Testing the new electric Brompton (folding bike) - we want your thoughts!

Userlevel 4

I'm Laura from Marketing at Pure Planet. I recently chatted to Brompton about their company ethos, an active lifestyle, and their new bike - which is their first ever electric model. I wrote a blog about it.

I still had a lot more questions, and as someone who cycles to work (though not always all the way!) I was keen to test it out.

So I'm doing exactly that! Next week, Pure Planet will be testing out the new Brompton e-bike. We're going to test it in a variety of different scenarios, and see if it fits in @Marc 's new Nissan LEAF.

Do you have any questions? What would you like to know about getting an electric bike? I'd also love to hear from any members who are already e-bike users.

I'll keep you updated with how the testing goes!


10 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi laura.
I must admit i did once consider an electric bike as i thought 24 mile round trip cycle to work each day would be much easier.
What eventually put me off was the weight of it HEAVY to say the least.so obvious question.
1. How heavy is it
2. Whats the range in a hilly area like bath.
3. Whats the price range on a typical electric bike.
And finally a totally random question. Not that you would ever need to. Can you charge the bike by plugging it into the leaf ?
Userlevel 6
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Electric bike! Sounds very fancy!

I'd like to know about charging and battery life. Anything you can find out about that would be great 😛
Userlevel 7
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For those who are interested, some details are:

Weight: bike without battery:
2-speed: 13.7kg
6-speed: 14.5kg
+ Weight: battery & small bag 2.9kg

(Weight: bike with battery: 2 speed=16.6kg, 6speed=17.4kg)

2 types of charger are specified, a standard 2 amp 4 hour charger and an optional (£££) fast 4 amp 2 hour charger.

Range is quoted as 25-50 miles / 40-80km (dependent on rider and environmental factors)

There is a specification >HERE<

The leaf charging question is interesting. Perhaps Brompton should consider making an inverter charger (to convert 12V to a high enough voltage) to allow charging it from the accessory socket (aka cig lighter) socket on any car. No doubt one will come in time.

I'd like to know what, if any, extra complications there are to change or repair tyres compared to the standard Brompton.

I've always wanted a Brompton and the electric conversion is the icing on the cake, looking forward to your views.
Userlevel 4
Thanks this really helpful feedback! Just a quick update - delivery has been delayed so testing will start from next week.
@Jon1 - Weight is definitely an important consideration. I'm excited to see the difference it makes to my cycle to work (which is Bristol - Bath @Gabolino I hope the charge lasts long enough!), but I'll do due-diligence on some hills as well! Thanks to @woz for providing the specs.

I'll also investigate any e-bike incentives, like free rental or cycle to work schemes which I'll share here - hopefully useful if you're thinking of investing and would like to try one out.

I love the futuristic idea of electricity flowing freely between all our electric devices - charge your laptop from your bike, your boiler from your car battery... wireless charging here we come?
@woz great thought on maintenance and general wear and tear, I'll be able to tell you more once I get the bike 😃
Userlevel 6
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Do take a picture of yourself riding the bike @LauraS, we want real evidence of this dangerous test 😛
Userlevel 7
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New second series of Britain by bike on channel 5 with Larry Lamb and son George tonight. Such fab fab fab viewing. Loved the first series 🆙 Think this series is gonna be even better! Larry uses on electric bike, it makes such brilliant viewing 🆙
Userlevel 7
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Hi Laura
I've been having a look at folding bikes, there is one called the Birdy, have you seen it?
Sadly there are no dealers in my neck of the woods but as luck or misfortune (either, and yours not mine) would have it there is a dealer in Bath.
So next time you're near the railway station check it out.
It's not electric although if it was you'd probably need a second mortgage to get one (presumptive I know, you may not have a first) and it doesn't have the somewhat "retro" charm of the Brompton, but I think you'll be interested.
Let me know what you think.
Userlevel 4
Hi @woz , thanks for such a thoughtful suggestion. I've had a quick look at their website, and it's interesting to see they've gone for quite a different folding approach to Brompton. I do know of the bike shop you're talking about, so I'll definitely pop in when I get the chance - you're right, for my commute (Bristol - Bath), it might be more suitable!

- - - Updated - - -

Hello everyone! Thank you for your great thoughts on all things folding e-bikes. We've got another week of testing next week, so haven't come to any final conclusions, but I thought I'd share my initial thoughts.

We've had several people in the office take our electric bike for a spin (kindly loaned to us by Brompton). We're testing the model with 2 gears.

Steven has whizzed it round Bath, and loves the ease and speed in which he can get from A to B! It comes with bike lights (powered off the battery) which are fantastic, and really light up the road.

Niall, who regularly commutes on his normal Brompton, tested it on some large hills on his way to work, and found that his journey would be more suited to the 6 gear model (one to bear in mind if you're tackling hills).

I rode it from Bath to Bristol (I usually do this cycle on a human powered road bike). It's definitely extremely zippy around town, which is what it's designed for! A longer 16 mile journey definitely put it through it's paces, and I've got to say I looked a little out of place overtaking the lycra-clad cyclists on road bikes. As Woz mentioned earlier, it's a pretty heavy bike at 16.6kg. The electric power and the weight pretty much cancel out, so I arrived in about the same time but with much happier legs. The battery held up, and went from a 5/5 full charge down to 2/5. This was just over an hour with constant use on the flat. And the charging is just a normal plug that goes into a wall socket - so not quite ready to be plugged in to a Leaf yet!

With the motor and the battery at the front, I was worried about sluggish steering. However the small wheel makes it really agile, and the steering feels really light. I found out the hard way that small wheels + heavy bike do not enjoy cobbled streets.

I really enjoyed the freedom of being able to take my bike into a restaurant, and saving the hassle of locking it up in the city centre. The folding system is really clever, and the battery pack just clicks on and off. It comes in a fitted bag, so you can carry your stylish battery to a plug with no problems.
@Bev I'd love to see some long distance electric bike rides! It's great for getting more people out cycling to remote places.
@Gabolino pictures coming soon of my extreme bike testing! For now here's one of the bike halfway between Bath and Bristol (it was threatening to rain, so I didn't hang around for long)

Userlevel 7
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Not dissimilar to the 1970s Raleigh 14 😉 (ask your parents if you’re under 40!)
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Simon Cowell decided to test his new electric bike out yesterday afternoon, just around his courtyard in his Malibu home. He fell off, and broke his back! In hospital in California, awaiting surgery 🙀. They’re not for everyone!