Brompton Electric: a Functional Urban e-bike (Review)

When thinking about folding bikes, the iconic Brompton brand immediately comes to mind. Recognized as the Rolls-Royce among folding bikes, it boasts elegance and a high-end finish. However, to remain relevant in the competitive landscape of alternative travel, Brompton was missing one crucial element – an electric version. Finally, this much-awaited version is now available, elevating the brand’s offerings.

The Brompton Electric, the first of its kind from this folding bike manufacturer, targets urban commuters seeking convenient mobility solutions. The bike caters to those who mix various modes of transport daily or require easy storage options. Embodying an authentic urban vibe with its small 16″ wheels, this bike proves remarkably nimble and maneuverable, allowing riders to effortlessly weave through city streets.

With a weight of 16.6 kg (13.7 kg for the bike and 2.9 kg for the battery), the Brompton Electric offers versatility in transmission options, with 2 or 6 speeds. Gears and parts, as expected, bear the Brompton mark, ensuring top-notch quality. The 250 W motor, also produced by Brompton, powers the bike efficiently, while the battery range spans from 30 to 70 km, providing ample distance for urban commuting.

Brompton Electric in the road

For urban dwellers seeking a seamless blend of convenience and style, the Brompton Electric emerges as a compelling choice. Whether it’s daily city commutes or quick storage needs, this electric folding bike holds the potential to revolutionize the way people travel in urban environments. To discover more about this bike’s performance, continue reading further below.

The Brompton Electric shares the same fundamental base as all other Brompton bikes. This allows users to fold the bike in the familiar manner, maintaining its compact form. As a result, it becomes effortless to stow it in the trunk of a car or keep it conveniently by your side while traveling on a train. The bike’s signature folding mechanism ensures that its portability remains unparalleled, offering seamless integration into various aspects of daily commuting.

Brompton Electric Folding Bicycle

Brompton electric engine

Brompton electric engine

The Brompton Electric features a front-wheel motor, a well-considered choice given the focus on keeping the bike lightweight and compact. True to their brand ethos, Brompton took on the challenge of developing everything in-house, and this electric bike is no exception. To create their own electric motor, they enlisted the expertise of Williams, renowned Formula 1 veterans. Although an unconventional choice for a commuter bike, this collaboration might stem from a blend of British pride and marketing strategies.

Impressively, the motor generates 250 watts of power and offers support up to 25 km/h, delivering a delightful sensation of speed on a lightweight bike with its small wheels, particularly noticeable during acceleration. To ensure smooth integration and responsiveness, the motor comes equipped with a processor located near the front tube. This processor effectively communicates with a cadence and torsion sensor positioned in the bottom bracket, ensuring precise and efficient power delivery based on the rider’s pedaling cadence and force.

During our test, we encountered some issues with the motor’s communication, resulting in inconsistent support levels. It was either full engine support or none at all. Fortunately, Brompton promptly addressed this concern by releasing a motor software update. Upon retesting the bike with the new software, we immediately noticed a significant improvement. However, we must acknowledge that the support system isn’t flawless yet, as it provides minimal assistance in the heaviest gears and more robust support in the lightest gear. Nonetheless, the overall riding experience remains smooth and fluid.

One minor inconvenience we observed was a slight lag in support, which Brompton explains is a safety feature. Despite this, the remarkable difference observed after the latest major software update gives us confidence that these remaining issues will likely be resolved eventually.

Brompton electric FOLDING

What impressed us most was the support offered by the bike around its maximum assisted speed of 25 km/h. Unlike many other electric bikes, where you might feel the bike hindering your pedaling effort at this speed, the Brompton Electric managed to avoid such discomfort. The seamless transition between pedal-assist and self-powered cycling contributed to an enjoyable riding experience, making it a standout feature of the bike.

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Brompton electric application

To update the software of the Brompton Electric, users can conveniently utilize the dedicated app designed specifically for this purpose. The app offers valuable information on battery life, maintenance reminders, and other relevant details. However, Android users may need to exercise some patience as, currently, the app is only available for iPhone users, and even for them, it might still be in development or unavailable. This preference for iOS aligns with the strong British identity that is deeply rooted in Brompton’s brand image. In the UK, iOS devices are more widely used than Android devices, which might explain the focus on developing the app for iPhone users.

Brompton electric application

While this British character adds a unique charm to Brompton’s identity, it might lead to some inconveniences for users in countries like Belgium, where Android devices are more prevalent. Despite this, the allure of Brompton’s quintessentially British essence continues to resonate with many, emphasizing the brand’s distinct appeal and global recognition.

Brompton electric battery

Brompton electric battery

The front of the Brompton Electric offers a practical bag attachment option, as depicted in the photos. This bag serves as the container for a 300Wh lithium-ion battery, providing a range of 30 to 70 km. While the range may not be the most extensive, it proves more than sufficient for the bike’s intended purpose of commuting to and from stations or metro stops. Typically, Brompton bikes are not expected to cover long distances. Moreover, for regular use, finding a charging point along the way is usually feasible, particularly since the battery can be easily removed and carried like a shoulder bag.

Charging the battery takes around four hours for a full charge, but this time can be reduced to two hours with an optional “quick charger” that can be included with your bike. The battery itself features control options for the lights and offers three distinct modes for bike assistance, ranging from a gentle push to maximum power. Importantly, for those who prefer to ride without electric assistance, this bike allows you to do so effortlessly. Furthermore, the battery can be taken out of the shoulder bag and utilized as a…

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However, a word of caution regarding the battery: since it can be fully disconnected from the bike, it’s easy to misplace or forget it somewhere inadvertently. This is something we learned from firsthand experience, and it’s crucial to remain mindful of its whereabouts to avoid any inconveniences.

The Brompton Fold

To Sum Up

The Brompton Electric comes in two classic color options: black and white. Additionally, customers can choose between two-speed or six-speed versions, providing flexibility to cater to individual preferences. The bike also offers various optional accessories, which can be purchased at an extra cost, allowing users to customize their riding experience further. However, it is worth noting that the price of the Brompton Electric is relatively high compared to non-electric Brompton models.

Since October, a third color option, “Bolt Blue,” has been introduced to the Electric range, offering a top-of-the-line finish for an additional charge of 250$.

During our testing, we found the Brompton Electric to be an absolute pleasure in navigating urban environments. It offers a convenient and carefree mode of alternative travel, making it effortless to commute from one point to another within the city. For instance, one can start their journey on the Brompton Electric, then easily switch to a bus, train, or metro for part of the route, before getting back on the Brompton to complete the trip. Besides its practicality, the Brompton Electric carries a certain cool factor, which can add to the rider’s image in public.

However, it’s essential to recognize that the Brompton Electric is not designed for extended long-distance use. For longer trips, we recommend considering a traditional electric bike, which is better suited for covering more substantial distances comfortably.

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