E-Bike models - which one is best for you? We get daily questions about the key differences between models and their respective prices. So here's a comparison of two of our most popular E-bikes, built by two different companies.
I’ll be comparing the Giant Roam E+ ($2,750) and the Aventon Level ($1,799). I picked these two bikes as they’re two of our most popular models, are designed for similar riders in mind, and have two different drive train options. We get asked every day about the pros and cons of each type of drive, so I’ll cover that later in this review.
The Roam E+ comes in two different frame styles: The Roam E+ GTS (Step-Through) and the Roam E+ STA (Step-Over). There is also the women's version, the Liv Rove-E. The Aventon Level also comes in both a Step-Through and Step-Over version.
As with all Lewis & Clark bikes, these models come with professional assembly, Free Lifetime Tune-Ups, and our 30 Day Test Ride. So if you order a bike and decide it’s not the right one for you, we’ll give you what you paid and swap out for a different model. Plus, if you’re a rebate member, you’ll get 5% back on E-bikes in store credit (10% on everything else). Warranty issues – let us handle those. Since we buy so many bikes from both, it’s a lot easier for us to handle these issues when they arise. If you bring an E-bike for us to build, we charge $150. So the difference between buying a direct to consumer bike and one from us, is about $150 cost to build, then another $100 to $150 you’ll save in tune ups each year. Plus, you can come try out E-bikes at our store before you buy.
First, let’s look at the similarities. Both bikes are designed for riders who want to ride on pavement or gravel/dirt. Both bikes have a step over model and step through model. Giants sister company, Liv, has the Rove-E, which is the identical bike in a women’s model. I’m not going to go overboard on the exact details of every component spec. Both these bikes come with quality parts and components, the shifting is Shimano, and everything has parts that are reliable. The shocks on both also include a lockout, so you can disengage the shock when riding pavement. This is a great feature as you really don’t want the shock moving on pavement – it just causes you to lose pedaling energy. Both feature quality Shimano shifting. I won’t go overboard Overall, they’re both great bikes and anyone getting one will be happy.
SPEED: The Aventon gives you pedal assist up to 28MPH (Class III) and the Giant/Liv up to 20MPH (Class I). The Aventon also has a throttle only option that will get you up to 20MPH without pedaling. Paved Versus Gravel/Dirt. Both perform well on paved surfaces. For gravel/dirt, the Giant is a substantially better performer. The geometry of it (it’s a bit longer and you’re leaning forward more on it) gives a more stable feel at faster speeds on gravel. The Aventon had me sitting in a more upright position, which while more comfortable, isn’t as good for gravel riding. Still, both will handle gravel/dirt. The Giants tires are more suited to gravel, however, the tires on either bike can be changed. The Giant Roam will even handle beginner level mountain bike trails.
COMFORT: The Aventon Level has me sitting in a more upright position, which some would say is more “comfortable”. The Giant Roam is built more like a mountain bike, so I lean forward more on it. Now, as one who rides mountain and road bikes, I typically in a more forward position on my bikes. This position is a bit less comfortable, but it’s better for performance as I’m more aerodynamic (not as important on an e-bike) and in a position to better navigate changing terrain (i.e. gravel roads). The taller one is on a bike, the higher the center of gravity, and the less stability. Both bikes are comfortable to ride, just different.
STEP-THROUGH VS STEP-OVER DESIGN: It used to be that the step through design were female specific bikes. Now, the reason why women’s bikes traditionally had that design is because they wore dresses in the late 1800’s when bikes came out, and the design just stuck. So assuming you’re not wearing a dress when riding a bike (I was not), they still have their advantages. Step through bikes are easier to get onto, especially if multiple members of a household will be using the same bike. Also, once you start adding a rack and gear on the back, since most guys swing their leg over the back of the bike, that becomes really hard to do with all the gear on the back. That’s an advantage of the step-through design. Now, you will notice that the Giant and Liv both have a shorter bar above the bottom bar/hub/pedal area and the Aventon does not. This gives the Aventon a little better clearance when stepping through it. That’s because the Giant is a mid drive, and the frame needs that extra stability to support it. The Aventon has a very large bottom tube and the motor is on the rear hub, so the bike does not need the extra bar to add stiffness.
RIDE / PEDAL-ASSIST: Here’s where I’ll discuss both how they perform and the reasons why, which are directly in relation to the E-bike components on them. Again, the Aventon Level gives you pedal assist up to 28 MPH and the Giant 20 MPH. I currently have a pedal assist bike that’s 20 MPH, and it’s more than needed for virtually all my riding. I’m about to add a 28 MPH for commuting to work, just to get there faster.
As to the pedal assist, this is where there really are some significant differences. A rear hub driven feels/performs differently than a mid-drive. This part will start getting us into the component side of the bikes as well. In short, a mid-drive (Giant Roam) bike feels more natural. You don’t necessarily feel the motor as much, as you really get a feel that you and the bike are working as one. That’s because the motor is right there with the pedals, and the sensors make it feel more like the bike is giving you extra power. The Aventon Level is a rear hub drive bike. It has more torque or kick, when you start riding. If you’ve got it in a high setting when you start your ride (which I do not recommend), it’s almost like the bike is taking off without you. Overall, as someone who rides non E-bikes regularly, I prefer a mid drive bike. For some types of riding (mountain biking) this is absolutely essential. This is an area where the Roam performs well. A bike with a rear hub drive carries a lot more of its weight in the back, making it less balanced for off road riding. For this reason, the Roam will do pretty well on beginner mountain bike trails. The Aventon is not at all designed for this.
Overall, both bikes are a blast to ride. Both have 5 different power settings from low to high, so you can adjust how much pedal assist you want. The Roam feels more natural, while the Aventon provides a little "peppier" ride. The Roam also has an “auto” setting, so it will automatically adjust when you pedal faster or when going uphill. The Aventon Level does also have the throttle only option, which is typical of rear hub driven bikes. You won’t typically see this on mid-drive bikes.
As far as how far will the bike take me on a charge, I address this more in depth later. This also depends widely on what power mode, how many/how steep are the hills and the rider weight. In short, the Aventon will give an average rider, riding average speeds and on average hills probably about 40 miles per charge. The Giant more like 60.
PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES / PRICE/PERFORMANCE: There are a few reasons why there is about a $950 dollar difference in price between these two model. I'll start with Weight. We weighed the Roam at 48.6 lbs and the Level at 59.3 lbs. That’s not an issue when riding, but it is when lifting the bike. With either, you can remove the battery when lifting and save yourself about 8 lbs, which does make a difference. You can also get a rack with a ramp or even one with a power lift. The Saris Door County Rack, at $1,299 has a power lift, which lowers the rack down to the ground for loading/unloading, then back up for driving. It even has turn signals and brake lights. It does require a 7 pin tow wiring system, for the power.
Why is the Aventon heavier? In short, the rear hub is quite a bit heavier than the mid-drive. The frame design, allowing for better step through, also makes it a bit heavier due to the much larger frame. The Giant battery is also lighter. The same rear hub that makes the Aventon more affordable, also makes it about 11 lbs heavier. For me, while I’m more than physically capable of lifting it (my wife will appreciate me adding this), I don’t really want to lift a 60 lb bike on and off my rack. For riding from home, it’s not an issue.
GEARING: Gearing is pretty similar. The Aventon has 8 gears, the Giant 9. With respect to the motors, batteries and distance you can pedal on a charge, there are some differences. The mid-drive gearing does feel tighter, as again, the drive is right there with the pedals.
REAR HUB VS MID-DRIVE: Rear Hub Drive Aventon Level. Again, It’s 11 lbs heavier, and a rear hub drive bike is harder to change flat tires on. Enough that most people will want to bring it in when they have a flat, while most can change the flat on a regular bike. Also, the rear hub drives aren’t as efficient, so they require bigger batteries and motors to get the same distance. That’s part of the weight difference. Again, the mid-drive has a more realistic feel. The Giant Roam has 7 sensors and the Aventon 2. That’s part of what gives the Giant Roam a more natural feel, where the power and you feel like you’re one with the bike (there’s probably a Bruce Lee quote here somewhere) where the rear hub drive Aventon feels more like the motor is pushing you from the back (because it is). The Aventon Level will give you more torque to get the ride started, while the Roam will give you a little more torque uphill (again, depending on the power setting). The mid-drive motors are also quieter. Frankly, this is also a lot of the cost difference between the two bikes. Just go ahead and assume a mid-drive adds a solid $700 to a bike compared to a rear hub bike. The difference – you’re paying for a lighter weight bike that will take you more miles, and perform better on rougher trails.
BATTERIES/MOTORS: The Giant Roam-E has a Yamaha motor and a Giant brand battery. The Aventon Level uses Bafang for both. Bafang is the most commonly used brand on batteries and rear hub drive bikes, but they are heavier than the more expensive Giant/Yamaha combo. The Aventon has a 500wh motor and the Giant a 400wh. However, that’s a bit deceptive. More battery is needed to power a rear hub drive bike. Overall, while they test their bikes differently, I’d say the Giant will get you farther per charge. Aventon says about 40 miles average, and 57 miles max per charge. Giant says up to 93 miles per charge. That’s a little aggressive, but I’d say it’s at least 80 miles. Average is probably about 55 – 60. So with the Giant, you’re paying more to get a lighter, more efficient bike that will take you farther per charge. That being the case, most people aren’t going to bike 80 miles in a day.
DISPLAYS/CONTROLS: Both have a nice display, but the Aventon's is bigger and better visually. Both perform well.
QUALITY/WARRANTY: Giant has been around since the 80’s and Aventon is a relative newcomer (but great bikes). We’ve sold a ton of both bikes and have had very few issues. The design, finish and quality of both bikes is great. Giant has a lifetime warranty on the frame for as long as you own the bike. For the mechanical components, it’s one year and for the battery and motor is two years. We’ve had very few issues with their E-bikes over the past 5 years. For the Aventon Level, they have a 1 year warranty on the frames, components, and electrical components. So the Giant Roam has the advantage here.
Both are great bikes that will get you riding more often, more miles and having more fun. In effect – more smiles per hour. There are obvious trade offs between price and performance. As with anything, the more you pay, the more performance features you will get. In this case, the additional money for a Giant Roam gets you a lighter weight bike, that will go more miles and is more off road capable, and with a better warranty. Right now, I own both a Giant and Kona E-bike. The Giant is a paved trail bike, not unlike the Roam. The Kona is a mountain bike. Though I change up my bikes often. I’m going to be adding an Aventon (Level or Pace 500) to my arsenal in the next month. The main reason is to have a 28MPH bike to commute to work on and I can get that for an affordable price. Since I won’t be loading it on my car, the extra weight doesn’t matter. This will save me a ton in my 15 mile round trip commute, as my jeep, well it takes more than a gallon on that rip. I definitely prefer mid-drive bikes as I like the natural feel, the lower weight and performance they give me. Often, as I’m riding on the paved trail system, I might take a short jaunt on one of the many mountain bike trails along the way, then back to the paved trail. I use my mountain bike for that, which also works great on the paved trails.
Whatever you get, if you decide to swap out, we’ll always have the 30 day test ride and the lifetime tune ups/adjustments! We do not want you on the wrong bike and we always want your bike to be in great working order. We can also finance it for 24 months at 0% interest when you sign up with our partner, Unify Federal Credit Union, or 12 months 0% interest with Synchrony. You can try out bikes at our Springdale location and order in-store or online. More questions on e-bikes? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.