Author Scott Alexander
Highs Simple, affordable, integrated lighting, lightweight
Lows Poor braking peformance, fenders don’t come standard, not great for hilly areas
When Aventon sent us a Soltera this spring, what should have been a normal review with a quick turnaround turned into a long term review. The Soltera quickly replaced my Kona Humuhumu as my daily driver and I found I couldn’t live without it. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one that appreciated the bike and it was stolen from my yard the other day. Bike theft is another topic, and in this case maybe the universe’s way of telling me to finish this review!
The Soltera is a minimalist looking e-bike that comes in a few different flavors.
This review covers the single speed option with traditional geometry.Compare the Range
The aesthetic of the Soltera is better than your average affordable consumer direct e-bike brand – subtle but stylish frame accents, thoughtful cable routing and battery integration, and bonus points for the integrated light bars in the rear chainstays. At a glance the bike doesn’t even look like an e-bike. It’s only after a closer inspection you notice the rear hub motor and slightly larger than normal down tube storing the battery. I might be making this up but I think I turned a few heads when accelerating from a stop light – e-bike stealth mode.
The most notable differentiator of this Soltera model is that it’s a single speed. The beauty is its simplicity – one gear; just like your first bike as a kid. Fewer moving parts provides an obvious maintenance benefit, but it’s worth mentioning that the single gear is quite tall (or high), which makes accelerating from a standstill more difficult than what you might choose on a geared bike. The gearing choice is a tradeoff between how the bike feels when you start from a stop, compared to how it feels when you’re pedaling at higher speeds. I found the gearing ratio to be quite comfortable at 20mph, which is the max assist speed of the motor and where I would spend most of my time once I got moving. The startup issue can be mitigated by the throttle paddle located on the left side of the handlebar. It became automatic for me after the first couple rides to use the throttle for the first few seconds when starting.
Controls The display and controls for turning the bike on/off, adjusting pedal assist, etc. are cleanly mounted on the handlebar. The display interface is intuitive and beautifully backlit. Along with all the normal bike computer things like current speed, odometer, trip distance, etc., there’s a tracker for how many trees you’ve saved by commuting by bike.
The Soltera has a 350 watt rear hub motor, paddle throttle, and five levels of pedal assist up to 20 mph. Even at level five the pedal assist provides a very gradual and predictable power ramp up.
Unlike many bikes in this category the Soltera is actually a pleasure to pedal, due mainly to the the geometry which is more like a traditional hybrid bike (e.g. Trek FX). This makes the Soltera a great bike for someone that is looking to actively pedal, but wants a boost. It’s not a great bike for someone that wants to sit back and mash on the throttle.
The motor was powerful enough to handle short climbs in my area, but if I had more or longer hills I’d look for something with a larger motor, or at least the 7 speed option which would enable the rider to more efficiently contribute when the motor is reaching its limit.
The single speed model weighs in at just over 40 pounds, making it light enough to do normal bike things like transport it on a car rack, lug it up some stairs, etc. This was a big perk for me as I have to climb a few stairs to access my porch after every outing.
If I could change one thing on the Soltera it would be the brakes. It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike with rim brakes and I can safely say I haven’t missed it. The lack of stopping power and spongy feel doesn’t inspire confidence. Especially when you’re trying to ride with a coffee in one hand.
The display surface scratches easily. It would be nice if it were made from a bit harder material.
Every time you turn the bike on, the pedal assist level is reset to zero. Ideally the unit would persist this setting between power cycles.
I’d love to see fenders come standard. The bike does have mount points and fenders are available directly from Aventon in the accessories section, in addition to front and rear racks.
We’d like to thank Aventon for sending the Soltera for review.
Integrated rear lights -- activated when braking and when front light is on.
Kickstand helpfully mounted on rear of chainstay, enabling pedal rotation while down.