Known Issues & Problems with Propella Products + Help, Solutions & Fixes

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
No ebike is perfect, this is a thread dedicated to sharing known issues or problems with electric bikes from Propella as well as any help and solutions you know of. Sometimes that means a DIY fix and other times it can mean a recall, software update or part replacement by a dealer.

Please be respectful and constructive with feedback, this is not a space for hate speech. In many cases, representatives from the company will see feedback and use it to improve their product. In the end, the goal is to enjoy riding and help each other go further and be safer.
 

GeorgetownJesse

New Member
So I got my Propella V2.2 (7-speed). I picked mine up pre-assembled from the warehouse in Redmond since I live in Seattle. The guys reminded me that they are not professional bike mechanics and recommended taking it to a pro fro adjustments. It's definitely going to take some adjustments and upgrades to make this as comfortable to ride as my 15 yo, $285 Giant hybrid. The wheels need to be trued (to much wobble). The wiring seems to be installed overly tight to me with some of the wire connections making a hard 90 deg bend that kinks the wire insulation in a way I don't like the look of. The gears and chain make noise in certain gears, shifter needs tuning. It's my first time with disk brakes, so I don't know if its normal for them to be sort of slow in stopping. I want to have those checked too to make sure they are adjusted properly as I can't easily stop as quickly as I'm used to with my old v-brakes. The peddles feel really small to my feet and they also don't spin freely when you spin them by hand. I also prefer a softer/sticky material for a grip. The grips the V2.2 came with are highly textured stiff plastic that feel to me like gripping corse plastic sandpaper or a floor mat, so I'm looking to replace these too. At the price of the v2.2 I understand that providing low cost peddles, stem, handlebar, and grips are probably a good way to keep the price down and still deliver a really good value on all the other mechanical and frame components - so I am not unhappy with the purchase. At least not yet. I am hoping I can get this bike feeling ergonomically compatible with my body and more comfortable for 15 mile daily commuting without having to spend lots more time and money. As it stands, I am still riding my old trusty Giant because the Propella is just too uncomfortable for any distance with what I am able to adjust, as-is, from the dealer - which is essentially only the seat hieght and saddle angle.

I'm 6'1", and with the seat post raised to a comfortable position for my leg length, the handlebars are positioned at such a distance and angle that the amount of weight on my hands/wrists became really uncomfortable after about 35 minutes of riding. There is no room for more risers on the stem.

I emailed Propella and found that I can use any stem that has a
Tube diameter of 28.5mm (1-1/8”) and,
a Handlebar Diameter of 31.8mm (1-1/4”)
and it will fit the V2.2

I'm looking at either the redshift shockstop 30deg ($120)
or the Wake MTB Stem 31.8 90mm 110mm 0-60 Degree Adjustable Bike Stem ($19)

I guess maybe my feet are large, as the back of my left foot hits the kick-stand mount when peddling if my foot isn't positioned exactly so - I don't like this, it feels dangerous.
I would like to reposition/replace the kickstand but I don't know what options will fit onto this frame.

Anybody have recommendations for the following components that will fit the Propella V2.2:
kickstand
water bottle cage
a frame mountable U-bolt lock
Rear rack
other stems that could provide a somewhat more upright riding position
larger peddles

Thanks!
 

Blork

New Member
Not a lot of action here, but AFAIK there are only a few hundred Propellas out there, so we're a small but special group.

I have a 2.0, which arrived at my house in November 2017. I live in Canada (Montreal), so by November the cycling season is pretty much over except for the hardcore crowd with their winterized bikes. I got a couple of short rides in, and then the bike sat in my basement until April.

Short version: I love this bike. It's a real game-changer for me (more on that later). I love the look of it and the fact that it's the lightest e-bike around (at least among the ones with conventional styling). But there are some issues. I feel a bit like someone who bought a vintage Triumph Spitfire and now spends his weekends tinkering as much as riding.

The two biggest problems for me are the frame's geometry and the skinny tires (700x28mm). I'm 5' 10" and I find the handlebars are way too low. I don't like having a bent-over profile as if I'm riding a racing bike with drop handlebars. I ended up replacing the stem with a Zoom adjustable stem (110mm) and setting it at 45 degrees. That helped a lot. (More there for a later post...)

But those 28mm tires. Man, I did not realize the bike came with such skinny tires. (Apparently the 2.2 has changed to use 32mm.) The streets around here are rough; bumpy as heck, full of potholes. Even the bike paths frequently cross streets, so there are bumps at the intersections. I commute 14km each way to work, and when I ride my bike there are at least 30 spots where I'm at serious risk of a blowout from the bumps.

And yeah. I've had three rear-wheel blowouts already this summer. The first was a "snakebite" (two punctures in the side of the tube at the same location). That generally happens when you hit a bump on an under-inflated tire. The second was just weirdly random and happened when I was half way across the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which runs for over two kilometers. That was a long and lonely walk home. And this morning the back tire was flat when I got the bike out of the shed. Catastrophic internal tube explosion which was most likely caused by the tire being fully inflated and then swelling in the heat and exploding (apparently that actually happens!), so basically it's a victim of global warming.

My cheap old non-electric hybrid with its clunky 37mm tires never had a single blowout in ten years of use. This does not give me confidence for going on long rides. :-(

Other small problems include my left heel constantly hitting the kick-stand mount, and both front and rear brakes squealing like pigs being brought to slaughter.

On the plus side, I have learned a lot about bicycle maintenance in the past few months. :) I've learned how to adjust the brakes to make them work better and squeal somewhat less (I don't think they will ever be silent).

I resolved the kickstand problem by changing my pedals. I have a neuropathy in my legs that causes (among other things) a weak right ankle. The stock pedals simply would not do; my right ankle would be constantly rolling off the pedal, which would be both uncomfortable and dangerous. (This isn't a Propella issue; it's an issue with any small pedals.)

I resolved that by getting a set of Catalyst pedals (https://pedalinginnovations.com/buy-your-pedals/). I have no idea if their talk about changing the position of your foot changes the power blah blah blah or not, but they're perfect for my big dumb feet, and the change in foot position resolved the problem of my heel hitting the kickstand mount. Also, I got the blue ones, which (close enough) match the blue trim of the bike.

I found the hand grips to be uncomfortable, so I switched to a set of "ergonomic" handgrips and wow, what a difference. I was able to re-use the cobalt blue clamps of the originals, so it still looks good. Seriously, this is something EVERYONE should do. In fact, Propella should change to using ergonomic handgrips as standard equipment. Once you've tried them you wonder why non-ergonomic handgrips even exist anymore.

Other small customizations include changing the saddle for a goofy-looking but very comfortable gel saddle, adding a Versa Rack to the back, some lightweight and minimalist fenders, and reflectors all around (there's a $300 fine here for riding a bike without reflectors).

Next issue: as of a few days ago the crank is making a racket. Lots of loud creaking. Tomorrow I'll tighten a bunch of things, because I can't believe the bearings could be worn out already.

OK, this is a long post. I would have split it into many if there were more chatter in here. Where are all the Propella owners?
 

gretzteam

New Member
Hi,
I got my Propella 2.2 a few weeks back and it's as nice as it looks on the pictures. I agree the handle bars a bit low and might want to get something more comfortable, but it's really not a big deal.
For me I would really like to be able to increase the max speed to 18-20Mph. Does anyone has any idea if this is possible, and how damaging to the bike it could be.
Thanks!
 

GeorgetownJesse

New Member
Thanks for the detailed review Blork. What handle grips are you liking? I would also be interested in the answer to Gretzteam's question about top speed adjustment. The flats of my usual commute, I outpace the assist within 5 seconds and then am peddling 16-19mph the whole time with no assistance from the motor. On one hand it's good for staying in shape and being gentle on the motor, on the other hand it makes me conscious of how I actually prefer my heavier 15 yo $300 hybrid bike for long flat rides because it actually feels like it rolls with lower resistance. The back wheel on the Propella just wont spin very long on its own under no resistance compared to my old bike which spins really freely. Maybe this is just a trade off of having a hub motor? I'm 6'1", 175 lbs and this frame feels just a bit on the small side.

My brakes also squeal like crazy. This is something I will have a local bike shop look at when I go to get the tires trued.

Agree with y'all about peddles, kickstand, and handlebar height... went on Amazon and...

• I replaced those tiny pedals with: TXJ Lightweight Polyamide 9/16" Mountain Bike Pedals

• Took off that weird kickstand that kept hitting my foot too. I had to reroute the cable going to the motor by clipping the black zip ties and re-zipping the cable in a slightly different position. There is now only ~3/8" between the cable and the wheel, but I feel it is secure and sufficient. And that kick stand had to go! Replaced it with: Greenfield Bicycle Kickstand, 285mm, Black

• Put on a Handlebar Riser Adaptor and an adjustable Handlebar Stem and almost have the more upright position I prefer. I would adjust it a bit more but I will need to replace the front brake cable as it has run out of slack.

• I just received a disk brake compatible Topeak Explorer Bicycle Rack, not installed yet and hope that it will serve triple duty as a carry-all solution as well as being a back fender and tail light mount.

** The grips hurt my hands after about 40 min of riding. Need better grips. Please post your upgrades! Thanks.
 

Blork

New Member
Here's a photo of the grips I bought. There's no brand marking, but bike shops are full of grips just like this, so any will do, although I recommend getting ones that have at least one clamp. You can see that I re-used the blue clamp from the original Propella grips in this case. (Mine have a clamp on the inside; some have both inner and outter clamps, some have no clamps at all, they just slide on. I would not recommend the clampless ones.) BTW an Amazon search for "egonomic bicycle grips" brings up a bunch of these. It's incredible what a difference that flared pad makes.

I also found a nice matching blue bell. :)

ergo-grip.jpg


I also bought a Versa Rack from Planet Bike. (See photo.) I chose that because it was the only one in the store that was made to go with disc brakes. It works well for me, but the curved rails means it might not work for some paniers or baskets that you want to attach. (You can see that the side rails curve towards each other as they approach the front of the rack.) I use a rear bag that attaches with Velcro straps, and that works fine.

In this photo you can also see my embarrassingly goofy soft saddle and my awesome blue pedals.

rack.jpg



I considered getting one of those handlebar risers like you bought. But here's a consideration: because of the geometry, raising the handlebars with a riser actually moves the handlebars CLOSER to you horizontally, which is not what I wanted. I just use an adjustable stem similar to the one you have and for me that's enough, although I wish I could find a 120mm one set at a fixed 45 degrees instead of adjustable (just for strength).

Regarding the kickstand, my heel was hitting the bracket where it is welded to the chain stay. You said you removed yours... did you actually cut it off with an acetylene torch? If so, wow! :)
 

GeorgetownJesse

New Member
Thanks so much Blork for pics and your recommendations. Your V2.2 is looking great!

BTW, I didnt need to cut the bracket off. Just Removing the kickstand by unscrewing it solved the fott-hitting prob for me!

I like the synthetic grips you found with the blue ring, at at $9 it's worth the risk to order a pair. Thanks!

I will post pics one day when I get some time to install.

Cheers!
 

Blork

New Member
Thanks GJ. Mine's actually a 2.0, not a 2.2. I just took a closer look and you're right that you can just remove the kickstand by unscrewing it. I think I was thinking of when I first encountered the problem and wanted to just slide the kickstand back. That's when I saw it was welded. I haven't thought about it since I got those big pedals.
 

Blork

New Member
A few days ago I said that my "crank is making a racket. Lots of loud creaking." Also, despite my endless tinkering, the disc brakes are always squealing. I took it to a bike shop and they replaced the bottom bracket (the thing with the bearings). The also took out my brake pads and lightly sanded them and cleaned the discs. Result: no more creaking crank and brakes that are totally silent.

Yay! But I have to say, I'm a bit peeved that the bottom bracket wore out with less than six months use. What's up with that? I've only worn out one bottom bracket before, and that was on my old tank of a hybrid bike and it took almost ten years to break it. :-/
 

Blork

New Member
Propella's FAQ says that the bike and its parts are "spashproof" but it shouldn't be out in severe weather or heavy rain. Unfortunately, I got caught in a downpour a couple of weeks ago. The forecast said it would rain ("showers") starting at around 2:00PM so I though I was safe to go for a ride. But the rain came early; it started at noon when I was still about 6km from home, and it was a torrential downpour. I had no shelter so I just rode on through and got home as fast as I could.

The next day I went out to the shed to check on it. It was muddy, but the electronics all worked. I covered the electronics with plastic and gave it a good wash. A couple of days later I went for a 27km ride with no problems.

Then a couple of days later I pulled it out of the shed intending to ride to work and the electronics were dead. No sign of life at all, even though the battery was fully charged. I tried a few times, tapping and squeezing here and there in case it was a loose connection. Nope. Dead.

I sent a message to Propella asking what I should do. I used the "Contact" form on their web site, which I've used a few times before when I had questions. They always respond quickly. They responded quickly as usual, saying it was likely either the LCD display or the controller. (It did not seem to be the battery, and it could have been the motor but that's apparently the least likely.) They offered to send me a replacement LCD. They FedExed it right away. I got the package yesterday, and it contained a few other things too, including a replacement controller.

Happily, all I had to do was replace the LCD display and it came back to life. (Yay, because that's the easiest thing to replace.)

From now on I'm going to keep a few plastic bags and elastic bands on me when I ride, so I can cover the vulnerable parts if it starts to rain heavily. I suggest other Propella owners do that too.

Kudos to Propella for great service!
 

Blork

New Member
The King Meter LCD controller that comes with the Propella has been pre-programmed by Propella to run the basic functions and to limit the top speed of pedal assist. This is normal. But there's not a lot of information on how to use the various features and settings, so as a public service I'll write a little mini-manual below. This definitely applies to the Propella 2.0 and most likely to the 2.2.


Using the LCD display on the Propella e-bike.


ODOMETER - To toggle between odometer and "trip odometer," tap the POWER button.

SPEED - To toggle between speed display settings (current speed, max. speed, or average speed), hold down the UP button. After a few seconds it changes mode. Hold the button again to get to the next mode, etc.

BACKLIGHT - To turn on (and off) the backlight, press and hold the POWER and UP buttons.

WALK MODE - To use "Walk mode," press and hold the DOWN button while walking the bike; the motor moves the bike along at low power, at about 4MPH.

SETTINGS - To go into "settings," hold UP and DOWN buttons for a few seconds. You can then set the time of day, the default pedal-assist setting when you power on, and choose between miles or kilometres. (Use the UP and DOWN buttons to change the values, and use POWER button to move to the next setting.)


A note about setting the time of day: when I first got my Propella 2.0 last year, it would not remember the time of day; it always reset to "12:00" whenever I'd power up the system. This went on for about a week and then, randomly, it started remembering the time. (I do not recall doing anything different to provoke that.) I recently replaced the LCD unit because of water damage, and the same pattern repeated; it would not remember the time of day for about a week and then it randomly started remembering it. (Although today it forgot it, but who knows about tomorrow...) I suspect this is some kind of glitch in the system and that other people have seen it to.

I'm saying this mostly to advise new owners that if your LCD won't remember the time, just give it a week or so. :)
 

patrizioeb

New Member
So I got my Propella V2.2 (7-speed). I picked mine up pre-assembled from the warehouse in Redmond since I live in Seattle. The guys reminded me that they are not professional bike mechanics and recommended taking it to a pro fro adjustments. It's definitely going to take some adjustments and upgrades to make this as comfortable to ride as my 15 yo, $285 Giant hybrid. The wheels need to be trued (to much wobble). The wiring seems to be installed overly tight to me with some of the wire connections making a hard 90 deg bend that kinks the wire insulation in a way I don't like the look of. The gears and chain make noise in certain gears, shifter needs tuning. It's my first time with disk brakes, so I don't know if its normal for them to be sort of slow in stopping. I want to have those checked too to make sure they are adjusted properly as I can't easily stop as quickly as I'm used to with my old v-brakes. The peddles feel really small to my feet and they also don't spin freely when you spin them by hand. I also prefer a softer/sticky material for a grip. The grips the V2.2 came with are highly textured stiff plastic that feel to me like gripping corse plastic sandpaper or a floor mat, so I'm looking to replace these too. At the price of the v2.2 I understand that providing low cost peddles, stem, handlebar, and grips are probably a good way to keep the price down and still deliver a really good value on all the other mechanical and frame components - so I am not unhappy with the purchase. At least not yet. I am hoping I can get this bike feeling ergonomically compatible with my body and more comfortable for 15 mile daily commuting without having to spend lots more time and money. As it stands, I am still riding my old trusty Giant because the Propella is just too uncomfortable for any distance with what I am able to adjust, as-is, from the dealer - which is essentially only the seat hieght and saddle angle.

I'm 6'1", and with the seat post raised to a comfortable position for my leg length, the handlebars are positioned at such a distance and angle that the amount of weight on my hands/wrists became really uncomfortable after about 35 minutes of riding. There is no room for more risers on the stem.

I emailed Propella and found that I can use any stem that has a
Tube diameter of 28.5mm (1-1/8”) and,
a Handlebar Diameter of 31.8mm (1-1/4”)
and it will fit the V2.2

I'm looking at either the redshift shockstop 30deg ($120)
or the Wake MTB Stem 31.8 90mm 110mm 0-60 Degree Adjustable Bike Stem ($19)

I guess maybe my feet are large, as the back of my left foot hits the kick-stand mount when peddling if my foot isn't positioned exactly so - I don't like this, it feels dangerous.
I would like to reposition/replace the kickstand but I don't know what options will fit onto this frame.

Anybody have recommendations for the following components that will fit the Propella V2.2:
kickstand
water bottle cage
a frame mountable U-bolt lock
Rear rack
other stems that could provide a somewhat more upright riding position
larger peddles

Thanks!
Thanks for the detailed information
 

Blork

New Member
Just popping in to say that I recently did some upgrades to make my 2.0 more like a 2.2. I changed the tires from the stock 28mm to 32mm and wow, what a difference! (2.2+ ship with standard 32mm.) I also upgraded the brake rotors and the brake calipers (to Shimano M375). Again, huge improvement. Much better braking power, no need to constantly fiddle with adjustments, and best of all, absolutely no brake squealing!

One warning (and this is straight from Propella support): if you change the brake rotor on the REAR wheel, re-use the bolts from the old rotor. Apparently they are slightly shorter than standard, and if you use the standard length it can damage the motor.
 

GeorgetownJesse

New Member
Just popping in to say that I recently did some upgrades to make my 2.0 more like a 2.2. I changed the tires from the stock 28mm to 32mm and wow, what a difference! (2.2+ ship with standard 32mm.) I also upgraded the brake rotors and the brake calipers (to Shimano M375). Again, huge improvement. Much better braking power, no need to constantly fiddle with adjustments, and best of all, absolutely no brake squealing!

One warning (and this is straight from Propella support): if you change the brake rotor on the REAR wheel, re-use the bolts from the old rotor. Apparently they are slightly shorter than standard, and if you use the standard length it can damage the motor.
Thanks Blork! Still not a lot of user convoration about the Propella out there. Hmmm?
My brakes are still squeaking loudly, despite sanding and cleaning. I will look into the Shimano M375's and going with a wider tire.
Have any idea how wide a tire can fit on those rims and still work on the Propella frame?
 

Blork

New Member
Thanks Blork! Still not a lot of user convoration about the Propella out there. Hmmm?
My brakes are still squeaking loudly, despite sanding and cleaning. I will look into the Shimano M375's and going with a wider tire.
Have any idea how wide a tire can fit on those rims and still work on the Propella frame?
According to my messages with Propella, 32mm is the limit for the back but the front could possibly go bigger. This is for the 2.0 frame.

The jump from 28mm to 32mm doesn't sound like much but it's significant. 32mm holds 50% more air (according to a couple of sites I checked). I don't feel a need to go bigger; 32 seems perfect for this bike.