The Propella 9S Pro Class 1 electric bike rides as good as it looks. It doesn’t have any standout features, but that’s OK — it checks a lot of boxes for me as an e-bike rider. Its light weight, nine-speed gear range and five levels of pedal assist provide a ton of flexibility for tackling my commute, and the wide, but not super fat, tires let it ride nicely on different terrain. I do prefer that an e-bike has a throttle and wish its battery didn’t stand out so much, but you may not care.
The Propella 9S Pro costs $1,599, which puts it right in the middle of the standard electric bike price range. Since this is Propella’s latest model, it has a number of upgrades over its previous bike, the 7S, which is $1,199. The 9S has a larger battery, slightly higher top speed, nine instead of seven gears, and hydraulic instead of mechanical brakes.
The 7S is also 4 pounds lighter, if weight is a big factor. The 9S is a good value, but the 7S is also a good deal at its price, and it’s actually $150 off at the moment, so definitely shop on Propella’s site before deciding.
The 9S Pro has 2-inch wide tires to accommodate off- as well as on-road riding, hydraulic disc brakes and a great-looking matte black aluminum alloy frame, with subtle blue hints throughout.
At first glance, the 9S Pro looks just like a regular bike with a massive water bottle attached to it. That water bottle is actually a 36-volt, 350 watt-hour battery that powers the rear-geared hub motor. I definitely prefer top-loading batteries instead of releasing downward toward the wheel like some of the previous e-bikes I’ve reviewed. This makes taking the battery out much easier and it doesn’t get as much dirt kicked up at it from the tire. With that said, the water bottle screws have been placed under the frame, so keep that in mind if you have any accessories you might want to attach, like an actual water bottle.
You can plug in the battery for charging by flipping open a cap at the top. You can also unlock the battery on the side near the bottom and remove it. There’s a battery level indicator on the front with a nice-looking LED display. Charge times sit around two and a half hours and Propella estimates a riding range of between 25 and 45 miles. That number will vary based on how much assist you’re using, the resistance on the road, and more.
If that’s not enough juice or maybe your battery is damaged or lost, Propella does sell extra pro battery packs for $350. These batteries weigh around 4.5 pounds.
Since this is a Class 1 e-bike, it means the bike doesn’t have a throttle, a bit of a bummer since throttles are often my favorite part of riding an electric bicycle. In fact, none of the bikes Propella offers have a throttle, so here’s hoping for some in the future. The upside is that Class 1 bikes are often lighter and typically look more like regular bicycles.
It also means that the 9S Pro has a top speed of 20 miles per hour when using the pedal assist. That assist has five levels and you control it from the color LCD display located on the handlebar’s left side. The display shows how much assistance the motor will provide, your current speed, how much battery remains and how much power you’re actively using. Holding down the minus button activates the bike’s walk mode, which is useful when you need to push your bike up a steep hill. You can also open up the settings menu where you can adjust things like units of measurement or even, under advanced settings, how fast the motor will kick in when you start to cycle. I set mine to 0 because I want it to kick in as quickly as possible.
When you’re not using the pedal assist, the bike has a 1×9 gear range controlled by a Shimano Altus shifter on the right side handlebar. Pressing with your thumb shifts the gear down and pulling with your finger shifts it up. When there’s no battery assistance, the bike feels just like riding a standard, nonelectric bike.
I’m not a huge fan of the look when a battery sticks out from the frame like this: I much prefer when the battery is nicely integrated into the frame (though the S9’s battery cable is hidden). Visuals aside, it also helps disguise the bike as something closer to a typical, nonelectric bike, which is useful when bike thieves pick who they’re going to rob. The conspicuous battery really screams that this bike is expensive.
In addition, the gear and brake cables are fastened outside the bike along the top frame. This makes it a little uncomfortable to hold when carrying it. I think it looks nicer when the cables are hidden inside the bike’s frame, so it would have been nice to see that with these other ones too. Neither of these are deal-breakers.
The bike doesn’t come with fenders, but it does have both the front and rear holes needed for various accessories if you want to attach some yourself. Propella does sell fenders for its bikes and even has installation videos if you want to stay in the same ecosystem. The bike does come with a kickstand.
The 9S weighs just 41 pounds, even less if you take the battery off. This means it’s quite easy for me to pick up and carry to my tiny walkup apartment. After reviewing the 93-pound Revv 1, this was a breath of fresh air. Propella’s bikes are also super easy to put together and the company even has assembly videos for every bike it offers.
The Propella 9S Pro may not stand out from the crowd, but it’s got most of the things I look for in an e-bike. As long as you don’t care about a throttle or worry about attracting thieves, it’s definitely a solid option for the money.