Brompton Electric first ride review

A folding favourite of ours gets electric power

Brompton’s folding bike remains an immensely popular choice for cycle commuters, and for good reason too, but the company has been working on an electric version of the same bike for quite some time now. BikeRadar was invited to the company’s London HQ to give the new electrified Brompton a go.

Brompton Electric specifications

  • Frame: Brompton steel
  • Fork: Steel rigid
  • Drivetrain: 2-speed
  • Front luggage: Essential Bag (S)
  • Handlebar: M Type
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Racer    
  • Weight: 16.6kg / 36.5lb

Brompton Electric design

By electrifying this bike, Brompton has been careful to retain everything that makes the standard bike such a successful design. There’s the same frame (save a few carefully positioned holes) with its fast and compact fold and the same proven geometry.

Brompton’s Electric also sticks with the same fast and durable 16-inch wheel size.

Brompton worked together with the likes of Williams F1 to create a motor unit that fitted all of its requirements
Brompton worked together with the likes of Williams F1 to create a motor unit that fitted all of its requirements

The Brompton’s already busy rear triangle was never going to lend itself well to a motor, and its stiff yet slender main frame couldn’t easily accommodate a battery. Instead, the Brompton Electric uses a motor at its front wheel, while a battery and control unit mount at the front of the frame’s head tube as part of a range of integrated luggage solutions.

As standard, the battery is part of a small removable shoulder bag with a capacity of 1.5 litres, but a larger 20-litre suitcase style bag is available for an additional £150.

Brompton Electric first ride impressions

Brompton owners will no doubt be pleased by the familiarity of the Brompton Electric’s ride, and I’ve always been impressed by how the Brompton can accommodate taller riders, such as myself, and the Electric is of course no exception.

Its controls are simple too and leave no display or controller to clutter the handlebar. 

The 2.9kg battery, with its control unit, simply clicks on and off and can be worn as a shoulder bag
The 2.9kg battery, with its control unit, simply clicks on and off and can be worn as a shoulder bag

Sixteen inch wheels accelerate well without power assistance, so it’s little surprise that the Brompton Electric is a nippy number.

The lack of a physical connection between the Brompton’s drivetrain and its motor do not amount to a negative impact on the ride. In fact, the contactless bottom bracket torque and cadence sensor used make for a drivetrain that is rid of the strange tugging sensation and inconsistent resistance that you sometimes get with motors acting upon a drivetrain.

Across each of its three assistance modes the power delivery is among the smoothest I’ve tried. The Brompton Electric is technically an all-wheel-drive bicycle, and at times there is a slight sensation of being pulled rather than pushed.

Power delivery is impressively smooth, and the way the Brompton Electric deals with the UK's 15.5mph speed limit is seriously impressive
Power delivery is impressively smooth, and the way the Brompton Electric deals with the UK's 15.5mph speed limit is seriously impressive

The most impressive thing about the ride has to be the way that this bike deals with the UK’s restrictive 15.5mph / 25km/h top speed.

Most electric bikes in the UK will noticeably drop their assistance as you reach this figure, which can lead to a frustrating on/off feel on flatter ground. The Brompton Electric tapers its power down long before the 15.5mph cut off point, meaning you get a smooth transition back into your own legs.

It almost feels as if the bike is without a speed limiter and is a characteristic that’s really worthy of praise.

It's business as usual at the middle and back
It's business as usual at the middle and back

Like any Brompton, the rider’s weight is placed quite far back on the bike and this means that the bike’s driven front wheel can feel light in certain situations. Making no attempt to ride around this fact can result in the front wheel scrabbling for grip on particularly steep inclines. Brompton is well aware of this and has built a layer of intelligence into its motor system to ensure that this scenario doesn’t result in a rider losing control.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the bike stops, shifts, turns and generally rides like a Brompton. Even the Schwalbe Marathon Racer tyres — the same used on a regular Brompton — seem to have no issues with the additional weight of the motor and battery. Talking of the battery, the 300Wh unit delivers a claimed range of between 25 and 50 miles from a single charge.

If you’ve not ridden a Brompton and are wondering what it's like then have a read of my previous Brompton review for an idea of what to expect.

We are pleased to report that the Brompton Electric has lost none of the Brompton's charming ride character
We are pleased to report that the Brompton Electric has lost none of the Brompton's charming ride character

The short time I have spent with this test bike has me convinced on its ride. Adding a motor to the Brompton does not appear to have messed with its magic.

My only reservation is the fact that it is definitely not light. Depending on which version you choose, the Brompton Electric weighs between 13.7kg and 14.7kg, plus an additional 2.9kg for its battery.

That’s enough to seriously limit the way that most people can lug this bike around, and marks a real difference over a regular, unassisted Brompton, which depending on build weighs around 11–12kg / 24–26lbs.

It sure folds up neat, but Brompton's Electric weighs a hefty 16.6kg
It sure folds up neat, but Brompton's Electric weighs a hefty 16.6kg

For some people this may not be an issue, but Brompton fans who regularly lift their bike up and down staircases are going to have to work a whole lot harder should they choose to go electric. It's certainly not cheap either.

Brompton Electric early verdict

By motorising its popular folder, Brompton has expanded the capability of an already accomplished design. The Brompton Electric rides brilliantly and real credit should go to those responsible for the smooth and natural feel its motor provides.

It’s great that the Brompton Electric retains the same compact fold as an unassisted Brompton, but I feel the additional weight and cost is likely to prove prohibitive for a lot of people.

Still, when you compare it to Tern’s Vektron electric folder — which is probably its closest competitor that we've already tried here at BikeRadar — the Brompton Electric emerges considerably cheaper and lighter. 

We will soon be receiving a test bike for a thorough review.

Brompton Electric availability

The Brompton Electric is available to order now for UK buyers with prices starting at £2,594.99. International pricing and availability is still to be confirmed.

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Age: 25
  • Height: 191cm / 6'3"
  • Weight: 80kg / 176lb
  • Waist: 32in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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