Electric bikes have just got a turbo-boost. This Brompton Electric will make you feel superhuman, says Sarah Moore.
Electric bikes to date have tended to be “bulky, heavy, and ugly as sin, clamping a huge battery awkwardly onto the frame of a regular bike, like an unsightly growth”, says Chris Hall on Pocket-lint. So the most remarkable thing about the Brompton Electric is that it’s almost exactly the same as Brompton’s existing, non-electric models. “It’s the same fold, it’s the same look, it’s the same twitchy and responsive ride.”
As all dedicated Brompton-riders will know, the infamous fold is the “killer feature” of the Brompton, the company’s chief design and engineering officer Will Carleysmith told Bike Radar. “It’s what the business is built on, and so very, very consciously we wanted to keep that and make the whole thing as seamless as possible.” This helps to explain why the company chose to put the 250-watt motor on the bike’s front hub. A 1.5-litre bag on the stem contains the battery, which can also power two bike lights.
The bike is the result of five years of development and working with Williams Advanced Engineers (of Williams F1 fame), and it is “sensational”, says Hall. To ride, the bike makes you feel “superhuman”, eliminating those energy-sapping headwinds, flattening out hills and giving you speed off the line that leaves other cyclists “agog”. What we love about it is that this isn’t an electric bike where you “sit like a lemon as it carries you along” – you pedal, sensors tell the motor how much assistance you need, and “you get where you need to go effortlessly”.
On the whole, the bike is a “delight” to ride, says Simon Ward in Wired. While the added weight and sharp increase in price (the cheapest non-electric bike is £1,425) are “mild causes for concern”, by retaining most of the features that made the brand a solid commuter favourite, Brompton “hasn’t messed with its winning formula – it’s just given it a turbo boost”.
Price: from £2,595. Weight: 16.8kg. Frame material: steel. Motor: brushless DC front motor. Battery: 8.55Ah. Claimed range: 40 to 80km. Folded dimensions: 585mm (h) x 565mm (l) x 270mm (w).