Aventon Level Step-Thru Review
Cons: Doesn't come with lights, limited handlebar height adjustability
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Aventon Level Step-Thru
$1,799 at Aventon Bikes
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$1,199 at Aventon Bikes
|Pros||Excellent finish quality, sleek battery integration, excellent range, 28 mph top pedal-assisted speed, comfortable ride||Streamlined design, powerful motor, class 2 and 3 capable, feature-rich, large tires expand versatility to a range of surfaces, Aventon companion app||Stable and damp ride quality, good distance range, quality display, can carry lots of cargo with aftermarket accessories, 350 lbs total weight capacity||Reasonable price, no assembly required, Class 2 and 3 capable, convenient folding design, wide range of fit, loads of features||Reasonable price, lighter weight, step-through frame, comfortable, smooth ride|
|Cons||Doesn't come with lights, limited handlebar height adjustability||Heavy, more difficult to transport||Heavy and long, difficult to transport, longer turn radius, need to purchase accessories to really unlock cargo carrying capacity||Small wheels, somewhat twitchy handling, smaller battery||Less powerful motor, top speed of 20 mph, limited features|
|Bottom Line||Impressive performance across the board make this one of the best e-bikes we've ever tested||A sleek and well-integrated Class 3 capable electric bike with a huge battery, powerful motor, and fat tires that enhance its versatility||A sturdy, stable, and powerful Class 2 electric cargo bike with a great distance range and high weight capacity||Not only is this bike affordable, but it's the best folding model we've tested||An affordable Class 2 electric bike with a smooth ride and solid all-around performance|
|Rating Categories||Aventon Level Step-...||Aventon Aventure St...||Rad Power RadWagon 4||Lectric XP Step-Thr...||Aventon Pace 350 St...|
|Specs||Aventon Level Step-...||Aventon Aventure St...||Rad Power RadWagon 4||Lectric XP Step-Thr...||Aventon Pace 350 St...|
|Battery Size (Wh)||672||720||672||460.8||417.6|
|Motor Power||500W (750W peak)||750W (1130W Peak||750W||500W (800W Peak)||350W|
|E-Bike Class||Class 3 (Can be configured in Class 1 and 2)||Class 3 (Can be configured Class 2)||Class 2||Class 2 and 3 capable||Class 2|
|Number of pedal assist settings||5||5||5||5||5|
|Top speed throttle||20||20||20||20||20|
|Top speed pedal-assist||28||28||20||28||20|
|Measured Distance Range||28.4 miles||24.65 miles||26.38 miles||20.67 miles||22.65 miles|
|Distance Range (claimed)||40 miles average||45 miles average||Up to 45+||Up to 45+||Up to 35|
|Frame material||6061 Aluminum Alloy||6061 Aluminum Alloy||6061 Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Maximum rider weight (lbs)||250 lbs total (up to 55 lbs on rear rack)||250 lbs||350 lbs total capacity (up to 120 lbs cargo)||330 lbs total capacity (up to 75 jbs on rear rack)||250 lbs|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals, Medium)||60.6 lbs||73 lbs||76.2 lbs||61.6 lbs||47 lbs 14 oz|
|Drivetrain||Shimano Acera 8-speed||Shimano Acera 8-speed||Shimano 7-speed||Shimano Tourney 7-speed||Shimano 7-speed|
|Brakes||Bengal Ares 3 Hydraulic Disc||Bengal Ares 3 Hydraulic Disc Brakes||Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc||Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes||Mechanical Disc Brakes|
|Additional features||75mm suspension fork, front and rear fenders, rear cargo rack||Fenders, front and rear lights, app compatibility, IPX4 rated????||Fenders, front and rear lights, rear cargo rack, telescoping seatpost, adjustable handlebars, mounts for accessories,??||Fenders, rear rack, front and rear lights, folding design, front suspension, mounting points for racks, baskets, and a bike lock, IP-65 rated for water resistance||IPX4 rated|
|Warranty||Lifetime on frame, 1 year on components||Lifetime on frame, 1 year on components||1 year||1 year||1 year|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Aventon has been producing fixed gear and track racing bikes for many years, and they've recently taken the electric bike market by storm with a growing range of models. The Level Step-Thru is one such model that caught our attention with its streamlined design, Class 2 and 3 capability, and large battery storage capacity. We tested it against a selection of similarly priced e-bikes, and it quickly became a tester favorite for its great range, smooth ride, 28 mph top speed, and generally well-rounded performance. It comes in both step-over and step-thru (tested) frames styles in multiple sizes and colors.
The Level has a quality feel, a high level of comfort, and numerous useful features. It is impressively stable at speed with responsive handling, high volume tires, and a suspension fork to help smooth over the rough stuff. The Step-Thru version we tested comes in two sizes to suit riders between 4'11" and 6'2" (the step-over version comes in three frame sizes).
The Level rides just like a normal bike, and we mean that as a compliment. Its handling is very natural and responsive, and it makes a variety of turn shapes well. We found it to be very stable at speed, even when cruising along at 28 mph or bombing down steeper hills. The 27.5-inch wheels are fast-rolling, and the higher volume 2.2-inch wide tires help to dampen the ride and take the edge off cracks or bumps in the road. A Suntour suspension fork provides 75mm of front wheel travel which really helps to take the edge off bigger bumps or the unexpected pothole. The Bengal Ares 3 hydraulic disc brakes are quite powerful and have no problem slowing or stopping this heavyweight bike in a hurry. All of the parts and details seem to be thoughtfully chosen, down to the alloy platform pedals and the Shimano Acera 8-speed drivetrain. Overall, the bike also has a very solid feel and it seems well put together with quality parts, and there are virtually no noises or rattling coming from anywhere.
The Step-Thru model we tested has a low-slung frame design that makes it very easy to get on and off the bike. It comes in S/M for riders between 4'11" and 5'7" and M/L for riders between 5'7" and 6'2" tall, and all Level models have a 250 lb weight limit. Our six-foot-tall tester with long legs had no problem fitting on the M/L size we purchased for testing. It has a comfortable, upright seated position and the seatpost has a quick release clamp so you can easily adjust your seat height. We found the seat to be be quite comfortable, even during our nearly 30-mile range test ride. Unlike some models that have easily adjustable stems, the Level has limited handlebar height adjustment in the form of spacers that can be shifted above or below the stem. We found it to be quite comfortable despite the limited handlebar height adjustability, but we could see riders who like a very upright position to be left a little wanting.
The Level comes equipped with a few features that help to enhance its user-friendliness. Fenders on both the front and rear wheels help to keep you dry should you ride through a puddle or during inclement weather. It is also built to meet the IPX4 water resistance standard, so it "is resistant to water splashes from any direction". Aventon claims that it is okay to ride or park this bike in the rain, although they caution against spraying it with a hose to clean it. A folding multi-tool comes with the bike, as well as a bottle cage. At the back of the bike, the rear rack can support up to 55 lbs of cargo. Unfortunately, this bike does not come with a head or tail light like most of the competition. This means that you'll need to purchase those separately if you'd like to enhance your visibility on the road or ride at night. Aventon does sell lights as accessories on their website.
With a large 672 Wh (48V, 14Ah) battery, the Level can go the distance and it proved that in our standardized range test. In fact, it was one of the top performers in this metric, besting all of the other bikes we tested but two.
In an effort to level the playing field and eliminate as many variables as possible, we perform our range testing on the same course, with the same rider, using the throttle only. In this test, we rode the Level Step-Thru for 28.4 miles with 1,479 feet of elevation gain/loss at an average speed of 15.32 mph. This is just shy of Aventon's claimed throttle (no pedaling) distance range of 30 miles, though we assume that doesn't include the rolling hills of our test course. We wouldn't be surprised if it could travel slightly farther than 30 miles using the throttle on flat ground. Aventon also includes "real-world range testing" info on their website with both speed and range calculations for each pedal-assist level using a rider weight of 165 lbs on flat terrain. We didn't test the range using pedal assist, but Aventon's claims of 57 miles at 13 mph in pedal-assist setting 1, and 25 miles at 28 mph in pedal-assist setting 5 are pretty impressive and seem like they could be reasonably accurate.
With a 500W (750W peak) brushless rear hub motor, the Level is indeed a powerful bike that has no problem reaching its top pedal-assisted speed of 28 mph or pushing you along at 20 mph using the throttle. The five levels of pedal assistance provide a great range of support, and the throttle can be used when you don't want to pedal, even from a complete stop. Like most quality electric bikes, the brakes have a power shutoff feature that kills all power when they are applied.
The Level uses a cadence sensor, and power is delivered after about a quarter-turn of the cranks. As long as the pedals are turning, it delivers power consistently and smoothly, regardless of how much effort you put in to pedaling. While you're moving, shifts between output levels feel smooth with a noticeable increase in power delivery as you shift up through the settings. It can feel a little jumpy if you're starting from a stop in a high output setting and an easy gear, but that is the case with virtually all the bikes we've tested. The 5 settings provide a great range of assistance for your pedaling efforts, with level 1 topping out around 13 mph, level 3 at 20 mph, and level 5 up to the bike's top speed of 28 mph. It also has a walk mode that provides assistance at a walking pace when you press and hold the down arrow on the controls.
The throttle is engaged by pushing the thumb paddle by the left grip. The throttle only works when you are in one of the pedal-assist settings, and it provides the same level of power regardless of which level you choose. You do not need to be moving to use the throttle, you can start from a complete stop by just pressing the thumb paddle. You can modulate the power of the throttle by pressing it only slightly or feathering it. Due to the larger wheel diameter, it doesn't feel quite as torque-y or fast to accelerate as models with smaller wheels, but, we found it to feel more powerful than most bikes with similar sized wheels. It handles gradual hills well and only begins to bog down on slightly steeper or extended climbs.
Aventon has equipped the Level Step-Thru with intuitive controls and a quality LCD display that shows all of your pertinent information at a glance. This bike is very straightforward and easy to use, and the handlebar-mounted display is easy to read and understand. The battery is very cleanly integrated into the downtube of the frame, though it can easily be removed for charging on or off the bike.
The Level has similar controls to most of the other bikes in this review. A small control unit is mounted on the handlebar by the left grip and it has three buttons that control all of the functions of the bike. It has a power/mode button on the bottom and two arrows to shift up or down through pedal assist settings. The power/mode button is used to turn the power on/off to the display and switch through data fields at the bottom of the display. These controls can also be used to adjust the bike's settings, like its speed limit (if switching from Class 3 to Class 2), though you'll need to look online to find instructions for the display. The throttle is a thumb paddle situated next to the controls, and the throttle is engaged by pressing and holding it down. The throttle can also be disengaged by unplugging it if you prefer not to use it or want to switch the bike to Class 1. Both the throttle and button controls have reasonably good ergonomics and are easy to reach with the thumb while riding.
The M5 LCD Smart display is centered in the handlebar above the stem in an easy-to-see location. The screen has dimensions of 3" long x 2" wide with dark numbers and letters on a light background. The angle of the screen can be adjusted to suit your preferences, and it is easy to read in a range of light conditions including direct sunlight, plus it has a backlight feature for use in dim light. This screen shows all of your most important information at a glance. Remaining battery charge is displayed graphically with 10 bars across the top of the screen that turn off sequentially as the battery is depleted. Below that, your current speed is displayed in miles per hour in large numbers, and it can be switched to metric units if you prefer. Pedal-assist setting is shown below that as a number 0-5. The data field at the bottom of the screen can be switched by pressing the mode button to show a variety of information including an odometer, current trip distance, and a real-time voltage indicator.
Aventon really knocked the battery integration out of the park on the Level, and it is cleanly stored inside the large downtube of the frame. The included keys lock/unlock the battery within the frame, and when it is in the unlocked position the battery can be removed by turning the small knob at the top of the battery on the underside of the downtube. Therefore, the battery can be charged on or off the bike, or removed for security purposes. Charging the battery is as simple as plugging the included charging cord into the battery's charging port, making sure to close the rubber cover when the cord is removed. Aventon claims a charge time of up to 7 hours for a completely depleted battery.
The Level Step-Thru is about average for its ease of assembly. Like most full-size, non-folding models it comes mostly assembled with only a few easy steps remaining to complete the process. It comes with a nice folding multi-tool that contains all of the tools needed, and the user manual, an assembly video, and a quick-start guide can be found on the Aventon website.
The Level Step-Thru arrives in a standard size bike box that is pretty heavy given the bike's 60 lb weight. Moving the box and removing the bike from the box can be a bit awkward, and we'd suggest getting a second set of hands for assistance. Our test bike arrived in perfect condition with no shipping damage thanks to well-placed packing materials. Once we removed the protective packing, the remaining assembly took approximately 25 minutes. The Level comes about 85% assembled, and the remaining 15% can easily be completed at home by following along with the instructions or how-to video on the website. The stem, handlebar, front fender, front wheel, seat/seatpost, and pedals are all that need to be installed for the Level to be ride-ready. Ours came mostly charged as well, so we didn't even need to plug it in before taking it out for a spin.
We feel the Level is a great value. It's far from the most expensive model we tested, yet it's our top-rated bike for a reason. With a 28 mph top speed, a large battery, and a great distance range, this moderately priced e-bike could easily replace your car for commuting, errands, and outdoor fun. Aventon's attention to detail and finish quality are second to none, and this bike's clean lines and sleek looks only complement its impressive performance.
We think Aventon really hit a home run with the Level. This bike checks all of our boxes and is one of the best we've ever tested. Not only does it look fantastic with great battery integration and a super clean, streamlined design, but it's fast, powerful, and has a great distance range. Whether for commuting, kicking around town, or just getting out to ride for fun, we can't recommend this bike enough.
— Jeremy Benson
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