Nice to ride, but sadly flawed.
I bought this bike for my mother to use - she wished to join myself and other family members in riding light trails and for personal fitness, and as she has not ridden a bike for many years and we live in a hilly area, I thought an e-bike was the answer. She is reasonably agile, works out at the gym, and is moderately fit for someone her age.
The bike is great to ride and simple to operate by bicycle standards and the three levels of assist give you the ability to adjust your workout to whatever level you would like. It is very quiet - it makes a slight hum when in operation, and cuts in and out automatically when you need it. It makes you feel like you have power-legs and is the perfect solution for someone who finds it hard to start biking because of poor fitness or difficult grades of road, or for someone who would like to ride to work but doesn't want to arrive in a complete lather.
The disc brakes are responsive and easy to use. The quality of the components are acceptable for a decent entry-level bicycle, which this really is - the majority of expense lies in the electric assist. The frame is heavy and seems very solid. The battery is easy to charge - you can plug it in while it is on the bicycle, and it is easy to take on and off so you can charge it somewhere else if that is more convenient. The battery has a built-in lock so no enterprising soul can wander off with it while the bike is unattended. The distance travelable on the battery charge is considerable - around 50km on the highest setting, and 90km on the lowest - which is probably enough for most riders looking at this kind of bike.
I feel there would ideally be one extra even milder level of assist, so as fitness improves, the rider can experience a level of riding that would approximate an unassisted bicycle. Even the lightest "Eco" level of assist feels like a considerable boost over my normal hybrid bike, but the e-bike is quite heavy and riding without assist at all would require effort excessive to what it would take to push a normal bike, especially since there are only nine gears. With the assist on, more gears don't feel necessary. The three assist levels combined with the nine gears give you 27 different settings, somewhat like having 27 gears. Having only nine gears does make it easier to operate.
The weight of the bicycle is not typically a problem, although it does make starting more difficult, especially uphill, since the assist takes a moment to kick in and help you. It also makes it more awkward to load on to a conventional car bike rack, and unless you are fit and relatively strong, this might take two people. Some types of bike rack might not be appropriate for a bike of this weight. It was necessary to remove the battery to load it on mine, but this also did help reduce the weight a little.
The major problem I have had with the bike is the Shimano controlling computer - the Shimano E6000 System display. Compared to the rest of the bike it is somewhat delicate. You need to press and hold the button for a second or two to turn it on, and you need to press quite firmly. It displays the usual basic bike computer information (how far, how fast, odometer etc.) as well as the level of assist, how much charge the battery has, and how far you might expect to travel on the remaining charge. This is fine and relatively intuitive, although the level of assist could be displayed in a larger font - those who require reading glasses are not likely to wear them on their bicycle.
Despite careful handling (the bike is my Mum's new baby - she loves it) and only being ridden on the local bike path, the computer flew off the bike after only a week of use. The tiny piece of plastic on the back of it, attached by 1mm thick walls, had entirely sheared off. Now, with a conventional bike computer this would be irritating, but this one controls the assist. Without the computer, the bike abruptly becomes much harder to pedal, which can be enough (as it was in this case) to unseat an unpracticed or unfit rider.
We took the bike back to our local bike shop, who, as I expected, said the bike computer couldn't be replaced under warranty because it was "accidental breakage". With a failure of this kind there is, of course, no way you could possibly prove it wasn't accidental breakage, especially since the computer sustained some light damage when it flew off into the road. This is not my bike shop's fault.
We were informed a new computer would cost $160. The bike shop attempted to repair the computer (for free) by replacing the sheared off piece by gluing on another bit of plastic. Despite their best efforts, this still allowed the computer to slide a few millimetres, which is enough to randomly turn the computer off while riding, so the assist randomly cuts out. Indeed, it still flew off the bicycle during normal cycle path use. I attempted repairing it myself, and I was unable to improve matters. I have now superglued the computer to the holder so it is permanently fixed to the bike. I feel this is a less than ideal solution, since it would be better to be able to remove it during transport of the bike, or when leaving it unattended. It could also potentially make replacement more difficult and expensive if the computer eventually fails.
I would give this bike 4 or 5 stars if it were not for this experience.
I contacted Avanti ccustomer service, not really expecting a replacement but wanting to give feedback because I feel it needs to be fixed. They responded by blaming Shimano. Perhaps it is Shimano's problem, but Avanti is still putting this system on their bicycles and thus surely shares some responsibility.
Avanti, Shimano - redesign please. The integrity of a $3000 e-bike should not rely solely on such a tiny piece of plastic. A regular bike computer does not affect the bicycle's safe operation. This does, and requires a more secure mounting solution. This is unsafe and is especially inappropriate when the bike is advertised for light off road use and targets the unfit and possibly unpracticed rider.
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