The stylish Propella Single-Speed will look good in any hip city setting—anodized blue rims, attractive black frame, matching saddle and grips. And that giant water bottle on the down tube? That’s actually a removable and lockable battery with a 35-mile range (which recharges in a claimed 2.5 hours). With a top speed of 18 mph from a 250-watt Bafang rear-hub motor, and five levels of pedal assist, this 35-pound (claimed) aluminum road-style e-bike is a breeze to zip around on—and wouldn’t be a bear to ride if the battery ran out of juice, especially with those aero rims. But it’s a singlespeed, so it’s most efficient in flat areas with subtle hills.
As I said before, going up hills might require some pedaling, but it is SO MUCH EASIER with the motor running. I feel like a higher voltage is used on level 3 pedal assist than can be gotten just using the hand turn, though. It takes a few pedals for the pedal assist to kick in which can be annoying, but it does save some battery on initial acceleration. You also have to be careful pedaling around to park the bike or at a street corner waiting for traffic because you DO NOT want the motor to kick in and send you into a workbench or worse ... oncoming traffic.
The least-expensive bike in this roundup and, at 48.6 pounds, our size large Haro Shift Plus i/O 5 is the second-lightest in this group as well. Only the $8,250 Specialized was lighter. The Shift Plus i/O 5 was nimble enough to traverse the most technical trails we could find, and it was much easier to manage on rocky climbs than heavier, longer-travel e-MTBs. The Shimano Steps motor has loads of torque. However, in Trail mode, the bike still lurches forward as soon as you get on the pedals, so you've got to point it where you're willing to go before clipping in. Haro has done well to keep the price down, but we'd pay a slight premium if the bike were to come with a dropper post, which makes it a little less scary to sling a nearly 50-pound bike down a mountain.
UPS delivered one day later than the expected delivery date. It was a little frustrating, but one day is just one day, so can't be all too upset. Box arrived in good condition. Inside the box, the bike seemed to be packaged well but there were issues. The left gear shift handle was snapped off. Homdox was notified and they said they would send a new one (handle, gear shift, bike.... not sure, assuming a new gear shift).
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque, and others, like Bosch’s Active Line, are nearly silent. But, generally, all four make good options. Look for motor output (in torque), which will give you an idea of total power. Just like car engines, more torque equals more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a more important figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a more accurate reflection of power (higher Wh equals bigger range).
EThe Best in Test and Best Value Electric Mountain Bike tips do not result from the sum of star ratings, but by the assessment of the entire test team, taking into account the overall concept of the bike. It would be methodologically wrong to only add up the star ratings to make a final judgment in a scoring system – saying that something is “good” will not help anyone if they don’t know what it is for and for whom it is “good.” For this reason, we give a clear recommendation in every test result for which type of rider and purpose the bike is suitable and which not. The bikes themselves are as individual as the riders are – we just want to provide you with all the information you need to make a well-informed decision before buying. Here’s to long-lasting fun!