Review: Propella’s Mini is an affordable and easy electric bike

For years the The question of how to get more people out of cars and onto bikes has baffled environmentally conscious urban designers. As a petite woman with young children who rides a bike every day and lives in a very bike-friendly city, I have an answer: Design bikes for me.

It’s not purely self-serving; it’s just true. Getting more women to ride bikes helps get more people to ride bikes, period. Women are more risk averse. We need safe lanes where people can’t shoot our kids with their trucks. We need pathways to schools and groceries, not meandering along rivers. Above all, we need safe and maneuverable bikes that we can lift in and out of our cars and onto racks.

That’s why I’m a big fan of the small e-bike movement. Yes, big tires and big dutch bakfiets are useful, but they are difficult to maneuver and a bit scary to use. Our favorite affordable e-bike maker, Propella, recently launched a mini e-bike. I’ve been using it for three weeks now, and it fits the bill perfectly.

Built to overflow

Photo: Propella

Like many direct-to-consumer bikes, Propella’s e-bikes require assembly upon arrival. For obvious reasons, the Mini’s box is smaller and easier to maneuver around my garage than the others. The manual recommends that you take it to a shop for assembly, but it’s entirely possible to do it yourself, especially if you look at the company’s instructions. assembly video.

I was actually a little surprised by the size of the bike. When I measured the wheelbase—the axle-to-axle measurement used to specify a bike’s length—it was 39 inches. For comparison, the Jackrabbit I reviewed last year had a microscopic 26-inch wheelbase. At 39 inches, the Mini’s frame is only an inch shorter than my very small road bike. It also weighs 33 pounds, which is light for an e-bike but still 10 pounds heavier than the Jackrabbit.

Like the Tern bikes, the Mini cuts its length by replacing tiny 20-inch wheels with the full-size 28-inch. Thus, it is a smaller bike that does not to feel small. I’m 5’2″ and my 5’10” husband didn’t feel weird either. If you’re over 6’1″, you might start to feel cramped.

Unfortunately, some e-bikes cost a lot more than others (although they probably wouldn’t if we could get the proper tax credits when buying them). It’s usually because of transmission. Propella uses a Bafang rear hub motor. It’s a standard affordable electric motor, powered by a Samsung battery (a brand that hopefully won’t catch fire) and triggered by a cadence sensor, rather than a throttle.

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