“Timing is everything, and the Aventon Soltera.2 gives you a jolt of power when you need it most.”
- Torque sensors deliver power on demand
- Bright brake lights, turn signals
- Gorgeous, high-visibility color choice
- Light enough to carry
- Aggressive value
- Hydraulic brakes would be nice
- Fenders and racks optional
If you’re ready to join the growing number of urban dwellers who jump on e-bikes to commute, shop, visit friends, and occasionally get out of town, be sure to check out the Aventon Soltera.2. Aventon builds fat tire all-terrain e-bikes, cruisers, cargo haulers, folding bikes, and more, but the popularity of the original Soltera urban e-bike prompted this upgraded second model in the series. It boasts power-assisted pedal performance for fast take-offs, added travel range per battery charge, and built-in rear turn signals.
The Soltera.2, is available in two frame styles, with two color choices per style: Midnight Black or Citrine Yellow for the standard frame and Storm Blue or Ghost White for the step-through model. Each comes in regular and large frame sizes, which will accommodate riders as short as 4-foot, 11-inches, and as tall as 6-foot, 4-inches, depending on the style.
I chose a regular-size standard frame in Citrine Yellow, partly because it looks cool, but also because I believe any two-wheeled transport built for city use needs maximum visibility. After all, cabs in New York City aren’t yellow by chance.
When you need to make a fast getaway
Soltera.2 riders can get an electric boost via power-assisted pedaling, or with a thumb throttle on the left handlebar. Four pedal assist levels control the relative amount of power employed and the maximum speed, in conjunction with a 7-speed shifter and gear system.
Aventon rated the original Soltera at 41 miles of range with pedal assistance, which climbs to 46 miles on the Soltera.2, or 20 miles using the throttle only. Each estimate is for a 160-pound rider on flat ground, but keep in mind that wind, hills, road quality, and speed will all drastically affect that number on any e-bike. If you count on getting 10 to 15 miles per charge with generous throttle use on the Soltera.2, you’ll likely be OK.
With a torque sensor, you can mash the pedals to scoot ahead of most vehicles in heavy city traffic.
Pedal assistance means the motor takes cues from your pedaling. Most inexpensive e-bikes use a cadence sensor in the pedal system that applies power based on the speed at which the rider pedals the bike, but it can take time to build up to the desired pedaling speed to access the full power available.
The Soltera.2 uses torque sensors, which respond to the force a rider applies to the pedals, not pedal speed. This lets you get off to a quicker start, since speed will always be low from a stop, but your legs can exert force instantly. Torque sensors also modulate the power better once you get moving. They’ll cut power when you cut exertion, even if the pedals continue to spin fast because of the attained speed.
These advantages make torque sensors especially useful for urban e-bikes. Imagine you’re in traffic waiting at a stoplight and you want to quickly cross the intersection to reach the bike lane. With a torque sensor, you can mash the pedals to scoot ahead of most vehicles in heavy city traffic, where a cadence system would lag behind.
In city riding, top speed is generally less important than having enough power to keep up with the relatively slow-moving traffic. The Soltera.2 ships configured as a Class 2 e-bike with a top speed of 20 mph. If you want to go a bit faster, the Aventon app lets you dial the limit up to 25 mph. I tested the Soltera.2 for a while on this setting to see how it handled, but did most of my riding with the speed limit at 20, because that’s probably the optimum way to realize the best performance balance of speed, acceleration, and travel range.
Generously sized 180mm disc brakes stopped fast and made the Soltera.2 easy to control, but I was a bit disappointed that they’re mechanical instead of hydraulic. The latter require less brake lever effort and stop more smoothly. However, the brakes on the test bike were more than up to urban riding.
You can access most of the Soltera.2’s system settings via the bright backlit LED display, which is controlled with a button pad on the left side of the handlebar.
The Soltera.2’s battery is neatly hidden under the front portion of the standard V-frame. It’s not a huge battery, which supports the bike’s sleek appearance and also keeps the weight down. Most e-bikes weigh in at 60 pounds or more, which can make them cumbersome and difficult to carry on stairs and escalators, or in elevators. By my Fitbit Aria scale, the regular size, standard frame Soltera.2 weighs 46.8 pounds. That weight is noticeable but should be relatively easy for most riders to carry, especially by resting the standard frame’s crossbar on your shoulder.
I found it was easy to ride the Soltera.2 with no electrical power, which is always nice to keep in reserve for those inevitable occasions when you don’t quite make it all the way home on battery power. The Soltera.2’s relatively light weight and Kenda 700 x 38c tires (about 1.5 inches wide) help reduce rolling resistance. Don’t even try to pedal an 80-pound all-terrain bike with 4-inch wide fat tires.
This is a hard bike to miss at night. In addition to its gorgeous Citrine Yellow frame, reflective stripes on the tire sidewalls help drivers see the Soltera.2 in lowlight, especially from the side. Lights in the rear frame not only act as taillights when you ride and brake lights when you stop, but they now blink orange like turn signals when you press a corresponding button on the controls. Tap it again to kill the lights, or they’ll stop on their own after 10 blinks. Unfortunately, no corresponding lights exist upfront, so oncoming drivers won’t see your intention to turn.
The Soltera.2 doesn’t come with standard fenders or racks, which are valuable amenities on a commuter bike, but Aventon does offer them as options. They’re affordable, too — a rear rack goes for $45. Since these options add weight, keeping them optional for riders who want them was a smart move by Aventon.
Cable wraps help tidy up the nine cables that connect to controls and devices on the handlebar, but they don’t extend as high as they can. The cables don’t look terribly messy, but if you move the bike through tight spaces, you will want to be aware of the cables to avoid snagging them on obstacles.
If you are searching for a sleek-looking, comfortable, easy-to-ride e-bike to get around the city that doesn’t scream it’s battery-operated, you definitely need to consider the new Aventon Soltera.2. Aventon added significant value to the Soltera platform with the updated model’s torque sensor pedal assistance. Without standard fenders or cargo racks, you might not select it for e-bike commuting, but for short, fast rides around the city or town, it should be on your short list, especially considering the Soltera.2’s low $1,400 price.
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