Brompton is a reputable and incredibly famous name in the world of bicycles. from designing robust and versatile foldable mountain bikes to designing classical city bikes. The brand does everything to stay ahead of its competitors. The name “Brompton” has its glory in manufacturing multimodal transport, specifically made for the city and its outskirts.
But is the London automaker’s electrical bike worth it? Keep moving forward to see if the bike should be on your buying list or not.
Whoever lives in the city knows about the foldable bikes by Brompton. Brompton foldable bikes are seen almost everywhere: in shops, restaurants, cycle paths, and even in the hands of cyclists.
Brompton foldable bikes are compact, small, lightweight, and a hybrid of a scooter and a pedal cycle. The bikes’ specifications are worth praising if we put the electrical sector aside.
Brompton has won hearts by making the most compact and lightest possible foldable bikes on Earth. However, their struggle to get the bike as compact as possible has had a great impact on the rider’s experience.
Bikes manufactured in London are real handicrafts as they represent the passion of their manufacturers and creators. No matter who welds the bike’s steel frame, the creators’ efforts are always prominent on London bikes.
Brompton bikes are ideal for urban residents who are afraid of having their bikes stolen by leaving them on the street. They are also ideal for those who do not have the space to store them in their apartments.
So, if you have no elevator or the stamina to carry the bike to your apartment, a Brompton foldable bike is the option for you.
For the past few years, Brompton has been offering electrical assistance on its iconic foldable city bikes. Does a bike that’s priced at just over 3000 dollars/euros have a place in the competition, with all the constraints that the manufacturer imposes on itself?
We tested the latest generation of Brompton’s electrically assisted foldable bike and covered about 50 km (30 miles). The final verdict? Well, let us just take you through the whole review.
Brompton electric – design and features
The electric foldable bike by Brompton is a classic choice yet a risky one. This sentence is an understatement, but it just pretty much sums up the whole test. It has its negative and positive points, but we tested it to see if it’s best for the city roads.
As for the design, the manufacturer did not change the iconic shape. The handlebar unit is extremely narrow, and the saddle is slightly higher than the frame.
It is very difficult to say if the frame is well-welded and elegant to look at, as we found it disproportionate. It seems more like riding a toy than riding an actual bike.
However, we must recall Brompton’s mission and ignore the design considerations. The engineers working for the manufacturer were not looking for a beautiful frame. Rather, they wanted to create a versatile, ultra-compact, and robust electric city bike for cyclists.
And for once, their bet was successful. The battery that comes with the bike is just a formality. It is placed in the front of the vehicle in a 2-kg bag that can be removed at any time by pressing a single button. You can even wear it on the shoulder and ride.
The rest of the folding is done just like any typical model of Brompton bike. All we had to do was press the trigger to tilt the rear wheel. after which we unscrewed part of the frame to fold the front wheel.
Finally, we folded the whole bike by blocking the handlebars and lowering the saddle. A little more force and attention allowed us to fold the pedals as well.
However, it took us time to fold the e-bike fast enough. At first, it will be laborious, but after a few repetitions, you will get a hold of the process. After we learned the process, we were able to fold and unfold the bike in less than a minute.
Carrying it by the saddle is more comfortable and preferable for short distances. However, it is possible to leave the handlebars unfolded too.
The manufacturer has thought of everything and truly made it a robust and compact bike. With a weight of only 13 kg (29 pounds), you can carry the e-bike to your apartment. Its folding capability might also enable you to store it in the corner of the corridor as well. Even if you have a tiny apartment, you are likely to make space for this foldable e-bike.
Read also: Check out best UK travel destinations by electric bike in this overview article.
Making the electric bike small and compact was the ultimate challenge for Brompton. That is why its most prominent specification; portable has an impact on its overall development.
The best electrically assisted bikes are designed with the concept that they will be all about the battery and autonomy. Brompton electric foldable bikes have a distinct personality when compared to the competition.
The manufacturer has undoubtedly done a great job by putting an engine block on the front hub, a removable battery, and some sensors on the crankset. Therefore, the Brompton electric bike is an e-bike without the bulk that other electric bikes have. But is it worth your money?
Brompton electric – on the road
The question is simple, but the answer is rather complex and complicated. The Brompton electric bike is good to ride everywhere, but it does not excel anywhere. We covered a few miles/kilometers for a few days, and we can’t say that our journeys weren’t as reassuring or pleasant as expected.
The vibrations caused by road imperfections are well-absorbed but the slightest imperfection on the roads, that is the manhole, puddle, sidewalk protruding, or a sudden car turning puts the bike in danger.
The wheels of the foldable electric bike are not thick enough to get yourself off of the bike paths without regretting the overall maneuverability of the e-bike. The extremely narrow handlebar unit and a slightly high-positioned saddle influence the axis of the front wheel and do not allow the turns to be precise. However, there is no risk involved in passing a big vehicle or going up on a line of stopped cars.
Coming to the engine, it has 3 assistance levels, promising around forty kilometers (25 miles) of autonomy but not all are put to use. In our journey, we stayed on mode 3, switching from mode 2 as more assistance was required to push uphill, which is not really what you want on an electric model.
Two different speeds on the bike do not comfortably manage the rider’s journey. The engine is in the front wheel and not in the crankset, meaning that there will always be a lag time between the triggering of the engine and the pedal stroke.
So, count 1 to 2 turns before the engine starts understanding your movements. To initiate the movement, try starting from zero mph uphill.
Other than that, watch out if you have big feet. The pedals are very close to the ground, and sometimes, your feet can touch the ground as well.
There isn’t much to complain about when riding a Brompton foldable electric bike on flat routes, small elevations, and tracks. The engine takes time to start and goes up to just over 20 km/h (12 mph) effortlessly.
This happens only if your route is well marked and you move the bike in suitable conditions. The bike was primarily designed to be folded. You can’t expect as much comfort on the road as you would from, for example, the Cannondale or Mustache e-bikes.
It was not hard for us to determine the electrical power of the e-bike. Even if it does not threaten to fall, the battery bag is an added accessory.
If the bicycle takes too much forward impact (a road crack or a not very smooth speed bump), the engine restarts and requests one or two pedal strokes again to start the ride.
The most problematic part of the bike for us was the brakes. To limit the weight and the technical constraints related to the size of the wheels, the brakes installed are double calipers with buffers that do not guarantee effective braking.
An eclectic bike that goes fast has a problem on wet roads. The breaking time is long, but fortunately for us, we never got to test it on wet roads.
It is difficult to apply disc brakes on bikes of this kind, but was it a good choice by the manufacturer to choose these brakes? We are not sure.
The question arises when we see that mass producers, such as Decathlon, for example, offer foldable electric models for around 800 dollars or euros, whereas a Brompton foldable electric bike costs more than 3,000.
While driving, it was very difficult for us to imagine who a Brompton electric bike’s “typical customer” was.
The bicycle is not designed for city streets due to its shape. It is difficult to take pleasure in riding a machine with a handlebar so narrow and tires so small for long rides.
To go to work, the e-bike does not have the safety, speed, and comfort that we find on classic bikes of the same range. Let’s say we use this e-bike to cover short intermodal distances, but who would do that? Most people usually take the train or the bus.
There’s one major benefit to the Brompton electric foldable bike. It is best for those living in the town in a very small apartment who are afraid of having their bike stolen. A Brompton electric model is your answer if you have no place to store it safely and still have enough desire to ride a bike.
Brompton has come up with a brilliant idea for foldable electric bikes for urban cycling. But the brand probably should start from scratch and design a foldable bike with a real electric concept to enter the e-bike market segment.
Comfortable on the cycling track
Unpleasant driving on city roads
Unsuitable engine and brakes
Brompton Electric bike – our final thoughts
Brompton has been building excellent, sturdy, and well-designed compact bikes, making them ideal allies for multi-modal transportation and small living spaces.
However, the London brand did not give enough attention to the difference between electric and traditional bikes. The current product does not have the electrical specifications to be called a commuter or city electric bike, even given that it is a good folding bike overall.
The main problem with an electric Brompton is its price. Offered at the same price as luxurious competitors, it only has its folding side to consider. The brand does not offer any luxury or comfort on its e-bike. In general, the e-bike lacks comfort, safety, and driving pleasure.
The e-bike’s strongest point is its portability. After removing all of the e-bike’s strong points, what remains is the desire to travel from point A to point B separated by a short distance faster than on foot: a classic Brompton for 1000 dollars or euros or a no-name folding bike for 250 could suffice.