Simplicity has its rewards
Over the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of popularity for entry-level, bargain e-bikes. Aventon is one brand that has put out a slew of impressive new models that have impressed us. The California-based company has released a new model that is targeted for riders looking for something lighter, simpler and less expensive.
The Soltera is a single-speed e-bike available in multiple colors and two frame-style options. Considering how awesome we all know e-bikes are, at this point it can still be a challenge to find a quality one with functionality like the Soltera. Students and commuters in busy urban areas now have something that can maneuver through the city a little easier. The nature of a single-speed, in general, is one of simplicity, but the Soltera adds a couple of other features to the mix that make it that much more commuter-friendly.
Our aluminum test bike was the step-over version of the Soltera, although Aventon does offer a step-through model. It weighed in at 41 pounds, and the frame has a more aggressive geometry in contrast to their other comfort models. For an added $100, you can get the bike with extra gears and a derailleur. A highlight we think is often overlooked too often is the availability of high-visibility colors. The Soltera offers a Bright Yellow version that can be seen from a mile away. You can also get Bright Blue and/or a fully black option.
Adding to the visibility is thoughtfully integrated taillights that can be turned on or off and will always light up when the brakes are engaged. You’ll also have a stock headlight wired into the bike’s battery. We like that the Soltera has front and rear mounts for racks or touring bags.
“The fact that it is so simple will be great for folks on a budget and who don’t want to spend any extra cash on maintenance.”
The Soltera is made up of house-brand components, particularly on the fixie version. Starting from the ground up, the Aventon aluminum rims are fitted with 700c x 35c Kenda tires. For the fixie gearing, you’ll get a 48t chainring and 16t rear cog. A sealed bearing headset has 620mm handlebars mounted to a 31.8mm stem with a 7-degree rise. A simple feature, yet one missed on other bikes, is a quick release for the seatpost. The kickstand is conveniently mounted near the rear lower portion of the bike away from the cranks (rolling it backward in the garage will be much easier). Rare on more expensive bikes, the Tektro rim brakes get the job done for slower-paced city riding.
For pedal-assist needs, a hub-driven, 36-volt, 350-watt brushless motor is paired with a 360Wh integrated battery. The Soltera only has a speed sensor and comes stock with a backlit color display and five different power modes, as well as an app pairing for more data and connectivity. A throttle may seem like an added level of cheating, though we believe it can be great for gaining momentum whether you’re at a cross-walk or need assist to pull you around a tight corner. It can actually be a fail-safe in certain situations, especially for a fixie. The assist doesn’t kick in right away, it’s more like half a rotation of the cranks. Though the lightness of the bike really helps for getting going or, as we said, the throttle is handy for getting momentum started.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This bike would be best for a person who already likes to ride often. The fact that the geometry is more forward-body-position prone lends itself to folks who are coming from the road bike or mountain bike world but want a commuter. It’s not a comfort bike as much as a quick-reacting bike-path regular.
“The fact that the geometry is more forward-body-position prone lends itself to folks who are coming from the road bike or mountain bike world but want a commuter.”
Anyone who already rides a bike with 700c tires knows the attention they require while riding. The Soltera isn’t the most forgiving bike out there, and you feel almost everything on the bike path. We ran the tire pressure closer to the minimum 50 psi to help give it a little bit more comfort.
We had to plan ahead with gaining momentum approaching inclines in comparison to e-bikes with gears to alleviate any climbing duress. The assist was definitely there and made hills easier to climb than a normal bike, but on longer, steeper climbs, having some added gears would be a benefit. The rim brakes seemed to suit this bike and never had us worried about not slowing down quick enough.
When we rode behind the Soltera, it was noticeable how effective the taillights were, particularly when the rider hits the brakes. This was not necessarily the case for the stock headlight, as it was fairly bright but not quite enough for our liking at night. Brake cut-offs make it so that you won’t get assistance when accelerating, which can be confusing at first until you know not to apply the brakes when taking off.
There were many positives attached to this bike, but knowing what your style of riding is should be the deciding factor in purchasing one. We don’t recommend this bike to someone who doesn’t already ride, because it is a bit unforgiving. In terms of quality and its functional purpose, we give it a top grade. The fact that it is so simple will be great for folks on a budget and who don’t want to spend any extra cash on maintenance. Maybe the biggest deterrent for a potential customer is whether or not they have steep hills to contend with. Slightly inclined hills aren’t a problem with the lack of extra gears, and for the money, it may be one of the best values out there.
Fork: Aventon rigid aluminum
Motor: Aventon hub drive
Battery: 360 Wh
Display: Backlit color display
Charge time: 4-5 hours
Top speed: 20mph
Range: 41-mile average
Chain: Soltera single-speed
Brakes: Tektro caliper brakes
Saddle: Selle Royal
Rims: Aluminum 36h front & rear
Hubs: 36h nutted front and rear
Tires: 700c*35c Kenda K193
Weight: 41 lb.
Color choices: Blue, Yellow, Black
Sizes: Regular (5’1”– 5”7”), large (5’7”–6’4”)