making out at around 15%) we didn’t find ourselves wishing for higher or lower gears.

The 500-watt rear hub motor has plenty of power for everyday riding. There are plenty of 750-watt models out there nowadays, but we didn’t feel the somewhat lower power rating put us at a disadvantage, We had no difficulty getting the Aventon up to 28 miles per hour on flat terrain, and throttle-only cruising at 20 MPH was similarly effortless, and there was plenty of charge on tap to finish out a 22-mile loop with somewhat under half a battery to spare — slightly lower range in our experience than the suggested 60 miles, but those figures vary widely under real conditions, and based on our hilly and somewhat windy test track seemed in line with expectations. A typical commute distance shouldn’t be an issue at all.

A full battery charge using the included 3A fast charger took around the suggested time; comfortably under 5 hours. If you’re nervous about e-bike battery safety, Aventon’s batteries are tested to the UL 2849 fire safety standard, which should provide some assurance.

Torque sensing gives you a more natural, predictable response when you’re using pedal assist mode, and it’s great to see it here (it’s becoming more common in e-bikes priced at $2,000 and below like this one and the Electra Loft Go! 7D). Getting underway from a standing start is smoother than on bikes that use a cadence sensor to adjust pedal assist power, and while the Level.2 uses a hub drive and doesn’t feel quite as smooth as a mid-drive bike such as the Gazelle Ultimate C380+, it’s definitely better, and on par with other similarly equipped mid-priced e-bikes.

The hydraulic brakes are fitted with electronic interrupters, so if you squeeze the levers the motor cuts out, avoiding the disconcerting sensation of the motor still spinning up if you need to come to an unexpected stop or modulate speed a bit while you’re still pedaling (as you might into a corner). it’s something we like to see on any e-bike, and we’re glad to see it here. Another cool integration feature is that the rear lights act as brake lights, pulsing brighter when you apply the levers. Every little bit of visibility helps, so this is another nice feature in a bike that’s likely to see some time on busy rush hour streets.

Aventon’s big, bright full-color display, controlled via a convenient thumb button pad, is the centerpiece of the controls. It’s a lot bigger and more dense with information than most of the competition at this price, and it syncs via Bluetooth with a companion app, giving you access to some deeper bike settings and display options, along with distance and route tracking, some ride metrics like estimated calories burned and so on, all on your phone.

These are fun features to play around with, though not really essential and not yet on par with what you’d get from a Garmin device. Then again, this is a bike meant for fun and fitness, not serious workouts. The computer also has a USB port, so you can keep your connected phone charged from the bike’s battery — a nice feature for long rides or if you haven’t charged your phone overnight and want to catch up on your way to work (assuming you’ve picked up a handlebar mount for your phone).

While Aventon is primarily a direct-to-consumer brand, they have an advantage over some competitors in that they sell through a broad network of brick and mortar dealers so if you’re near one (and they have a presence in most major cities) the experience of purchasing and getting service is more like you’d get from a legacy bike brand. You can test-ride, compare in person, and get help when you need it.

The Level.2 comes in variants that should suit the majority of riders. The bike is available in step-through and step-over models (and in two sizes, Regular (to fit riders from 5-feet, 3-inches up to 5-feet, 10 inches) and Large (for riders 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet, 4-inches). Even with the relatively heavy coil-spring fork the aluminum-framed bike is reasonably lightweight, at around 54 pounds, so it’s not too hard to manage when you’re off the bike (and helpfully the motor controls include a walk-assist mode if you need some extra oomph negotiating a loaded bike from shop to street or up the driveway).

The Level.2 is a bike that hits the mark in most respects. You get name-brand parts — Tektro brakes, Shimano derailleur — where they make a perceptible difference, and fit and finish is good throughout. It’s not perfect, however, and there are a few areas where there’s room for improvement.

Aventon cautions that the Level.2 isn’t recommended for use in wet weather where available, which is a bit of a letdown for a fender-equipped bike intended for commuting. The electronics package is rated to IPX4, so it’s splashproof, but not meant to resist immersion, pressurized jets, or the like. While this isn’t uncommon for e-bikes not specifically designed for extreme conditions (e-MTBs, for instance), it’s a bit of a letdown. Light rain is fine, but if you ride to work in a drizzle and the weather gets really nasty later in the day you may want to find another way home.

The full-color display Aventon uses on the Level.2 is impressively large and detailed and provides a ton of useful feedback compared to most bike computers we’ve tested over the past year, but the detailed graphics and thin, vaguely Star Trek-like typeface make it hard to take in at a glance, especially in bright sunlight, so it’s actually at a disadvantage compared to more basic displays in real world conditions.

Once you get used to it, it’s easy enough to see the speed display, and to tell which pedal assist level you’ve chosen, but the odometer and other secondary display functions can be very hard to make out. A less feature-packed display (or a different distribution of screen real estate) might have been a better choice here.

Minor, but the Level.2 has only a basic cyclocross-style chainring guard. A good city bike should really have a full chaincase or chain guard, as included on the Gazelle Ultimate C380+ — it’s handy for well-dressed commuters looking to avoid grease stains, and it’s always difficult to find an appropriately sized third-party model.

The main question for readers interested in the Level.2 is how it competes with the growing range of similarly configured big brand e-bikes selling right around the $2,000 mark. That there are so many good e-bikes available in this range is testament to how mainstream electric bikes are now, and it means that riders can choose based on features and performance as they would with any other type of bicycle — you don’t really need to compromise your taste or needs to go electric.

Want a retro-styled cruiser? Check out the Electra Loft Go! 7D. Need an around-town bike that’s up to the occasional long trip off the beaten path? Look at the Ride1 Up Turris. Need a load-hauler that the whole family can share? Head over to REI and try the Co-op Cycles Generation e1.1. Want something that doesn’t look like an e-bike and that you can carry up the stairs to your apartment? Check out the stealthy, minimalist and relatively featherweight Velotric Thunder 1.

But if you’re looking for solid across-the-board performance in a city bike and don’t want to stretch the budget for a higher-end ride like the Gazelle Ultimate C380+, the Aventon Level.2 gives you solid responsiveness and ride quality, the ability to keep up with traffic or relax and use the throttle, plus a great combination of features and shop support.

There’s no question that the Aventon Level.2 delivers what the manufacturer has promised — it’s a fun-to-ride bike that should cover many, many riders’ cycling needs — whether those include commuting, shopping, recreational jaunts or just plain tooling around the neighborhood. It isn’t going to get you off the beaten path, and it isn’t sporty enough for enthusiasts or SUV-like enough for utility bike fans, but it’s a fine bike at a reasonable price that offers a lot of usefulness and fun.

Sure, the display and software seem a few updates away from perfection, a couple of details could be better executed and we’d like to see more water resistance in a commuter bike, but this is a bike that gets the great majority of things right. And you can go test-ride one in a shop, which you can’t say about many direct-to-consumer branded models. So if you’re in the market for an everyday e-bike for pavement (and don’t plan on spending a lot of time in the rain) go out and ride a Level.2. It might just end up in your garage.