Propella has been cranking out affordable, stylish lightweight electric bikes for years now, so we were excited to hear about the release of its new 9S Pro model.
Digging into the details of the Propella 9s Pro, a few specs stand out as significant improvements. The bike gets its new name from the 9-speed mechanical drivetrain that connects the rider’s legs to the pavement. The Propella 7S had 7 mechanical gears on its cassette and the Propella 9S Pro has a full 9-pack out back. That provides a bit of additional mechanical flexibility when navigating your route for the day.
It’s also packing a ton of other upgrades, right at the top of which is the hydraulic disc brakes. As component prices of electric bikes have started coming down after the short term spike driven by COVID supply chain issues, we are seeing a lot of brands upgrade their bikes to hydraulic brakes at the same prices. With the introduction of its new Pro line, Propella is bringing hydraulic brakes to the brand.
Hydraulic brakes provide a more crisp feel on the brake lever and a correspondingly faster response down at the brake calipers. In real terms, hydraulic brakes provide more responsive, more effective braking, which is a critical feature when you really need it most. The upgrade is especially noticeable when switching from mechanical disc brakes to hydraulic brakes, and makes the bike safer to ride.
Next, the 9S Pro is packing slightly larger tires. These 27.5″ x 2″ tires translate to a significantly more comfortable ride compared to the more street focus tires on its predecessor. That’s a really nice thing for more casual riders looking to take advantage of this lightweight urban slayer who aren’t interested in riding around on road tires and also makes the bike a compelling option for gravel riders looking for some assistance. The extra cushion and surface area of the 2″ tires make gravel riding more comfortable and more stable at the same time.
Propella also gave the rear hub motor on the 9S Pro an upgrade up to a new stack packing 350 watts of continuous and 500 watts of peak power. This is a noticeable upgrade from the 250 watt motor in the 7S and provides a meaningful amount of extra boost. Even with my oversized frame pounding up the obscene foothills flanking the Southern California coast, the motor hardly noticed the additional strain, calmly asking how much more power I needed. At the steepest inclines, its 500 watt peak was pushing full bore and definitely hit a ceiling, but in all but the most extreme conditions, it had plenty of power.
The posture on the bike and stance of the bike as well as the grips, pedals, handlebars, and saddle are all very similar to the Propella 7S. The standout blue rims on the 7S have unfortunately made way for a set of much more tame, mainstream matte black rims on the 9S. The blue rims were surely polarizing so it’s not a surprising change, but we sure loved them.
Much like its siblings, the Propella 9S Pro boasts a removable water bottle style battery and boasts a larger capacity, at 360 watt-hours vs the 250 Wh pack on the Propella 7S (that’s 42% more capacity for the number crunchers out there). The removable pack for such a light bike is a great option. It enables owners to pick up an extra battery and without too much fuss, carry it along with them as a veritable spare gas tank, doubling the range of the bike. Compared to most e-bikes on the market, the 360 Wh pack is on the smaller side, but with it’s more efficient motor, that still provides 25-45 miles of range per charge depending on how much it’s being utilized.
Rolling all these features together, we took our first ride on the Propella 9S Pro and found it to have very much the same DNA as the Propella 7S that we loved so much. Its 41 lb weight feels light and spritely underfoot and encourages a playful riding style. It is well-suited for urban environments where you need to hyper aware of your surroundings and able to dart around obstacles at a moments notice. Its 9 mechanical gears provide a nice bit of extra flexibility when charging uphills or even tackling more aggressive riding in the flat lands.
Taking it into the dirt, we found the wider tires provided a meaningful amount of extra traction, but more importantly, it was nice to have the extra surface area on the trail in slippery sections. Granted, these are very much still crossover tires and aren’t going to be something you’re going to want to take on long off-road mounting routes especially given that the bike has no active suspension, but it’s definitely a blast for short stints in the dirt.
It was great to have the extra capability provided by an extra battery. This is a huge improvement for city dwellers looking to lock the bike up in a secure location, then bring the battery up to their apartment for charging. Similarly, we found the extra pack to be a ton of fun on longer trips or even just enabling more liberal use of the motor for more spirited riding without having to worry about how much range was left in the primary pack.
Overall, the Propella 9s Pro is a purpose-built urban assault vehicle. Its flat bars and aggressive riding posture are well suited to urban environments. It’s not hard to imagine it being used as an urban courier bike weaving between taxis, lost tourists, and delivery vans on the streets of New York.
For more information about the Propella 9S Pro or to pick one up for yourself, head over to the official Propella 9S Pro website.
Disclaimer: Propella provided the 9S Pro to the author free of charge for the purposes of this review.
Propella 9S Pro E-Bike Specs
- Weight: 41 lb / 18.5 kg
- Motor: 350 watts continuous, 500 watts peak
- Battery: removable 360 watt-hour battery build with Samsung 21700 NMC cells
- Charge Time: 2.5 hours
- Range: 25-45 miles of pedal assist
- Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes w/160mm rotors
- E-bike Class: Class 1
- Warranty: 1 year warranty and 14-day risk free return policy.
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