This is the Brompton Electric. It's an e-bike with a twist… It folds. If you're like me and don't have the luxury of a garage to store your bikes in, this one might be for you. I spent about a week riding it around, and even longer storing it my home while I procrastinated making this video. Here's what I think about it. I've been wondering if a folding e-bike makes more sense for my apartment lifestyle. I currently own a full-sized e-bike, which takes up a lot of space in my office and is a huge hassle to lug up and down stairs. So when Brompton reached out and asked if I wanted to try their Brompton Electric, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to see if that folding e-bike life is for me. They lent me this bike for review purposes, but it did not arrive in a box so I can't speak to how easy it is to set up.
I did, however, spend a decent amount of time with it. It's their current, standard six-speed model. It comes in two colors: black and Turkish green, and costs $3,800. There's a two-speed model for $250 less, but I'll tell you why it might be worth the upgrade in just a bit. You can also upgrade either model to a blue lacquer color for $250 more. A bit steep. I know. But here's what that gets you. The best part about the Brompton Electric is its folding design. When it first showed up at my apartment, I thought someone had made a mistake and sent me a tiny wheelchair… But boy was I pleasantly surprised when I got it unfolded. It took me about 15-20 minutes to figure out the first time, but now it takes about 30-60 seconds to fold and unfold it, having done it a handful of times.
I still worry I'm going to smash my fingers every time… So I suggest you go slow until you know the folding mechanism like the back of your uninjured hand. When the bike is folded, it's very compact. It fits in a closet, in the trunk of a car and even under my desk here. I've had it in my office for a couple of weeks and have barely noticed it. The bike is also pretty light and 30 pounds and easy to carry short distances. It also has these tiny wheels here so you can push it. But, I found it kind of awkward and easy to tip over, so I carried it for the most part.
It's clear a lot of thought and engineering went into the design of this bike. It even has a tiny bell. That's why it baffles me that there's no kickstand. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to let the bike go so that I can do something like adjust my helmet… But every time I had to find something to lean it on. You can fold the back wheels in so that it rests on those tiny push wheels, but that's just not as quick and easy as a kickstand.
But that's not even the weirdest part about this bike… Here's the battery. It has a front-mounted design to help distribute the weight of the bike… And comes integrated in this bag for carrying your stuff. This allows you to detach the battery and carry off your stuff in one swift move. However, the bag that comes with this bike is much smaller, and looks like it can only carry a few things like your phone. This one is an upgrade and costs $200… And to be honest, it doesn't look that great off the bike. The battery also houses the controls for the electric motor and the lights. You have three levels of assist or no assist at all, and you can totally use this bike without the battery. Brompton says this was to make it quick and easy to unfold the bike and go…
Since it automatically turns on when you mount the battery and remembers your last settings. So theoretically, you never have to even touch these buttons. There's even a light sensor to turn the lamp on automatically when it gets dark. On paper, the battery has a range of 15 miles. The furthest I took it was 12 miles on full assist and I had about three out of five bars of battery left. So yea, I'd say 15 miles is about right. Maybe 20 on a lower assist mode. To be honest though, the battery was my least favorite part about this bike. Sure it's convenient that it holds your stuff, but it looks really weird on the front. I'd much rather toss a battery in my own bag if it meant a more subtle integration with the bike. The controls on the battery also feel unsafe to adjust while you're riding, since you have to let go of the handlebars and reach over the front to do so.
So as I'm recording this review, Brompton actually released a mobile app that lets you connect your phone to the bike. This allows you to use it as a mounted display and gives you stats like your speed, your distance… And even let's you change the level of assist on the motor, But having gears does reduce your need to make adjustments… So that's why I think it's worth the extra $250 for the six-speed model… Especially if you live in hilly areas. There's controls for the gears on the handlebar… With the derailleur system on the left and the hub gear on the right. So how does it ride? The 250-watt motor isn't going to win you any races against other e-bikes… Or even non-ebikes for that matter.
It does hold up pretty well for how it's meant to be used. It handles hills really well and has a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. And that's about as fast as I was able to get it going no matter how hard I pedal. This bike does not have a throttle though, so you don't have the option of being lazy. With folding bikes, there's always some sacrifices that need to be made to keep the size and weight down. And for that reason, this is not the most comfortable bike. Because of its small, 16-inch wheels, and just this tiny pad here to act as a suspension… You're gonna feel every bump in the road. Plus, I'm a tall guy at six foot one. And because this bike is so low to the ground… I have to raise the seat all the way up… Which means I'm hunching over while I ride… And that can get really painful on my back and wrists.
The seat also hurt my butt after about 30 minutes, but that's pretty standard for a stock bike seat. I wouldn't say that this bike is so uncomfortable that it's unrideable… But it's definitely meant for shorter commutes rather than long journeys. At the end of the day, this is an e-bike for a very specific type of person. If you have a short a commute, or only looking to travel a few miles at a time, and don't have room for a full-sized e-bike…
Then a folding e-bike is a no-brainer. But, if you are that type of rider, is $3,500 to $4,000 what you're willing to spend? Look, I haven't ridden any other folding e-bikes, so I can't really speak from experience… But CNET's most recommended folding e-bike, the Swagtron EB5 Pro… Is only $500 and has the same top speed and range. Brompton makes a really high-quality, well-built bike, but that's a pretty significant price difference. For me, the Brompton Electric would not replace my full-sized e-bike. There's just too many trade-offs for how I personally like to ride… Which is usually on 30 plus mile day trips through scenic hilly areas.
The shorter battery range and uncomfortable design really limits how far you can travel… And for me the biggest appeal of e-bikes is… Being able to go distances you wouldn't normally be able to travel without a motor. I'm currently not using an e-bike to commute to the office because… Well, it shares a wall with my bedroom. But if I was commuting, the slower speeds and the lack of a throttle makes this a much less compelling car replacement. So how do you like to ride e-bikes? Are you a commuter, or a weekend warrior? Let me know down in the comments. I hope I earned your thumbs up for this review. It really helps us get this video in front of more viewers just like you… And please consider subscribing if you haven't already. Also, check out the awesome e-bike reviews our friends over at Roadshow are doing. I'll link a few of them down in the description. Thanks for watching! See you next time..