This bike is “next Level”
We loved the original Aventon Level when we first reviewed it (EBA, October 2020). In fact, where it was positioned, both in price and spec, the bike was one of our favorite commuters. But, there was one box the original Level didn’t tick, and we said so in the review and the video review on our YouTube channel. It had a cadence sensor but not a torque sensor.
The difference is that with a cadence sensor, the system only cared that you were pedaling, not how hard you were pedaling, so picking one of the five power levels would take you immediately up to that level’s top speed (e.g., level 1 would take you to about 12 mph, and level 5 gets you to 28 mph). This generally hurts the range, as the motor is using the most power it can at every chosen power level. The addition of the torque sensor means that the power to the motor matches your own legs’ power, meaning the harder you pedal, the more power the motor provides as well. It’s a very natural feeling and more efficient in battery use.
When we asked Aventon why they went with a torque sensor on one of their bikes for the first time, the answer was that they are always trying to innovate, and they took our input from the last review into consideration.
The Level.2 is rated as a class 2 bike (with a throttle assist up to 28 mph) and comes in two styles—a traditional diamond-shaped frame with a radically sloping top tube or a low-step-through frame with no top tube. The battery is integrated into the downtube. The aluminum frame is equipped with a Zoom coil-suspension fork with 65mm of travel. It’s a good-looking bike, with shapely frame tubes; a nice, shiny finish; internal cable routing; and overall good fit and finish. It comes with a sturdy rear rack that can hold up to 55 pounds, and the bike is rated to carry a total of 350 pounds, including rider and cargo.
Aventon makes the Level.2 available in two sizes and two colors. Owing to its complement of commuter-friendly spec, the bike is on the heavy side, hitting the scales at 61 pounds.
The first thing you notice is the integrated LED lighting, which is powered from the battery, so it uses very little power. The headlight and taillights are turned on by a switch, but all three taillights light up really bright when you apply the brakes via either lever. There’s one light on each seatstay, and a light on the rear fender that can be helpful for visibility if the seatstay lights are covered by panniers or the like. Aventon spec’d the bike with an 8-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain.
The motor (with assist up to 28 mph) is partnered with a big 672Wh battery that they claim will take you “up to 60 miles.” Of course, that’s not a real-world claim, and we’d say 30-plus miles is likely a safer bet. It charges via their 3-amp charger in four to five hours from 0 to 100 percent. The brush-less rear hub motor branded as Aventon is likely Shengyi. It puts out 500 watts nominal and up to 750 watts peak, which helps get you going.
New for Aventon, too, is a color LCD with a backlight and an app. There’s even a USB port built in to charge your phone.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Level.2 is aimed at commuters and tourers. It can be loaded onto an e-bike-rated rack to take to a riding destination, or you can simply ride there without the car. It’s affordable at under $2000.
We have to admit that Aventon obviously did their homework on the packing job inside the box. There was more cardboard, padding and zip-ties than virtually any other bike, customized specifically to fit the bike and protect it in shipping. Who wants to get a banged-up bike, right? The build process is easy if you have it shipped to you.
“The torque sensor works very well with the motor and different power levels to make the ride a much more natural riding experience.”
We were delighted at the little details. Aventon really got the charger right by putting their name on it. We’ll keep hammering this point over and over how important it is to put the company name (and really, the model as well) on the charger. So many chargers have similar charge plugs, but charging a battery with a charger that isn’t designed for that battery’s spec can damage the battery, or worse.
It didn’t take long into our first test ride to compare the new bike to the original Level. For experienced e-bike riders, it was a night-and-day difference. The torque sensor works very well with the motor and different power levels to make the ride a much more natural riding experience.
The motor is really quiet and the geometry is responsive without being twitchy. It rolls smoothly and with the 27.5×2.1-inch tires, it feels planted when cornering. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes (with 180mm rotors) are more than enough to tame the bike, even when slowing down from full speed. The fact that they incorporated motor cutoff switches into the brakes is a nice touch and surely required to activate the brake lights.
One test rider loved the natural feel of pedaling, where the other just wanted to mash the throttle all the time. It certainly is fun to ride, either way. Battery range did seem to be just north of 30 miles, especially with mixed use of throttle and pedaling, and a few steep hills here or there.
As we said in the final thoughts of our review of the original Level, “We think the Level is a tremendous amount of e-bike for $1599. A few years ago, a similarly built bike would cost twice as much. It’s a good-looking bike with decent components, and as a commuter bike, it has plenty of range to get most riders to and from work as a daily rider. It’s great that they’ve made the throttle removable for those states/localities that don’t allow throttles. Please be aware that if you have difficulty getting started pedaling, the throttle won’t really help you until you get going.”
Despite the higher price over the standard model, the upgrades of the torque sensor and smart integrated lighting are well worth the price. Like the original Level, this new model quickly found its way on our list of highly recommended bikes. It is definitely a top contender in this category. Aventon’s customer service has also been shown to be top-notch, so if you need warranty or other after-sales service, you can count on them to take care of you.
The one caveat with this bike, as with any hub-motor bike, is that if you live in an area with a lot of long, steep hills, hub motors can overheat and shut down to cool off on those long climbs. If you do live in a similar area, try to take
a test ride on those hilly areas to make sure you won’t have this issue. If you think you might, that would be the reason to look at a bike with a mid-drive instead.