Bike Review: AVENTON PACE 350
AVENTON PACE 350
The Aventon brand started in 2013 as Justin Christopher’s vision to bring good, entry-level, fixed-gear bikes to the market. Since then, it has grown to 100 employees bent on making good bikes at affordable prices.
Last year the company debuted a line of e-bikes, and their first model was the Pace 500, which featured a simple design and a 500-watt hub motor. Available in two frame styles and multiple sizes and colors, it is a pretty amazing bike for $1400.
Now they are releasing their Pace 350, which uses the same Samsung battery, but with a smaller, lighter 350-watt rear hub motor for $999.
The double-diamond aluminum frame has the battery semi-integrated (about half of the battery is inside the downtube). It features a tapered head tube to offer more options if a rider wanted to add a suspension fork. The fork has a fair amount of rake to make the handling more on the mellow side.
Cable mounting is mostly internal, giving the bike a clean, simple look. There are bosses on the frame and the fork to add fenders and/or a rack. Sizes are small (fits riders 5-foot-1 to 5-foot-7) and medium.
The handlebars are designed for a comfortable riding position, with a 15-degree sweep back and ergonomic grips. The stem has adjustable height, and the controls are well-placed, with the 8-speed shifter on the right and throttle and motor control pad on the left. The indexed shifting can be done down three gears at a time, or up one, using the trigger shifter.
Tektro mechanical disc brakes have cutoff switches, which are important to this bike because it only has a cadence sensor, not a torque sensor. Kenda Kwick Seven tires, 27.5×2.2 inches, offer high-enough volume to smooth the ride. The larger wheel/tire size also offers a better angle of attack over bumps.
A caboose-wide Velo Comfort saddle with elastomer shock absorbers also work to provide a smoother ride.
“Levels 1–2 provide reasonable power and assistance, level 5 is thrilling!”
The Pace 350 uses a 350-watt rear hub motor with a planetary gear set. It’s small enough that most people will miss it when looking at the bike, although the semi-integrated battery on the downtube is a dead giveaway. Removing the battery shaves 7 pounds off the weight of the bike to make it easier to lift up stairs or to place on a bike rack. It also makes it easy to take the battery inside for charging.
This is a Class 2 bike, meaning it can use pedal assist to go up to 20 mph via pedaling or throttle. Because it’s a cadence sensor only, you can ghost pedal the bike to keep it going. Interestingly, they’ve set up the throttle to only engage after a full revolution of the cranks. This is a thoughtful safety feature, but it’s also something to think about if you need a throttle to help get off the line.
The monochromatic LCD is permanently mounted atop the stem. It has some adjustability forward and backward for the best viewing angle. There’s a back-light feature that you can activate by pressing and holding the up button on the motor control keypad. Coincidentally, pushing and holding the down button will activate the walk-assist mode if you find yourself walking the bike up a hill.
There are five power-assist levels, plus a zero mode to ride the bike without any assist. While levels 1–2 provide reasonable power and assistance, we can attest that level 5 is thrilling! Higher power-assist levels mean higher speeds and less range, something to keep in mind.
The controller has an IP56 water-resistance rating, so it’s not submergible, but splashing through a few puddles won’t faze it.
We recommend checking out their website; it is a wealth of information and is beautifully designed. You can even see a 3D exploded view of their brushless motor in motion.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Pace 350 is made for a rider on a budget who wants a simple, no-nonsense electric assist bike and has a commute that’s less than 10 miles each way. It’s also good for couples who like to ride together and don’t want to spend a fortune.
The bike rides well with the motor turned off. This is always a good test. It’s smooth, and for an aluminum frame, the high-volume tires and large wheels help on bumpy roads. The tread is decent for even riding on light dirt.
The 350-watt motor actually has plenty of power. We found ourselves mostly riding in level 1 or 2 because it provides a nice amount of assist without being too easy. It’s a cadence sensor only, so if the pedals move, the motor provides that amount of power. We generally prefer torque sensors, as they allow better battery life and more predictable acceleration, but they also cost more.
We mentioned that it takes a full revolution of the pedals to engage the assist. When we went into level 4–5, the power delivery can be jarringly abrupt. On one ride, talking to friends, turned around and one hand off the bars, we almost lost the bike as it shot forward. It can definitely take some getting used to.
We pushed the bike over 20 mph, and the drop-off of power is almost imperceptible. They’ve programmed this well, and on some bikes it feels like the power drops off a cliff. You only notice when you mash the pedals and try to speed up past 25, where you’re also fighting gearing that wasn’t optimized for this. This bike loves 13–18 mph, somewhat depending on power level chosen.
Range is always dependent on factors, including rider weight, climbing, power level used, etc. We saw the power level, shown as 10 bars across the top of the display, drop the fastest when using the throttle all the time. With the nearly 600-Wh battery, however, and judicious use of the power (level 1–2) most of the time, we can see you’d actually get the claimed 50-mile range on this bike.
The planetary-geared motor is small and really quiet. You’ll hear more of the wind in your ears than you will the motor itself. These motors tend to be reliable, and because it’s brushless, it’s another 5-percent more efficient, meaning more power and more range.
Braking was perfect. Sometimes, mechanical disc brakes aren’t well-suited for controlling speed on a heavy and powered bike. The Tektro brakes passed our skid test; that is, we like to ride at speed and see if we can lock the back wheel while sitting on the saddle, just for a second. It passed that test easily and was great for every situation. The levers have cutoff switches, which proved handy when the motor took off in whiskey-throttle fashion on higher assist levels.
Ergonomics of the bike are really good. The positioning is upright, the sweep of the bars and ergo grips are really comfortable, and because of the angle of the seat tube, the seat can be run tall enough to give full reach on pedals, but also allow the rider to reach the ground at stops.
This is a good bike for a budget-conscious commuter or someone who is looking for a bike that’s an entry-level e-bike. It’s well-made, has good ride quality, it’s comfortable and has decent range. With standard mounts for a rack, this could be a good errand-runner.
AVENTON PACE 350
Motor: 350W brushless rear hub motor
Battery: 48V 556.8Wh using Samsung 18650 cells
Charge time: 5.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: 20-45 miles
Drive: Shimano Altus 8-speed
Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc brakes
Fork: 6061 aluminum
Frame: 6061 double-butted aluminum
Tires: 27.5” x 2.2” Kenda Kwick Seven Sport, e-bike rated
Weight: 49 lb. (medium)
Color choice: Black
Sizes: S, M, L
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