Propella Mini Max e-bike, image courtesy of Propella

Propella’s Newest E-Bike Is A Lightweight City Bike That Costs Less Than $1000

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The booming e-bike industry is churning out a lot of different models these days, which is generally good for the average buyer, as they are more likely to find something that really fits their own needs, whether that’s a longer range, the ability to carry more cargo, or a cost more inline with their budget. But one trend in e-bikes, which is to make them faster, heavier, and with more ‘smart’ features, isn’t necessarily a positive thing all around, as there are plenty of people who might be more inclined to buy an e-bike that is ‘just enough’ for their needs and which doesn’t break the bank.

One new entry into the e-bike market comes from Propella, which has been producing electric bikes that don’t cost a mint and won’t strain your back when trying to carry them upstairs or load them into a vehicle. The forthcoming Propella Mini Max looks to be another worthy contender in the ranks of affordable and lightweight e-bikes, and the company has just opened its pre-order books for May deliveries at just a hair under $900.

The Mini Max is a Class 2 e-bike (with both pedal assist and a throttle) that is powered by a 350W (550W peak) rear hub motor and a 36V battery said to be good for a range of up to 40 miles. One of the selling points of many e-bikes these days is a longer range, but let’s be honest here about real-world usage — how many people need to ride more than 40 miles per day? Or even better, how many people actually do ride their bike more than 40 miles per day? I know that those riders are out there, but I think it’s fair to say that many e-bikes get ridden far less than that on a daily basis, which means that a 40 mile range between charges is plenty for most people.

As a Class 2 e-bike, the Mini Max has top speed of *just* 20 mph, which when compared to a Class 3’s top speed of 28 mph (or higher for certain ‘unlocked’ off-road e-bikes) might seem slow, but again, for most riders, 20 mph on a bicycle is plenty fast enough for the average person, and perhaps even a little too fast for unexperienced riders. So even though I’m a fan of bigger and faster e-bikes myself, there’s a lot of room in the market for electric bikes that have tamer performance specs, especially for ones that cost less than $1000.

Another plus for the Mini Max is its weight, which is just 38 pounds, which when compared to a lot of e-bikes on the market that weigh in at upwards of 60 or more pounds, is almost a featherweight, and is more akin to a non-electric bike. And a lighter bike means that it’s easier to get up and down stairs, into a vehicle, or otherwise maneuvered or stored when not riding it, so it’s a lot more accessible to more people, and its 20″ wheels help keep the bike compact as well.

The Mini Max appears to be built with a ‘simpler is better’ mentality, as it’s also a single speed (no derailleur maintenance to do or chain slap to deal with), has the battery integrated into the down-tube, has no suspension fork, and while it does have front and rear lights and a basic LCD display, isn’t burdened by a bunch of other tech bells and whistles, such as turn signals or an app. The battery is said to take just 3 hours to charge, which means that even if you max out your range on just one leg of your commute, it’s possible to fully charge it again for the ride home, and while the battery does not remove for charging, it’s also out of the weather and away from potential damage by being inside the frame.

This new Propella e-bike probably isn’t going to be very attractive to those who want a super duper ultra mega fast and fancy ride, but there are plenty of higher end electric bikes that fit that bill — and which come at an equally ultra mega price. For the buyer who is looking for an affordable and lightweight e-bike that is fast enough for most uses and has a long enough range for most daily needs, then the Mini Max is well worth considering. Potential buyers can reserve one for themselves right now at the $899 pre-order price with a $100 deposit at the Propella website.

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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