When it comes to folding bikes, the Brompton is ubiquitous. It’s an incredibly successful brand thanks to the cleverly compact fold (565mm high x 585mm long x 270mm wide) and simplicity of use. When it comes to electric folding bikes, however, it faces stiffer competition with its Brompton Electric.
Brompton partnered with Williams Advanced Engineering (of Formula 1 and Formula E fame) to develop its bespoke ebike system on the Electric, which comprises a large front-hub motor and a smart-looking battery – housed in its own bespoke cordura bag.
This slots into a bracket mounted on the head tube and can be removed and carried over the shoulder when your bike is folded.
Brompton claims a range of between 20 and 45 miles from the 300Wh battery, depending on rider and topography. The battery weighs in at 2.9kg for a total 17.43kg. Without the battery the bike is 14.5kg compared to the standard Brompton’s claimed 11.35kg.
Brompton’s system will have the added usability of an app, but at the moment it’s “being aligned with Brompton’s up-to-date systems and website”, so a search for the app on your app store will be fruitless.
Brompton’s Electric has a hub motor built into its front wheel, while a dedicated bracket on the head tube accommodates the rectangular battery. The quick attach-and-release fitting is clever and I like that the system boots up as soon as you engage the battery.
The battery has two buttons – the right one cycles through power levels; the left one operates the lights. There’s a central arc of five LEDs to show battery charge level. It’s a simple system and one that doesn’t require hours of poring over a manual.
The lack of a bar-mounted controller is a shame. Yes, reaching down to operate the waterproof buttons is easy, but any time you take a hand off the bar or eyes off the road isn’t exactly ‘urban safe’.
Hopefully, Brompton’s app will offer in-use control of the system because a phone mounted on the handlebar would be preferable to the current system.
In its top setting, the Brompton’s power delivery is somewhat punchier than the Cytronex conversion kit I tested on Brompton’s Black edition two-speed Superlight (SL), albeit it does feel overkill for most situations.
That said, it’s fun to switch into full-power mode and beat other riders – and even other automobiles – at the lights from a standing start.
Like most ebikes, the Electric lived most of its time in the middle setting, which offers the best balance of ascending power with plenty of range.
Brompton Electric H2L 2-speed ride impressions
The Brompton Electric peaked at 24 miles (39km) with 342.5m climbing. That’s in-line with its claimed 30 to 45km range. I’d say with a relatively flat commute, the Electric could easily achieve 45km.
The bike handles well, though it still suffered from a bit of wheelspin on steep ramps, but the overall feel is positive.
The power assist gives plenty of sweat-reducing assistance and does so with no jerkiness. It closely matches your pedal stroke to smoothly deliver power throughout its range of modes; there’s no overdoing torque so you always feel in control.
As for folding, you first need to remove the battery. That’s simply a button push on the battery bag’s integrated handle and a quick pull.
I appreciate that Brompton has added a pocket to the battery bag (which has a shoulder strap for easy carrying) that is big enough to hold the bike’s compact charger and cable, meaning you could commute 20 miles each way and charge the battery at your desk.
It does mean, however, that transporting your folded Brompton Electric entails carrying both bike and battery bag.
Also, the Electric is carrying a fair amount of weight, so you’re hauling a 14.12kg folded bike, plus a 2.93kg battery and, of course, whatever other luggage you need.
Brompton Electric H2L 2-speed overall
The Electric does a great job at not compromising what makes a Brompton a fantastic commuting machine. It features a clever system with a quick-release battery in its own carry-bag, so the fold is unobstructed.
The power delivery is good and the range impressive. With a bar-mounted controller, I’d find little to fault.
|Features||Electric system: Brompton front hub motor with 36V, 300Wh removable battery pack
Gears: Brompton 2-speed
Weight: 14.5kg w/o battery, 17.43kg with battery
Mudguards: L type
|Brakes||Brompton dual-pivot rim brakes|
|Frame||Alloy mainframe with L-type rear triangle|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Marathon Racer 16x1⅓-inch|
|Wheels||16-inch Brompton alloy rims with Brompton rear hub and front e-motor hub|