I’m always on the lookout for cool new designs and ideas for e-bikes, and to be honest, the new Aventon Level.2 is…pretty stuffy. Radical frame design? Not really. Exotic materials? No. Crazy engine power? Not here.
But Aventon consistently produces useful, reliable, durable – and yes, innovative – e-bikes that are both fun and highly practical, and the new Level.2 continues that tradition. I rode one for most of last summer.
As noted, the $1,949 Level.2 is a fairly straightforward commuter-style e-bike. My review bike arrived as a large full-frame standard model with a dark gray paint job they call Clay, a rear rack, and a 750-watt Bafang rear hub motor. It also had full fenders to ward off wet Oregon weather and a color LCD display that connects to the Aventon app via Bluetooth to fine-tune engine performance and other details. It is also available in step by step.
The Level.2 is a Class 2 e-bike, and it includes a thumb throttle for freewheeling without pedaling. Power comes from a large in-frame battery that is also removable and good for 60 miles of low-power assist. A small but bright LED headlight and Aventon’s dual tail/brake lights – among the best in cycling – are complemented by a small third brake light on the rear fender. An 8-speed Shimano Altus shifter runs alongside the hub motor, and the tire is a 27.5-inch MTB style with an urban-leaning tread. However, the Level.2 includes a suspension fork to smooth out some bumps, and it can also be locked out for a full hard tail ride.
New to the Aventon Level.2 is a torque sensor, the technology of the day for e-bikes which, combined with a pedal cadence sensor, better matches motor output to pedal input and smooths out the support commitment. Basically, the harder you pedal, the more the bike will help you in your efforts. Step back and the assistance falls. It’s all very transparent to the rider, but it’s a great help on the slopes and increases efficiency, extending battery life.
The 54-pound Level.2 was easy to set up right out of the box, requiring the front wheel, handlebars, and pedals to be installed. With the included tools from Aventon, it took about 20 minutes to get up and rolling. Everything is pre-wired so once everything is tightened up it’s ready to roll. The battery had a decent charge so I went for a quick spin and was immediately caught in a downpour of rain. No worries, thanks to the fenders, but I got home a little wet.
Dry and battery fully charged, I headed out to my test route, which includes a knoll that gains about 700 feet in elevation. Assist set to max and top speed set to 28mph, I flew up the hill at a steady 20mph enough with decent effort on the pedals, but I still sat in the wide, comfortable seat. The descent is a good test of handling (and brakes) as the road swirls and changes, with some wide sweepers and two good straights in the mix. The Level.2’s front fork felt a little under-damped in some rough patches of pavement, but I was also pushing the bike well past 30 mph, so that’s not unexpected. In top gear and well above any pedal assist in the upper straight, the Level.2 briefly touched 40 mph and tracked true, the hydraulic brakes reducing speed without howling or hooking as it approached a wide right corner. The Level.2 sailed calm and confident without any noticeable frame flex, the wind whistling in my ears. Sure, it’s a commuter bike, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too.
After the speed and handling test, I mounted two soft panniers on the rack and headed to the local grocery store for some supplies. Weighed down by two full saddlebags, rear-engine power kicked in as I flew down the bike path adjoining a busy Portland thoroughfare, easily gaining a better time than the cars, trucks and buses scrambling for position. in traffic. Gotta love a good e-bike, but I’d love to see Aventon put a bell (and loud bell) on every bike they sell.
And finally, my favorite event: the night ride. Aventon uses a small LED headlight that seems low on wattage but casts a bright, focused rectangle of light well in front of the bike, and has even earned a few headlight flashes from cars annoyed by its brightness (too bad, I want to be seen). At the rear, the triplet of taillights and brake lights provide excellent visibility unless the panniers are on the bike, which can obscure the two main lights a bit. Fortunately, the third red LED on the rear fender takes over. The brake lights also activate whenever the brakes are used, day or night. I commend Aventon for their continued commitment to making their bikes highly visible at night, including stock tires with reflective stripes for added side visibility.
With the battery to spare, I eased off the pedals and slammed on the gas, gliding through my neighborhood after dark with a soft roar emanating from the rear hub motor. Real summer fun.
The Level.2 is another solid offering from Aventon, which offers a wide range of e-bikes, from foldies to roadies to tired bombers. But the Level.2 represents what they do best: providing a very useful, affordable and integrated transportation platform that is also fun to ride and built to last. On the street, most people won’t give the Level.2 a second look these days, e-bikes are so common. But for just under $2,000, it’s a satisfying and worthwhile investment, if not a bargain, as it includes sturdy wings, actual lights, and a solid dollop of climbing power. Highly recommended.