Joe Robinson9 Oct 2018
I must start my review of the Brompton Electric with a bit of a moan. Not with the bike, no, but with the stigma that seems to be latched upon e-bikes.
Whenever Cyclist posts a story about e-bikes, whether that be the potential outcome of more people cycling or just a review of a new bike, it is met with a strange response: Readers assume that e-bikes are for the ‘lazy’ or ‘unwilling’ and that it is in some way negating the entire point of riding a bike.
It does seem that this small group of people slightly miss the point of e-bikes. Realistically, they serve two purposes and neither of which is the quest to replace your normal bike with one with a motor.
The first purpose of an e-bike is to offer transport. Cycling as transport and cycling as a sport/hobby are two different things, something we often fail to recognise, particularly in the UK.
Look across the channel to Belgium or the Netherlands and you will find people using the bike as their primary option to get from A to B. The e-bike simply allows you to do that without arriving at your destination all flushed like a hot mess.
Secondly, the e-bike also keeps people that can no longer cycle or are too afraid to – for one reason or another – still riding.
I’ve encountered quite a few older cyclists recently who are still pedalling and would not be if it wasn’t for the assistance of the little motor attached to their downtube.
They can keep up on the club run and even still climb a mountain much later in life than before thanks to electricity. And even Eddy Merckx rides one, and he is the greatest.
Rant over, now I can back to the important stuff, telling you about the Brompton Electric.
New batteries needed
Getting the Brompton Electric off the ground was more than just a telephone call to a company like Bosch or Yahama followed by an order of 10,000 existing motor units.
For tapping up existing products was not an option if Brompton wanted to keep true to its transportable roots. Instead, with a £200,000 Smart funding grant from the government, London-based Brompton set about developing its own motor.
One thing led to another and eventually, in-house engineers and top bods from the Williams F1 team combined to devise an entirely new system.
Brompton’s motor is intelligent. It doesn’t just whizz up to full bore at the first pedal rev. Instead, it reacts to you, judging pedal torque, cadence and speed via a bottom bracket sensor before providing you with the assistance you need.