As more e-bikes cram in extra features and components, they also start packing on the pounds. But what if you’re just looking for a lightweight, simple e-bike to get you where you’re going quickly and easily? That’s where Propella comes in. And the Propella Mini may be the best lightweight electric bike yet for urban residents.
At just 33 lb (15 kg), the Propella Mini is about as light as you can get for budget-priced electric bikes.
We’ve seen lighter e-bikes with carbon fiber frames and other fancy lightweight features, but their several thousand dollar price tags can’t touch the $999 Propella Mini’s value.
For anyone that lives in an apartment and has to carry their bike up the stairs or wiggle it into an elevator everyday, a small and lightweight e-bike that doesn’t break the bank is key.
And that’s exactly what Propella delivered.
Check out my video review below to get an up-close look at the e-bike in action. Then keep on reading for all of the details below!
Propella Mini e-bike video review
Propella Mini tech specs
- Motor: 250 W (400 W peak) Bafang rear geared hub motor
- Top speed: 30 km/h (18.5 mph)
- Range: 32-56 km (20-35 mi) depending on pedal assist level
- Battery: 36V 7Ah (250 Wh)
- Charge time: 2.5 hours
- Weight: 14.9 kg (33 lb)
- Frame: Aluminum alloy
- Tires: 20″ x 1.75″ CST
- Brakes: Shimano 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
- Price: $999
Small bike, big deal
The Propella Mini electric bike takes everything that I loved about Propella’s full-size V4 single-speed e-bike, and somehow wraps it all up in an even smaller, lighter package.
The 400W peak-rated Bafang motor is plenty peppy for typical city riding, especially since there’s no throttle on this model. That means your legs are always helping to power the bike.
With five levels of pedal assist, you can choose anything from a strong workout ride with very little motor assist to a breezy cruise where your legs provide minimal effort.
If you’re one of those people that require a throttle, stop reading now and check out a different e-bike review. But if you enjoy cycling and just want a faster, easier way to get around, the Propella Mini hits the spot.
The 250 Wh battery is small and compact, meaning it fits easily in a backpack if you want to take it with you when parking the bike. On the other hand though, the compact size also means it doesn’t have as much capacity as larger e-bikes, but then again it doesn’t need as much capacity since you aren’t using an energy-hungry throttle. Plus the bike rolls on narrow street tires that make the ride extra efficient.
I found that with moderate assist, I was achieving ranges of around 35 km (21-ish miles). If you’re already a strong cyclist, you’ll probably use even less assist and get more range than me.
The single-speed nature of the bike also helps keep the weight down by shedding unnecessary gears and a clunky derailleur.
I’ve discussed before how single-speed electric bikes solve the issue of a “missing low gear” common in single speeds because the motor assist makes those first few pedal turns much less grueling.
On particularly steep hills, popping the bike into the highest assist level using the handlebar display buttons helps take the pain out of climbing inclines with a single-speed bike.
I was also surprised at how good the pedal cadence felt at the bike’s top speed of 30 km/h (18 mph). Many 20″ wheel e-bikes have uncomfortably fast pedal cadences at the top end, but the 46T front chain ring and 16T freewheel combine with the 20″ wheels to create a comfortable ride even at full speed.
The ride also feels so nice and light since there just isn’t that much bike underneath you. The smaller diameter wheels result in a nimble commuter bike that accelerates quickly and handles responsively.
The strong Shimano mechanical disc brakes also provide confident stopping power, giving you the feel of a much higher-priced e-bike.
There are even nice touches like a hex bolt to secure the seat post instead of a quick release lever. Nearly anyone who rides in the city knows the anguish of coming back to your bike to find its seat missing. I’ve ridden home more than once while standing on the pedals, and so I know that a bolted seat post clamp provides better protection against annoying theft of opportunity compared to a quick release clamp. And yes, I know thieves can carry a 5mm hex key in their pocket, it’s not that hard. But more saddles are stolen when it’s easy to flip open a quick release, so this is an easy (and weight-reducing) step to keep your saddle around longer.
I also like how solid the e-bike feels. When an e-bike’s price dips below $1,000, many models start to feel a bit cheaper. But the Propella Mini still feels like a higher quality e-bike. I was repeatedly getting air while hopping off of 6-inch curbs and I couldn’t believe how well the bike handled it. I almost felt like I was on a BMX bike, not a commuter e-bike.
Maybe the bike is put together better. Maybe it’s the slightly higher quality parts that make the difference. Maybe it’s the lightweight design. It’s probably some combination of all of those things and more, but it just feels surprisingly solid.
While the bike is certainly smaller than a full-size city bike, it doesn’t feel like a clown bike. I’m 5’7″ and the bike fit me like a glove. Propella says riders between 5’2″ and 5’10” fall in the ideal range for the Propella Mini, while riders up 6’1″ are in the marginal range.
Really tall riders might want to consider the Propella V4, which has a larger frame and 700C wheels that better accomodate riders on the far right end of the height bell curve.
Are there tradeoffs?
Of course, there will always be trade-offs with bikes that are designed for lightweight or simple operation.
As nicely as the bike rides on smooth city streets, the lack of suspension and narrow tires make for a more jarring ride on potholes or brick pavers. Cobblestones probably wouldn’t be a walk in the park either.
I’d also love to see some lights and fenders added for more commuter-ready riding, though of course those are parts that can be added afterwards.
But the Propella Mini was designed to do one thing: be a small but effective commuter e-bike, and it does that beautifully. And hell, it even looks quite nice to boot!
So while there are always things I’d love to see added to any e-bike, the minimalism of the Propella Mini is what gives it its charm and effectiveness. And its low price.
At $999, it’s hard to beat something like this for a reliable little commuter e-bike. There will always be faster and more powerful e-bikes out there. But if crazy power isn’t your main goal, the Propella Mini is a great option. It’s powerful enough for normal city riding and absolutely fits the city lifestyle.
Just make sure you lock it up with two locks – it’s so pretty that those city thieves are bound to give it a second look.
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