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Bicycles

Aventon Aventure Electric Bike — CleanTechnica Review

Last spring, Kyle Field said the Aventon Aventure electric bike “could be the ultimate fat tire utility e-bike,” and I’m inclined to agree, although I’d have to add that it could also serve as an excellent mid-life crisis motorcycle — except that it has a much lower level of risk to it, the price of fuel for it doesn’t fluctuate wildly, and it has zero tailpipe emissions or exhaust noise.

Spoiler: after just a short amount of time with it, the Aventure has ended up being my favorite electric bike so far. Even without the front and rear racks on it for cargo, the Aventure gets ridden way more than any bike I currently have, and I’m constantly giving people “test rides” just because they’re curious about it.

Kyle did a great job covering the specs of the bike earlier, but just to summarize, the Aventure has a 750W rear hub motor, is powered by a 15Ah (720Wh) battery pack, rides on 4″ knobby fat tires, has a suspension fork up front with a lot of travel to it, uses hydraulic disc brakes for stopping power, and has both pedal assist and throttle options. It also has an integrated tail/brake light, and a decent front headlight, both powered by the bike’s battery pack, as well as a color LCD screen with a USB charge port on the bottom. One unique feature about the Aventure is that its screen can sync with an Aventon smartphone app, for those looking for a bit more data than the usual odometer, speed, and trip mileage available from most e-bikes (more on that later).

The Aventure was pretty simple to put together right out of the box, as it ships almost completely assembled, although if you’ve never put a bike together before, it might take a a little longer. One thing I immediately noticed was the quality of the assembly tool set that comes with it, as while most e-bikes generally come with basic assembly tools, they often look like they’re intended only for a single use and likely to be poorly machined or made from cheap metal (I often pitch the whole kit into a workbench drawer and just use my own). On the other hand, Aventon’s tools are much better made, which means they’re more likely to be useful for a much longer time. It’s a small thing, but it’s often the small things that matter.

Having ridden a few fat tire bikes before, I kind of knew what to expect from the Aventure, in terms of comfort and control, but I actually ended up being surprised by how capable the bike was after just a few short miles. Of course, I’ve now learned my lesson about deflating the tires a bit when riding on rough trails, so this time I kept the pressure a fair bit lower than I would on my mountain bike, and between the huge tires and the generous front suspension, the Aventure just glided over almost everything on the trail. Granted, it’s still a hardtail, but I’m used to coming up off my seat and onto my feet more for bumps and jumps on my other bikes anyway, so by riding this e-bike that same way on the trail, I was able to fly up some big hills that I would normally have to walk up, and catch a little air on some bumpy downhills too.

Taking it out on the street (after reinflating the tires to a higher psi), I found that the Aventure’s motor has plenty of power to get the bike up to speed quickly, whether using the thumb throttle or the pedal assist feature, and since its top motorized speed is 28 mph, it was a blast to ride.

I tend to not use the throttle very much on e-bikes, except for sometimes going from a dead stop at a traffic light or stop sign, but I discovered that if I rode it using only the throttle, the Aventure felt like I was riding a little motorcycle or dirt bike. Admittedly, its power and acceleration and top speed is nowhere near those gas-powered bikes, but considering how clean, quiet, and cheap to fuel/charge it is, and how much fun it is to ride, the Aventure could very well be a good contender for a mid-life crisis motorcycle/toy, and I’m saying that as someone who *just might* be pulled into making that type of purchase.

My teenager may have gone mudding with the Aventure.

One of the features of the Aventure that is quite a bit different from many other electric bikes in its price range is its display, which in this case is a full color LCD screen which is very easy to read, and which offers a few unique display options that I haven’t seen in any other e-bike. Riders can see at a glance not only the usual data, such as current speed, battery charge level (as a percentage, not just your typical “4 bars”) pedal assist level, trip distance, total distance, and calories burned per trip, etc., but also some metrics on the environmental impact of riding the e-bike, such as the amount of CO2 reduced per trip (and cumulative CO2 reduced over all rides), and the number of “trees saved” both per trip and overall. It’s not clear what those last numbers are based off of, as while I think it’s fairly simple to calculate a general figure for CO2 reduction, but the number of trees saved per trip might be a bit more of an informed guess (and the number of calories burned seems like it might depend a lot on each different rider’s individual health/fitness), but even if these numbers are more like ballpark estimates, they could help to justify more cycling and less driving and to motivate some people to ride more.

The other unique feature of the Aventure display is that it syncs with the Aventon smartphone app (iOS and Android), allowing riders to record and track their rides, to share their rides with others in the virtual Aventon community, to set individual goals for themselves, and to configure the bike’s speed limit. The Aventure is configured as Class 2 electric bike right out of the box, with a top speed of about 20 mph for both pedal assist and throttle use, but (assuming it’s legal where you live) the top speed can be adjusted up to 28 mph for pedal assist (throttle use is still limited to 20 mph), which is a boon for those with a need for speed. And as someone who definitely fits that description, one of the first things that I did was set the top speed to the maximum level, which is quite fun, especially for downhills. I regularly hit 35+ mph going down hills, and while the pedal assist stops kicking in at around 28 mph, by putting the Aventure in its highest gear and mashing the pedals pretty hard, I can easily hit the edge of my comfort zone for speed on a bike — not because the bike itself feels unsafe at those speeds (it feels solid and smooth and under control to me at all times), but because I’m mindful of not wanting to hit the pavement at those speeds due to a careless driver or debris in the roadway. Your mileage may vary.

Speaking of mileage, according to Aventon, the Aventure should be able to go about 53 miles per charge on pedal assist level 1, or up to about 27 miles per charge using the throttle only, or about 19 miles per charge when set to pedal assist level 5, for an average of about 45 miles per charge. As always, these numbers will vary quite a bit depending on the weight of the rider and any cargo being hauled, the length and steepness of any hills on your route, etc.. Aventon’s “Real World Range Testing” is based on a 180-pound rider on “80% flat terrain,” so lighter riders and flatter terrain will most likely see the longest ranges. In my experience with the Aventure so far, those numbers seem pretty accurate, as I only weigh about a buck and a quarter, but I have a long steep uphill leaving my house, and then another long steep uphill returning home (yes, it really is uphill both ways), so those uphills seem to cancel out any weight advantage I have.

One thing to know about this e-bike is that it is heavy bike at 73 pounds, which is almost the same weight as my longtail electric cargo bike that can haul bulky items, but with its 750 watt motor (1130 watt peak), the Aventure easily overcomes any feeling of “heaviness” when riding. However, don’t expect to be able to easily sling it over your shoulder to carry it up stairs or mount on a standard car rack, and if you want to travel with it, you’ll probably want to invest in a good hitch-mounted rack (or a ramp for loading it into a pickup bed). That’s the case for many of the newest fat tire e-bikes, and not just this one, but in my opinion the powerful and comfortable ride of the Aventure more than cancels out the weight issue.

The Aventon Aventure e-bike costs $1999, which might be about the most low carbon fun you can have on two wheels for under $2000.

Disclaimer: Aventon provided the Aventure e-bike to the author free of charge for the purposes of this review. This article is supported by Aventon.

 
 
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Written By

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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