Single-speed e-bikes are excellent options for anyone in search of a lightweight, straightforward e-bike that simply works. And one of the best options on the market in the US has proven to be the Propella V4.0.
This new update to the Propella line brings several upgrades over the last version of the bike I tested nearly 18 months ago.
The latest Propella V4.0, which also available in a 7-speed setup for those that have to deal with annoyances like hills, remains one of the most affordably priced commuter e-bikes out there.
Just check out my video review of this new e-bike below to see it tested in a commuter role, then read on for the full review.
Propella V4.0 electric bike video review
Propella V4.0 electric bicycle tech specs
- Motor: 250 W (400 W peak) Bafang rear geared hub motor
- Top speed: 30 km/h (18.5 mph)
- Range: 32-61 km (20-38 mi) depending on pedal assist level
- Battery: 36V 7Ah (250 Wh)
- Charge time: 2.5 hours
- Weight: 15.9 kg (35 lb)
- Frame: Aluminum alloy
- Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes
- Extras: LCD display with speedometer, battery gauge, PAS level indicator, odometer, tripmeter, 5 speed settings, mounting points for racks/fenders, alloy bar ends, metal pedals, compact charger
Two bikes for two types of riders
First off, I’m only covering the single-speed e-bike here since that’s what I tested. As I mentioned, there’s a 7-speed version too, should you feel the need for extra gears. It’s largely the same as the single-speed bike, but costs an extra $200.
At a reasonable $1,099, I like the single speed.
The motor is powerful enough for all the flat land riding I do and can even help you up medium hills, though this isn’t an overly powerful e-bike.
There’s no throttle though, so you’re always going to be adding your own pedal power as well.
With the single-speed setup, the somewhat taller gearing combined with the slight lag of cadence sensor-based pedal assist means you’ve got to put a little more oomph into getting rolling. But after that first half pedal stroke or so, the assist kicks in and you’ve got all the boost you’ll need.
On Level 1 pedal assist, the motor offers just a nice little tail wind but isn’t very noticeable. Once you click it up into Level 4 or 5 the fun really begins as you blast up to 18.5 mph (30 km/h) decently quickly. Again – this isn’t a motorcycle so don’t expect crazy acceleration. But it does its job of helping you take the edge off as you perform your own pedaling.
The battery is quite small at just 250 Wh, but there’s no throttle to drain it quickly and so you can still get pretty decent range. I found that 20 miles (32 km) of range is easily achievable, and you can go much farther with only light pedal assist.
The battery itself was actually redesigned for the 4.0 and has a nicer, smoother removal mechanism to lock and unlock the battery from the frame as well as improved waterproofing. There’s also a new, smaller charger to go with it. I love these compact chargers because they are easy to toss in a bag without giving up half of your storage space. And for a small battery like this, a charger that you can take on the go is a great feature for occasional top-ups at your destination. Even better: buy a second charger to keep at the office and you’ll never have to worry about carrying a charger with you for longer rides or on mornings where you forgot to top up the battery.
Another upgrade to the V4.0 can be found in the tires. They are premium CST with a deeper tread and are now puncture resistant. That’s an important detail that often gets overlooked, especially on these budget e-bikes. You never know about the flat tire that you didn’t get because your tires held up, but just remember how much it sucked fixing your last tube that popped on the side of the road. You can avoid that with some decent tires.
The saddle on the Propella V4.0 was also upgraded. I’m not a huge fan of tiny saddles, but this one seems to split the difference between comfort and staying out of the way of your pedaling. With these pedal assist-only Class 1 e-bikes, a proper saddle that allows for good pedaling form is important. It’s great to see the Propella V4.0 get a more comfortable seat.
I know that I sometimes complain about e-bikes that don’t come with racks or fenders. And it’s true that Propella charges you extra for those accessories. But I also understand that some people simply won’t need those components and so the option of adding them means that everyone gets a lower starting price.
I do wish that the bike would include lights though. I see commuter e-bikes as personal vehicles – not in the motor vehicle sense (back off, DMV!) but in their extreme utility as full transportation alternatives. Built-in lights on my street-oriented e-bikes just seem like a minimum requirement to me. It’s one thing to leave them off of mountain bikes, but I think street bikes should include them as standard equipment since they are safety features.
Other than that, I can’t really complain about anything else here. It’s a solid e-bike that feels sturdy while remaining lightweight, and all the design choices feel appropriate for the price class.
The Propella V4.0 seems like the perfect city e-bike for a daily commuter. If you need suspension or mountain bike tires, then this isn’t the e-bike for you. But for anyone that feels comfortable on a hipster bike, the Propella V4.0 will immediately feel at home under you.
When all you want is a lightweight, simple, and affordable option to get to school or work, Propella delivers with a well-made solution.
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