Most electric bikes (e-bikes) are expensive and it can be especially difficult to find one under a $1000. Propella Electric, a Seattle-based startup, has created an e-bike that is affordable, lightweight, minimalistic in design and still manages to look and feel like a regular bicycle.
Early backers can expect to pay about $699 for their own Propella e-bike. Propella Founder Ben Tarassoli, explains that, “ A good “e-bike” must be a good ‘bike’ in the first place, and (Propella) is bridging the gap between the two.” Therefore you can use this e-bike just like a regular bike until you prefer to use the electric assist, such as for hills or long commutes. Electric assist can be used in two ways – either from the handlebar-mounted throttle or the pedal-assist (PASS) system. When you press down on the throttle, the motor will push you forward; the more you push down, the more help you get from the motor. Propella explains that using the throttle is most helpful after complete stops or for a quick jolt of power on steep hills. The PASS function works while you are pedaling and features 5 different levels of assist that are controlled from an onboard LCD display. Levels 1-2 being more useful for generally flat commutes and levels 3-5 most fitting for steep and long hills. At level 0, the bike will not assist the rider and behaves much like a regular bicycle. For longer, flatter commutes, the rider can put the bike at level 5 and travel at about 20 mph without needing to exert much effort.
The Propella single-speed bike features a 15-28 mile range, can reach a top speed of 20 mph, weighs under 36 pounds and is also waterproof. While the original design is based on a single-speed bicycle, the bike can be upgraded to a 6-speed multi-speed gear for $50. The 6.6 Ah Samsung lithium-ion battery takes about 2.5 hours to charge. Tarassoli explained to GeekWire, “We are using the same type of lithium-ion cells as Tesla (Model S). However, there’s only so much energy you can store in a six pound e-bike battery pack.” Propella also gives buyers some customization options, from frame size to four different rim colors.
Article Written by Mila Medonaite for Design Engine, February 11, 2016