When ebikes first arrived in the United States, just about any ebike was a crowd-drawing technical wonder. Today, not so much, as pretty much every major bike maker now offers a line of electrified people movers in an almost endless variety of shapes and specialties. But some ebikes that cross my path are special in just how not special they are. Take Aventon’s Pace 500, a fairly unremarkable model that is, remarkably, a perfect ebike for people who might otherwise never consider riding an ebike.
At first, I was hesitant to review the $1,699 Pace 500 in step-through form, despite Aventon’s offer. But my partner, a lifelong cyclist/bike commuter who can also build a regular bicycle from a box of parts, has been having trouble with her back for a while and has pretty much been off bikes for several years now, much to her disappointment. But recently, she wanted to get riding again since I ride so much both for work and pleasure (well, it’s all pleasure to me), but she had her doubts about those “new” ebike things I enjoy so much. She stands about 5 foot 2, and can no longer throw her leg over a standard-style frame as she had all her riding life. What about a step-through ebike, I wondered. That might get her going again.
I told Aventon to fire away and soon, a bright pistachio blue-green (Avention calls the color “Celeste”) Pace 500 arrived in a big box and after about 20 minutes with the tools Aventon includes with the bike, it was ready to ride. As with their larger fat-tire Aventure model I reviewed, the 52-pound Pace 500 (above) features a reinforced single-spar frame that greatly reduces frame flex, and instead of the Aventure’s fat tires, opts for standard-sized mountain-bike style tires featuring a more urban-oriented tread pattern. The Pace 500 is also available in a standard-style frame for the same price, and as a 20-mph limited Class II bike as the Pace 350.
The Pace 500 is a nice-looking bike and looks a bit like a scaled-down, more friendly Aventure, and in the pale blue Celeste color scheme, it has a bit of pop to it. We received numerous compliments on the color, although the removeable in-frame battery, oddly, is flat black. Our bike was the basic package with no options; fenders, racks, trailers and more are available from Aventon.
The Pace 500 arrived in Class II form, set to a 20mph top assist speed and with a thumb throttle on the left bar. Using the Aventon app and Bluetooth, I bumped the top speed up to a Class III 28mph, handily achieved under pedal power with assist from the 500-Watt Bafang hub motor in the back wheel. The top speed in throttle-only mode remained at 20mph.
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The Pace 500 includes the usual solid bits from Aventon: A smooth-shifting Shimano 8-speed rear derailleur, 27.5-inch alloy wheels, hydraulic disc brakes front and rear, a color LCD panel with the usual metrics (and a few fun ones), a tiny but very bright LED headlight and two rear LED tail/brake lights frenched into the rear frame triangle. The 48-Volt 12.8Ah (614Wh) battery removes and is good for 60 miles at best when using low-powered assist, which my partner uses most of the time. Range on pure throttle is… less, with Aventon saying 25 to 48 miles is the average for most riders who like using the power toggle on the left bar. We never rode that far, but that range seemed accurate per the battery meter on the display. It charges back up in a few hours.
Even though my partner and I are nearly a full foot of height apart, we were both able to enjoy the Pace 500. The SelleRoyal seat is wide and comfortable and has a wide range of height adjustability, and the bars fall naturally to hand. While the Pace does not have a tech-of-the-moment torque sensor, the speed and cadence sensors do a solid job of smoothly engaging the pedal assist and the bike will happily touch 28mph in the flat by pedaling with some intention. The dual hydraulic disc brakes haul it down from speed with good feel and power – and silence. Underway, the rear motor emits a soft whir, and in the flat, the Pace 500 can also be easily pedaled with no assist (the “zero” setting) while still tracking speed and distance.
But the real benefit of the Pace 500 was getting my partner back on a bike so we could ride together. We both found it comfortable, capable, and plenty fast for our purposes, which included running errands on occasion, but mostly, it was used for just riding around Portland over the summer. The long range of the battery on lower levels of assist meant never having to worry about pedaling the bike home without the motor helping out, and the ability to confidently pedal up any of Portland’s many hills while sitting in the seat is a huge advantage for any rider dealing with a physical limitation. That and the step-through design made it easy for my better half to saddle up and get under way safely. Except for the thumb throttle, the Pace works just like any regular pedal bike, it’s just faster and requires less effort, like most ebikes.
As fall descended, the leaves began to flutter down but the weather stayed warm and dry. Some rides caught us out a bit late but that’s not a problem as the Pace includes Aventon’s excellent suite of bike lights as standard, including two very bright rear LED tail lights that also act as brake lights – even during the day. I wish every ebike maker would include lighting that measured up to Aventon’s, but few do without adding some aftermarket bits. The LED headlight, while tiny (which I also like), is very bright both for the rider’s vision at night and as a marker for car drivers. All of the lights run off the bike’s big main battery so they are always at full brightness and riders never need to worry about charging them or replacing batteries.
Bicycle makers have always needed a gimmick or feature to convince riders to buy new bikes (not an easy task), and right now, ebike sales are scorching hot because they offer a real and tangible benefit: more miles covered with less effort. Purists may snicker but for bike lovers who may no longer be able to enjoy a typical pedal bike, ebikes like the Pace 500 offer a way back onto two wheels, and then extend that rider’s ability to get up hills, run errands, or just go for a soul-soothing ride out in the breeze once again. For that, their value is almost immeasurable, and that’s the biggest benefit of a “regular” ebike like the Aventon Pace 500.