Weight: 37 pounds
Motor: Bafang 250-watt (400 watt peak) hub motor
Battery: 36V, 250Wh, removable, Samsung Li-Ion cells
Max advertised range: 40 miles
Max advertised assist speed: 18.5mph
Charge time: 2.5 hours
Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 7-speed
Creating a good e-bike isn’t difficult if your budget allows you to capitalize on the best of everything. It’s vastly more difficult to create a good e-bike at a low price. As we found during our Propella 7S review, this is indeed a good bike at a good price. You’ll do without the fanciest parts, yet the 7S is super functional and fun to ride.
It's also quite light for an e-bike, at just 37 pounds. That means it’s not a chore to ride the bike without the motor turned on. Overall, the Propella 7S is one of the best budget electric bikes, though if you’re looking for a more integrated experience — think front and rear lights, a battery hidden in the down tube, and other bells and whistles — you’ll have to spend more.
Propella 7S review: Price and availability
The Propella 7S is available for sale through Propella’s website. It costs $1,299, and Propella says the bike will ship within one business day of your order.
Shipping costs $50 within the United States ($100 to Canada) and Propella has a 7-day risk-free return period. On top of that, there’s a 1 year service warranty.
The bike arrives partially assembled. You will need to assemble it yourself, or take it to your local bike shop to complete the build. Propella includes instructions, as well as a Park Tool multi-tool that gives you most of what you’ll need to finish building the 7S out of the box.
Propella 7S review: Design
The Propella 7S is built around an aluminum frame and fork, both of which roll on strikingly blue 700c aluminum wheels. The 7S comes in one size only and is ideal for riders ranging from 5’4” to 6’2”.
The battery, which looks like a large high-tech water bottle, is mounted externally to the down tube of the bike and is removable. It powers the Bafang rear hub motor and gives you assist up to 18.5 miles per hour. There are five pedal assist levels to choose from, and the LCD display lets you know which one you’re in. The display also gives you information on battery life, speed, time, and odometer.
Propella provides a Shimano Altus 7-speed drivetrain. This allows you to tailor your cadence and level of resistance. It also makes it easy to ride the bike with the motor off. That’s more of a possibility with the 7S, since Propella says it is the lightest ebike in its class at just 37 pounds. That’s nearly as light as the GoCycle G4i+, an e-bike that’s four times as expensive, and expressly designed for commuters.
The components package rounds out with Shimano mechanical disc brakes, aluminum handlebars and stem, and puncture-resistant CST Xpedium 700 x 35c tires. Notably, Propella includes lock-on grips, which prevent your grips from rotating over time. This is a nice, high-quality touch.
Notably, Propella includes instructions on how to assemble the bike, as well as a decent quality Park Tool multi-tool to help with assembly. That’s a nice touch, since this is the type of bike that folks with little to no bicycle assembly experience will buy and consequently may not have the correct tools on hand.
The one thing lacking on the 7S are integrated lights, so you’ll want to invest in a set of the best bike lights to make yourself better seen on the road. (And while you’re at it, pick up one of the best bike helmets.)
Propella 7S review: Performance
Propella says the 7S is suitable for riders from 5’4” to 6’2”. I am 5’11” and the 7S fit me well enough. I think the given range is accurate, though it won’t be perfect for either extreme on that scale. It’s best for riders right around my height, perhaps slightly smaller.
The 7S immediately impresses with a decently strong motor for a hub-driven system. The Bafang rear hub motor can’t contend with a mid-drive system like Bosch’s Active Line, which is mounted near the cranks. But as hub motors go, the 7S system felt more powerful than non-branded ones I have tested. I was able to get up a steep hill in the easiest gear with relative ease.
I enjoyed riding the 7S. It feels solid and zips through corners and responds to steering input quickly. The 700c wheels make it easy to get up to speed quickly, too. The 7S feels like a true city bike that’s prepared to tackle poorly maintained roads too.
The handlebar controls are easy to use and the display is clear and easy to read. It has all the relevant information you’ll need on your ride, though there isn’t much data beyond the basics, like speed, assist level, battery life, and odometers. If you need more than that, the 7S probably isn’t right for you.
The one nitpick I have with the 7S is the battery mount. For starters, an externally mounted battery just can’t compete aesthetically with a battery integrated into a down tube. So the Propella 7S does have a bit of an “early e-bike” look to it. For example, the Ride1Up Core-5, which costs around the same as the Propella, has a much nicer look.
More importantly, however, the battery’s mount isn’t secured to the down tube at its lowest point. This allows the battery and mount to move while you’re riding, which creates an annoying rattling noise. This was my biggest complaint with the 7S overall.
One other small nitpick: Propella paints the chain white for a cool aesthetic, but the chain did not appear to be lubed out of the box. So it squeaked and squawked on my first ride. That’s easily solved with some chain lube you can buy at any bike shop.
Aside from those two niggles, the 7S is otherwise an excellent budget bike for a city commuter. If you’ll be hauling any gear, be sure to upgrade to the commuter bundle so you can add racks. Otherwise, the 7S is a fairly stripped down, no-frills bike meant to get you quickly from point A to point B.
Propella 7S review: Battery life and range
The removable 36V, 250Wh battery features Samsung Lithium-Ion cells. Propella advertises a range of 20-40 miles, depending on your assist level and use, as well as the terrain on which you will operate the 7S. You should be able to charge the battery full in 2.5 hours.
I rode the 7s just over 5 miles on my first trip and I used a combination of level assist 4 and 5 (the two highest settings). I burned through one bar of battery life (out of 4) during that ride. Given my use of the two highest settings on this ride, the advertised range of 20-40 miles seems reasonable. Just keep in mind that if you’re on hilly terrain, or if you want to maximize your speed, you’ll burn through the battery faster than the lower assist settings.
Propella 7S review: Accessories
The Propella website has several accessories specifically for the 7S. And Propella makes it easy to search specifically for the accessories that correspond directly to the 7S with clear website navigation buttons.
You can opt for the complete Commuter Bundle ($285) that outfits the 7S with a rear rack and other handy commuting accessories. Or you can pick and choose what you want for your bike, including SKS Fenders ($70), an Axiom Rear Rack ($65), an extra battery pack ($249), lights, phone mounts, and more.
Propella 7S review: The competition
The Propella 7S fits nicely in the range of affordable commuter bikes. Its most direct competition includes the Ride1Up Core 5, which costs $1,200 and has an integrated down tube battery. It also features assist up to 28mph, which is more than the 7S. But the 7S hub motor engages more quickly and feels more powerful overall. And while the 7S weighs just 37 pounds, the Core 5 weighs 49 pounds.
Ride1Up’s 700c commuter, the Roadster V2, costs $1,100 and has a 20-30 mile range, with assist up to 24mph. It’s similar in build to the 7S, but it features a battery integrated into the down tube for a sleeker look. It also features a belt drive rather than a chain drive system for quieter operation. And it slightly bests the 7S on weight at 33 pounds. To be fair, however, the Roadster V2 is a singlespeed system, whereas the 7S has a 7-speed drivetrain.
Propella 7S review: Verdict
The 7S from Propella is a good electric bike at a great price. It does without the bells and whistles of more expensive e-bikes, like integrated front and rear lights and a battery hidden in the frame. But if you’re on a budget and want a solid bike that can get you to your city destination quickly and with little hassle, The 7S delivers.
It could use a little bit of refining, particularly at the battery mount, which rattles as you ride. But there was otherwise little to complain about while riding the 7S. Budget-conscious e-bikes will enjoy this bike.