This Minimal E-Bike Looks More Like A Single Speed Than An Electric Bike

The Propella wants to ease rides into assisted biking.

It has a battery and motor, but Ben Tarassoli doesn’t consider his startup’s new bicycle design an electric bike. It’s just a bike with a couple of extra accessories, and the direction he thinks almost all bicycles will eventually take.


“We think that a normal bicycle has been great for over a hundred years,” says Tarassoli, co-founder of Propella. “People love them. We would like to take a minimalist approach, and modernize it with electric assist. Meaning it doesn’t have to have a giant motor or battery, and we don’t need to create another category of transportation. It’s really a bicycle with a little bit of electric assist.”

The single-speed has the bare minimum of features to keep it lightweight and hundreds of dollars cheaper than most electric bikes. “The first model that we have naturally turns out to be affordable,” he says. “Not because we’re using cheap parts, but because it’s minimal. It doesn’t have a whole lot of fancy gears on it. It’s simple.” On Indiegogo, the bike is offered for prices ranging from $599 to $799.

The fixie-style look was also chosen to stand out from the clunkier options in the e-bike world. “We’re huge fans of minimalism in industrial design aesthetics, taking inspiration from Apple,” Tarassoli says. “We would like to create a brand with great design standards in the product. Two or three years ago, when I was starting on this project, I didn’t see a brand out there in electric bikes that had that vision.”

Compared to the beefiest e-bikes, it doesn’t have quite as much power: Its max speed is 20 miles per hour. But the company is targeting regular bike riders–including those who might not have considered a battery before–more than the established e-bike crowd. Because the motor is smaller, the bike can be lighter weight, but it can still give enough of an extra push that it could motivate someone to ride more often or take longer rides. The battery snaps in and out of a water bottle-like mount, and after charging for 2.5 hours, lasts up to 28 miles.

Tarassoli thinks the majority of bikes will eventually have batteries and motors. “As the battery technology improves in the next few years, the amount of sacrifice is so small and minimal– why not turn a normal bike into an electric?” he says. “Just like how you add a headlight, literally an accessory to your bike, an additional feature. I think we’ll see more and more bicycles with electric assist.”

All Photos: via Propella

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.