Brompton has been building folding bicycles for years. Now it has enhanced the appeal of its products by adding the Brompton Electric, the world’s first production folding electric bicycle. The battery and motor are supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering, the same company that supplies batteries to the Formula E, the international open wheel racing series for electric cars. The battery for the Brompton Electric bicycle clips onto the front of the bike and stores away into a separate bag for easy carrying.
The company says its folding electric bicycle it is the most technically advanced model it has ever produced. “We’ve spent five years taking Williams Racing technology and integrating it into the Brompton,” says company CEO Will Butler-Adams. “It has been harder than any of us imagined but we believe we have created a product that will inspire more people to get out from under the ground, out of their cars and back onto a bike to rediscover their cities.”
Brompton’s folding frames date back to 1975, when Andrew Ritchie built the first one in his flat in London. The brand opened its first factory in 1988, and today makes more than 45,000 folding bikes each year — making it the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Aimed at city dwellers, Brompton bikes fold up to a third of their size, so can be carried on trains by commuters, or packed into the boot of a car.
Typically a Brompton folding bicycle weighs between 20 and 30 pounds. The Brompton Electric bicycle weighs about 36 pounds, but that is still about half what some other electric bicycles weigh. Its battery weighs less than 8 pounds. “The vision for the Brompton Electric was to make a product that was as light as possible without sacrificing durability, and was extremely compact,” says chief design and engineering officer Will Carleysmith.
The Brompton Electric has a range of 50 miles. Riders can select between three power assistance levels depending on their needs and riding style. There is also a smartphone app that lets users track their mileage and customize settings for the bike to their personal preference. The company says sales are strongest in cities, where finding places to park a bicycle safely outdoors are scarce. The folding bike fits easily into elevators and its relatively light weight makes it possible for most people to carry it up stairs as needed.
The Brompton Electric is now available to be reserved – as either two or six speed versions, in white or black – and the first models will be shipped in early 2018. Prices range from $2,900 to $3,400, depending on how the bike is configured. That is no more expensive than many electric bicycles (and some conventional bikes) that do not offer the low weight and convenience of the Brompton Electric.