Propella has long been known for its eye-catching blue and black commuter e-bikes that prioritize a simple and lightweight design over flashy features and bulky accessories. They’ve also always been pedal assist-only bikes, at least until now. The company has just launched the Propella MINI MAX as a throttle-enabled electric utility bike.
It might not look like most of the utility bikes we’re used to seeing, largely due to its streamlined and lightweight design.
At just 38 lbs (17 kg), it’s a serious lightweight next to most of the 60+ lb utility e-bikes out there.
But unlike many of Propella’s former e-bike models, the MINI MAX still comes packed with several interesting features and components.
For example, the 20 mph (32 km/h) e-bike fits into Class 2 designation thanks to an included throttle – a first for Propella.
There’s also an included rear rack for utility use and the bike sports both front and rear LED lights.
The frame uses a mid-step design with a lower downtube, which makes it easier to get on and off the bike when cargo is piled high on the rear rack.
The integrated battery is rather small at just 355 Wh, but at least it is UL-compliant (certified by SGS). While the battery can’t be removed quickly with a key like many e-bike power packs, it can be removed for replacement by opening a cover hidden at the bottom of the downtube. It’s not something you’d do each day, but it does mean the pack is fairly easily accessible for servicing.
The company claims up to 40 miles (64 km) of range per charge, though that is likely while using the lowest of the five pedal assist power levels. Opting for higher assist or relying on the throttle will reduce the total range per charge. The company claims a range of 20 miles (32 km) on throttle-only riding, though even that figure will likely take a hit on less-than-ideal terrain. A relatively high-power charger is included though, and it will get you rolling with a full battery again in just three hours.
Disc brakes are mounted on the 20″ wheels, each wearing a 2.25″ tire. The bike is a single-speed, helping reduce complexity and cost, though that will also likely position it as a better flat land rider than steep hill climber – especially considering the 350W nominal motor (550 W peak-rated).
The Propella MINI MAX is currently on pre-order, with customers able to put down a $100 deposit towards the $899 pre-order price. Deliveries are expected to begin in May 2024.
I don’t have one of these in my hands (at least not yet), but I can tell you my thoughts from looking at the specs.
The bike definitely has some real pro’s and con’s, here. On the upside, the $899 price and 38 lb weight are two of the lowest figures you’ll find in this part of the e-bike market. Both of those are huge winners. I also like the streamlined design, nearly theft-proof battery, and the inclusion of lights/rear rack on a budget-level bike. And of course, finally seeing a throttle is a great addition, too.
But on the downside, the 355 watt hour battery is rather small – especially once riders start mashing that throttle and find their bike isn’t nearly as efficient as the previous Propellas were on pedal assist. Plus the lack of a quickly removable battery will be a deal breaker for some riders who want to either swap in a spare battery to double their range or carry the battery inside for charging while the bike remains in a garage or locked out on the street.
If you don’t mind the lack of a swappable battery (or even prefer it due to the theft-resistance that it offers), and if you don’t plan to ride further than 15-ish miles on throttle or 25-ish miles on pedal assist, then this looks like an awesome deal. I actually love lightweight, simple single-speed electric bikes like these and I can see this being a real winner for folks that don’t want the heft of a heavy e-bike for local errand running and commutes.
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