Scouting Report: The Aventon Soltera e-bike is a lightweight electric bike that makes cycling easy and fun
Whether you want to admit it or not, electric bikes are the future. Even those of us who own—and swear by— multiple “old-fashioned” pedal bicycles are starting to come around to trying out e-bikes. A few years ago, you may have associated e-bikes mostly with two categories of people: 1) riders who may need an electric-assist (such as senior citizens) and 2) speed demon food delivery drivers who depend on a battery-powered boost to earn them extra tips. This is no longer the case.
Not only are all the cool kids riding e-bikes, but there are electric versions of pretty much every single bike category out there: road, gravel, mountain, folding, fat tire, etc. Electric bikes can bring a lot of power to your bike, making cycling easier, more enjoyable, and enabling you to ride further. The downside, however, is that adding on a battery will make the bike heavier, which can prove particularly problematic if you run out of juice and need to pedal a 70lb beast home or, worse, up a hill!
Now, I’m not referring to the $10,000 electric gravel bike I tried out while bike touring in Arkansas last summer—that bad boy was only 26lbs—but it also cost more than my first (and only) car! If you have the budget, by all means, invest in an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber bike (and, while you’re at it, get one for me too!) But if you have a more conservative budget for a new bike but still want something that’s fairly light, the Aventon Soltera e-bike just might be the answer. It’s sleek, streamlined, rides very smoothly, and only costs about $1200.
What initially drew me to the Aventon Soltera e-bike was that, not only was it light, it was very light for the price ($1,199). The single-speed model is 41lbs while the 7-speed version is 43lbs, meaning either bike is light enough to carry up and down stairs and to be transported on most bike racks. The single-speed version is perfect for flat city commuters, but I got the 7-speed version since I knew I’d be using it in some hilly areas. I went with the step-through model because I wanted my sister (who has some balance issues) to also be able to ride it, but there’s also a step-over Soltera version. For the last few weeks, I’ve been riding around town, easily carrying the 43lb bike up and down stairs, and throwing it in and out of the back of my sister’s trunk (or onto her bike rack) for day trips.
Unlike some dull, gray bike displays and monitors (if a bike even has one in the first place), the Soltera has a full-color backlit display that not only shows how far and fast you’re going, but it also shows fun and less-common figures such as how many trees you’ve saved during your ride and how much carbon you’re not emitting by cycling instead of driving. My first ride on the Aventon Soltera e-bike was an 11-mile spin around town that, according to the display, took 47 minutes, reduced CO2 emissions by 3kg, and saved .2 trees. My average speed was 13.8 miles/hour and my max speed was 22.9 miles/hour.
The bike has five speed levels to choose from, and sometimes I just leave it at level zero if I want to get more of a workout. If I’m just looking for a little power boost, I usually ride it on level two or three. The only times I crank it up to 5 is if I’m going up a really steep hill or if I’m riding into very strong winds. Most e-bikes typically only provide a power boost if you’re pedaling but this bike has a throttle on-demand, meaning you don’t actually have to pedal to make it move. Please note that throttle is no joke and you should never try to jump-start the bike on a high level—start on a low level and work your way up, otherwise you risk the bike flying away from you.
Also note that while the bike averages about 41 miles per charge, you will eat up the battery much faster if you’re riding it on a level 4 or 5 the entire time. If we return to my first ride example, I rode11 miles, mostly on level two, and only used up 10% of the battery instead of the 25% that may have been used up had I ridden on a higher level.
Safety alert! If you’ll be riding at dawn, dusk, or at night, even if it’s just a short ride, front and rear lights are absolutely mandatory. The Aventon Soltera e-bike conveniently comes with integrated front and rear lights that can be activated automatically or through the phone app, which also allows you to configure ride settings, set goals, track progress, and share rides with friends and family. As an avid cyclist who’s been hit by cars on three separate occasions, I’ll add that while the integrated lights are surprisingly bright and are a fantastic feature, if it’s dark out, I’m definitely throwing some additional lights in the mix for added safety. It's safe to say that while I'll always love my traditional bicycle, I'm officially now an e-bike believer.
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