Being able to climb this giant hill on your way to work without sweating is one of the luxuries of ebike riding. It is less luxurious to try to drag a 70-pound piece of metal up a narrow staircase when you return home.

Electric bicycles are often the fastest and most flexible way to get around cities, but their typically heavy and bulky frames often make them uncomfortable to own in the same neighborhoods.

Most city dwellers do not live on the ground floor, nor do they have a ground floor warehouse or covered parking. The weight and size of electronic bicycles often means that you cannot use typical storage solutions, such as wall mounting. And financial attractiveness for thieves means that long-term outdoor storage is a no-no.

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That is why I often recommend electronic bicycles that balance weight and power in a way that is practical for long-term use in the city. Few e-bikes on the market meet this bill as well Propella Mini$ 899 (+ $ 50 shipping in the US) mini-bike that weighs only 15 kg (33lbs).

The Mini is obviously not the bike for everyone. Its 250W main motor is only good for 30 km / h (18mph). The 250 Wh battery range is estimated at 20-35 miles – good enough for most commutes, but not for longer day trips. This is a one-speed bike without a gas sensor or torque, which means you will have to put some efforts in the steeper hills. And its 20-inch wheels and lack of suspension or thick tires mean it won’t be ideal for comfort or off-road.

Some people just want more powerful electronic bikes. This may be because they have mobility problems, because they want to reduce sweating to a minimum, or because they just need speed. That’s fine – this is not the engine for you.

But if you’re looking for a comfortable ebike that won’t break your money – especially if you’re a city dweller – the Propella Mini is a great ride.

Propella Mini ebike

It also looks pretty good. There’s nothing super fancy here, but I appreciate the matte black design with blue accents everywhere, even if the shades of blue don’t match perfectly (sorry, I’m picky about my blue). This makes the design feel a little more thoughtful than the usual mix of different components you find in this price range.

I’m also a big fan of 20-inch wheels and the small frame. Again, not for everyone – Propella has it three bicycles with 28-inch wheels for little hate bikes – but that makes the Mini as nimble as the BMX bikes that many of us rode as children. It’s easily intertwined between traffic, and the puncture-resistant tires are still lumpy enough to absorb some bumps.

The small wheels also allow the bike to fit a wide variety of body types. Propella says it can work for riders from 152 cm (5’0 “) to 185 cm (6’1”), although 157 cm (5’2 “) to 178 cm (5’10”) are ideal. I myself am 182 cm (6’0 ”) and find it comfortable to ride, although ideally I would replace the handlebars with those with higher elevations to optimize comfort.

But mostly the small tires and the frame just make the bike much more compact than your typical ebike. With the exception of the weight, the Mini is easier to maneuver through narrow corridors or to transfer over the shoulder when climbing stairs.

Although 250 W of power is not much to write about, it will still be enough for most people – there are certainly much more expensive electronic bikes that have similar power (like most bikes sold in Europe). And despite the lack of a torque sensor, I was impressed by the relatively smooth setting of the main cadence sensor and the Bafang motor. The engine starts relatively quickly after depressing the pedals (about half a turn of the crank), but it doesn’t feel as sharp as most other electronic bikes with only a cadence I’ve tested.

Similarly, mechanical disc brakes are more than good enough for a top speed of 18 miles per hour. Some excellent electronic bikes in this price range like Aventon Salter and Ride1Up Roadster include rim brakes, and the Propella Mini obviously has more braking power than these two.

Propella Mini ebike

You may be wondering: why not get a folding ebike? Of course, as soon as you can find one that weighs 15 kg (33 lb), costs less than $ 1500 and is not complete rubbish.

In addition, the rigid frame has other advantages. That’s, well, more hard, so it’s better to ride and you don’t have to worry that the bike will ever break in half (extremely rare, but Happens). It also provides more mounting points for accessories and storage and makes the bike easier to carry.

My personal bike is a Brompton Electricso I can definitely appreciate the benefits of the foldable design, but combine the Propella Mini with something like Revelo Thinstem and folding pedals, and will not take up space in your apartment. You won’t be able to take it with you to restaurants and grocery stores, but the Mini is still small enough to fit in most cars and won’t be completely disgusting in crowded subways.

With a 250 Wh battery, you shouldn’t expect a huge range, but the 250 W motor and the limited top speed mean that claims of a 20-35 mile range on the motor are still realistic. In addition, the battery is removed with the included keys, and Propella sells extra batteries for $ 250, so it won’t cost you much to double your range on the road.

The easily accessible battery also means that, unlike other light electronic bikes with built-in batteries, it only takes a few seconds to replace a depleted battery with a new one when the battery eventually dies (assuming Propella sells them). The extra batteries also weigh only 1.1 kg (2.5 lb), so you could theoretically triple your range and still keep the total weight below 18 kg (40 lb).

The only thing about the Propella Mini that drives me crazy is the lack of integrated lighting. Propella sells some outdoor lighting options, but there is a small excuse not to include lighting in the battery. It sucks to turn off the light in the middle of the night – I’ve been there – and the integrated lighting is less likely to be snatched by a thief.

Propella Mini ebike