Seattle-based Propella Bikes sees an opportunity in light-weight, simple electric bikes, and has begun accepting pre-orders for its $849 single-speed, 250W electric bike that is available in three frame sizes.
32lb 34lb freewheeling single-speed is propelled by a 250W geared hub motor in the rear, which should help the bike zip up hills, and has a small 6.8Ah battery which helps to keep the weight of the bike down.
Propella Bikes founder Ben Tarassoli has maintained a laser-sharp focus on creating a bike that looks and acts more like a traditional bicycle than a high-powered moped. “An e-bike should have a subtle push and just enough battery capacity to help riders with hills,” Tarassoli says. “We want riders to pedal and only get that extra boost of power when they desperately need it.”
Propella’s first model is an interesting entry into the market because it’s one of only a handful of electric bikes that is based upon a single-speed, fixie-style frame which lacks front and rear derailleurs to change gears, which sheds weight and decreases the need for maintenance. Like the Easy Motion EasyGo Race, Propella’s bike is offered without disc brakes and without any kind of suspension, and these design simplifications help to keep down both the price and the weight: Propella’s bike costs fully $400 less than the EasyGo Race while offering largely similar specs.
The only other similar bikes to Propella’s entry are the costlier Maxwell EP0, whose crowdfunding campaign failed to meet its goal, and the Karmic Køben, which is decidedly more upmarket. The failure of the Maxwell EP0’s crowdfunding campaign may not be a bad omen for Propella, though. On the contrary, it proved that Maxwell’s model may have been too expensive for what it offered, whereas Propella’s bike is priced more attractively, which may compel purchases from those who want an e-bike but wait patiently on the sidelines for a bargain-priced value bike to come along. The crowdfunding success of the inexpensive Sondors bike, with more than $6M in pre-orders so far, has proven that there is significant demand for electric bikes that cost less than $1,000, and Tarassoli agrees. “In the case of a fixie-style e-bike, it makes sense for the customer to pay 2X or maybe 3X the price of a regular fixie,” Tarassoli says. Considering that most fixies cost about $300, Propella is right in the sweet spot for pricing that is accessible to price-conscious buyers but that offers enough quality components to offer a positive ownership experience.
Propella is taking orders for its first production run now and is hoping to build at least 60 bikes and have them delivered to customers in April 2016. For customers looking for a lightweight, simple electric bike for under $1,000, Propella’s bike may very well be worth the short wait.